Adventures and All the beef you can imagine

Adventures and All the beef you can imagine

I’m back! So last time I talked about the awesome. Here’s some of the great.

1. Remember the adventures due to rain I told you about? Well… After a full day of exploration, the gang decided to take the route home that would take us through a historical celebration. That’s actually when we took the best pics of the Pink Palace and the oldest church in Buenos Aires and the like.

Almost as soon as we got off the subway, the music stopped and people started packing up their instruments and stage way early (according to a random, they had just started). Did we take that as a sign? No… LOL. We took more pics, we talked to a guy who was walking one of the sweetest dogs ever, we basically snubbed our noses at the sprinkles. Then the sprinkles turned into slightly larger than tiny drops, so we started walking to the condo. Halfway there, the drops turned into a full out rain storm. We had no umbrellas, no ponchos, or anything. It is funny now. It was slightly funny then, but we were cold and wet. And my feet weren’t covered so I felt icky icky. We took streets where we saw awnings so that we could dash from awning to awning, walking with our backs almost to the wall like we were spying, lol. We took a break in a bakery and got a couple treats. Then back to the mad dash. When we saw there wouldn’t be an awning for awhile, we would take a break under the last one, then ask each other were we ready to run. By the time we got to the condo, we were drenched. And of course, Nervous Nelly (me) got to the door and started shaking so it took me longer than usual to unlock it. We all immediately took showers. Then we watched a DVD. (Well, the DVD watched me and everyone else watched it.) It was a wet adventure that really made for a memory.

2. The next morning, we headed to the zoo. That was one of the activities I was most looking forward to. We hopped on the train, got to the stop, walked over to the entrance, and crickets. All gates locked. No one in sight. Then a family walks up and they were looking like we were. Utterly confused and pretty disappointed. So what’s going on? Our resident Spanish interpreter Kendra read the sign about the hours (maybe we were just early??), and nope, sure enough, it should be open that day of the week at that time. So she kept reading and learned that the zoo has a right to close the day of based on weather condition. That damn rain storm last night!!! It was bright and sunny that day, but they had decided not to take the chance, I guess. Sigh… It was ok because we used that time to venture out to another part of town we hadn’t yet been to (with a superb mall where we got some super shopping done) and maybe wouldn’t have otherwise. And I still got to go to the zoo later that week on Thanksgiving. πŸ™‚

3. The outdoor markets are just great. I loved being outside and seeing people peddle their (very lovely) wares. We got to go to two different markets on Sunday, both with their own personalities and both with plenty of characters. People like to bargain. And people like to pretend they’re bargaining, lol. Paula went back and forth with a guy flirting with Kendra about a pair of earrings and how much he’d take from her since she was out of pesos. I think she ended up getting her way with the rest of the pesos she had and like 5 American dollars. That scene could have been in a sitcom.

the hippie hustler

4. Leaving the markets, Paula spotted an ice cream stand. So we headed there, and I sat at a nearby table while everyone looked at the sign trying to figure out what the many flavors could be. Then I spied that this was not your average ice cream stand. There was also a restaurant inside and there was a couple eating at the next table, and I SPY chicken fingers!!!!!!!!!!!!! By Sunday, I was so tired of beef (gasp!) I didn’t know what to do. I am a beef eater, and I like an occasional steak. BUT GEEZ LOUISE. I had to have those chicken fingers. I don’t think anyone had even planned on eating for another couple of hours, but they were sports. Since we were there and since I was ordering anyway, we went ahead and ate. My ma and I ended up splitting a three course meal for 60 pesos (the chicken fingers by themselves would have been 30 so why not??). Sirobe got her normal cheese dish. Paula got that too. And Kendra got chicken fingers by themselves (hers looked different from mine–still not completely sure why). But they were a #win. I don’t really even remember the rest of the meal. I savored those chicken fingers.

