Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Path to Where?

Do you ever feel like you are on the road to somewhere where you have no idea? I mean, like you don't know where you are going career-wise and although you have options, you don't know which ones to take? Well.....that is how I feel.

Ugf, who knows why sometimes I feel like this and other times no, but I sure wish I could stop feeling like this.

Back in college, I had clear goals, I knew what I wanted to do and how to get there. I was motivated to all ends to achieve those goals. The annual scholarship process helped me really consider my goals and document them. But then I came to Chile and my life changed, my outlook changed and my plans changed. Since I have graduated and have not had the need to really reflect on my goals and how I plan to achieve them. I feel like I use to have everything so clear and that kept me motivated to keep going even when things got difficult or boring or whatnot. And when I achieved my goals, it felt sooooo good.

Not that the changes that came out of study abroad in Chile have not been for the positive. They have....I would never give up what I learned during that year, meeting my husband or anything about it. But at the same time I feel like all of those changes were so dramatic in comparison to my previous goals that I can't get myself back on track. Now I don't know what to do with my life....where to go, how to make it fit with our international lifestyle that will always be there, etc. Do I want to stay in the same sort of position that I am in (financial accounting-related) or do I want to go the tax route (another viable option) or do I want to throw accounting out the window and do something all together different (event planning has crossed my mind a time or two)? All require an investment in furthering my studies or gaining more experience in order to be come successful.

There is that word: successful. What does it mean anyway? I know they say that each person should define success to them and go after that, but well I have to say that as a perfectionist, defining success becomes a pretty unattainable goal. I mean, I happen to be one of those people who when they do something, does it 100% or doesn't do it at all. I know this is a weakness of mine that I have to work on in the fact that I need to learn to take risks even though I am not 100% sure because big wins come with big risks. As Jenny mentions in her post, doing something is better than nothing. I have tried to implement starting small....but seriously, my perfectionist side gets to me and unless I can devote enough time or make official a new idea, it sadly goes stagnent. I want success, for me, to be having a career that I that I wake up in the morning excited to do and one that I don't want to stop doing at night....but I also want to be able to live financially well. I have this right brain-left brain battle constantly going on. It is like when I was deciding what to major I go for dance/ballet because I love it or do I got for accouting/business because I am good at it, like it enough and it is practical? I took the practical always, choosing what seems like the logical and more stable career.

Then there is this other issue that plays a big role in what I am feeling: I want to be the boss. For those of you who know me, maybe this is no surprise to you. But, really, I want my own company. I want to call the shots. To be honest, I am tired of being the bottom rung, so to speak--always having my work reviewed by the higher ups, not being able to make decisions without consulting a plethora of people, etc. I mean, from one angle, it is obvious that things should be this way....I work at a multinational company that has certain policies and procedures in place and these things have to be followed. But on the other end, I just want to have that control. I have been working since i was 15 and a half and I feel like that is enough experience, even if it isn't all considered "professional". It would be a dream come true to have my own business and it be viable financially. The next question to conquer would be what kind of business? Well, I have about a million different ideas about businesses that I think would be good to start.

Does this boil down to a question of too many options? Maybe.....but, I also can't seem to shake this sort of lost feeling that I have in that I want to know where I am headed. I want to decide where I am headed and move in that direction. Of course I know that plans will change, but I went from having a detailed plan to not having one and well, I need to find a middle ground.

It doesn't help that we are in between two countries all of the time. We think we know when we will head back to the US....but of course it is really all dependent on the economy, the visa application process, and a ton of other things.

Sorry for the ramble.....I tried talking to Christian about these things and while he is a great listener, he was not so good at giving me the feedback I need. I think I need to find a mentor who would be open to discussing these topics with me. I have some in the States, but the distance makes it kind of difficult to maintain such personal relationships. I mean, I just don't feel comfortable contacting them and dumping all of this stuff on them. And here in Chile, well I just don't have a mentor of that sort. I have my friends who are also great to talk to, but we all have busy lives, some may be feeling the same way and while talking about it and generating ideas with them is good, it is hard for us to get the chance to get together and talk. Forget about phone conversations.....with calls being at least US $0.50 per minute, that just isn't an option. Which for now leaves me with my blog. And all of you out in the blog-o-sphere. So thanks for being there. I needed to get this off my chest.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Parque Bicentenario

Yesterday we went to Parque Bicentenario with Brittany for a photo session that I had won at the Chilespouse Dinner back in August. We had never been to the park out in Vitacura, but quickly came to like it after seeing the open spaces and how dog-friendly it is.

We decided to go back this afternoon with Emily & Lola and see how Dulcinea would do with all the dogs that are there. This park is really quite different from any others in Chile--first of all, you can have your dog off the leash and they have a special fenced off area with a doggie playground. But the people that go there are also different. They all love dogs and no one really freaks out because a dog comes up to them or barks, etc. It is just a really chill environment that I am SO glad we found in Santiago.

Today the weather was just beautiful. The sun was out and the park was full of people, but it even though there were hundreds of people, it never seemed over-crowded. Dulcinea did really well. She still gets kind of scared when dogs come up to her but she doesn't cry or whine. She just kind of ignores the dogs and then they ignore her too. Her and Lola didn't play too much, they were both too interested in their own toys--Dulcinea with her boomerang and Lola with her tennis ball.

