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I am so excited for this new year.
This has always been my favorite holiday.  I love new beginnings and goal setting. 

It is always so interesting to me that we set a MOUNTAIN of goals beginning of the year.  No wonder why they are never obtained! That is so overwhelming and makes me feel like I can do nothing.

So… This year

In order to take the stress off of my perfectly capable self, I resolve to not make a load of new years resolutions. I resolve to make monthly, weekly, and daily goals that will help me be the kind of person I want to be.  I resolve to include the Lord in each of these planning sessions so I can know just what to do to be the woman He knows I can be.

Happy New Year my dears!
And may you resolve to make the ongoing changes!

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Pioneer Living

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I feel like a Pioneer. Not in the way where they were super faithful and walked across the country for they faith. But the way of cleaning without a washing machine or a sink. We recently moved to the bigger city of Aguascalientes due to more work opportunities. Jose has started his own company called “Home Running Repair”. He does construction and I am so proud of him! He has been able to stay VERY busy.

Aguas has been very beneficial for my business as well. While living in Calvillo I didn’t feel right about asking women to buy mascara that cost the same about of money as our monthly rent. Others were MUCH worse off financially than we were. It just didn’t seem right to ask that off someone. Here in Aguascalientes the economy is much better. It is very similar to the states here, so good quality mascara is not a problem to purchase. But enough on mascara…

I want to talk about the purpose for this post.

We have no kitchen

We purchased a small camping gas stove with two burners so that I can cook food. We have a small table which I prepare the food on, cook the food, and then we eat. Washing dishes has become an interesting task. We have WONDERFUL neighbors down our street. Hermana Michaus has offered to let us clean our dishes in her sink. We did that for the first few weeks, however, I will be honest…I feel bad for imposing on them every day to clean dishes.

So we bought two big bowls that look like those pans you use to pan for gold, but plastic. I fill them up with water from the small sink in the bathroom and take them outside. One is for washing, the other is for rinsing. IMG_6310

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The 3rd bin is for drying.

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Here’s the whole system!!

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The leftover rinse water goes to water all those flowers I have. This little table is actually a dog house for our landlords’ dog, Canela. She is a very protective dog and barks at every car that passes. I love it so much, especially when she barks during sleeping hours.

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Our home is on the roof of the house and has two small rooms and a small bathroom. We don’t have much space, but right now we don’t need much. Washing clothes is also quite the adventure. Our landlords do not want us to use very much water since they are paying the bill so we can’t use our laundry machine. Mario (the man) gave us the suggestion to wear our clothes in the shower like he does to wash them. Yeah that’s not going to happen. Today I washed a load by hand in a bucket with laundry soap, then set the soapy clothes aside and filled the bucket up again, but with rinse water. Afterwards I hung the clothes to dry in the sun. This last step I am used to, however, since no one here has a dryer. We all hang dry our clothes.

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Such a tiny load, but honestly, that’s all I want to try washing by hand. I am NOT a fan. So grateful for laundry machines. AND SO GRATEFUL FOR HERMANA MICHAUS. She has our laundry machine at her house so we can use it when needed. It is much easier to wash clothes at the neighbors than to wash dishes.

All in all I really like our new home. I’m not sure how long we will last here, but it is so nice to be next to friends in a new city!

Immigrants’ Wives

This week Jose has been gone in Mexico City for work. I’ll admit I cried pretty hard when he left. Cheese balls? Yes, I know. I didn’t know that I would miss him so much, but I guess he is my husband and I love him very much. My first night alone in this country I was quite nervous. Our hallway doesn’t have a roof, so of course my brain made up so many scenarios about robbers and stuff. But guess what…I live in the most tranquil part of Mexico. Seriously, I am so lucky. I fell asleep watching Spanish cartoons about chickens. The next day I woke up and watered the garden and weeded for a few hours before the sun became blazing hot. As I was weeding, I thought of how blessed I am. I thought of the women here in Mexico whose husbands have gone to the states to provide more for their family. I know that for some this is a very touchy subject, but let me try to shed some light about immigrants. Obviously I don’t know it all, I just want to share what I have noticed. Yes, Mexico is a VERY beautiful place. And what makes it even more beautiful is the people. My favorite thing here is that their main priority is family. Family guys! Not money. Not themselves or work. FAMILY. If that isn’t following the Lord’s plan, I don’t know what is. And that is a big reason why a lot of people cross the border and go to the states. They risk their lives and go to a place where they do not know the language or culture, for their family.

