Monday, November 29, 2010

My First Cuban Thanksgiving

It was 82 degrees, and my husband and I had our door open (to the outside) because Israel was sweeping the floor (our A/C unit lets in a lot of dust) and I was peeling potatoes in shorts and a t-shirt.  I wanted to contribute something to the dinner which was held at Danay's house, plus I really, really wanted to have mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving.  Btw, I should post an essay I wrote in seventh grade on how to make perfect mashed potatoes that my mom just sent me... I would change a few things now.

My husband had prepped me on what a typical Thanksgiving looks like with the family here, and he was not exaggerating much.  As we finished up our house chores, showered and were getting ready to head over next door, we heard a loud boom box sound coming through the wall, blaring salsa and meringue music.  All of the Cubans had collected and the party had begun.

 Pastelitos con guayaba (fried pastries with guayaba, a very sweet Cuban fruit) were in abundance on the main table, along with croquetas (another type of Cuban fried pastry, usually with cheese and ham inside). 

I set the mashed potatoes down on a counter, and it was an immediate hit!  They were almost gone by the time we actually sat down to eat the meal.  Most of his family had tried my pies and other desserts, but this was the first time they had tried something non-sweet, so I was so thrilled that everyone loved the mashed potatoes.

After mingling and dancing, everyone sat down to eat either at one table outside by the pool or the one inside the house.  I sat with Israel, Jorge and my mother-in-law, Bertha.  I really love talking with those two, they're both so warm, friendly and funny.  I still can't believe they're my in-laws!  I always have a good time talking to them. 

With the Thanksgiving meal came an assortment of food I have never eaten on this holiday:  rice, black beans, pork and yuca (a Cuban vegetable that has the texture and taste similar to a potato).  Bertha's boyfriend Tony prepared the turkey for everyone this year, and it was one of the most flavorful turkeys I've ever had!

Throughout the whole evening, salsa music was playing loudly and everyone was chattering the night away.  One of my favorite (and most embarrassing moments) of the night was when I was talking to Israel's grandpa about Gene Kelly, some in English, some in Spanish.  He wanted to know the lyrics to "Singin' in the Rain" so what better way to learn them than hear them sung by the American girl?  I agreed to his prodding, and sang the song much too sharply and awkwardly as a small crowd watched.

My all-time favorite moment came next when we listened to Israel's grandpa sing a number of Mexican opera songs after drinking a little too much rum.  Israel has told me this is pretty common when his grandpa is at a party-- he usually brings his own mix CD and asks to sing.  So he gave a little concert to a few people in the living room, and of course I had to capture it on film.  I had only heard about this for months, so I was pretty excited.  In one number, Israel sang with his grandpa "Silent Night" in Spanish.

We watched our wedding video with everyone, which was really a blessing for his grandma and great-grandma to see, since they couldn't come to the wedding.  It was fun watching their reactions, and they were impressed with our salsa, our first dance.  :)  Even though we left shortly after this, the party was still going on for a while longer, as we heard the loud sounds of domino playing on the patio near our door.

 Israel, Ofelia, me and Bertha

 Israel, Jorge and Julio ("the Russian")

I'm told that no Cuban party is not complete without a game of dominoes!  Here are Tony, Angel, Jorge and Tony

Baby Chris and Danay

All the girls... and Chris. :)  

I leave you with the aforementioned video:

As the Cubans say, Jappy San Givi!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I love this holiday, because it gives you a chance to look back on and see (whether good or bad) what you have to be thankful for.  This year I have much to be thankful for.  A lot of changes have happened in my life recently!  My heart is so full!

I’m thankful to God for:

- one Israel Sanchez, who encourages me and loves me just as I am.  What an amazing husband God has blessed me with!  I'm the luckiest girl in the world.  :)

- a wonderful and supportive family and network of close friends.  I’ve been incredibly blessed by them in the last year.  

- to be done with college… but I will need His help with student loans!

- chocolate... I'm thankful for whoever thought to break open that cocoa bean and bring something amazing to the world!  And for my mom who ate a lot of chocolate while I was still in the womb to inflict her chocolate addiction onto me too. ;)

- God’s wonderful grace and love.  I’m so undeserving of that, but I know I would not be anywhere if not for that amazing gift.  I’m so thankful to have the incredible daily joy of knowing Him and believing in Him.  There is no greater joy.

- belonging to a new family here in Miami.  Israel's family have been very kind and generous to me since the first time I visited Miami.

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, whether it's spent with family or friends.  :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Little Comment

Exactly a year ago today, a stranger (who is now my husband), commented on my blog and with one little comment, changed my life completely.

I had written an entry about memorizing and meditating on a couple verses, and Israel wrote a brief comment agreeing with my post about the importance of meditation.  It was just a couple of sentences, but I was intrigued.  I clicked on his blog, and avoiding studying at the library, I read all of his entries that afternoon.

I was going through a hard time last November, so meeting Israel was the most unexpected and amazing blessing that I know only God could ordain.  God's timing in us meeting was absolutely perfect.  I can't believe it's only been a year when I love Israel so completely and we've already been through a lot together.

