New Tamales Tradition

I’ve never made homemade tamales before today and I hope to make them again because it was a great experience.

My friend Adriana invited several families to her home to learn how to make the labor intensive and time consuming Mexican treats. We were so lucky because it really was fun to be working side by side with moms, kids, and a couple of dads.

Some were making the seasoned masa while others were busy spreading the masa in a thin layer over the softened corn husks.

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Adriana made homemade red and green sauces, as well as shredded chicken and pork to use as fillings before we arrived. There were bowls of shredded cheese and a vegetarian mixture of corn and beans and salsa as well.  

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We had two assembly tables and 4 huge pots with steamers ready to go.

Adriana gave us lessons how to spread the masa in a thin layer, how to not overfill them, and how to fold them and place them in the container for steaming.  

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We were all eager to learn and to get started, as we wanted to make 100s!

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Once the tamales were assembled, they had to steam for 2 hours to cook the masa.

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Everyone patiently waited and enjoyed time together while the tamales did their thing.  We monitored the pots and added more water as the steam evaporated.  

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The dog had fun licking up the fallen scraps and looking for more.

I loved every part of the process, even being part of the kitchen crew clean up team. I loved watching everyone work together and creating something good together. There were lots of smiles in the kitchen.

We all were hungry and enjoyed them when they were ready and then we bagged them by the dozen for each family to take home.

I love this new tradition and hope we do it again next year. Gracias Amiga!!

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We are THaT Family

We are perfectly imperfect with quirks and craziness, wrapped in laughter and unconditional love.

My sister said it best, summarizing our night after our dad’s birthday party:

“This is my family. It may not always be perfect, but it’s my perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing. This family knows and exhibits what unconditional love is all about….We have all had our trials in life, and each member of this beautiful family has held each other up and has been the foundation for our strength since it began. ”

We always come together to celebrate life’s good moments, and to lift each other up during challenging times. We laugh and tease and argue and work together and play and best of all just love each other.

This love reaches out to our extended family and friends. We had probably 100 guests at the party and many more who couldn’t make it. I loved seeing everyone there and sharing stories throughout the evening, and missed those who couldn’t make it.

I loved getting ready for the party, almost as much as I enjoyed the party.

I loved making the flower arrangements with my sister and cousin and my kids. I loved seeing my boys work with my dad to assemble his new Traeger and then to hang out by the smoker with the guys as the tri-tips were prepared for the party. I loved that my other sister took all the kids to her house while we were getting ready for the party so the house could stay neat and the cousins could have cousin time. I love that I got to go shopping with my mom to pickup all the food for the gathering. I love that my brother and his wife made home made chicken taquitos, guacamole and salsa that we all devoured around the table. And I especially loved how happy my dad was with his special night.

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Happy birthday Pops and thanks for having another birthday so we could celebrate you! Thank you for being you and for all you do to spread love and cheer!! You are loved!!

Life is good.

I know not all families are perfect and I hope you get to celebrate life’s moments with your loved ones too.

Namaste.

Teams

Do you ever think about teams?

What teams do you belong to?

Why do you like to be part of a team?

I played tennis this morning with my team, and we were just practicing. I loved being out on the courts, playing with a new partner and practicing certain skills like keeping my eye on the ball and trying not to make mistakes. Any day on the courts is a good day to me. I love the challenge and the practice and being outside in the sunshine with friends. I love that we have a captain, who schedules our games and plans practices and organizes us so that I don’t have to think about it, and just show up. I love that my friends want to schedule additional times to play and practice together and that we’re always mixing it up. I love the friendly competition and working towards a goal. This fills me up.

Today Juliana’s tennis team won their championship playoff game. I am so happy that she was chosen to be on the team and got to practice nearly every day. She had a great team of coaches and supportive players who cheered each other on. I am so proud of her.

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Tonight I worked with a team of volunteers to put on a graduation dinner. I was thankful that there were several of us working together to create something meaningful. I loved the input and ideas and collaboration and help. Truly, working alone is no fun and one person cannot possibly think of all possible ideas and best practices. Plus, having a team makes things flow smoothly and it is so nice to have backup help and to not have to do everything by yourself. I loved the time together working with friends, and that the people we were serving were thankful for the work we created as a team.

Tonight I was also thankful for my team of supporters in this life journey. April went to pick up Juliana after her tennis match, as I couldn’t be in two places at the same time. Jeff came to pick up Charlie from my event, and once he arrived, he let Charlie stay on and play with his friends as they were all having a good time too. Thank you for your help April and Jeff! You make life easier and I’m thankful you’re here with me.

I hope you enjoy your teams too – as they come in many different forms. Go Team!

My New Jewelry Box

20140204-224604.jpgCharlie helped me to build my new jewelry box.  

I have collected an awesome collection from Stella & Dot over the past three years and wanted a place to store my collection.  I read about this ALEX chest of drawers from IKEA from another Stylist on our private message boards that worked well with our display trays.

Charlie and I worked for two afternoons putting together my new treasure box.  I gave him his very own tools as his early Valentine's Day Present and he was thrilled. He mentioned how long it was taking us to finish our project.   I was able to throw in some life lessons as we worked side by side. We had 6 drawers to build and it first it was a bit challenging. As we worked on, we got into a rhythm and were able to figure out the process, decreasing the time it took to complete each step. 

I loved having him work with me and teaching him that sometimes work is easier with a partner. We also learned that at the beginning, things are harder to accomplish because we haven’t don’t the work before.

And as we repeat the steps, life gets easier as we learn and understand how things work.  As I was finishing one drawer, he was on to building the next. He was so industrious and focused and had so much fun building with me. He is learning that things take time and that as you practice, things get easier.

Life is Good!

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Halloween Homework Club

ThIs afternoon I picked up the bike pool (like a carpool but on the bike) from school to bring our friends to our house for homework club.

We had three kids and their heavy backpacks in the front and Charlie on the back with a helmet and me pedaling. I wish I would have had someone take a picture. I felt like a bike taxi or a tuk-tuk, with the kids all giggling and wanting me to go faster and slower.

I had the table set with Halloween plates and cookies and grapes and drinks for when they all arrived.

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They sat down at the table for a snack, followed by an hour’s worth of homework, with a few minor interruptions, but for the most part they stayed focused and worked together and independently, asking questions of one another and sharing stories. I loved being a part of their little circle, observing how smart they each are. I was impressed that they still had the discipline to sit still and work after a full day’s worth of school.

Afterwards we all went outside to play and get some sunshine. Aren’t these flowers beautiful?

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They had a Nerf gun war, running and chasing and hiding, ducking, and dropping to avoid being hit. They climbed fences and ran around cars and came up with strategies. Kids are so creative and I love arching them interact and be outdoors playing.

They also played with Charlie’s new trash can figures that I don’t understand, but are all the rage in his mind. He bought them with a gift card he received for his birthday from Toys at Us. I’m trying to help him learn the value of a dollar and how to make choices with his money.

I like our neighborhood gang! They are great kids, all with such unique personalities.

Do your kids play in your neighborhood? What do they like to do?