Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bye-bye 2008

Holy is the last day of the year! I've hardly had time to let it set in that in approx. 15 hours it will be 2009! This past year has been wonderful and jam-packed of exciting events and changes. Luckily I was able to reflect a bit upon 2008 when I sent out our first annual holiday letter which included a recap. And although I was able to reflect upon this year, I surely haven't thought much about 2009 and what I hope it brings. One thing I do know is that we are planning the big wedding for June and I am SO excited to see my family and friends and celebrate my marriage with all of them. The plans are coming together nicely and I've got some awesome people helping me plan from afar.

I also haven't even thought about New Year's Resolutions. Although I've made them in the past, I definitely forget all about them before the month of Feb. hits. I still haven't decided if I'll make any this year just because I feel like the idea of a resolution never works for me. However, I did see this post over on the 2000 Dollar Budget Wedding blog and I totally dig the idea of reviewing the past year and making goals for the new year along with a collage. I guess it's similar to the resolutions, but I feel like it is more formalized and better thought out. So I might do that, but I definitely won't get to it today since I've got to work half-day, then pack for Viña and then travel to Viña. So we'll see.....if I end up doing it, I'll share a bit.

Anywho.....HAPPY NEW YEARS TO ALL!!!! I wish you lots of love, happiness, abundance and security in 2009!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Navidad en Santiago

As excited as I was about Christmas, and as much as I enjoyed the day & a half with my husband, I still missed my family so much that it brought me to tears, not just once, but two times today. We were lucky enough to talk to them on Skype, but in the end, it just isn't the same as being in Rye, seeing the snow, eating the home-made waffles and my Dad's cookies, spending time with the fam, and playing with Dunkun.

Last night, Christian and I made pizza, enjoyed ponche a la Romana (champagne with pineapple sorbet) and opened 3 presents. Two of the presents were the ones my parents specifically told us to open on Christmas Eve (per our tradition) and the other present was from my company. Here is a slide show of the few pictures we took:

We also watched Elf yesterday, which I just LOVE!!!!!

This morning, we slept in and then made the delicious sweet red bell pepper-cream cheese snack. We then proceed to open presents and sip on the mimosas that we made. We had planned on making the desayuno gringo right away, but we were full from our other snack so we took a rest and watched some TV.

Around 2pm, we sat down to eat scrambled eggs, potatoes, bacon and more mimosas atop our pretty Christmas placemats that my sister gave us. In the afternoon we watched The Grinch Who Stole Christmas since Christian had never seen it. Last but not least, we chatted with my parents and then went for a walk.

And here we are now...getting ready for bed and to go to work tomorrow. Enjoy the pics and hope everyone enjoyed this Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I asked Santa for....

...a little something called a long-haired, miniature dachshunds puppy!

(I doubt he'll bring me one, not because I've been bad this year, but because I'm not home enough to take care of the little guy--but I'll keep asking Santa for one until the day he brings me one!!!)

Happy Holidays!!!!

Just a little something from my husband and I to all of our family and friends....
From La Chilengüita

From La Chilengüita

More pictures of our Christmas celebration to follow!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy (Belated) Blog Birthday!!!

Well I supposed 6 months isn't necessarily considered a birthday, but still. Saturday the 20th of this month was the 6 month milestone of the creation of La Chilengüita. Thanks to all who have kept up with me, inspired me to write posts, commented on my posts, and who will continue to see how this chilengüita's life evolves.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Group Blog Topic: The Holidays Away from Home

This is the 2nd Christmas season that I have spent away from home in Colorado. The first time around was Christmas of 2006 when I was studying abroad here in Chile. That year, I wanted to experience a Chilean Christmas, which is somewhat different that my family’s traditions. Now, in general, I am not a homesick type person and so although it is a bummer not to be at home for holidays, it didn’t really affect me back then (of course I missed my family, but I wasn’t depressed over going to the beach on Christmas day).

The Christmas celebrations here in Chile really start on the 24th when families gather in the afternoon or early evening to go to church. My Chilean host family had plans to head up to el cerro (or Cerro Castillo in Viña, where the grandparents lived). There is a church close by and we all had plans to attend the ceremony. Of course, in Chilean style, we were running late and thus by the time we got to the church there were no seats left and there was a crowd of people standing outside. I couldn’t hear a thing, and I wasn’t too keen about attending a Catholic mass anyway, so my host sister and I returned to the grandparent’s house where we hung out and took pictures before everyone arrived.

(Me and Florencia hanging out before the festivities began--Dec. 24, 2006)

Once everyone gets home from church, it is time for a feast. My host-grandparents are known for have weekly feasts on Sunday afternoon lunches, so just imagine how much food was there for Christmas Eve! Basically, after stuffing ourselves, some of the men took a nap and the rest of us hung out and socialized until midnight rolled around. Unlike in the States where parents try to get the kids to go to bed as soon as possible on Christmas Eve, in Chile midnight is just the start of the party. When the clock chimes 12, Santa might stop by the house (as he did in ‘06), and presents are to be opened. Depending on the size of the get-together, this can take hours. In fact, I ended up leaving the Christmas celebration a bit early (around 1:00am) to spend the rest of the holiday with Christian. We went back to his apartment to open up our gifts to each other.

The next morning we made desayuno gringo (American breakfast), one of our favorite meals!

(This time there were no mimosas, just 100% pure OJ...¡qué rico!)

(A few days before Christmas, Christian and I baked my mom's traditional
holiday cookies, called bizcochitos. They are SO delish!)

It was a wonderful Christmas, and completely Chilean (except for the cookie part). I was able to Skype with my parents on Christmas night as well as some other relatives that were visiting my parent’s house. Man do I love Skype....what did people do before the internet and webcams?

