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Homemade Tortillas

One of the many things I learned at Rancho La Puerta is that I LOVE homemade corn tortillas!

So, how to get them at home? Well, make them myself, of course!

I did a little internet research and determined that I needed a tortilla press. I really didn’t want to run around town looking for them, so I hit Amazon. After reading lots of reviews, including some great tips for making tortillas, the order for the press was placed (and courtesy of Amazon Prime, it came with free next day delivery) along with a box of Bob’s Mills masa harina and a recipe.

Tada! The next day I had everything I needed.

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First up, make the dough according to package instructions. Super easy:

2 cups of masa harina

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 – 2 cups hot water

Mix it all up, and let rest for 1 hour.

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Then make little 2 inch balls of dough, to put on the press. One little trick I read was to cover the press with sheets of plastic wrap before pressing the dough.

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Oh, and don’t put the ball on the exact middle of the press. Put it back just a little, so that when the press is squeezed shut, the dough will be more evenly dispersed. When you open the press, peel the plastic off one side of the tortilla, then the other. DON’T pull the tortilla off the plastic or it will just fall apart.

Then cook them on a cast iron griddle, or skillet for just a minute or two on each side.

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Before you know it, you have a lovely basket of delicious tortillas! It’s super easy and they are delicious!

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A few home made pinto beans, a little pico de gallo…Yum.

Through a Tattered Lens – Rancho La Puerta

I ALMOST didn’t take my big camera with me to Rancho La Puerta. It’s a lot to lug around, and, to be honest, I just didn’t think there would be all that much for me to photograph. But Andra’s friend and co-worker (who told us about the ranch) said there are sometimes photography classes, so I went ahead and packed it. Reluctantly.

So much for my preconceived ideas! Turns out there were no photography classes, but TONS to photograph. I was VERY glad I reconsidered.

One of the more interesting (at least to me!) things that noticed was that I tend to look for perfection to document, so I forced myself to SEE and photograph imperfect things, like flowers with bug bites on the petals, or wilted blossoms… After all, none of us are perfect, but we deserve to be noticed and our lives documented, right?

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As usual, I photographed some off the wall stuff. And in the spirit of being in the moment and doing a lot of reflecting, I noticed even more than usual – the way the light falls on the same object at different times of day, shadows falling on sidewalks, the sun through the trees, looking at things from different vantage points.

So, I hope you enjoy my little stroll around the grounds and a few of my favorite photos.

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Love how the camera picked up the water droplets from the sprinklers!

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LOTS of pics of the sun through the trees, to the point of obsession. Who? Me?

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…and my favorite…

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My last photo isn’t so much a tattered one, as a sad one…the last bowl of Mexican mangoes. They have to be dipped in boiling water before they come into the United States, and it just KILLS the flavor. Man they were good!

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Inspiration Everywhere!

The trip to Rancho La Puerta was so much more than I bargained for.

I knew we would be concentrating on exercise and eating well, but I had no idea that I would be surrounded by inspiration, or that it would make itself known in many different forms.

I enjoyed the chalkboard signs with sayings that changed every day.

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I got to the point where I was making a concentrated effort to walk by the signs everyday.

And the mosaics were a feast for my eyes – exceptional…

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Just what I needed, a fascination with an even MORE eclectic way of doing mosaics. Now I want to start doing some work in clay, as well!

There was actually an opportunity to sculpt, but I chickened out. Oh, and you couldn’t bring the clay across the border, so I would have had to pay $400 to have my sculpture bronzed, and I wasn’t prepared to do that on a maiden voyage. BUT, when I saw how great all the sculptures were, I wished I had. Next time!

And then there was Jennifer, the resident artist.

We signed up for two art classes she was teaching, an introduction to watercolors and jewelry making. Yes, WE! Andra, who doesn’t think she has a creative bone in her body, signed up with me, and we had a blast!

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Jennifer has such a casual, philosophical way about her. I’m pretty sure she has forever changed the way I think about my art.

One afternoon she did a painting demonstration outside her studio and I was the only one who showed up. So we walked around and chatted while she looked at the light and figured out what she wanted to paint. Then she showed me her process from start to finish, asking for my critiques along the way, and actually incorporated my suggestions. By the time the painting was finished, I felt a part of it and couldn’t stand to have it live with someone else. So I bought it! Heeheehee! And now it lives with me as a reminder of a great afternoon! We parted with hugs, and she said “I am loathe to let you go home…” How’s that for making a person feel important?

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We finished up our artistic endeavors by making a prayer arrow – fun, and another great reminder to stay focused on the important things.

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We even took a cooking class! Talk about creative! Whoever heard of hibiscus flower enchiladas? They were excellent!

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I don’t know what made it all so special, the atmosphere, the people, or maybe that I was sharing something so dear to my heart with my precious daughter.

What a week!