5. Paula and American Airlines had a bad relationship throughout this trip so she had to leave early. 😦 BUT we couldn’t let her leave without seeing some tango! So we headed over to the La Boca area (which has a very rich history!) and had lunch. There’s a strip of restaurants there where they have tango in front of each to lure people to come in and eat. I think we picked the best one. We got tango, we got flamenco, we got this guy who had these balls on strings and kept backing up until I thought he was going to hit me with them, then he turned around and grinned. Jokester! That was a good lunch too. I think we all enjoyed our choices. (I didn’t have to eat beef there either, LOL!)

La Boca
Flamenco!

Ok, I have to run. I’ll be back to sprinkle in some pics. And I haven’t forgotten about the pics for the last post–I haven’t yet found my battery charger so I can’t upload my pics yet!!

Bringing in 30 Fabulously

Bringing in 30 Fabulously

Last week, I traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina for my 30th birthday vacation. It was great to leave rainy gloomy cool Atlanta to see sunshine (and a little bit of rain which led to two adventures…). And it was great to unleash the explorer in me for a week. And by explorer, I really mean explorer. I went to this Spanish-speaking country without knowing a lick of Spanish (I always studied French). Well, let’s not say a lick. I knew the numbers 1-5 because of Sesame Street and I knew gracias means thank you. Oh, and I knew how to say I don’t speak Spanish. Good start, right? By Thanksgiving, I had a few things under my belt, including numbers up to 12, please, and how to communicate with the taxi drivers. I actually kinda want to learn a lil Spanish now.

So I think I’m going to do 2-3 posts since we did a lot in those 7 days.

Let’s start with the absolutely awesome.

1. It was soooooooooooooooooooooo great to have my mom around for an extended period of time. Since we don’t live in the same place I don’t get to see her as much as I’d like to, and sometimes you just need your mom around, yanno? Plus, it was cool to have her with me on a non-Thanksgiving focused birthday (lol), so why not let it be the big 3-0.?? It was cool to be able to tell her thanks for doing all the work 30 years before since she usually is the one that reminds me of that fact.

2. I am super uber mucho grateful for friends that enjoy traveling to new places for celebrations! My birthday was so special with those gals in the mix. So many laughs and experiences to share.

3. Our condo was the bomb.com. It was spacious, it was cozy, and it was in a pretty cool part of town (San Telmo). We had a rooftop patio, we had an ice cream shop right on the corner, and when we were coming back from a long, hard day of shopping in Palermo Soho’s weekend market, we walked right into a huge outdoor market right in our neighborhood! It was very cool.

And one of the best things about the condo was the house manager Ruben. He has to be the best, most versatile, nicest “den mother” you can have, especially in a foreign country. Ruben took great care of us. He a cell phone waiting on us with his phone number in it that we could take with us in case we had issues while we were out (of course the week was half gone before we started remembering to take it). And I arranged almost all of our “official” activities through him, and they were all great and a couple even had surprises built in.

4. As a show of my appreciation, one of the things I arranged for my traveling companions was a surprise traditional Argentinian asado (barbecue!) to take advantage of the pizza grill (that’s what we called it–I don’t know what the actual name of it is) in the condo. Ruben came over and prepared a 4-course meal (pics coming soon) for us. First, there was a cheese dish that you scooped out with a fork. Then we had pork sausage. Then we had steak and salad. Then Ruben surprised me with a cake! πŸ™‚