Moving onto this Christmas, well it is a 180 degree difference from the previous Christmas—which we spent splendidly in the States—was so A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. that I don’t know if we’ll ever have another Christmas that is on the same level. We thoroughly enjoyed being in Colorado with my family, we got engaged on Christmas morning, we spent New Years bowling with my parents, and we ate the best food ever. So, following that Christmas is a toughy. For one thing, Christian and I are in Chile and we only get half a day on the 24th off of work and the 25th as a holiday. We are saving up our vacation for the wedding in June, so we both have to return to work on Friday the 26th, thus leaving us little time to travel to Viña. We decided it’d just be best if we celebrate the two of us here in Santiago, making a desayuno gringo (of course)—complete with mimosas—and enjoying our first Christmas together as a family. We are also going to do Christmas the way my family does it—open one present on Christmas Eve and save the rest of the presents for Christmas morning after Santa has visited!!! Lucky for us, Santa already visited my parent’s house in CO and they sent along the presents he gave us with the presents they were sending us.

Can’t you just see the grin on my face when I opened the box to find all of these presents that they weren’t supposed to be sending? (We had previously decided they would just send something small as to not waste money on shipping.) It was a total surprise and in the words of my Dad, they wanted to “give us a mini-Rye Christmas (like the one from last year) but proportional to our Christmas tree (which is iddy-biddy)”. How cute/wonderful is that? It is the small things like that which make me miss my family even more!!! I really wish we could all be together this Christmas, but alas we will have to resort to our friend Skype. It will be strange to have such a tranquil holiday season, but considering I don’t have any vacation, I definitely need a bit of a rest. Plus I think it is important for Christian and I to start making our own traditions as well (most of which will come from my previous Christmas celebrations I think).

You are probably wondering where my husband’s family is in this whole holiday picture? Well, to be honest, they aren’t much for celebrating Christmas in general. When I was spending time with my host family in 2006, Christian had a family dinner with his mom, dad, and sister (who has the same name as my sister!). But that was about it. They don’t normally give gifts, and do not have that custom. So, for us to spend Christmas here just us isn’t a big deal to the rest of the family. Plus we plan on going to Viña for New Years to see the badass fireworks and hang out with his family.

As for my Christmas shopping...well, I’m a bit behind. Normally I’m pretty good about getting my gifts well ahead of time, as well as sending out cards and making any sort of little crafts to give to my extended family members. Last year, I made some magnets from some beautiful pictures of Chile that I had taken. They turned out really well for being DIY. This year, I just mailed out a few cards on Monday and I just got my family’s gifts via the internet, but we still have to shop for my suegros and cuñada. But no DIY crafts, unfortunately. Christian and I have one bought each other one gift so far, both of which we are already using, hahaha. I need to think of a surprise for him though....hmmm. I’m going to go ponder that now. More to come on my slight obsession with Christmas later.

Until then, you should check out the other bloggers who wrote on the same topic:









Resident Expat

Obama's team now includes my cousin!

I'm pretty pumped that Obama has chosen my 3rd cousin, Ken Salazar, to be the Secretary of the Interior! You can read about it in this NY Times Article, or you can just google Ken Salazar and Obama and a ton of stories will come up. It seems that some environmentalist groups are p.o.'d with Obama's choice, but I'm sure someone would be mad about whoever got nominated. My cousin is a self-made man, like Obama, who grew up on a farm in the San Luis Valley in Colorado, without indoor plumbing (according to my mother's recollection). And since his job revolves around the issues of rural America, and that is where he comes from, I know he'll do a great job. He comes from a family that had very little and has now made his way to D.C. He and his brother John, who is also in politics, are amazing and I am so happy for our family!!!

Here's a picture of Ken, my mom and me at the LAEF Scholarship Gala in 2005:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Obama sings mega 80s hit"

This is a great video. Whoever came up with it 1.has a lot of patience and 2. is just awesome.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Highlight of the Madonna Concert

I’ll get to a recap of the Madonna concert when I get a moment, but for now I just wanted to highlight the best part of the evening (apart from being with my hubby and the bad-ass back-up dancers on stage who make me want to quit my day job). There was one song (I don’t know what it was called, nor do I have time to research that) where the words Action were shown and pictures of world leaders and important global issues were flashed on the screen. Madonna wasn’t on stage singing at this point, it was like a “filler” while she was changing clothes—but the message of the song and video was important. So, about half-way through this song, a picture of Obama flashed on the screen and the whole stadium, around 60,000 people, started cheering and screaming for Obama. Let me remind you that I was in Chile with 60,000 Chileans, not in the States and not even remotely thinking of political movements…but still, his image made THAT much of an impact.

The last image of the video performance was also of Obama, and again the crowd went nuts…but it wasn’t as surprising as the first time because normally when a song finishes at a concert, everyone claps. But going crazy in the middle of a song, just because an image—a face of hope for the whole world—was shown on the screen, that made my jaw drop.

It just goes to show how happy the rest of the world is that we F.I.N.A.L.L.Y. have a competent and change-driven leader in office.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Missing Viña

