Mediterranean Omelets

 

Brunch. A perfect weekend treat. A reason for grown-ups (or in our case, growing-ups) to drink before noon. An excuse to eat huge meals (because it counts for two). Paul and I love it.

This weekend we woke up, hit the farmer’s market, went of about an 18 mile bike ride, and then fixed a pretty massive brunch. Sometime on the ride, Paul said he was thinking omelets and we concluded the we had all the makings for a Mediterranean salad, so we’d just combine them for Mediterranean Omelets.

Served with mimosas with a splash of Chambord for us growing-ups. : )

This omelet was massive; perfect after our ride, since we were starving. Maybe a little full, but I’ll like omelets FULL of fillings!

Mediterranean Omelet

  • 3 eggs
  • splash of milk
  • handful of baby spinach
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup feta
  • 1 tblsp. sliced black olives
  • 1 fresh banana pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1/4 -1/2 of a large tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 of of a cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fresh oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Lightly saute onions in a skillet lightly sprayed with olive oil or nonstick spray.

Then, warm a large skillet, or omelet pan, sprayed with olive oil on medium heat. Mix eggs, milk, and salt and pepper in small bowl as though scrambling. Pour onto warmed skillet, evenly.

Wait about a minute so that eggs begin to set, then begin adding ingredients on one half of the eggs. Fold he set, empty half of eggs over the side that is loaded up with stuffing. Let set a couple of minutes, then attempt to flip omelet so that other side can warm.

Transfer to a plate and enjoy!

 

(Belated) Nos Vemos, Guatemala

So I wrote a blog post on the flight back a week and a half ago and just realized that I didn’t post it.  So here it is:

I’m headed back to the States after a month in Guatemala.  My cousin is getting married in Chicago with a reception at the Art Institute.  This should provide a pretty stark transition back in to American culture.  I spent the last week in Guatemala trying to fit as much in as possible.

After a long weekend of hiking Tajamulco, the first part of the week was pretty relaxed.  On Tuesday, Guatemala played USA in an international soccer tournament.  We watched the game at our usual haunt, La Liga bar.  We were a large table of obvious gringos in a bar filled with Guatemalans.  This led to a fair share of taunting in our direction.  The game was close and wound up being a 1-1 tie.  So I guess everyone ended it kind of happy.

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At the rural clinic with the Guatemalan doctors

Wednesday was my last day in Xela.  I spent the morning working in the mobile clinic in a small town outside of Xela the name of which I can’t remember.  The population was 100% Quiche Mayan.  Many of the patients spoke broken Spanish and some spoke none at all.  It is always an experience to translate from English to Spanish in your mind and then hear the Spanish translated in to Quiche.  The best way I can describe the sound of Mayan languages is they are based on clicks.  It is so distinct from any language I have ever heard spoken before. 

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Palacio de gobierno in Xela

My last day in Spanish class my professor Alberto and I finished reviewing the last of the verb tenses and then walked down to Parque Central for my last view of the city.  We stopped in the government center and walked narrow streets of the old part of the city. I went home for a final dinner with my family.  Eggs, beans, and plantains.  Going out the way I came in.  I packed and then met some students, one of the Guatemalan doctors, and Anne’s host family for salsa night at La Paranda.  The club was packed and we got drinks and made fools of ourselves in front of the very serious Guatemalan salsa instructors.

It was a late night and an early morning to catch the bus to Antigua.  I took a Pullman to Chimaltenango and then a chicken bus to the market.  I walked around, found a hotel, set up a shuttle for the morning and then started to walk around Antigua.  I picked up the last of my gifts and spent the majority of my remaining Quetzals at the market.  Then I began to meander my way around the streets of Antigua.

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Universidad San Carlos, the first university in Guatemala

From everything I had read and heard Antigua is showpiece of Guatemalan tourism.  It is very Americanized, but that also means it is cleaner and safer than anywhere else in Guatemala.  And its historical significance and colonial charm give it a perfect atmosphere for meandering.  It was the Spanish colonial capital until it was devastated by multiple earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in the 17 and 1800’s.  Much of the city was rebuilt but some of the ruins were simply left as they were.  This contrast gives the city a unique characteristic.

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Church ruins

I wandered up and down the streets, stumbling upon a church every few blocks and warding off souvenir peddlers.  I ended the day at a rooftop bar overlooking the city with a burger and beer (I know, very American, but after 4 weeks of rice, beans, and plantains, a plato typico was the last thing on my mind).  I was in bed at 9 to catch a 4 am shuttle to the airport.