Israel and I are still amazed when we tell the story of how we met... it seems so impossible!  It is only through God's grace that He brought me a wonderful man to spend the rest of my life with.

My love, you are everything I ever wanted and more.  I love you with my whole heart.  :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

One Big German Pancake

I made this yesterday morning for breakfast, along with toast and cafe con leche.  One word sums up this combination:  Divine.

Photo credit:  This Week for Dinner

I found this recipe on This Week for Dinner as I was scouring breakfast recipes to quench my breakfast obsession.  I read several of the comments on this entry, and a lot of readers recommended adding a dash of vanilla so I took their advice.  I forgot to take pictures of my creation, so I had to grab one from the site.

It really comes out of the oven like one big pancake, and has an overall eggy taste, but the vanilla softens it a little.  I added some apricot jelly on top and it was perfection.

Here's the recipe:

From Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book

- 2 T butter
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 C milk
- 1/2 C flour
- 1/4 t. salt
- 1/2 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put butter in baking dish (just use an 8x8 square dish)…heat in oven 3-5 minutes, til butter is melted.

Beat eggs. Add milk, flour and salt. Beat til smooth. Pour immediately into baking dish. Bake 25 minutes, or until puffy edges and looks done in center. Serve with fruit, syrup, powdered sugar, whatever you like!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Harry Potter 7 (minor spoiler alert!)

The other night my husband and I went with Julio and Javi to see Harry Potter at midnight.   I'm ashamed to say the last time I saw a movie at midnight was the first Twilight premiere... But the good thing about this premiere, was:

1.  It's freaking HARRY POTTER!!
2.  We didn't have to wait hours in line... actually 0 hours in line.  The nice thing about living in a big city is that there is more than one main theatre in town!
3.  We didn't have to pay for it.

The theatre wasn't nearly as packed as we thought it would be (still very full), and we did see quite a few fans dressed up in Harry Potter wear.  I would have worn my Edna glasses if I had remembered to pack them before moving here.

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie.  I try to separate the movies from the books (because the books are obviously better!), and just be entertained.  However, there was one really awkward scene where Hermione and Harry danced together in the middle of their tent.  It was strange.

Even when I knew what was going to happen in a particular scene (I won't share which one though), I still jumped clear out of my seat.  I'm such a chair jumper.

I'm excited for Part 2!!  Even if you're a cynic of the movies, go see it.  You'll enjoy it!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Craftmanship Capelet

Currently coveting this gorgeous plaid wool jacket from Anthropologie!

It's unfortunate that high quality fabrics must cost so much... but I guess I don't have a lot of need for that in this kind of heat.  

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Initiation of the George Kaplan Film Society

Israel and I have started a “Finer Things Club,” mimicking the Office’s version.  So far, there are only two members—my husband and me.  But we hope to expand it once we find some other finer things kindred spirits here.

One of the umbrellas under this Finer Things is the George Kaplan Film Society.  Our purpose in this is to watch films made in the years 1920-1980-- 60 years of cinema with the old Hollywood actors.  The name comes from North by Northwest, starring the ever so classy Cary Grant who was mistaken for the double agent, George Kaplan.  I hadn’t seen this movie in years and Israel had never seen it, so he randomly picked it up at the library and we watched it last night.  The dialogue was smart and original, and Cary made us laugh the whole way through.

Oh, Cary Grant and your biting wit!

This reminded me of a summer spent with two old souls, Enumale and Tricia, watching old films like this one while expanding our culinary experiences.

Israel hasn’t seen a lot of older films like this one, so I’m excited to introduce him to Jimmy Stewart, Audrey Hepburn, of course followed up by Katherine Hepburn, Gregory Peck, and a whole list of others!  There are so many great old movies!  Any suggestions?

Next on the list is both a Christmas film and a Jimmy Stewart classic:  It's a Wonderful Life.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A photo shoot with a balloon

I love the fence right by the door to our apartment, it acts as a very nice background for shoots. My husband is a good sport, and lets me use him as a male model.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My Cuban

I cannot express how much my husband helps me and encourages me on a daily basis.  He puts up with my crazy emotions, my weirdness, strange habits, and bouts of sassiness and loves me still! 

Israel combats my somewhat pessimistic nature with massive amounts of faith, cheer, smiles and optimism.  He always catches onto my sad moods, and doesn't let me get away with not telling him what's on my mind immediately.  He always makes me happy.  :)

I love his sarcasm, his adorable accent, his car dancing, his sincere and compassionate heart, his passion, his curly and dark hair, his spontaneity, his incorrect but hilarious song lyrics, and his long eye lashes. 

What are the chances of finding your perfect mate through a simple blog?  A girl can only be so lucky.  I love you, babe!  Thanks for always putting up with my craziness.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bad Movie Night

I was lying on my stomach, peering over the edge of the bed to look at the stack of movies Israel was going through.  We debated each one, trying to pick one to watch that evening.

"I'm sort of in a mellow mood, I don't really want an over-the-top comedy," I told him.