This weekend my husband and I traveled to Viña, as we do quite often, to hang out with his family and enjoy the ocean air. Part of the trip was dedicated to moving my suegros (in-laws) back to their old apartment. About one year ago, they moved into a new apartment which had just been built. The point of that move was to have a better view of the ocean and have more sun hit the house. The “old” or previous apartment was on the 2nd floor and the sun hardly ever enters it due to the way it faces. Well it turns out they are making all the new buildings like crap—using minimum quality materials, making them the size of matchboxes, and trying to save in any way possible while still charging a butt-load of money. So what did that mean for my suegros? Well, less space was obviously a thumbs-down…especially since it meant going from a 3-bedroom apt. to a 2-bedroom one. This meant that when we went to visit, we stayed in my cuñada’s (sister-in-law’s) room while she slept elsewhere in the house. And while this is typically not a problem for Chileans as they are very accommodating in that sense—I absolutely hated sleeping in her room because uh, hello invasion of space. Right, that is my gringa side talking, but it drove me nuts. Now that they are back in the old apartment, a bed was put in the extra bedroom and voilah a guest room for us! The crappy construction of the new apartment meant that my sister-in-law could hear everything that happened in the apartment next door. Even if they turned on the faucet, she would wake up. She must be a very sensitive sleeper because I’ve never had problems waking up when we slept there, but as it bothers her and affects her quality of life—that is just not cool. There were also problems with the bathrooms, the administration of the whole building, etc. So back they went to the old apartment. We spent all day Saturday moving them. My job was to help in the moving truck and watch the things so no one would steal them. When the guys would bring the furniture, boxes, etc. to the truck and set them inside, I would take care to make more space by pushing it in further. Then the moving guys would organize the puzzle-like truck to fit everything in and return for more items. When we began unloading I would unpack and move everything that I could lift to the edge of the truck so they could just grab it and take it inside. That really helped the unloading process speed up. Overall, the move went well. After the actual moving, I tried to help out where I could. Christian was busy installing all the light fixtures, and anything else electric. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law went about organizing and putting things away. Since they had already lived there before, there was a space for everything.

Saturday night, although we were dead tired, we reanimated ourselves to go have a drink with our friend Clarita who just moved back to Chile to be with her fiancé. Hmm, that sounds kind of bad. It wasn’t hard to muster up energy to hang out with her, but that was because it was her. There are few people we would have gone out with that night after being so tired. Clarita studied abroad with me during the 1st semester. She, la Boricua and Kathy were my best friends on the program and we had some great adventures together. She has been with her fiancé around the same amount of time that Christian and I have been together and thus we have been able to share many of the relationship milestones together. I am super pumped that she is back because it helps make living in Chile a bit like it was before, even though I’m in Santiago and she’s in Viña.

Sunday was cloudy in the morning and so I took some time to edit some pictures that I’ve been meaning to work on. Christian was helping organize more and move this piece of furniture here or there or wherever they wanted it. As soon as the sun came out, Christian and I went to the beach to take some Christmas pictures. Then I aproveché de (took advantage of) sunbathe a bit to hopefully get a tan. I didn’t have too long though because we were invited in the evening to go have once at Christian’s ex-girlfriend’s (K.) house. That sounds strange, I know. But she was really close to Christian’s family. In fact, he moved to Germany to be with her in 2006. Had things worked out, it was a permanent move. But alas, fate was not in the stars for them and he returned to Chile where I then met him and blah blah blah, they lived happily ever after. No, but really, he and his ex have stayed friends and I have no problems with that because I know that when it was over, it was over. She actually moved back to Chile in 2007 (I think) and began dating someone that she had met through her work. They just got married in Oct. and are expecting their first baby within the next 2 weeks. Since my suegra hadn’t seen K. pregnant nor seen their condo, we were all invited to hang out a bit before the baby arrives. We had fun hanging out with K. and her husband. There is a huge laguna by their house and we all went for a walk out there and took some pictures. Sunday night we had plans to celebrate our friend Hugo’s 28th birthday with him at a bar called O’H. It was pretty tranquilo, but a lot of people we knew were there and it was great to see Hugo after like 2 months! I had a mudslide which was *delish*, and super strong. We weren’t out late, but long enough to see midnight come around, saludar Hugo for his birthday and chat a bit more with friends.

Yesterday was a holiday which meant no work. YAY for random Catholic holidays! While the topic of the number of and reasons behind Catholic holidays will be saved for the future, I must say the number of long weekends in Chile is a definite plus. First thing in the morning I went to the beach for a good solid hour and baked in the sun. It was amazing. And it made me miss my daily trips to the beach that I took back in the Summer of ’07. We came home after lunch and ran errands, cooked food, did some of the normal weekend house work, and chatted with mis padres on Skype.

Spending so much time in Viña, and on the beach, really made me miss living in Viña. It is such a beautiful city and in the summer you can’t find a better place to be. I really wish there were more job opportunities there because we would move back in a heartbeat. I’m super thankful that I chose to study abroad in Viña and Valpo over Santiago. Best decision ever. Now I just have to figure out a way that my husband and I can earn the same amount of money while living in Viña…..I guess for now, we’ll just have to settle on making more frequent trips to visit my suegros with the intention of hitting up the beach.

How can you not love living where the vista (view) is this beautiful???

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Blog MIA

Wow, I have been blog-MIA. Not because I want to be, but ask Kyle mentioned in one of her posts, when life gets busy, prioritization becomes key and things like the personal blog get shoved to the bottom of the never-ending list. I figured I should take 15 or 20 minutes to write a short update about what’s been going on.

Work is going well. I’m not really sure if I ever explained what I do, but I write technical accounting memos for my company on all large contracts that we enter into. Lamen’s terms: I read contracts in Spanish, write a summary and do an accounting analysis in English. I started this job on Sept. 22nd, and it has been going great. I really enjoy the atmosphere and the people who I work with. Everyone is so down to earth and light-hearted. My boss, who is Canadian, is awesome. I am so glad she pursued me to apply for this job. She actually just got a bad-ass promotion, so she won´t be my boss for much longer, but I’m really happy for her. Work has been picking up and now that we’ll be seeing some shifts in job titles and whatnot, I have a feeling it’s about to get even busier. I am learning a lot, and trying to absorb as much as I can. Technical accounting is hard stuff—I mean, ya I studied accounting in college, but did I learn all the exceptions to FAS 133 Derivative & Hedge Accounting? Uhhhh.....NO!!! So, that means I’ve got my work cut out for me, reading past memos to learn about the business, taking online trainings that our company offers, and trying to read any extra information that I can.