5. My birthday dinner was grand. We went to the Piazzola Tango for tango lessons and a dinner and show. The tango lessons were very fun to me. Our whole group participated during the teaching but I was the only one who participated during the practice, lol. Partially because if you didn’t have a partner already, you had to wait for the male instructor to come around and scoop you up. But I’m always ready for the challenge. And my little swingee dress was perfect for practicing! (More pictures coming soon–so please come back and check!) The dinner was cool. The wine was free flowing, and we actually had as much water as we wanted (first time the whole week we could get water and soda refills!! lol!)! More empanadas (my mom became an empanada aficionado during the week, but I don’t have to ever eat another one) for the appetizer–the other choices were ceasar salad which I wanted until I saw “fowl bits” in the description :-/ and pumpkin soup, which I just wasn’t willing to try on my bday (What?? I was being adventurous all week!). Then we had steak (what else????) and potatoes for the entree. Half of us got the flan for dessert (which was ok but kinda not great) and the other half got some dish that had a scoop of ice cream and some kind of hard cake (they ate the ice cream). But the tango show… the tango show was amazing. It was much longer and way more involved than what I expected, which was just a couple doing some moves for a few minutes. This was a full performance! The orchestra was wonderful (y’all know I love live music and string instruments and I finally got to see accordions in person!). The dancing was amazing and the singing was cool (the singers were very very dramatic–probably more dramatic than the dancers, lol). Then after the show, our waitress brought our table champagne and a REAL dessert. It was a chocolate cake with this really delicious creamy icing. We devoured that thing (and yes, I have before and after pics). Ruben was the bomb for that surprise because before I was a smidge disappointed with my dessert. But the finale was right on point.

Ok, so I’ll be back with added pics and another post with more great moments of the trip! Hope everything had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Last Post before 30

Last Post before 30

I’m closing out my 30th year of living on this here earth, and I’ve learned a lot. Or maybe I should say relearned alot.

I’ve relearned that:

I can’t control anyone or anything except my own actions.

Perspective is the key to a sound mind. There’s a positive way to look at nearly anything. You have to allow yourself to see it from that vantage point.

No matter what life brings, God sends the help you need.

I will always be a busy body. It’s in my DNA.

You have to listen to your body. Even if you have to pull an all-nighter, you need to cancel whatever you had planned the next day. If your body is tired, let it rest.

The reason for the Sabbath is because God doesn’t want us running ourselves ragged. Productivity depends on balance.

Sour patch kids are still some of the best candy ever put on the shelf.

You can plan all that you wanna, but you have to be flexible because back to my first point, you can’t control anyone or anything but your own actions.

But planning is still important. You need to dream then wake up and starting putting feet those ideas. Nothing is impossible unless you don’t believe you can do it. And once you believe, then you need to put one foot in front of the other.

It’s a great thing to give to others, but you have to remember to refuel on a regular basis. Taking care of self is not selfish–you can’t give someone a ride if your car Β has no gas.

I learned a lot more, but those are the ones that were on the tips of my fingers to share. Thanks for visiting my lil space on the net and always coming back for me. The road to 30 was bumpy yet exciting, and I’m so looking forward to forging my way through my 30s. Happy birthday to me!!

And Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Listen to the Signs

Listen to the Signs

Generally, when I take lunch, if I don’t have errands to run, I use that hour as a time to completely get away. I go somewhere that I likely won’t run into anyone I have to make polite convo with and I read or I write or I doodle, whatever I feel like for that hour. Well, today, I walked over to Arby’s for a Jr. Roast Beef sammich and those yum yum curly fries and curled up in my chair with the latest book I’m reading A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe (I was reading The Complete Collection of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and grew a bit tired after seeing I’m only 2% in and I’ve already read the first story and am almost done with the second story. This is a long series, so I’ll be reading that as I read everything else on my list–The New Jim Crow is next.).

Anyhow, I looked out the window and who do I see coming up the stairs but Mr. Rundles–my line sister’s dad who lives not too far from where I live and who has fed me alot over the years (what? I love to eat delish food!!) but we’ve kinda been disconnected since Jenn moved to NC. So we chatted briefly then parted to have our peaceful lunches. Ending about the same time, he offered me a ride back to work. We were talking along the way about this dreadful housing market, and he mentioned a couple of options for refi that I hadn’t considered. I had automatically assumed that I wasn’t even eligible since I’ve never been late or missed a payment and because for most programs, particularly that eye-roll inducing NACA who were extremely rude to me, I have too much income despite the fact that my house has depreciated way more than I want to talk about because it’s sickening. Talk about a tap on the shoulder from God! I jumped on the internet to check things out and it looks like Mr. Rundles was on to something. I’m looking forward to calling and finding out more.