Our neighbor, Panchito, and his humans also met us at the park. Although Dulcinea knows Panichito and has played with him, she still didn't pescarle mucho (pay much attention to him). She was much more interested in playing with her boomerang and having all the people, especially little girls, ask about her and want to pet her. She was seriously a hit with the little girls at the park!

Here are some pictures we snapped of the afternoon. It was so nice to get out of the house and i have a feeling this park will be our new weekend go-to.

(Dulcinea and her boomerang)

(Lola eagerly waiting for Emily to throw her ball.)

(A picture of the doggie playground. There are a ton of toys for the dogs,
but most are too tall for Duclinea.)

(That is Lola on top of the arch-type toy. She also did really well at
jumping over the posts in the picture.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Oh My She's Growing!

We went from this...
(The first pictures the breeder sent us of Dulcinea, before we had met her in person.
She was just shy of turning 2 months old.)

...To her first day in her new home & with her new parents...

...To a months time already passing!...

...To the latest picture of her, taken on her Daddy's birthday (Oct. 6th).

We have had Dulcinea for 2 months now--and although that is such a short amount of time, it feels like we've had her forever. She has learned so many tricks and surprises us every day with her new antics.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Good Luck Isa!

Today, one of my bosses is having surgery.  And not just a simple in-and-out surgery....she is getting her stomach removed because at the beginning of September they found a cancerous tumor in there.  Apparently the type of cancer is very aggressive so although the tumor is small, they are taking the entire organ in order to mitigate future risks of it coming back.  I honestly don't know the whole story, that is just what we have been told about the whole thing.  She has been out of the office ever since she found out and just like we did with Joaquin, we have been getting together to pray for her (& her family) and send them buenas ondas

We aren't sure what time the surgery will take place today, nor how long it will take....but I ask again that everyone keep her in your thoughts.  If all goes as "planned", she should only be in the hospital for approx. 3 weeks after the surgery.  However, the doctor said she will lose at least 10 kilos (approx. 20 lbs) and that is A LOT for her....she is already super tiny.  I really hope that all goes well and no matter how long it takes her to recover, that she is cancer free.  She has three small children, a husband, family and friends who need her and who are rooting for her.  I know she has taken all of the news really well, she has been calm and had peace of mind which I think is really important before going into such an important surgery.  Her faith has kept her strong.  

We really miss her in the office and can't wait until she comes back :)

¡Buena Suerte Isa....qué los doctores hagan su mejor esfuerzo y qué todo salga bien!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Little Peluche Vivo

White Cake & Cream Cheese Frosting Recipes

I thought it would be good to post the recipes I used to make the cupcakes that came out amazingly! I have included the small tweaks that I had to make in order for the recipe to work in Chile. Don't forget to be exact in your measurements at least for the cake mix. Baking always requires exact measurements whereas cooking is more forgiving.

Basic White Cake (from here)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 cups sifted* cake flour**
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon baking powder (polvo de hornear)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
6 egg whites

*Make sure you sift your flour before you measure the 3 cups to be used. I don't actually own a sifter but I have some small strainers and used that for make-shift sifting.

**I have no idea if cake flour exists in Chile and I wasn't very interested in starting a search for it so I looked online and found out that you can use all-purpose flour to do the job. However, the ratio is not 1:1 which is where you have to be careful. I used harina sin polvos de hornear (all purpose flour w/o baking powder) since the recipe calls for you to add extra. In any case, the ratio that I found online for substituting cake flour for all purpose is: 1 cup minus 2 TBL all purpose flour = 1 cup cake flour. Did you get that? All purpose flour has more gluten than cake flour and if you use a direct substitution you will get a hard cake. So for every cup of cake flour that a recipe calls for, you should take 1 cup of all purpose flour and take out 2 tablespoons of the all-purpose flour. Again, I did this after I had "sifted" the flour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (I have no idea how to measure this in an oven heated by actual flames, so I put it at a low-medium heat. Better to have less heat than more so you don't get burned cupcake bottoms, even if it takes a bit longer).

Grease and flour 2-9 inch cake pans (I used cupcake pans and put liners in them.).

With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar (Anyone in Chile, this means use your elbow grease to cream the two.). Mix in vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine cake flour, baking powder and salt with a wire whisk. Add flour mixture [to creamed butter & sugar] alternately with milk until all combined.

In a clean, dry bowl beat egg whites until stiff but not dry (this will tire our your arm for sure!). With a rubber spatula, add a scoop of egg whites to cake batter. Then fold in the rest. Carefully, divide batter between pans (or scoop into the cupcake pans).

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (my cupcakes took approx. 10 minutes to cook). Test with toothpick for doneness. Cool cakes in pans on rack for 15 minutes. Remove to racks to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting (don't remember where I got this, sorry)

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
6 Tbsp. butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
Dash salt
2-4 Tbsp. light cream (I mixed regular cream with some 2% milk, or leche semi-descremada)
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/4 tsp. almond extract (this was my addition)
Food coloring if desired (also my addition)

In large bowl, combine cream cheese and butter and beat until light and fluffy. Alternately add powdered sugar and light cream, beating until desired spreading consistency. Beat in salt and vanilla and use to frost cake. (I separated the frosting into three parts and added food coloring to make pretty pink, blue and green cupcakes.)