The fitness plan is going well. I started off the first two weeks really strong, but last week went sour. I was so busy with a million events that time (and energy) just escaped me. However, last night I did 2 workout videos and a yoga video at home and it definitely felt good to get moving again. Tonight I’ll probably do another since I won’t have time to hit the gym. I’ve got to do some work since I had to leave the office early to go to the doctor. When I started working out practically every day, I felt a lot better, and I loved the sore feeling that you get in your muscles when you are constantly pushing your body. I hardly ever turn on the TV now because when I get home, I have so much to do that I just get started on it—cooking, working out, shopping for gifts, planning events, responding to emails, etc. Wedding planning should be among those things, but I have been even more MIA with wedding planning than with my blog.

In the last week and a half, I’ve done the following:

  • Celebrated my birthday at work
  • Celebrated my birthday in Rancagua along with my sister-in-law’s birthday and the rest of the family
  • Went to the doctor twice, in a far-away doctor's office. Today I went in micro (that’s right, in a public transportation bus).
  • Planned a bachelorette party for Heather (this includes shopping for the gifts and penis-decorations, wrapping the gifts, and making sure the gifts got to the party before Heather and I did since we had Starbucks plans beforehand)
  • Cooked Thanksgiving gringo breakfast one day after Thanksgiving
  • Attended a baby shower, became the unofficial photographer, and edited the photos for the mama-to-be
  • Worked late several days
  • Cleaned house, gone grocery shopping, cooked—the normal house-y stuff
  • Decorated the Christmas tree (pictures will be posted in due time)

Whew, I’m tired all over again. And if I were to start on my To-Do list, I might just go crazy and would probably run out of text space on my blog (hahaha if that is even possible). So I think that is my cue to sign off and start on my actual work since I need to put in a good hour or so on this memo.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!

Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.....

Quickly, some of the very important things that I am thankful for:
  • My family, even though I wish I was closer to them,
  • My husband,
  • My family's and my health and happiness,
  • That both my hubbs and I have good jobs,
  • That I won the scholarship to come study in Chile, thus changing my life forever,
  • Dunkun, my little wiener dog who I miss so much,
  • That I have met some awesome gringas here in Chile
  • That I have made some wonderful chilena friends
  • Bethany, Claire, Kathy, and Staci

Well, really, I am thankful for EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in my life!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fitness Inspiration Board

I had totally forgot about some old Self magazines that I had stored away in our guest room closet and luckily I was able to find some great pictures to cut out for my Fitness Inspiration Board. Yes, I cut up the magazines and glued the pictures on to a piece of colored paper....old school, I know. The picture of my collage isn't the best, but here goes nothin':

Click on the image if you want to see it bigger.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Birthday Recap

My 24th birthday on Friday was SO. MUCH. FUN!!!!

The day started off with a birthday card awaiting me on my computer. It was from Christian of lovely esposo. He actually bought me my presents about two weeks ago--a fitball and a yoga mat so that I can work out at home! In the bday card he gave me, he included another little something that I had been wanting: a tape measure to take better measurements on my fitness journey. It's in centimeters so I had to change the past two weeks of records, but that was no biggie.

Work was busy on Friday thanks to some deadlines, but we had free Starbucks in the office for some reason so that was great! I will never pass up Starbucks :) For lunch, Christian and I went out for some free Subway (we had filled up two of the stamp cards) and then for some torta at Starbucks afterwards. When I got back to lunch, these were stilling on my keyboard:

From 24th Birthday

(A little something from our secretary, Susana, she is just too sweet!)

Friday night around 8pm we headed over to Play3 (one of the Playback bars) on Pedro de Valdivia to start the celebration. Slowely but surely everyone started to arrive and although everyone was a little apprehensive to start singing...happy hour helped that out and soon you couldn't get us off the stage!!! ;)

Pretty much everyone who RSVP'd was able to make it, and a few other people stopped by too which was a great addition: Christian and myself, Emily & Rodolfo, Kyle & Seba, Heather & Vuko, Leigh, Rachel & friends, Katina, Andrea & friend, Jimena & René, Gabriela & José, Felipe, Verónica, Carol, Emma & Diego, Sarah & Sebastian, Jamie, and Iván. People kept bringing presents which was more than I expected--I just wanted everyone to come hang out--but I am very appreciate of the beautiful gifts I received. (¡Gracias amigos por todo!)

En fin, I had a blast and we got home from Play3 at like 2:30am. The only thing that could have made this birthday better would have been seeing my family (in person) and having La Boricua, Clarita, Kathy and Staci here to celebrate too!!!

Here are some pics, and best of all, the remix video that Christian made of our performances:

From 24th Birthday

From 24th Birthday

From 24th Birthday

From 24th Birthday

From 24th Birthday

From 24th Birthday

From 24th Birthday

From 24th Birthday

From 24th Birthday

From 24th Birthday

From 24th Birthday

From 24th Birthday

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Found Motivation

Christian and I have definitely not been getting our money’s worth from our gym membership…however, we have no one to blame but ourselves. We have not been as consistent as we would like when it comes to actually going and working out. I’d say that since we joined the gym, our average has been 0-3 times per week...with the scale tipping towards 0 and 1 times rather than the higher numbers. I think there are several reasons for which this happened, but instead of going into those, I want to talk about our new-found motivation.

Both of us are sick of the “extra insulation” on our bodies and since we can’t really see any changes in our bodies, we have decided to really dedicate ourselves to getting in shape. It is not necessarily about losing weight (although I’d like to), but it’s about losing body fat, gaining muscle, getting in better physical condition and eating healthier. Think about it—we live in one of the most polluted cities in the world, so I think the very least we can do is try to keep our bodies in top condition to help counteract all of the pollution’s damage. Of course, I am down with getting a bikini-ready body since summer is a month away, as well as making sure I look bomb in my wedding dress next June—but those are just the frosting and sprinkles on the cake. Getting my body fit, like it was (and hopefully better) in 2005 when I was working out twice a day, is one of my goals. Not that I have time to be working out twice a day here in Chile, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be done.

