April 2024 Highlights

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I really don’t know where April went, but boy did it feel long!

About midway through the month, I finally replaced by nearly 5.5-year-old computer. It was just time, now that we were on the other side of the whole M chip storm. Windows and my work software were finally working on the new Macs and I wanted to be portable again. Buying the computer stretched my Spanish skills almost to their breaking point. My purchase was denied at the cash register, and I had to spend almost 1.5 hours on the phone with my bank to convince them that I was really and truly at the store and that this was not a fraudulent transaction! And I was only at the store because they kept denying me online purchases despite hours on the phone and promises that the transaction was no longer blocked! This was definitely not BBVA’s finest hour. The connection to the bank was very poor, I got disconnected at least once, and there were some impressive technological gymnastics to do to go between my bank app and the phone call. It was mortifying, but the authorization finally went through and I was able to make my purchase, and in 20 equal no-interest payments to boot. This let me get a computer with slightly better specs than I would have otherwise, and more quickly, since I was able to buy what was in stock that day instead of waiting for the model I’d chosen to be restocked.

My new computer was so easy to set up that I was working with it a day later. Of course, the Mac side just meant restoring from my last backup and walking away for a few hours. The Windows side had to be done manually, but since I only use one software, it wasn’t too bad, although I’m still getting rid of bloatware. The only thing that isn’t working is my brand-new printer, which is very frustrating, especially since it has printed a couple of pages, so it’s a case of it choosing not to print rather than not being able to print. I can’t believe it’s 2024 and printers haven’t improved. I miss my old dot matrix!

I was overdue for a day off, so I spent extra time at the mall, getting lunch and browsing the Gandhi bookstore. I really wanted some very pricy comprehensive Lebanese and Indian cookbooks, but reason held out and I brought home these very reasonably priced tomes instead.

Gals at a pop-up Ipanema sandal stand said they got the easiest sale of their lives when I came upon them. I loved my “dressy flip-flops” when I was in Europe — and still use them! — but I definitely was due for a refreshed pair. This is what they had for “chanclas de vestir” (don’t come at my Spanish if that isn’t exactly right because they perfectly understood what I was looking for!)  in my size, and the price was so much more reasonable than what I’d paid for my Ipanemas back in Canada in 2016!

I managed to finish early one night and decided to treat myself to one of my favourite restaurants, Miyabi. I’d never been on my own. The restaurant is really beautiful with an inside terrace that is also an outside terrace, and there is a river that runs through it with fish.

I started with their mixed tempura, which includes ginormous shrimp:

And then I had some octopus nigiri and a spicy tuna roll (NO CREAM CHEESE!!!). This is my go-to Miyabi order and it is always fresh and delicious. I also always have a Sapporo beer.

Near the end of the month, I went to a wine tasting and pairing event near my house. Like the gardening class, this was a very targeted ad by Instagram, which gets data from chats in Facebook Messenger as well as conversations through Gmail. Annoying, but I do need to get out of the house more and this gets me out of the house!

There was a brown husky at the event. Such a good boy, very friendly!

We literally painted with wine and coffee.

We were supposed to paint cacti. Inspired by the Mexican flag, I wanted to add an eagle and a snake…

I’m not much of a wine drinker, but all the wines of the night were to my taste! We started with a bubbly, then a rosé, then a couple of reds.

We got some nibbles. The honey drizzled into the hummus left me with mixed feelings, but, really, everything was delicious!

I was pretty pleased with most of my painting except for the eagle.

Said eagle looked more like a duck and was the highlight of the night.

I received some help to fix it!

March 2024 Highlights

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March was even less interesting than February as I was making up for several slow months of work. My schedule continued to revolve around Pilates. I really started to break through some walls, finding myself stronger than I ever have in my life. I have so much to say about how hard it is to be an eagle in a world that only values hummingbirds, but that is a post for another day.

The only thing of note for March is I bought my plane tickets for my trip to Canada in June. In January, I’d made contact with housesitters in France, so I’d just been waiting for the budget to reset itself to make firm plans for my trip. It will be very strange to go back.

This was my favourite photo from March. I was just roasting some chiles for salsa when I noticed that my habanero was literal fire!

I finished the Beartown trilogy by Fredrik Backman and my heart still has not recovered.

Finally, Dodger decided she wanted to get more information about scoping but ultimately decided it was not for her.

February 2024 Highlights

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After a slow start to the year, things became to ramp up in February. My best client moved on with short notice, so it was the perfect opportunity to increase my rates and get new clients that would give me more flexibility in my scheduling. This was a perfect example of how being your own boss can be more secure than having a salaried job in the current economy. This is really true in my industry since there are is more work than there are competent people available to do that work. Soon as I knew I would not be getting more work from her, I put out a couple of posts saying I was available and my calendar filled up pretty much to this weekend, May 11th!

I’m going through my photos from February and it really was just the usual Pilates, homemaking/cooking, and cats, so I won’t bore you with the same-old, same-old. The only exciting thing that happened is I signed up for a gardening class! This began the 20th of February and went on for four weeks. It was great to get out of the city those four mornings. The trip all the way to Residencial Xcanatún seemed daunting, but it wasn’t so bad. The Uber ride there was pretty pricey, but I was able to get a ride back to just within the periférico most days and then grab a bus from there. One day, I got a lift straight home since I had to bring home seedlings.

The course was very comprehensive, but I knew that starting a garden right ahead of summer would not be a success, so I was actually a bit disappointed that we started seedlings, which did sprout but which did not survive the first heat wave. I’m going to try again in the autumn.

January 2024 Highlights

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January was a slow work month, which I appreciated as it enabled me to start implementing new routines for the year and focus on my health journey.