Leaving anywhere is normally colored by bittersweet feelings.  Guatemala is the most amazing country I have visited.  It is a land of contrast.  The beauty of old colonial towns and churches surrounded by towering volcanoes and mountains.  The colorful strength of the Mayan culture poised against the dehabilitating poverty in which the live.  It is a country I will return to and learn more from.

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Local hangout in Antigua

However, I am ready to be home.  To have a warm shower, drink the water, and walk home at night.  To relax.  To see family and friends.

Nos vemos, Guatemala.

Moving Scenes

It’s been a busy week around here. Moving, showing my parents around, studying, more moving, unpacking, taking stuff to storage, visiting Paul’s parents, and all that jazz. Whew! We’re ready to throw in the towel, sleep until noon, then make a massive brunch and have cocktails before noon. Totally normal.

Here are a few scenes from the week.

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We went on a morning run so Paul could show me around my new town.

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Paul’s family has a tradition of eating pizza and drinking champagne upon moving into a new place. When I helped him move, we ordered out and ate on the floor. This time we made pizza, gluten free for me, regular with extra cheese for Paul.

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I’ve learned Paul prefers to work without a shirt on. I’v also learned he’s really good at rearranging furniture and cooking for me while I study. God bless him.

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A friendly greeting.

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After my parents helped Paul and I unload my stuff, we walked around town a bit and had lunch before they hit the road back to Texas. Incredibly grateful for their help moving.

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So grateful in fact, that their picture was the first I put up. Plus, I already missed them.

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Paul greeted me with excellent moving gifts: a subscription to Texas Monthly magazine and the Homesick Texan Cookbook.

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He also did all of my grocery shopping so that I could study and came back with flowers. This guy…seriously?!

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We made a visit to Paul’s hometown so that I could have an interview required by the state Bar association. While we were there we helped prep the yard for Paul’s brother’s wedding next weekend. So freaking excited.

Busy, but wonderful week. Full of joy. Full of gratitude. Just so full.

Moving Day

It’s finally here: moving day. I’ll be missing Texas terribly, but after over 10 months apart, Paul and I are anxious to live closer I each other.

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My brother came to Waco yesterday to help me pack up and we slept in sleeping bags in he floor after a long long day. My parents will be driving the truck with the trailer all the way to Indiana while I follow behind in the Little Jetta That Could.

Tomorrow afternoon, I’ll be unloading in Indiana. But this time Paul will be there to help. :)

Wedding DIY- Poms

The area we’re using for the reception is a beyond beautiful mountain location. There is an open canopy area which we’ll have tables set up under for dinner, but we’ll have to clear them out to use the canopy for dancing. So, I was looking for a good way to make sure that the area still looked like a wedding reception once the table were cleared out. I decided that hanging poms from the rafter would be a good way to add just a touch of decoration that will last through the night. We’ll also be using some larger bulb christmas lights to string across the top.

A poor picture of the area we’re using for the reception, just for clarification.

You can buy pom kits from various Etsy sellers and I’m pretty sure Martha Stewart even has some at Michaels. But I thought it would be a lot cheaper to make my own. I wanted to make a small grey one for each place setting and then a bunch of yellow, grey, and white ones in various sizes for the reception.

An example of poms displayed at a wedding

I roughly followed this tutorial with a couple of variations. First, I cut notches in the middle where the wire or string is tied and it will help the pom open fuller. Second, I cut deeper down the sides where the tissue is all folded to make my poms look more like petals.

Tips: remember that the size of your pom is dependent on the size of the tissue paper you use; Don’t be scared to cut the sides deeper to create more of a “petal” look, or not as deep down the sides for more of a scallop; The bigger the pom you want to make, the more pages of tissue paper you need for fullness. My bigger poms has 25 pages.

1. Start with tissue paper, and fold like an accordion.

2. Keep folding until all is folded.

3. Cut notches in the center

4. Wrap with string or wire. I used floral wire. One roll mad tons!

5. Note: I left lots of wire hanging to use for hanging poms from the rafters. Then trim the folded ends so that they are rounded.

6. Trim the sides farther if you want more of a petal shape.

7. After trimming both ends, begin fluffing! Don’t worry if you tear a little. Once its all full, you won’t notice. : ) Remember to fluff in all 4 directions for a big ball. For the smaller place setting poms, I only fluffed in 2 directions, so that the the bottom remained flat and only the top was a puff.

You’re done! Enjoy making poms. Maybe with a glass of wine and a good friend!

 And for a real, pretty view of our wedding venue, check out this photo of Hell’s A’Roarin Outfitters’ ranch.

Technicolor Cemetery and Tajumulco

As usual, I am behind on my blog post, so there is a lot of catching up.  Let us begin in the cemetery.