I know I’ve told myself these things a million times and obviously I didn’t stick with the plan. But now I’m tell you, which holds me much more accountable than if it were my own little secret. Don’t worry, I don’t plan on converting my blog into a fitness guru site, I just feel that if I publish my results, I will be more likely to stick with the plan. That is why you see those numbers to the right of your screen. Although I won’t be actually posting my *actual* measurements and weight, I will be posting the changes that I see in each.

Now, we all know that it is important to make sure that our goals (fitness or otherwise) are challenging but attainable, measureable, and that they have a time frame. I had wanted to make a fitness inspiration board, similar to the wedding inspiration boards, but I had a hard time finding pictures of abs, legs, butts and arms that I liked without actually getting porn to come up on google! I might be able to come up with an inspiration board from some old Self magazines that I have lying around the house, but as for the internet search...that was a no-go. Anywho, here is a brief overview of my goals, in order of most important to least:

Lose 3-5% body fat

  • This is somewhat hard to measure since I don’t have a caliper, but I found an online calculator that allows you to use body measurements.

  • I would like to lose at least 0.5% percent per month.
Have a defined upper-body that really shows off my strapless wedding dress.
  • This I plan to measure with pictures. I will take pictures monthly and compare them for progress along with taking measurements.
Lose 5-10 kilos
  • (I know I said this isn’t about losing weight, but for my body frame, I don’t think I need those extra kilos)
  • Since it is only healthy to lose 0.5-1 kilo per week, ideally I would like to lose 0.5 kilos per week. I do know, however, that this will be extremely hard to measure considering that body weight can fluctuate like up to 2 kilos per day depending on what you eat, drink, etc. So, at the end of each month, I would like to see a change of -2 kilos.

Get my calves back to the bad-asses that they previously were, like when I was dancing 20+ hours per week

  • This will be similar to the upper-body goal, except that I don’t plan on taking pictures of my calves. I will simply know how my progress is coming along in comparison with how they used to look..

How do I plan on achieving this all? Not with some miracle diet I can tell you that. I plan on achieving my goals by eating healthy (ie. consuming hardly any sugar, white bread, saturated and trans fat, etc. and trying to eat mostly healthy vitamin-packed veggies, lean meat and healthy fats), and working out (doing both cardio and lifting weights). In order to lose 0.5 kilos per week, I must consume 3500 calories less than what I actually expend, or 500 calories per day—of which half I plan to take out of my diet, and the other half I plan to burn in the gym.

Wish me luck and any words of inspiration and motivation are welcome!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Group Blog Topic: The Language of Bilingual Couples

This week’s genius topic is thanks to Fned and I was super excited to get writing about the topic when I first saw her idea, and then for some reason all my good ideas escaped me. I’ve been trying to hold out until they come back, but I really want to read everyone else’s posts and I can’t do that until I post mine. I tried to write this yesterday and it was a no-go. But, today, YES, score, GOL, I got it out. Withouth further hesitation...

When I met Christian, there wasn’t much of a choice between what language we would speak. Although I was on the path to being bilingual (ie. advanced-low level of Spanish in July 2006), his extent of the English language was around the likes of “Hello, my name is...” (if that). The fact of the matter is that Christian really never liked English. Although he had taken classes in both high school and college, thanks to the widely-accepted Chilean cheating system, he didn’t really take much from the class. Instead, he was much more interested in German and Germany (due to the fact that he had a serious g/f that was German). In any case, when we met, I was on a whole anti-English gig so it was obvious that Spanish would be the choice language. I am obsessed with Spanish. I came to Chile to become fluent in Spanish and although for my first 2 months here, I did speak some English with my gringo friends, it was at the beginning of my 3rd month that I completely stopped (unless I talked with my parents or other people who didn’t speak Spanish).

Speaking Spanish played a huge role in the beginning of our relationship because it was one of the things that brought us together. I remember when I first started hanging out with Christian. We would always be in the mixed presence of gringas and chilenos. He would tell jokes or huevar and many times I would be the only gringa cracking up at the jokes along with the Chileans who actually understood what he said. Within the first few weeks that we knew each other, we would joke back and forth constantly and to me, being able to joke with someone in another language was HUGE. In fact, they say that understanding jokes in another language is one of the signs of being fluent—and while I definitely wasn’t fluent in those first few months, my understanding that early in the game was a precursor to how fast I would pick up “chileno” (or Chile’s dialect of Spanish).

So we could joke around with each other...but what about those serious conversations that couples have? Riiiiggghhhtttt.....during the first six months of our relationship, I would say the hardest part of communicating was when we would discuss our feelings, our history, our thoughts, beliefs, etc. Anything that was abstract became a challenge to discuss. However, since Christian had previously been in relationships with extranjeras, he had the patience to help me learn how to describe what I was feeling. Was there miscommunication? Sometimes...but overall, we managed. I think that when two people really want to hear what the other person has to say, verbally speaking isn’t the only way to do it. I have heard of couples meeting and neither one actually speaks the other’s language. Somehow they get their point across and learn to communicate.

Pretty much our whole relationship has been in Spanish and I prefer it that way. I feel like I can express myself better in the language and I love the romantic things that can be said. After truly becoming bilingual, English just seems so cold to me when it comes to demonstrating my feelings. Many times when I was back in Colorado after study abroad, I was at a loss for words because I couldn’t figure out how to express myself in my own native language. Weird, right? I know. It is completely normal for someone to speak to me in either language and I will respond in the corresponding language, but if you then asked me what language I was just speaking--a lot of the time I won't have the slightest idea.