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Christian's Bday Surprises

I mentioned that I made cupcakes and frosting from scratch on Sunday for Christian's birthday. I'm really proud of how they came out because this was my first time ever making cake mix from scratch. I've always used the boxed mixes and mostly the cans of frosting too. Here in Chile, it is hard to find boxed mixes from the US and the Chilean ones are not very good. Frosting doesn't exist here unless you find an imported one. I went about looking for recipes online and settled on a white cake recipe and a cream cheese frosting recipe--all ingredients could be found in Chile without difficulty. It was quite a process with the white cake because there are several steps in the recipe. I'd say that in total, cake and frosting, I was baking for at least 3 hours. I had fun so it wasn't lost time. Here are some pictures of the final result and taste test that Christian could not resist doing:

Align CenterThe cake mix made 24 cupcakes perfectly.

The other hard thing about baking in Chile is getting the oven temperature correct. Our oven does not have numbers to say what temperature it is, it just has a knob with low-high flame. Yes, our oven uses fire to heat up--it is a gas stove. Although it is brand new, the whole flame oven for me is so old-school.

Christian unwrapping his first cupcake EVER!

The approval after the taste test!

For Christian's birthday, I had some other surprises in store. Dulcinea was in on the plans too. Here is what she wrote to her Daddy in his birthday card:

These are the flowers that she bought Daddy for his bday.

And now, some pictures of my guaguita ("baby" in Chilean Spanish). She got a new collar which is pink and has diamonds! Love it!

Isn't she such a doll?!?!?!!!! I just love her!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Finally Friday

I am happy to finally have arrived at Friday.  Not that it has been a bad week or anything, on the contrary it has been a pretty good week, but I have been exhausted and feeling like I'm coming down with a cold.  I'm pretty sure that those symptoms are thanks to the spring weather and allergies.  But I forgot to take an allergy pill this morning to see if that would help me.  

Work has been super busy.  I have had at least 5 pretty big projects on my plate in addition to normal day-to-day activities.  I finished 1 of those projects, so that leaves me with 4.  Did I mention they all have to be done by year end?  Or what about the 3+ more projects that will be coming before year end too? of. work.  In fact, I'll be spending so of this three-day weekend working on one of the bigger projects.  The positive side of all this work is it makes the days fly by in general and I am learning a lot.  

Tuesday night was Christian's birthday and we had a fabulous dinner at Astrid & Gaston, the gourmet Peruvian restaurant  in Providencia.  I need to post our pictures and a food review but let's just say our dinner was one of the best meals I have ever had.  Ever.  If I can find the right words to describe the flavors and our experience, be prepared for your mouth to water just thinking about the food.

Last night we went to Los Cuates on Manuel Montt to celebrate Christian's birthday with his co-workers.  Food was delish as usual, I love Los Cuates.  It isn't really spicy Mexican food.....cuz well they wouldn't have any business if all they offered was super spicy food seeing as how Chileans think garlic is spicy.  But it is a solid choice for a casual meal.  I ordered two strawberry margaritas....which turned out to be two too many.  My alcohol tolerance is like zero these days.  Or maybe it is because when I do have a drink, I am normally eating food that isn't super healthy so the combination makes it lethal. 

Tomorrow we are headed off to Viña with Dulcinea.  Wish us luck that they let us on the bus or at least accept a bribe to stay on the bus if the find out we have her while we are en camino.  Monday is a holiday (yay for long weekends!) and Christian wants to celebrate his bday with this family so off we go.  I am excited to see Claire & René and Claire's growing belly.....she's around 5 months prego right now and the first of my friends to be having a baby.  I haven't seen them since their wedding in May so it'll be so nice to get together again.  I really wish we could see each other more, especially since she is only 1.5 hours from me, but alas, we both lead busy busy lives.

I really hope the weatherman is wrong about this weekend's weather too.  This week it has been so hot--28 and 31 degrees the past two days--and for the weekend they are predicting highs of 14 with possible rain.  What the heck?!  Why can't we save the nice weather for the weekend when I can actually enjoy it?!  


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Christian!!!!!

Today is my wonderful husband's birthday!!!

To celebrate, I made cupcakes from scratch this weekend. I was nervous about how they would turn out since I have never made a cake mix from scratch and baking in Chile is more complicated than in the US....but they are awesome! Today, he took several of them to work to share with his friends. Ahhhh, it's just like in elementary school! He had never had a cupcake before and absolutely loved them!

Today we are going to have lunch together and then in the evening I have surprise dinner plans for us. Well, he knows we are going to dinner, he just doesn't know where. Let's just say that in all my research of the best restaurants in Santiago, this one was in the top 5 on every single list.

Para mi amor--muy feliz cumpleaños, te amo muchísimo y espero que tengas un día muy lindo :) Besitos!!!!

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.