Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!

We have had an extremely busy but relaxing week away from the city!! We went to this amazing place called Xcalak (said shkalak, x in Mayan sounds sh). It is a pretty isolated little fishing village with a few small eco-hotels on a marine park, mangroves and lagoon!! This is the hotel we stayed in, it is called Sin Duda Villas...the owners were amazing...we really loved staying there. All solar powered and as minimal impact as possible.

The snorkeling right in front of the hotel was great! We saw a moray eel among other amazing fishes and invertebrates.

There was seagrass everywhere and it looked to be in great shape! The corals were in better shape than anywhere else I have been snorkelling near Cancun. Although, like all corals in the Carribean, they are in pretty rough shape.

We also did some diving on an atoll 1.5 hours boat ride from the coast of Mexico. It is reputed to be the best diving on the entire MesoAmerican Barrier reef (2nd largest reef in the World). It is a marine park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most of the atoll is protected and they say by 2010 there will no fishing whatsoever on all of the atoll!! YAY!! Since it is protected and offshore, the corals were better and we also saw some large carnivorous fish (Jacks and Snappers), which are quite rare nowadays from overfishing. We also saw some AMAZING sponges, nurse sharks, a moray eel, courting trunkfish and lots of other really cool fish and corals!!! Some of them were as large as me!! Overall it was a great experience, and Diego and I really wanted to see it before it disappears. Here is a video Diego put together of our 3 dives out there so you can see it for yourself!

On our way to Xcalak, we stopped in this restaurant called El faisan y el venado (the pheasant and the deer) and had some traditional food from the southern region of the Yucatan. There was even a lovely mayan lady making real corn tortillas...from scratch not from prepared flour!!!

We are all getting ready for the big party tonight...lots of food, drink and presents!! It will be a blast!! Merry Christmas to everyone!! I hope you all have a wonderful celebration of family, friends and food!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

At Home in Mexico!

We arrived in Cancun on Friday. We are spending the Christmas Holidays with Diego's family here in Mexico and my parents are also joining us!!! They arrive on Tuesday so we have been busy planning what we're going to do for the next few weeks! Not to mention celebrating with family we have not seen in almost 2 years!!!

We have also been thoroughly enjoying the food!!! I love Mexican food...tacos, huarrachas, cochinita pibil, tortas...YUM!!

Here is a photo of what we ate at 3 this morning on our way home from a party at Diego's cousin's place.

This is a huarracha, it has 2 corn tortillas on the bottom, a layer of a typical white cheese (melted) that is much more flavourful than mozzarella but has a similar consistency, a thin layer of cream and then 2 types of meat on top. The meat on the bottom is called arrachera or flank steak cut into small pieces and cooked with some spices and the meat on the top (which is almos gone...) is called pastor. It is pork, they cook it by coating the pork steaks in a spice (which is not spicy) called achiote (it is red, hence the orangy look to the meat) then they pile the steaks high on a vertical rotisserie and cook them for the whole afternoon with a pineapple and onion on the top of the rotisserie dripping juices to the meat below... mmmmm...I will take a photo of the rotisserie next time...

To the side is a typical salsa here in Cancun. It is made with avocado, onions, garlic and habanero out for this is not for the faint of heart, it is VERY spicy! They also, always have milder salsas around because unlike what we are told...not all Mexicans like things really spicy!

It was obviously delicious! : )

I am off to enjoy the sun and company! Happy Sunday!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Forgotten Camera!

So I forgot my camera at a friends house on Sunday....which really sucks because we have all these beautiful icicles everywhere! The sun is out and it is quite cold, keeping everything icy and beautiful.

To keep with the snowy yet sunny are some pics from White Juan. For those of you not from NS (or weren't here) this was a record breaking blizzard we had in Feb 2004, only 5 months after Hurricane Juan devastated our region. We had 87.5 cm of snow!

Let's just say Diego and I were less than happy, as in 2 days we were heading to Mexico for a week!!! Lucky for us the re-opened the airport just in time! : )

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tag and Twins

My twin pear cakes that I made for two Christmas tonight and one tomorrow! This is the same recipe as in an earlier post. I will make the caramel fresh for each cake.