When Christian and I had been dating for about 6 months, we already knew that we would get married someday. I remember my mom came down to Chile to visit and one of the gifts she brought for Christian was an English CD/book set so that he could start learning English. This was important because we were already planning that he would come visit for Christmas 2007 and since the number of people in my family that speak Spanish is a total of 3 (1-me, 2-my great aunt, 0.5-my grandma and 0.5-my mom--I put them as half because neither one is fluent), it was important that he at least be able to converse somewhat with my Dad. He did study for a few months and then his studies just kind of trailed off. We would practice every once in a while and when Christmas time came around, I was still the official translator, but he did an amazing job at communicating with my family. Him and my Dad hit it off better than I could expect and even went outside to take pictures of the Christmas lights alone, both using some sort of sign language and broken English to get their point across.

Now that we are married and plan to live in the States within the next 2 years-ish, it us much more important that he actually learn the language. I have been trying to only speak English with him at home, but it is SO hard. I have heard that when a bilingual couple begins speaking in one language, it is very rare that they switch to the other and I totally agree with this. Although we are speaking much more English at home than we ever have, Spanish is our real language. It is what we speak when we want to have a conversation, or tell each other how much we love the other person, when we get mad and argue, or when we just want to feel like “us”. Our speaking English is for the practical purposes of him having a solid base when we get to the US. I will admit that I get super excited when we can have a more-than-basic conversation, or perhaps speak in English on the phone, but it is because I am proud of how quickly he is learning, not because we are any closer to being able to speak fully in English. I don’t want “our” language to change and I can 99.999% guarantee that our relationship will continue to be in Spanish no matter where we live.

Here is a list of the other bloggers who wrote on this group topic:

Clare: Musings from inside, outside, and underneath (Spanish/English)

Fned’s Blog: Bilingualism in Expat Couples (English/ Spanish/ French)

Bee Ean : A Malaysian in France (English / French / Chinese)

Andromeda : The adventures of an American Blonde in France (French / English)

Jennifer: Italian Trivia (English / Italian / and a little Veneto)…. and a practical case

Minshap : Both sides of the coin (English / Spanish)

Leilani : Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (English / French / Spanish / German / and four more languages!!!)

Francine : Callaloo soup (English / French)

Poppy Fields : Poppy in Provence (English / French)

Chris : A Pretty How Town (English / French)

Cancuck Canuck : A Canuck in Cancun (English / Spanish (and a little Mayan? lol))

Emily : Don’t call me Gringa (Spanish / English)

Natasha : The Ex Monologues (English / Spanish)
Arlet Grace : Little something about me (Filipino / Korean / English)
Lydia : Just smile and nod (English / Spanish)
Cherise : Adventures with Angelina (English / French / Thai and soon German!!)

Sarah : Misplaced Texan (English / French)

Ale : Letters from Wonderland (English / Spanish)

Karina : Milk Jam (French / English)Rebecca : Trente-trois-mille (English / Spanish / French)
Kumichan83 : Tales of a Japanese Gringa in Quito (English / Spanish / French / Japanese)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Writer's block

I've got a case of writer's block and a bazillion ideas floating around my head all at once. Today, I tried to write a bit about my new found gym motivation, and I couldn't take the piece where I wanted it go to. I thought about writing about my job, or perhaps the tales of a waxing woman....and nothing. I just tried to write on the group blog topic for the week--it's about the language that bilingual couples speak--and it came out crappy so I refuse to post what I wrote. I plan to re-write as soon as I can gather some inspiration. Kind of rare for me....I mean, normally I can write about something...even if it is silly.

I know when you have writer's block you are supposed to write anyway and even if it is crap it helps you get past the block....but it didn't help me. Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to post. I really do have a lot to say, it just doesn't want to come out today. So with that, I bid you all a good night.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Recipe: Red Pepper Hummus with Toasted Pita Triangles

After seeing dried garbanzo beans at the grocery store, and impulsively buying them, I had wanted to make hummus. See, here in Chile, it is quite rare to find hummus. You will not find it in the grocery store and I have only seen it in one vegetarian restaurant. I, of course, ordered it the last time I went to that restaurant, and was somewhat disappointed with the lack of flavor. It seems they only mashed up the garbanzo beans and forgot to put in any flavors. So when I was looking for recipes to try my hand at making hummus (for the first time), I knew I wanted one with lots and lots of flavor. I turned to my trusty friend, FoodNetwork, and found Red Pepper Hummus with Toasted Pita Triangles recipe. I had to add a bit to the recipe for the fact that you can’t buy canned chickpeas and I didn’t know where to get tahini, but other than that it was pretty easy to make this recipe in Chile!

Red Pepper Hummus with Toasted Pita Triangles (edited for life in Chile)

4 whole-wheat pita pockets, cut into triangles
Cooking spray
Garlic salt
1 cup dried chickpeas (ie. garbanzo beans)
1 cup sauteed red peppers
1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste, recipe included below)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 to 4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves (I personally didn’t use this.)

The day before you want to make the hummus, make sure to put 1 cup of dried chickpeas in LOTS of water to soak overnight. After around 8 hours of soaking, boil them until tender. The more tender they are, the easier it will be to blend them.

To make the tahini, you need 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (I used olive oil), 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup tepid water. I would perhaps double or triple this recipe because it was hard to blend this all together in the 1-2-3 since it was a small amount. First, toast the sesame seeds until golden brown. Let cool off.

You need to put the sesame seeds in a blender or food processor and grind until smooth.

Then add the oil and salt. Process until combined. Add the water very slowly, with the motor running if possible, and blend until smooth. If you can’t add the water with the motor running, just add bits at a time and keep processing until smooth. Mine turned out a bit runny and not as much of a “paste”, but really, it is the flavor that is important here. One interesting thing that I learned about sesame seeds is that they turn rancid quickly so it is important to store them away from light & heat. According to one website that I found, putting your sesame seeds in the fridge will allow them to stay good for up to 3 months. Now that you have your tahini, here is the rest of the hummus recipe:

Cut up and sauté the red peppers in a pan. It is not necessary to put oil or spray or anything, just sauté them up for a bit. Rinse the chickpeas and mix with the red peppers, tahini, garlic, cumin, and lemon juice in a bowl. Place a portion of the mix in a 1-2-3 (the original recipe said blender, but the blenders in Chile are weak and don’t work that well—I found that although the 1-2-3 works much better even though you have to blend a little bit at a time). Blend until smooth, remove the mixture and put in a separate bowl. Continue with the mix until all has been processed. Mix the hummus together to make sure all the flavors and ingredients are distributed evenly. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and top with parsley, if using it. The hummus turns this beautiful, bright orange color thanks to the red peppers.

