Saturday, July 19, 2014

One Week In

This week has flown by. Between teaching and doing some consulting work, I've been keeping quite busy. One evening, while I was in my apartment, I heard some English and stepped out on my balcony. The next thing I knew, I had an invitation to a party at a nearby home that was being rented by a family from Texas. The home was incredibly beautiful and had stunning views. This photo is from the top terrace. We enjoyed quesadillas, chips with salsa and guacamole (made by the young daughter), and some tasty margaritas. My hosts also attended along with a mother and son from Seattle who were here studying Spanish. I wanted to stay longer but I teach early so I headed back to my little home before it was too late.

The master's students presented their thesis research last evening and this morning. Last night, three other professors and I went to a fantastic restaurant to determine the outcome of the presentations. We ordered a bottle of wine and tapas: a cheese board patatas bravas, shrimp in a creamy Pernod sauce, and tapenade. It was delicious and I may need to treat myself to dinner there before I leave.


Another student rented a large and beautiful home so she hosted a party to celebrate so we went to that after. It was amazing having wine on the rooftop terrace watching bolts of lightning crashing all around us. Eventually, it started to rain and we went inside. I ended up with my students at a salsa bar until 1:30. I behaved myself nicely and had a student from our program walk me home when everyone else went out for street tacos. We were up and at 'em for presentations at 9:00 this morning.

After the presentations, I went to this tea shop that I am in love with. They have a great tea menu and at some point, I'll give there food a try too. They have a pig theme (hence the cookie next to my cuppa) and they have books all over for people to enjoy in the shop or borrow. All of my books are on my Kindle otherwise I'd be inclined to leave a book there. I had a little nap today, found a beautiful purse (I've been on the hunt for months), and did some strolling around. I found a little Asian joint by my apartment and I'll probably get takeout for dinner and curl up and read and go to bed early.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer Class in Mexico

I’m sitting in quite possibly one of the most charming kitchens in Mexico, waiting for the water to boil for my pasta. I’ve been here three days and had a mental block about blogging because I had promised to blog about Ecuador “soon” and that never ended up happening due to campus meetings almost as soon as I got back, a challenging summer school class, and other random things that came up. As much as I have to say about Ecuador, I want to write about Guanajuato while I’m here.

I taught here last summer and it went well but somehow, this summer is even better (with the exception of my dear friend, Dr. SH, being on a well-deserved vacation instead of hanging out with me in Gto). Though it may seem like a small detail, a big part of it is my apartment. Last year I stayed in a fully remodeled apartment that an American family owned. It was very nice but somewhat sterile and the caretaker was not terribly pleasant. This apartment is attached to a family home that also has B&B style guestrooms. It is filled with charm and art (and mosquitos, to be fair) and the owners are lovely people. It’s a bit silly, but I think it’s super cool that there is a pomegranate tree right outside my window. I have my own place and I get a taste of family life and Mexican hosts to help me out. I ended up asking the Señor for a corkscrew and toilet paper tonight.

I taught this same class last summer so I have materials prepped and they only need minor modifications. My walk to campus reminds me of my walk to class when I studied in Avignon. After class, I either go to a coffee shop for a snack and tea or I work on campus until I decide to leave for lunch. Today I went to lunch at a Japanese place. It’s so small, there are just a few tables in an alleyway (callejón) and no place to eat inside. Then I ran some errands. It seems every day there are minor errands that are more fun here. It’s a challenge to find certain things without taking a cab to a bigger store. My dinner is made up of pasta and cheese purchased from a convenience store and vegetables and butter from a tiny produce shop. I found a little wine at a random store that I had never seen open before. It will be fun for the brief time I’m here and then I’ll go home and enjoy some of the luxuries I have in my kitchen. Including a cooking partner (Austin) and background noise (Stinky’s fussing).

Saturday, May 31, 2014


It feels so good to be back. Updates and actual writing very soon.

Monday, May 26, 2014


A little down time after a day on the farm.