This is what surrounded me when I took this photo.

1) My trusty notepad that is always laying around in case I need to make a list!
2) My mini pointsetta, I love having flowers on the table and even better if it is an actual plant rather than cut flowers!
3) A receipt from Sears for some tights that I need to return.
4) My huge set of office keys! There are at least 15 keys on that ring!
5) Mini Swiss Army knife. It has great little scissors for fine work.
6) Our set of dinner (black) and ambiance lighting (red and white) candles that are pretty much permanent table fixtures.
7) A pile of shirts that I am cutting up and using as part of different sewing projects. On top of these, the two long tubes are light bulbs for our new fish tank that we are setting up.
8) My purse which is inevitably on the table or one of the kitchen chairs...on top of some light reading (yeah right...scientific papers are almost never light!) for a manuscript I am writing.
9) A new CD from my favorite Quebecois group Les Cowboys Fringants, this album is called L'Expedition.
10) My sewing machine tucked back into its bag but at the ready for another project!

You don't realize how much stuff you can be surrounded by until you have to do this!!! We always have to fight against entropy (disorder) and I think most times it wins!

This second photo is part of a game called "the real deal" tag. I was tagged by Sherrie from Frenchy's Finds. Actually, she tagged everyone who reads her blog!

Here are the rules (copied from Frechy's Finds):

"Here's the low down.... take a picture the way you would normally do to post on your blog, preferably crop it to showcase the subject. Then show us the "real deal"... the nitty gritty daily clutter that we sometimes try to avoid posting. Talk about the messes you cut out in the cropped picture. We'll still love you!!! Then tag at least two people and link back to your post. OK? Sound fun? Can't wait to be invited into everyone's real life."

Like on Frenchy's Finds, I am tagging all who read this blog that have one of their own!
Have a good Thursday!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Getting Ready for Christmas!

The gifts are piling up! I am trying as hard as I can to have local, handmade, chemical -free Christmas gifts for all this year. I just picked up these lovely facial and body creams called A Midsummer Night's Cream and Whipped Shea butter, respectively, from a local company called Earth Elementals Soaps. I absolutely LOVE them (and their lip balm too!!)...I had to try them before giving them away ; ) The whipped shea butter comes in a GLASS container! YAY! Because of the light sensitivity of the essential oils in the facial cream they normally come in a wide-mouth amber plastice container. However, I made a special order and got mine in a clear glass container and whipped up these little pouches from some fabric I had laying around to keep them in the dark.

These pouches were my very first non-fixing sewing project! I made the pattern myself...sure the stiching is a little crooked but practice makes perfect and I had such a great time making them!!

I also picked up some soap from my fav soap maker in Yarmouth, NS Birch Bark Soap. She made a special order for me that is the best ever! I sent her my wish list and she wrapped each gift in beautiful muslin bags with her logo on it and made little gift cards with everyones name on it! The soaps are amazing!! Here they are in a box (with the cream and lip balm from the above local maker) packed and ready to go! There are some great photos of my special order on the soap makers website...check it out!

Also, I finished the baby blanket I was knitting for my nephew, Santiago. It will make a perfect blanket to throw down anywhere and wrap him when he is small. It is a narrow longish blanket, I could have used 1 more skein but ran out...I hope it ends up being his blanky...Holes and all, I am sure they will love was my second knitting project ever! Ambitious I know, but I am happy with I said imperfections and all. Diego keeps insisting I should tell them the holes were strategically placed for ventialtion since they live in Cancun. ; )

Lastly, here are the fresh pumpkin pies I made the other day for American Thanksgiving and our lab Christmas Party...I know this is only 2 events and there are can't blame us for keeping one to least we kept the one with the burnt edges...I technically could have made four but I overfilled them and they overflowed while putting them in the oven and the edges burnt...what a mess...regardless, they were soooo tasty!

Have a good week!