 

 

Hiking the Ranch

One of the things Rancho La Puerta is known for is its sunrise hikes. Since it can get quite warm in Mexico, it’s best to start out before dawn, so as to get back before it gets too warm. Or maybe because it’s just a great way to start the day, who knows.

But me and sunrise? Seldom are those two words uttered in the same sentence. Usually, the only way I’ll see a sunrise is if I didn’t go to bed until then!

In an effort to get all of the experiences at the ranch I could get, I wanted to try. That meant going to bed early and getting up WAAAAAY early. Like 5:30am early. Like dark outside early.

The first morning I opted to go on what I thought would be the easy hike, since it was only 2 miles and the next up was 3.3. Little did I know that 0ne of those two miles would be like mountain goat steep. It was called Alex’s Oak. I could see it way up there in the distance the day before, but I was game to try.

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It started with a glorious sunrise. There have to be some rewards to getting up that early, and this was it.

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I’m not going to say it was easy. It most definitely was not, but it wasn’t the kind of hard that made you say “what the hell was I thinking?”  It wasn’t pretty. And I was slow. And the “shepherd,” the one tasked with making sure the slow pokes got back alive, must have thought my lungs were going to explode as I sucked air on all the sharp uphills. But I made it, and the success gave me the confidence to think I could do a longer one.

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Andra did a harder one, and found it to be a piece of cake. (I hated her for a minute.) Not really, she’s a stud, and I’m proud of her. I shouldn’t compare. After all, I’m old. Okay, well, there were people older than me on the harder one. I have no excuse.

The next day, I opted for the next longer hike (the Professor) and although it was longer, I actually found it to be easier – the incline was more gradual, and it actually went right by Alex’s Oak, so I could have saved myself the trauma of the day before, but who knew? Again, I was slow as molasses, and it wasn’t pretty, but like the day before, I made it, and, in truth, I lapped everyone who opted to stay in bed!

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Shaman’s sculpture in the distance…

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…and yep, I made it! Whew!

And, once again, Andra did a harder one. She was building up to the 7 mile, which I KNEW would be over MY head! In fact, having accomplished the professor, I chose to retire my hiking boots and stick with the “walks” from there on out.

I still got up early, but stayed on the lower trails, woodland and quail, and added to them the Labyrinth, which turned out to be one of my favorites. The slow, meditative walk was just what I needed. Getting in 10k steps before breakfast was fun in a sick sort of way.

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Andra did her 7 mile breakfast hike on Thursday.

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Then on Friday we got up even earlier than usual to do the 2 mile hike out to the organic farm for a tour and breakfast, then back 2 miles. This last one was easier, not as much uphill, and I was able to do a much better job of keeping up! I’d like to think I increased my endurance, so we’ll just go with that!

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Believe it or not, this is one of the things I will miss most about the ranch. I like to hike, but it just isn’t practical to leave early enough in the morning to get to a place to do it at home, at least not on a daily basis. It will need to be saved for the weekend, and I’m guessing, a little later in the day.

Goodbye, sunrises…I really will miss you.

 

 

I Disappeared Again!

Yep, I did. I just vanished.

And once again, it means I went out gallivanting! Only this time, instead of a sight-seeing adventure with Mr. Tattered, I spent a week at a spa with my daughter. Can you believe that?

She turned 40 today, and wanted to go to a spa in Mexico that a friend had told her about to celebrate. And she invited her mommy to go with her. I can’t tell you how special that makes me feel.

Rancho La Puerta is a spa that specializes in healthy living. They have classes in things to nourish the WHOLE body, as well as mind and spirit, and we nourished like crazy!

It’s going to take more than one post to give you anything close to the flavor of the place. I think I’ll start with the aesthetics – it is such a beautiful setting. Then I’ll work into what I learned from the experience.

So join me on a quick tour…

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Entrance to the Administration building

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Dining Hall

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One of three pools, this one at the Villas near our room.

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One of several fountains on the grounds

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Gorgeous buildings

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Lots of sculptures on the grounds

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This one was my favorite

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Trees and flowers around the buildings

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The vineyard

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Our little casita for the week

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Main Lounge

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Alex’s Oak on the hill

That is but a small sample of the grounds. You get the picture, though, right? It was an amazing backdrop for an incredible experience.

Pig Sacrifice

Oh, come on! You know me better than that! I’d NEVER sacrifice a REAL pig!

But I did kill a pig, sorta.

I’m working on Bea’s mosaic letter “B.” She’s a purple/lavender girl, and when I told her I’d make her a “B” I wasn’t thinking about how hard it was going to be to find lavender ceramics to break up. Can you believe NO ONE uses lavender dinner plates? Heeheehee! I knew I would have to use some other pastels, but I thought I’d be able to find SOMETHING lavender.