Saturday, May 24, 2014


This is the view from our hotel. We'll be spending three lovely days here.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Notes from Ecuador

I'm sitting in a student computer lab right now at our sister campus. We've been going non-stop since we got up on Monday morning after getting in quite late on Sunday. We are spending the first six days in Quito then heading out to smaller towns and villages where I will not have any internet access.

I really like Quito; it is no doubt its own city but it also reminds me of other Spanish-speaking areas I've visited which adds a sense of comfort. We are staying at a hotel but I'm in an apartment with three other women from other departments (geography, sociology, and nursing). We get up each day and go to the lobby for breakfast. There is a great sun room that I posted previously. Then we pile into a bus to head off to our next adventure where some of us gaze out the window to see the city and other professors... profess. A lot. It's quite the study on personalities!

Our tour of the city on Monday was fantastic. I loved it all but particularly enjoyed La iglesia de compañía de Jesus, a Jesuit church that was out of this world. It was designed in a mosque-like style with stunning Arabic patterns on all the walls. It is informally known as "The Gold Church" because almost anything that could be covered with gold leaf has been. Catholic altars line the walls and the front altar is incredible. The best part is that combination of Arabic, Spanish, and indigenous flavors. I hate to make comparisons but it's human nature--this church is to gold what Ste. Chappelle in Paris is to stained glass. It took my breath away.

Last night, a small group of us went out for authentic Ecuadorian food. I have already formed an addiction to aji, a salsa-like condiment, but last night I got the "real" food to put it on. The best were the llapingachos (photo later) which are like mashed potato cakes bowned on the bottom. Amazing. These are things I will attempt to recreate at home but I will need to find a way to acquire tree tomatoes, hmm....

Ok, we're off to lunch in a bit and then we'll be touring a campus hospital. Later tonight, I'm off to the contemporary art center for an artist talk, so excited!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Campus Visit

We went to our sister campus today. I snapped a few shots in the architecture building and when I was crossing the bridge out of campus.

Breakfast in Quito

Off to campus for meetings and work.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Off to Ecuador!

The semester ended Friday, the adventure begins today!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring in Kentucky

I miss the mountain laurel and bluebonnets from Texas but spring in Kentucky is really lovely too. Here's a quick update of what's been going on here.

  • Stinky has been extra clingy since we've returned from Mexico. I guess we'll have to host Christmas because he's made it very clear we are never to leave him again.
  • The bulbs I planted are coming up and our grass is getting green. I'm looking forward to getting some herb containers going. We're also going to have to get a grill and some patio furniture. We thought those items would be on sale last fall but that was not the case.
  • I've been working at home since last Thursday because our building lost power. Like majorly so. It sounds like we'll be back in on Wednesday. I'm updating syllabi and creating online assignments because between this and the ice/snow days, things are a mess.
  • Austin is building a coffee table but progress has been slowed down by a bum foot.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Fine Dining in Cancun

Our resort had numerous restaurants and some required reservations. We ate at Kulinarium, our favorite, twice. When we walked in, we were greeted in the lobby with a glass of bubbly rosé and then shown to our table. Here is a combined list of our two dinners there. I'm too lazy to crop and add filters to the photos so here they are, straight from my iPhone.

The Appetizers

These would more aptly be called "amuse-bouche" and were cheese tequeños (stuffed rolls) and shrimp and Peruvian potato puree.

The Starters

Puff pastry with roasted vegetables and caramelized foi gras with a balsamic reduction

"Seduction" of ceviches--Mexican-style shrimp, Nikkei-style tuna, and Peruvian-style sea bass. The tuna ceviche was amazing and we are going to try to recreate it.

Chupe lobster soup with avocado, corn, cheese, and fried tortilla (served tableside with broth poured over)

The Entrees

Austin's was so good he had it twice but I tried two.

Marinated beef filet with beef, potato purée, and poblano chili

Charcoal seared sea bass and cassava with onions in mojo sauce and Mexican coconut soup

Sautéed vegetable quinoa with goat cheese and avocado oil.