I love when people are put in my path and it’s quite obvious that I was supposed to see them and talk to them and LISTEN to them. And I love when I am reminded that I have support all around even if I don’t see them as much as I did long ago. I told Mr. Rundles that I’ll call soon so I can come by and get some of that great food that used to be a regular treat. Yay for great parents who love their children’s friends. πŸ™‚

Unexpected Blessings

Unexpected Blessings

Yesterday, I had an appointment for an herbal body wrap at Hadiya Wellness. I’ve never been there, and although I was excited about trying the wrap for the first time, I woke up not feeling my best. I didn’t feel well physically or emotionally. But I’m a fighter, so I pushed on and made my way to East Atlanta with a large sprite in hand to try to settle my stomach.

He Ain't Heavy by Gilbert Young

You know how sometimes all it takes is for a friend to say “Are you ok?” for you to completely lose your cool? Well, I hadn’t talked to a friend that morning, so I felt like I had myself pretty together. I could fake the funk in the few minutes of chatting you do with a service provider before they get to doing whatever it is they’re about to do, right? Wrong. I signed in and stepped into my designated room. A lady, who turned out to be Asha, the director of Hadiya, greeted me then said “Are you ok?” and I said “Oh I’m ok besides that I don’t feel all that well.” So she asked what was going on and I told her, and she said well, we can do the appointment if you want, but you don’t have to–we can reschedule to when you feel better. Then she led me over to the seating area in the room and sat with me and said “what else is going on? you can talk to me. you seem like you’re overwhelmed and just need to let it out. go ahead.” And I immediately started crying. It’s amazing how God will put you exactly where you need to be. I didn’t know this woman from Eve, and she sat with me for however long when she didn’t have to, allowing me to express myself and find some relief. When I couldn’t talk because of my tears, she basically told me how I felt and all I had to do was nod. It was kinda crazy, but it felt good to hear that someone understood how I felt. She gave me some words of affirmation and assured me that I’d be ok. Then she pulled out the lavender oil, brought in a foot massager, dimmed the lights, and let me sit in the room alone and just meditate and think about how good God has been and will continue to be.

That just reinforced for me that God uses whoever allows Him to bless people. Asha could have said either you get this service or you pay me a cancellation fee. Or she could have just done the service not knowing if it’d make me sicker. She could have ignored whatever little voice was telling her that I wasn’t just sick physically and let me walk out the door still feeling like crap. I really appreciate her, and I hope that I don’t ignore the subtle nudges we sometimes get to do more than nod and smile at some stranger as they walk by or to ask deeper questions of people we’re talking to because they need a sounding board. I’m not one that regularly accepts help from others, but I’m glad that there’s a higher power that knows me better than I know myself. And I look forward to patronizing Hadiya in the future, when I’m in better health. πŸ™‚

Be blessed, lovelies!

Lessons Learned by Farmer Jo, Part 2

Lessons Learned by Farmer Jo, Part 2

Back to those doggone squash and cucumbers. Much of what I learned about trying to grow them applies to my life in general. It all started when I went to Chicago in June to celebrate the 30th birthdays of three compadres. I purchased an automatic sprinkler so that my plants wouldn’t be thirsty for a full weekend. Well… I called myself testing it the night before and setting the timer for every 6 hours. Didn’t work out like I thought it would.

My cucumbers were overwatered, while my squash was underwatered. Isn’t that what happens sometimes in our relationships? You put in way more effort than is necessary for some people and neglect others. Yeah… So after that it was making up time. I had to figure out what could be salvaged. Which isn’t always that easy. Last night, I realized that I really need to sit down and do what I do on a somewhat regular basis–a friendship evaluation. But later on that–let me finish talking about my poor plants. πŸ™‚

So my squash was growing, but they were almost orange, instead the great yellow my first crop was. In addition, the actual vines/roots were turning a dark green and looking pretty ashy and almost dead (and some were dead) and starting to look mangled. I probably Β should have abandoned ship then, but Determined Dejoi couldn’t just admit defeat. I started back to my original regime after cutting off all the dead parts. It was looking pretty sparse after I cut all the dead weight off. After that only one more squash grew.