You see, here in Mexico people are willing to work. It’s just that the jobs don’t pay. The people who have money are either crooks, part of the Government, or have their own businesses. I know of a family here that has 5 children. The dad works ALL DAY. In the blistering heat. He gets paid 300 pesos per day. Right now the money exchange is about 15 pesos per dollar. So divide 300 by 15. That’s 20 bucks. A day. For a family of 7. That’s $120 a week. That is just one example. Things here are cheap. Like food and land, but clothes, education, household items, etc…They are all the same price as the states. People don’t have a lot here. I’ve seen it, and I’m experiencing it. It has not been easy. Sometimes, honestly, it sucks really bad because we don’t know how we’re going to earn money. But the Lord ALWAYS provides.

For example, about a month ago, Jose and I had about 50 pesos left with no jobs lined up. We both had looked and searched like crazy, yet there was nothing. Since we got married we both have been looking forward to going to Stake Conference 40 minutes away. For both of us to go it would cost 200 pesos. The day before we decided to go visit Jose’s family and just spend time with them. Jose’s sister in law came up to Jose and gave him 200 pesos. He asked what it was for and she told him she was paying him for a lamp that he put in her apartment. A few hours later Jose’s sisters came to me and asked me if they could by some makeup I had in stock from my old job. I couldn’t believe it. The Lord provided us a way to go to conference and also enough for food the next week. The next week Jose found a two week job and now he is in Mexico City for more work. This job allows us both to work from home and have our own business. I am so grateful for the Lord. For him providing for our family.

I got sidetracked…but I felt the need to write the above. So for us yes, now we are financially OK, but for others it is not that easy. That is why the dads jump the border and go work to take care of their family. I know of so many women here in Mexico who are home alone and taking care of their children without their husbands. In fact this morning, I was talking to my Suegra about how much she missed her husband when he was gone to the states for YEARS at a time. And Jose is only gone for a WEEK. The sacrifice of these people is tremendous. So I guess what I’m saying is, please don’t be so quick to judge illegal immigrants. They are just trying their best for their families. They want to make a better future for their children. Isn’t that what so many people want when they go to the states? Yes some don’t have papers, but I know they would if they could. It is a lot of work and a lot of money to get them. Money that the people of this country do not have. The Government has tons, but the people have seriously nothing.

Through the eyes of this gringa I can see just a little of how the women live while their husbands are a country away for years and years. Mine is still in the same country and he is only gone for a week. But this week I have caught a small glimpse of what they are going through. And ladies…I get it and I respect the crap out of you.

-Ash

Mexican Mole Sauce with Chicken

Red Mole

As promised ladies and gents!

   Mole from the Motherland. This recipe is one that my suegra uses to celebrate anything that needs celebrating. And today is Jose and my 5 month anniversary so I think that is worth celebration. Bring on the mexican comfort food!

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I used frozen chicken because, well, that’s all that was in the store. So I thawed it and then boiled the chicken. As you boil it the water is made into broth. Do not throw this away because you will need it later on.

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We now get to the goods. CHILE! Use about 6 chile anchos. They need to be dry roasted. Wash them good and boil them until soft. I boiled mine for about 20 minutes. After they are boiled through them toss them in the blender with the water. You want to liquefy the chiles so blend them for a good long while. Once they are a smooth liquid strain them and put the remaining in a pot. The heat should be on about medium-low heat.

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Guess what comes next…chocolate!!! This recipe just gets better and better. Toss about 2 Tablespoons of chocolate into the liquid chile. Constantly stir until the chocolate is completely melted.

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The next thing you need to mix up is the bread mix. In the blender add 1 tomato, 1/2 an onion, 2 small cloves of garlic, bread (about 2 slices worth), about 6-8 Ritz crackers, and a small amount of a cinnamon stick. WARNING: If you put too much cinnamon, your mole with be disgusting. Seriously so horrible. Take my word for it…In the photo of the cinnamon stick above, do you see the top of the side of my pointer finger? That is ALL you want. Combine all of these items in the blender. Add about 1 1/4 liter of the chicken stock that came from boiling the chicken. This will help it to not be a bread smoothie.

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Strain the mixture after it is liquified. Add this bread soup into the chile in the pot.