Once upon a time I had planned to make a design using vintage pottery (way before I actually had started doing mosaics,) and I had some pink “pre-cut” chips for that I redirected for this project, and a few commercial tiles I found at Michael’s. But even with adding beads, I still didn’t have nearly enough variety to complete the letter.

I searched everywhere I could think of over the space of many months. I was looking for mugs, or bathroom ceramics, or decorative pieces for a little girl’s room…anything I could smash, and was coming up completely empty.

Then today I stumbled onto a big lavender piggy bank at Home Goods.

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It’s perfect!

I kinda hate to destroy a perfectly good piggy bank, but it’s for the greater good!

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Yep, he’s dead (at least as a piggy bank) but he’ll live on as part of a beautiful mosaic!

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I found a few more little treasures to add to the piggy tiles.

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But laying it all out, I see that I need to find a little more pink and white to add to it.

I hope I’m back in the groove!

 

Updates, Updates, Updates…

I feel like I have been involved in a FLURRY of activity lately! SO much going on, and I haven’t been taking the time to write it all down.

So, I’m going to lump them all together in one post and start fresh.

Where to start, where to start?

I guess, let’s start with Africa.

Remember when I was so excited about doing the leg work for finding a tour? Shortly thereafter there was a terrorist incident down there, and Mr. Tattered decided that kind of risk wasn’t for him. I was despondent, but it is what it is. He suggested I go alone, if I wanted, but we’re a team. I don’t have as much fun on an afternoon outing from the cruise ship if he sits it out, so a whole vacation didn’t seem like a good idea.

So, we opted to go to China instead, and began making plans. Then the Universe stepped in, and guess what? We’re GOING TO AFRICA!!!

Our daughter’s supervisor just got back from a trip to Tanzania, and he met with Mr. Tattered to talk to him about it and was able to calm his fears.

So, after many more hours of research, and the help of a fabulous tour operator, we have put together a custom tour that involves 2 days of trekking to see the the Silver Back Gorillas in Rwanda, and eight days of Safari in Tanzania. I am pee-my-pants excited!

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Then as if the trip couldn’t get any better, it looks like we’re going to add on a few days in Amsterdam on each side of the time in Africa. It isn’t going to be until Fall of 2017, but the way time flies around here, it may as well be next month!

Then – Mosaics!

I have two more completed in addition to mine. It took me forever to get them completed, but now both my daughter and daughter-in-law have theirs on the wall. Meegan’s is part of an existing display…

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but Andra’s is all alone. We haven’t figured out what to put with it yet.

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Her area is much smaller, but I’m thinking a cute little occasional table and possibly even a shelf might be nice.

Next up, the “H” for Hannah, and the “B” for Bea. I haven’t done anything to them since the last photo, but to refresh your memory…

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When those are done, I’ll do the “J” for Josh and the “A” for Alexis, then the last one that I’m not talking about because the person who is getting it doesn’t know about it, and I want it to be a surprise. THEN, I’ll allow myself to start on some pots for the garden that some day will be put back into some kind of order.

What else?

Oh, yeah. Yoga. I FINALLY went back. Well, one visit anyway. As I always do when I take a break from it, I drug my feet about going. I don’t know why I do that. I LOVE it. I really do. It feels incredible, and I have no idea WHY I make such an issue out of it. My daughter invited me to go last Sunday, and I actually had a fight or flight response – just panicked! What is UP with that? Anyway, I didn’t go, and it took me until today to make myself do it. After trying with all my might to come up with an excuse why I couldn’t. And, as usual, I LOVED it. I feel so good! And I’m doing another juice only day, so I’m feeling SPECTACULAR today.

Other Travel –

We got the trip info for our Cuba trip in late October, so we’ve been studying up on what we need to take, and what we need to do before we go. Tomorrow we get our typhoid vaccination (which will be good for Africa, as well) and we’ve gotten a supply of mosquito repellant – Zika outbreak in Cuba – of course. If it isn’t terrorists, it’s diseases… But, we’re going anyway.

Scrapbooking –

I got all the pictures from the Alaska 2013 trip into albums. They are still waiting for their embellishments, but I feel good that at least the photos are in. Now I’m negotiating with myself about whether or not I get to play with my new toy since it was supposed to be my reward for doing the albums, but I never specified what “doing” them actually meant. If I’m being completely ethical, I should wait, but do I HAVE to be completely ethical with my own self? I’m torn. Ethics are what you do when no one is looking. Damn. I guess I need to wait.

I guess the last major thing pending is getting the house put back together after getting new carpeting in the great room. There are still piles in the guest bedroom and hallway waiting to be sorted through and put away. I got all the DVDs in an album instead of the individual cases, so they’ll take up much less room, but there is still so much to do. Heck, the suitcases still aren’t emptied out from our summer trip to Bend! Heeheehee!

And I need to check in on my “phrase” for the year – “walk the path of your heart.” That will need to be a post of its own.

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