"Well, I do feel like a comedy, I'm not really feeling Lost in Translation, that's too dry for me right now," Israel said.

"Hmm... well, we could watch Twilight and make fun of it?"  I suggested.

After narrowing it down to three options, and tossing a coin (not a metaphor), a Twilight mocking was in store for the evening.  That's when I remembered one time after watching the fabulous Project Runway we caught a preview of another fashion design show called Austin and Santino.  The best part is that Israel is the one who caught an eerie resemblance of Austin to someone else:

"He looks like the dad on Twilight, Carlisle!!"  Good job, honey, on knowing his name, too.

Yes, I created a whole Photoshop picture just for this post.  
Also, for your entertainment:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Eggs: A Love Story

When I was a little girl, I despised eggs.  Whenever my mom would be making deviled eggs or egg salad, I pinched my nose with my tiny fingers and left the room with my little girl arrogance.  I hated the smell, but more than that, the soft and squishy texture of eggs.

When I got a little older, on a canoe trip with my dad and sisters, I decided to give eggs another try—this time with lots of ketchup and pepper.  The flavor of the condiments overpowered the texture, and I grew to like them.  Eventually, I could just eat them scrambled with massive amounts of pepper.  I still eat them that way.

The next stage of my life and my journey with eggs, is the egg and grape jelly sandwich, invented by my dad.  Although I initially scoffed at this strange combination, I tried it.  Soon I was eating this almost every morning, sometimes switching it up with blueberry jam.  I scrambled the eggs with a little milk in a bowl, formed it into a little filet in the skillet, and fried it until it was a light brown.  While I was frying the egg, I scrambled over (heh heh) to the toaster, tapping the bread down to make most effective use of my time (another thing I learned from my very practical dad).  I love eating my food when it’s fresh from whatever hot appliance it comes from.  Next came the smattering of the grape jelly on both sides of the toasted bread, and placing the egg fillet in the middle, in its very safe and delicious place.

Now, I cook eggs in some form every week, whether it’s in a cake or cookie batter, an omelette, on a toasted bagel with mozzarella cheese, or cooking scrambled eggs and rice for my Cuban.  I use eggs constantly, and absolutely love them!  Even if all we have in our fridge are a carton of milk, a tub of fake butter, and a crate of eggs I know we’ll be okay.  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Little Comment

My husband has started a new blog!  In this one, he writes more about his daily life, and just things that interest him in general.  Check it out here:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Tour of Vizcaya

The cold has finally come to Miami!  Well, at least this weekend it has been in the 50's at night, and mid-60's during the day.  Friday was a beautiful day outside, a perfect 69 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.  My husband and I both donned sweaters and decided to celebrate our 2 month anniversary a little early, since he works late on the actual day.

We got a quick "breakfast" (this was about 1:30 in the afternoon) at Dunkin Doughnuts because their toasted bagel and egg combos are amazing!  And then we headed over to this amazing museum/mansion called Vizcaya.  Vizcaya used to be the winter residence of James Deering during the early 1900's, but is now a museum open to the public.  He designed the mansion with inspirations from the Italian Renassiance, French, and Neo-Classicism.  Not only does this tour include limited access to the house, but free range among his 10 acre gardens and maze.

We opted out of the guided tour, and explored this historic landmark on our own.  I was first told about this place from a good friend of my mom, who told me it was "a photographer's dream."  She was definitely not exaggerating, this place was so inspiring!  Spiral staircases, huge paintings, intricate tapestries, and hidden passageways make this house quite magical.

We spent two hours there (and later watched Marie Antoinette at home, feeling inspired by French architecture and the whole palace/mansion scene), but decided to continue taking advantage of the gorgeous day.  Israel and I drove up to Key Biscayne, parked, rolled up our jeans and walked along the beautiful beach.  We spread out a blanket and enjoyed the sun setting as we listened to the soulful voice of Otis Redding on Israel's phone.  It was a memorable and perfect day to celebrate two blissful months of marriage.

Israel was determined to find a door he could open... and finally, on the top floor he found a utility closet he was able to open.  :)

The gorgeous grounds surrounding Vizcaya

 Our little spot at Key Biscayne 

This hat seems to be quite versatile ;)

Happy 2 months to the most loving and understanding husband!  I love you, honey!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Closer to home

A couple of weeks ago my husband found out about an opening at another library branch, only about 10 minutes from our apartment.  He had been working at another branch in a whole other town, which sometimes can be up to an hour commute each way.  Obviously, a transfer would benefit us in many ways!

Israel applied and got the job!  This is such an answer to prayer, for real!  This job opening came so unexpectedly, and usually these kind of openings don't happen very often.  Not only will this save us money on gas, but we can also spend Israel's lunch hour together.  Plus, some days I can just drop him off at work and use the car for the day.  Hello!  :)

My husband started the new job this week, and since he gets an hour and a half lunch break (wow!), he's been coming home for lunch and eating with me.  To actually communicate with a human being in the middle of the day is awesome!!  It's such a blessing!