Lesson: When there’s more death than life or more negativity than positivity, it’s time to let go. Some things aren’t worth saving.

On the other hand, my cucumbers were growing, but they were discolored in a different way and disfigured. (Have you noticed here that colors tell the story if you only pay attention?) These babies were yellowish (not green) and round, instead of long. So I added soil to the pot to try to soak up some of that excess water, and I moved the pot so that the plants would get more sun. But more than that, when I looked at the vines, there were some serious issues. There were black vines all over the place. So I cut all of those off, but the cucumbers never grew normally, and I was scared to eat the warped cucumbers (although they smelled like cucumbers and Smokie enjoyed the one that fell off the vine, lol).

Lesson: You can flood anything or anyone or any situation, which warps the fruit of whatever seed you planted. If you’re putting more into something or someone than you’re getting back, Β you need to evaluate the situation.Β 

My first summer of gardening was great. I had some wins and some losses, but I learned from it all. My carrots and broccoli are still looking great so far. I’m even considering growing onions later in the winter. Here are some questions that I’m asking myself during my friendship evaluation:

  • Whose lives are you enhancing and who is enhancing yours?
  • In whom are you investing and who is investing in you?
  • Who do you prioritize and who prioritizes you?
  • Whose opinions do you value? Whose do you dismiss?
  • Who actively listens to you? Who do you think you waste your breath on?
  • Who keeps indirect tabs on you but doesn’t directly deal with you? Do they use that information to help or hurt you?
  • Who do you feel comfortable confiding in?

In all of this, it’s important to honor your instincts. Some friendships are for a season, some for a reason, and some for a lifetime. No, I don’t talk to all my friends every day–I have people I truly consider friends who I have confidence in even though they’re not on my normal rotation. So you have to consider all that. And you need to ask yourself if you spend more time and energy on the people who don’t add to you than who do. If so, you have some adjusting to do. I know I do.

Almost 30! Many lessons down, many more to go!

Lessons Learned by Farmer Jo

Lessons Learned by Farmer Jo

So I was (am) Farmer Jo this summer, and I loved it. Back in May, I was inspired by my green thumb friends and family and planted my own deck garden. Recap: I bought railing planters, soil, seedlings, a few seeds, and went for it despite my failure at keeping a couple of houseplants alive. Here’s how I did.

First of all, the summer made me scared of seeds. I planted seeds in two pots: a lily and a sunflower. The lily never sprouted from the soil at all. Not sure what happened there. The sunflower came up and it was beautiful until I found out that sunflowers like sun but not too much. It was purty while it lasted but I allowed it to bake to death. So if I ever plant more sunflowers, I’ll put it in a place that gets a little shade during the day.

But you know, I don’t back down to any challenge. Seeds can’t punk me! Besides, it is something about checking every day and one day stepping outside to see a new wisp of green peaking out of the dirt. A sense of accomplishment peaks out of the soil with it. For the fall, I’ve planted broccoli and carrots and both have started sprouting. #winning! They look great, and I can’t wait to see how well they do.

All of my veggies this summer started as seedlings. I just didn’t want to take any chances with them. My peppers are banging. Nothing I’ve done have deterred their beautiful growth. Which makes me grin, especially since my fajita bell peppers looked to be on their last leg the day I planted her. They looked awesome the entire season and gave me plenty of peppers to cook. You can taste the heat in the cajun bell peppers. And you can smell the yumminess of the fajita bell peppers. As the cold weather enters, it has made me frown a bit to see them die, but that’s a part of the cycle of life. I’m very proud of my peppers. I’ll definitely make this my staple every year.

My okra was comme ci comme ca. Partially due to space, I only got one okra plant, so there was never any harvest that was big enough for me to fry up more than a couple of slices of okra. It was usually two at a time. It has gotten so tall though. It’s unbelievable. I’m not sure if I’ll plant another of these next year. I just don’t have the space to grow them in bulk that I can see. But my one lil solo plant has hung in there.

The serious lessons were with my squash and cucumbers, my pseudo disappointments. But that’s for my next post. πŸ™‚