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Rental properties

The cemetery of Xela occupies a massive part of the older part of the city.  I went there with some students and professors as a field trip this past Wednesday.  I think the best way to describe it is just by the geography of the cemetery.  The inside of the wall that surrounds the cemetery is built of small tombs stacked on top of each other.  They are stacked 4 high and run more or less the entire perimeter of the cemetery.  These are owned by the city and rented monthly by the family of the deceased.  If you fall behind on payments, your loved one is removed and burned in a common pit to open up room for the next tenant.

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High end real estate

This “fence” surrounds the proper part of the cemetery.  This is where the upper class bury their dead.  You buy a plot of land, maybe 20’ by 10’, and built a monument on it to hold you and all your direct relatives.  This is pretty expensive real estate and sells regularly for more than the price of a house.  Many of the monuments are from when the cemetery was founded in the 1800s.  The tombs have marble and iron sculpted in Italy.  However, recently, thieves have begun knocking off heads, arms, or wings of angels and selling them.  It is a bit ominous to walk through a cemetery where all the angels are decapitated.

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Free for all

It took us probably 45 minutes to walk out of ritzy cemetery real estate to the more economical option.  In a field the size of the proper cemetery is the de facto cemetery.  This is for the lower classes.  It is an absolute free for all.  The is no cost or even registration.  And there are no squatter’s rights.  If you don’t keep the tomb of your relative isn’t apparent, someone could very well bury their newly deceased relative over the top.  Concrete tombs have grown in popularity for this reason.  In addition, Guatemalans, it seems, are very attune to the idea of multi-use space.  This part of the cemetery also functions as a dump, and, thus a refuge for stray dogs, as well as a pasture for goats and horses.  We walked back through the main part of the cemetery and got to the school just before we got our daily rain shower.

I finished off the school week and got to bed early for an early morning Saturday and a long weekend.  My alarm went off at 3:30 am, I got up begrudgingly, and rode my bike with my backpack to Quetzaltrekkers.  Quetzaltrekkers is a volunteer organization that lead backpacking trips to raise money for a local school.  Randomly, I was planning on volunteering for Quetzaltrekkers, but opted out to run the Grand Canyon.  I guess two years later, I ended up here anyways.

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The long road to Tajumulco

15 of us and 4 guides hopped into the back of a box truck and got taken to the Minerva market to catch the bus.  It was 3 hours of chicken buses and a quick stop for breakfast before we got to the trailhead of Tajumulco.  It is the highest peak in central America at 4220 meters (which is 13,000 something feet).  The hike was steep and everyone was definitely feeling the altitude.  In addition, there is no water on the mountain, so I hiked up 8 liters of water as well.  We got into camp and I was dizzy and a bit nauseous.  I drank a lot of water, ate lunch, and took a 3 hour nap as it rained.  When I got up, I was feeling a lot better.  We hung out, drank some Old Friend whiskey, and waited for dinner.  After a dinner of a lot of pesto and pasta, everyone went to bed at 9 to be up to summit at 4.

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Bundled up and waiting

We got up and began to pile on the layers to head to the summit.  It was a steep hour from the camp below the summit.  Colors began to paint the sky as we moved into the fog the enshrouded the summit.  The top was incredibly windy and freezing cold.  We waited and hoped that the clouds would break in time for sunrise.  Almost as if on cue, as the sun came over the distant horizon, the clouds cleared and one of the guides put on the Lion King soundtrack with some portable speakers.  The view was incredible.  A friend who did it before explained that on Tajumulco, you aren’t just above the clouds.  You are a mountain above the clouds.  For the 15 minutes of relatively clear skies we took pictures, shared a full beer we found on the summit, and enjoyed the view.  The clouds moved in again and we were all pretty frozen when we descended down to base camp.

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Clear view to Mexico

After hot coffee and oatmeal, we packed an headed down.  It was a quick couple hour hike down and then an amazing lunch in a comedor.  It began to rain before we began a pretty miserable 3 hour ride on a chicken bus back to Xela.  I had been debating whether or not I was going to do Tajumulco.  I couldn’t have had better luck.  The group was great, the guides were competent, and the weather was perfect.  Other than the 15 minutes we were on the summit, the entire mountain was covered in cloud the rest of the day.

I got back to Xela, took a much needed shower, and headed to an interent café before mass.  I went to the 7 o’clock mass at the cathedral.  This is my last few days in Xela.  I have gotten to know the language, culture, and city like few places I have been before.  I am looking forward to returning at some point in time, but I am ready to be home, both to Indiana but more importantly to Kelsi.