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Stir well

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Here’s a tip: keep stirring while the mole is on the burner. You do not want ANY curdles in your mole. That’s gross. So stir and take off the burner while you make the bread soup, or you can do as my suegra does and have a helper stir the mole while you get everything else ready. It makes for good family bonding time too!

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The last spice you want to add to the mole is pepper and gloves. Make sure that they are whole peppercorns and cloves. Use 3 peppers and 2 cloves. Anymore, they will overpower the mole. You want to mash them up. I didn’t have a stone bowl and hammer thing…I have no idea what those are called…but I do have giant rocks around my house. So I took the little bag of solid spice and smashed it like crazy with a rock on our concrete floor. This is a great way to get any extra anger or frustration out!

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Remember the chicken? Shred it with those fingers of yours, or a fork, and toss the shredded chicken into the mole. And you’re ready to serve!!

What’s mole without tortillas! But also don’t forget the rice! (I did…Luckily there is a real Mexican in our household who will let me know when we are missing something for a traditional meal.) So cook up some rice, put a spoonful in your mole and enjoy with some nice warm tortillas!

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Provecho!!!

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Who’s excited for Mole?!

  Tomorrow is the day folks! And I’m so excited! I just thought I’d give you a little peak at what will be on the blog tomorrow. MOLE! This is pronounced mole’. This dish is so delicious and is so easy to make. My suegra makes it for birthdays and anniversaries in her house. So…since there are so many people in Jose’s family we have this bowl of glory about once a month.

So check out the blog tomorrow for the amazing red mole recipe!

Our Garden: Radishes

ADVENTURE CLUB I went outside today and saw that our radishes were all bursting from the ground, ready to be picked. We had tons! I got to thinking. What are radishes even good for? So I did some research and found so many benefits that I think radishes will be a common ingredient for us now! Not to mention we have hundreds growing… There were so many benefits! Who would’ve thought so much good could come from this tiny vegetable.

1. Gives you Glowing Skin

2. Cancer Fighting- especially Colon Cancer

3. Constipation

4. Urinary Tract Issues. Radishes clean and clear our your liver and kidneys. They cleanse the whole tract so you have no more crazy infections goin on down there.

5. Boosts Immune System

One thing I love about Mexicans is that they use EVERYTHING. They use every part of a plant, an animal, etc. So I also needed to find out if we could eat the leaves and live. Turns out that YES you can eat the leaves, in fact, you should! They are the most nutrient dense part of the plant.So don’t throw them away!

I’ve listed a few things here that I found:

1. Helps Rheumatism: mix the extract of the leaves with the same amount of sugar. Add a tiny bit of water and you will have a paste. Rub this on your soar knee joints from the disease and this will soothe the pain and decrease swelling.

2. Prevents Diabetes

3. Contains TONS of Vitamin C

4. High in Fiber…you know what this means!!! It helps you poo! No more constipation!

5. Iron, Calcium, and Folic Acid

They are so good for you!!!

So I had to think of an amazing dish for Comida so that they wouldn’t all go bad. As I looked on the shelf I had a brilliant idea of what to make and thought I would share it with all of you.

You’ll need:

  • radishes (of course)
  • Zucchini
  • vegetable oil
  • lentils
  • salt
  • oregano
  • tomatoes
  • tortillas

First you’ll want to wash the lentils. There are some types of lentils that need to be soaked for a time before cooking, but I’m not really a fan. So we just use plain ‘ol brown lentils here in Mexico.

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Wash em good. Then place them in a pot with some hot water. Let them boil for a while until they are cooked through

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Next, I washed the radishes from our yard and diced them. Make sure you save the leaves. You will be using them in the next step. Saute the radishes with some vegetable oil until they are nice and soft.

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Rinse off the leaves and chop them up like you would cilantro. Here we need to soak our leafy foods with a couple drops of disinfectant. After is soaks for about 10 minutes then strain the leaves in a colander.

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Then just pop them in the boiling lentils so they can cook for a little while! This will get rid of the bitter, leafy taste.

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Let them boil for about 10 minutes together and then strain the water out of the pot. Then set them aside so they can cool down a bit.IMG_1226

While the radishes are cooking, wash and slice the zucchini. These also came from our garden!!

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Saute these babies in a little bit of veg oil and season with salt and oregano.

Once they are cooked through, scoop them out of the oil onto a toweled plate to get rid of excess oil and set aside.

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You don’t want your zucchinis to just taste like oil. That’s nasty.