To make the pita triangles, preheat the oven or electric oven to 400 degrees F. Cut up the pita bread into triangles and place on the baking sheet that corresponds to your oven (I used our electric oven and it worked like a charm). Spray the surface of the triangles with cooking spray. Season the tops with garlic salt. Bake 6 to 8 minutes until golden brown and crisp.

Yay! Now you’re ready to eat your hummus and homemade pita chips!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Reactions to the Election & Letting Freedom Ring

*NOTE*--There may be parts of this long post that are offensive, perhaps like a picture of me giving the bird. This is just a note to forewarn you that if you (a.) get offended by being flipped off then don’t scroll down, (b.) voted yes on Prop 8 or any other gay-marriage-banning-law, (c.) voted for McCain,.....then you might find this offensive. But frankly, I don’t care.

I’ve now had about two days to soak in the mostly wonderful news from the election. I’ve gone over in my head a million times the things I have wanted to write, but I always seemed to come up short for words. Not today though. Today, I will put out there all of my feelings about the election...felicidad, tristeza, esperanza, decepción...and all the thoughts I have regarding certain things I have seen/read/heard since election night.

Orgullosísima and all that it entails
I'm not normally a person who walks around boasting that I am a gringa. In fact, living here in Chile, I much prefer to be seen just like everyone else on the streets than be seen as a gringa. The reasons why I will save for another day, the important thing is that yesterday, today, and probably for a good long while, things are so different. I have wanted to run down the streets of Santiago screaming about how proud I am to be a citizen of the good ol' USA and how proud I am to have Barack Obama as our new President! I wish I could have been in the States on Saturday to see Obama speaking to my hometown of Pueblo. I wish I have been there yesterday today to bask in all the gloriousness that it is to see history forever change. Don’t worry, I still basked in joy all day here in Chile...but being so far away at such an exciting time made me a bit homesick.

Tuesday night, Christian and I went to Melissa’s apartment for an elec
tion party with other gringas and their husbands/boyfriends. Being so far from it all, it was nice to join up with my fellow ex-patriots to nervously watch each State turn blue or red and cross our fingers that Obama would kick McCain’s ass (see picture above of us cheering him on). We left a little bit before 1am and I stayed up for a bit longer until the local Chilean TV stations stopped their election coverage, right after McCain’s concession speech. It was all over the internet that Obama had won and it just gave me this warm and peaceful feeling inside, knowing that my country is in good hands.

The first thing I did when I woke on Wed. morning was to turn on my computer and search for Obama’s victory speech. It brought tears to my eyes to hear and see that speech. I think he is one of the most intelligent, open-minded, and motivated men that exist on the face of this earth, let alone will have lived in the White House. I can finally rest at ease that Bush’s horrible mistakes will start to be taken care of, little by little and most importantly, that we can, as a country, save face in front of the world. Unless you have lived in another country or traveled extensively, you have NO idea how much Bush had ruined our reputation. NO IDEA. Everyone’s reactions here in Chile, and in other countries from what I have seen on the news, has been that YES, the USA is back and will be better than ever. I don’t think there has ever been a time when the entire world was watching our elections with just as much nervousness and excitement as we the citizens were and always do. If you want more info on this topic, click here.

Emily wrote a wrap-up on her election thoughts, and my favorite sentence is that “Obama basically kicked ass.” I also agree with her on the fact that progress is slow and that we need to not put too much pressure on Obama. The man is only human, and although I believe 100% that he will do anything he can to fix what is broken in our country, he’s not perfect, our society is not perfect and trying to change deeply-planted ways is more than difficult. He told us up front, and he reminded us in his victory speech:
"The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem.

But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.
But there is one thing that I do want to comment further on about Emily’s post. She mentions a huge flaw in McCain’s concession speech:
“One part of his speech really made it difficult for me to focus on the rest though: his comment that this should be a proud moment for the African American community. No, it is a proud moment for all of us. All races got Obama elected; all races but most specifically whites were able to put aside to some extent the racism that has so affected our country throughout its history. If McCain can't see that, maybe he really wouldn't have made a good president in today's diverse society.
While I completely agree that it is a proud moment for all of us (trust me, I was the girl who cried after watching movies in history class about the civil rights movement in the 10th grade, not understanding how people could treat others as they did, and sometimes still do), and I agree that McCain should have acknowledged that in his speech...BUT I think African Americans ARE entitled to be especially proud. I can’t even imagine how they feel. I mean, if I have been moved to tears repeatedly after receiving the good news, watching the victory speech, seeing the Chilean news talk about it, there probably aren’t words to describe how they feel. And although Obama never made his campaign about race—something which I think says a lot about him—the fact of the matter is that electing a black man as President says a lot about how far our country has come. Racism and discrimination are definitely not dead, as incorrectly stated by this NY Times article, but we as a country sure did make a huge leap on Tuesday (a great article on this topic can be found here). Just take a look at the following pictures, taken from the NY Times slideshows, which are worth a million times more than a thousand words:

I am personally very excited to see the doors of opportunities open for all minorities across the nation, and hopefully across the world, as they strive to accomplish their dreams and are able look to Obama for inspiration. That is what I think was greatly accomplished on Tuesday night.