The Desserts

We tried three of the four over our two visits.

Chocolate trio

Butter cookie crisp with three fruit ice creams and orange blossom gelée (hands down the best!)

Rice with caramelized milk, fruit confit,and mango sorbet

Sunday, March 9, 2014

We made it...

...and it's wonderful!

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Life has been stressful and I cannot wait to be here with Austin.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Snow Days

On Sunday, it rained a lot and then the temperature dropped so we currently have a sheet of ice covered by powdery snow. Classes were canceled Monday and campus was supposed to be reopen today at noon but there was too much ice and snow to clear. I was going to teach this afternoon but that has been put on hold.

This week before spring break was unusually heavy with meetings, events, and appointments. It is now looking like I'll be on campus only tomorrow and Thursday, working from home on Friday as I normally do (and am so fortunate to be able to do). Tea and list making are in order with this unexpected block of time.

In addition to working, I am currently adding books to my Kindle and songs to my iGadgets; any recommendations?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Busy Days

It's been pretty busy around here and not much of it has been exciting enough to warrant a blog post (wanna see the budget I spent hours and hours making? wanna see Austin's new code?). It's been so busy that Austin suggested we tap into our vacation funds. I was thinking a long weekend in Nashville or something but he had other ideas, namely a beach and pure relaxation. We're headed to Cancun.

In fact, the last time we traveled internationally together was to Cancun in early 2007 to celebrate my brother and sister-in-law's wedding. It's time to do it again.

Normally, Austin and I like to go to lots of museums and walk all around a city but the purpose of this vacation is to totally relax. We're loading our Kindles with lots of books, staying at an all-inclusive so I don't spend hours researching the best off-the-beaten path restaurants, and we're going to let the sun and surf work some magic. We're so lucky we have this opportunity and we plan to enjoy every second of it.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

I'm Here

I'm here, as in back on the blog. And I'm here, as in Florida, for work.

The beginning of the year and the new semester kept me very busy and Austin continues to work crazy hours. But for now, I've got the patio door open so I can listen to the waves crash. I caught up on a little work and I'm going to go for a walk in a bit. Tomorrow and Saturday I'll be doing some focus group work with a publisher and then I'll be home just in time to throw a Super Bowl party with Austin. Stay tuned, I won't be away so long next time.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Impromptu Local Fun

There is a nice farm-to-table style restaurant near our house that often has interesting specials and when a "Texas Burger Night" came up, I had to share it with Austin who was more than willing to give it a try. We wondered why they were closed for over a week during the holidays but found out they were taking a whirlwind tour of the Lone Star State to inform their menu--gotta love a place that takes their food research seriously!

Austin chose the Lockhart burger which included locally sourced prime beef, pepperjack cheese, pickles, onion rings and spicy Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce. Naturally he had to pair it with a Shiner. I could tell it was good because instead of talking, he nodded a lot, said "mmm," and licked his fingers.

I opted for the autumn salad with mixed green, julienned green apple, candied pecans, and goat cheese with a side of balsamic dressing. It was very tasty and I'd like to recreate it at home.

After our meal, we stopped by a liquor store for a wine (for me) and beer (for him) tasting and Austin scored a bottle of spiced rum that is distilled locally. Not a bad Wednesday night.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A New Year

The first day of 2014 was gorgeous, with highs near 50 and lots of sun. I snapped this photo while I was out on a walk and enjoying some fresh air. We had a quiet New Year's Eve in, making caramelized leek risotto and crab legs. I enjoyed cooking and eating and didn't take a photo of any of it.

This morning, it was much cooler and it was rainy, then sleeting, then finally snowing. We have beautiful pine trees in the back yard and I did the Robert Frost snow watching thing while sipping tea. I like that we have four seasons here, more so than in TX and not quite as extreme as things were up north. Tea and snowflakes, a good kind of meditation.