Once the zucchinis and radish are cooked you are ready to put it all together. Combine the lentil mix, radishes, and zucchini into a bowl and mix together. I added fresh tomato for a little boost, but this part is totally up to you. Just sayin though…it is delicious.

    IMG_1229 What is a Mexican meal without tortillas? So heat em up baby!! IMG_1236 Serve your plate and keep the tortillas next. Make sure you got some agua fresca so go with it! Today we made agua de mango. So yummy! My favorite kind of agua fresca. photosd Like I said before, we have SO MANY radishes! Leave a comment and let me know what you do with radishes? Do you have an amazing recipe? What do you eat them with? I’d love to hear your ideas! -Ash

Ponderings

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Today as I sit at my kitchen table and look out of my window I think of the life that I chose. I think of the things that are new in my life. Our garden, the language, the culture, the food, the pesos, the work, the climate, the music, and so much more. I sit here looking at the cobblestreet and the empty lot across my house. It is now overgrown with plants. There is a small path through it that leads the way to the next street. Right next door to the Tortillaria. I visit here a few times a week. Surely, when our family grows this will turn to daily visits. I see two children playing in our quiet street with their puppy as the thunder rolls. It will rain soon and the air is crisp. I have my music on playing through the speakers in our kitchen while dinner is cooking in the oven and the no-bake cookies set in the freezer. As I sit here pondering, I realize that this is the life that I have always wanted. A safe street where my kids can play. If one of them falls and gets hurt, I know that one of my neighbors who saw would go to help my child with the same motherly love I would give him. We have a garden that sustains us and nourishes our bodies. Our front yard is beautiful with flowers and trees. Of course Jose has his chile plants in the front yard growing. My kitchen is organized just how I like it. I am a stay-at-home wife. I am a homemaker. My heart is so full of gratitude. I have waited for so long for this moment. There have been many heartaches and trials leading up to this. I’ve made so many mistakes that could’ve taken this away from me, but I know that it is because of the Savior that I am here in this peaceful, yellow kitchen right now. His Atonement is real. He answers prayers. He leads us, and is always with us. He is in the little things and the big things. He speaks to us everyday as we listen. He has answered the prayer of my heart in his own way by leading me to Pachuca last summer to teach the children. That is where I met my dear husband. That is where my life changed forever, but yet became what I always wanted. God has a marvelous way of taking care of His children. He has our best interest in mind. He is truly our Father.

Products for Parenting: Citrus Lane

So, I was searching online to see what kinds of things could be sent to Mexico from the states and got carried away into the land of product boxes. These boxes are kind of a big thing right now. There’s boxes for makeup, crafts, free trinkets, shavers, tampons, even food! I’m impressed with how the internet has given us so many new ways to receive anything we want right to our front door! I found this parenting box (http://sharedwithlove.com/l/4r3x8w1q65o4) as I was searching and was so very impressed. I am not pregnant yet, but we hope to have a baby in the near future. As I browse in the tiendas here and the street stands, there are stuff for babies, but it is all really bad quality. Citrus Lane (http://sharedwithlove.com/l/4r3x8w1q65o4) is a box just for parenting! I got so excited as I was looking through it! Baby snacks, baby toys, books, clothes, stuff for mom and dad, information on parenting and more! Oh my gosh this makes me baby hungry. More than I have been…

Being Happy No Matter What

I saw this video on Facebook today by BC Serna and I was deeply moved. This video may have been filmed in Africa, but it totally portrays the people here in Mexico. I am so grateful to be surrounded by people who live in the moment and find joy in the little things. There is not a lot of money here, but people are always smiling and willing to help you with whatever you need. They give you whatever they can, even if it is the little food they have.

This reminds me of a time last summer when I had the opportunity to go on an excursion in Cuetzalan with my Pachuca girls. We climbed up and down a huge mountain, explored caves, took a mud bath, enjoyed waterfalls, and swam in the rivers. It was one of my favorite moments in Mexico last summer. When were done with our adventure we were invited to eat with the guide’s family. They fed us the food they had made for their family for comida (the main meal of the day in Mexico). Our guide led us into his one room house with dirt floors. They had two beds, a TV, a table, and a small corner to cook in. I was so inspired by this family. They gave what they had and welcomed four strangers into their home.

Happiness is all around us. Living in the present moment brings happiness. As does serving others. There are many lessons to learn from those who have next to nothing. I know I am definitely learning from them. They are so kind and humble. So charitable, and yes, they are so happy.