Here comes the part that has unfortunately stopped my complete bliss about the results of this year’s elections. Three states banned gay marriage...and two of those states voted Democrat in the Presidential polls. I know the links I posted in my previous post were specifically aimed at California’s Prop. 8, but at the time, I didn’t know that both Arizona and Florida also had similar issues on their ballots. Of course, California passing the law surprises me the most out of all of them as gays have been able to marry freely since May 2008, but in reality, I am equally and deeply disappointed in all three states (article about this here). I can’t for the life of me understand how someone who can vote for Obama, and all the change, optimism, hope, and open-mindedness that goes along with him...could vote yes to ban gay marriage. Have you folks heard of civil rights? And do you know that it doesn’t just apply to racial issues?

A very close friend of mine wrote an amazing letter to another mutual friend o
f ours because this mutual friend is against gay marriage and my very close friend just happens to be gay. He was not hateful, nor angry, nor spiteful, but poised, intelligent and friendly in asking her to explain her reasoning only as a way to spark conversation and to understand each other a bit better. I didn’t ask him if I could post this, but since he already put it on facebook, I’m assuming this is ok (the bolded & colored text highlights my favorite parts):
“Because most of my friends are already in the "no on prop 8" boat, i was surprised to see that an old friend who I have always thought very highly of, and still do, was on the affirmative side. In an effort to understand i decided to send her a little note just to see how she got to her decision, and see if i could stir up some new thoughts and maybe change her mind. We're down the wire people . . . . I figured i might as well post my questions to see if i can reach anybody else . . . pass it on if you have anybody on the fence . . .


So the campaign season has reached its fever pitch and we will soon have an idea of where this country is going. In the spirit of democracy and free speech, I was intrigued by the declarations made on your profile and I wanted to make an effort to keep as open of a mind as I can on all of the issues that will be voted on. Because I feel that I know you well and respect your opinions, I think it would be more poignant to hear what you have to say from a more emotional and realistic point of view that is not offered by impersonal campaign ads and talking points. So, I would like to know why you are in support of proposition 8. Same-sex marriage has now been legal in California since May 2008. Which of your personal freedoms has been encroached upon or threatened since that time?

I had the pleasure of viewing your wedding photos after your nuptials awhile back, so you clearly know how much it means for two people to declare their love and have it recognized by not only their friends and family, but also by the state. For what reasons do you believe that I am not capable of having that same level of love with the person that I end up with? And if you do think that I am capable of those feelings, why do I not deserve the same rights and protections under the law? If marriage is simply a religious institution, then it would have significance only in the church. If that were the case, then all of us would only be able to have civil unions. The government issues marriage licenses, not the church. Why do the proponents of proposition 8 want to take this fundamental right away from so many people that I care about? I know that your religion does not agree with homosexual lifestyles, but weren't you taught that this country was based on ideas meant to propagate tolerance and equality under the law for all of its citizens? That is precisely why you are free to practice whichever religion you desire. I do not agree with your religion's ideals and beliefs, but I respect your freedom to believe them and I would never vote for a referendum that took away that freedom. That has got to be a huge part of who you are. Well, this is a huge part of who I am.

I pray, that someday I may find someone that I love so much that I want to spend the rest of my life married to him. I would however, not get married simply because I can, I would only go down that aisle if in my heart I believed that I would be with this person forever. In what ways will my marriage and my respect for the privilege of marriage make yours less valuable? I just want to get an idea of how you came to your decision to favor proposition 8 and what is driving your support, because in all honesty, I do not understand.

I know I asked a few questions, and it's really down to the wire at this point. So if you can only answer one, what I really want to know is, how will the passing of this proposition, which will drastically change my future, even affect your life at all?

I hope to hear from you soon.

Unfortunately, he has not heard from this mutual friend. I think she at least ow
es him the respect, and for the sake of their friendship, to acknowledge the email and give it her best shot at responding...but honestly, I don’t think shes know how to. It is such a shame that people are still so close-minded in this day and age.

I am not gay, nor am I from Cali, Arizona or Florida. But I have had many
(and still do!) gay friends. And most importantly, I believe that all people, no matter what their sexual preference may be, should be allowed to get married to the person they truly love. So in the honor of all my past, current, and future gay friends & family...I give you this picture:

Yes, that is me telling every single person who voted yes to ban gay marriage to F* OFF.

I got the idea from Offbeat Bride’s “Let Freedom Ring” post, which originally came from Eating Out Loud’s “Prop 8: Let Freedom Ring!”. Allen, Eating Out Loud’s author, states (bold text from original author)
“So, I awoke this morning to learn that my relationship with my partner is no longer valid. It’s no longer legal. It’s somehow sub-par, not equivalent, not worthy of protection. And you know what? I’m pissed and tired of holding it in.

I decided to snap a photo of my wedding band placed on a slightly different finger than normal to express exactly how I feel toward every single person who voted Yes on Prop 8. It’s my personal version of ‘let freedom ring’. The battle for equality changes course but it’s very far from over

I’m sure some of you will believe in Prop 8 and that’s your right. Please make sure to update your reader to remove my blog and to delete any bookmarks to my site. I won’t take it personally but as for Prop 8 and your intrusion on my life … I take it very personally.

I welcome supporters of gay rights to snap your own photo showing your wedding ring on your middle finger. Spread the word that this fight isn’t over. Whether you’re gay, straight, bi, white, blue or tan — show your support by letting freedom ring on your blog! Please forward this page to
any friends and family who may find it of interest.
So there you have it--my thoughts on all you close-minded discriminators--for those of you who support gay marriage, take your own picture, hell even if you aren’t even married pick up any old ring, snap a pic and spread the word. Then after you have posted your picture on a blog, on facebook, myspace, fotolog, or wherever it may be--put the link on the Diary of a Modern Matriarch's blog which is keeping track of all the posts. Here’s another one, just in case you didn’t get the message the first time.

Disclaimer—La Chilengüita is a blog created upon my personal experiences and which expresses my personal opinion that in no way represents the views my employer, family or friends.