The year started off with one heck of an amazing surprise at my very nearby Walmart: they put in an ATM for my bank. 😲 There was an ATM for my bank near old Pilates and my actual bank branch is near new Pilates, but both are still a good 40-minute roundtrip walk. It’s amazing to get to a BBVA ATM and back in under 15 minutes. In a pinch, I could always take out a couple thousand pesos at the till using my debit card, but they didn’t always have that much to give in withdrawals, plus I had to buy something. This is much more convenient!

That Walmart pass service is also incredibly convenient! I can order from other Walmarts that carry products the one in Campestre doesn’t have, plus I get all my heavy things delivered. And the odd day that I’m missing a few things and don’t have time to run out, only having to tip for delivery is pretty great!

I got a bad toothache at the start of January and was once again grateful for the amazing dental care I have access to. I knew from having had similar pain on the other side of my mouth last year that the issue was my retainer rubbing my gum, exposing the nerve root. My retainer adjustment appointment was in a week or so and knowing that I wasn’t in a dental emergency as well as exactly what to do felt like a miracle. I just picked up a tube of this magic toothpaste at a pharmacy, didn’t use my retainer for a few nights, and problem solved. This toothpaste is a miracle. It doesn’t just numb teeth (think Sensodyne); it actually builds up a protective layer around thin enamel.

I’ve had to very slightly change the way I eat, so I’m getting a bit better about meal planning. This menu made me realise I was overdue for a trip to Asianmart, so I headed out there one afternoon to stock up.

Here is just a tiny bit of my haul. I would very quickly come to realise that I was smart in buying the economy-sized tubs of red curry paste and miso!

I cannot believe I’ve never made miso soup at home. It’s one of my comfort foods! It had to jump to $80 a tiny bowl from a restaurant for me to wise up!

One of the many red curry paste bowls of deliciousness I’ve made since my Asianmart trip:

My clients were very generous over the holiday season. I was able to finally pick up a stainless steel skillet with one of the Amazon gift cards I received. It’s my new favourite pan to cook on!

With the balance of the card, I picked up sandals to match a new dress I got myself for my Puerto Morelos trip. 🙂

I bought this puzzle in 2022 and it wasn’t until January 2024 that I was finally able to put it together! The puzzle table went in the guest room so I could keep it safe from the girls! This was a really fun puzzle as it has a surprise at the end, one that actually surprised me.

Speaking of the girls, they love me and are getting along!

I spent most of a Sunday at Mérida’s well-hidden gem, the Parque Arque-ecologico del poniente. It’s becoming increasingly accessible as the bus service improves. I’ll have to remember to blog about that in a few months as more life-changing routes become available.

An amusing find on my walk was the Mérida igloo!

Working here must be a party!

I couldn’t get an Uber back from the park, so I walked all the way to Soriana Canek. I don’t shop much at Soriana here, but I knew they were having a sale on a beer I like, so I figured I should stock up since I’d have a ride home. I also found some beautiful fresh leeks. It had been a bit of a chilly, drizzly morning, so some fresh leek soup with garlicky naan was the perfect lunch after my long walk!

Finally, I did some pretty major cosmetic work in the kitchen in January. I may eventually post a video tour. One big improvement was baseboards!

I was unhappy with how the counters were chipping. After speaking with a few contractors, I decided that since I’m doing a full gut reno of the kitchen within the next five years, I wasn’t going to fix them properly. Enter contact paper. It was such an inexpensive and easy solution that even if I have to redo it one or two times before I redo the kitchen, it’ll still be less wasteful and expensive than my other options, like tiling or doing epoxy. I also added some peel-and-stick tile behind the stove. What an improvement! I love the floor and am thrilled that the counters almost match!

I again switched up the layout a bit and now do all my prep on the metal table.

Finally having a kitchen that I’m almost happy in for the first time since moving in is really helping motivate me to meal plan and cook. I finished off the year with this beautiful meal of failed shrimp tacos. I finished work early and decided that was what I was in the mood for, so I headed over to Walmart Express to get in my walk for the day and pick up everything I needed.

I came home and threw together a gorgeous salsa bandera with mango (I now make it with one whole jalapeño and one whole serrano pepper), a creamy coleslaw (with another serrano pepper), then cooked shrimp and sliced up an avocado. I have had to switch to low-carb tortillas at home, so that’s why you see a wheat one there — I still prefer corn!

I decided to pile everything onto the single tortilla, so I had to eat my meal with a knife and fork. #tacofail🤦‍♀️

January was the perfect lazy start to the year and really reset my batteries.

December 2023 Highlights

(It’s January 2024 and I’m backdating a post for each month that I have not blogged. Please scroll down to see the new posts starting with the July 2023 highlights)

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December was dead quiet and I just needed a proper break and staycation to get caught up things, including spending a couple of days doing house-closing related things. We thought we’d manage to close by the 15th, but alas.

The most exciting thing I did in December was visit the new La Plancha park, which Mérida claims will be the lung of the city. Ha! Just another huge concrete area, but maybe the trees will grow. It does have some lovely walking trails and a kids’ skate park is always a good idea. The lake is also lovely. It’s a beautiful project, truly, but I wish city planners understood how much replacing concrete with greenery would help this city.

I had trouble with Ubers that day, so I ended up taking a bus home, using the bus pass I’d bought way back in July! The new buses are linked to an app. You can check what routes to take and also see when a bus is coming your way. I took the bus again to Costco later in the month and was able to walk out my door, go a couple of blocks, and get to the bus stop just as my bus was pulling up! This ability to time my rides will definitely increase my bus usage as I stopped because the waits before were too long. I like that these new buses allow you to transfer to another bus at no charge, which must be a huge improvement to folks reliant on the old system of having to pay for each bus. These new routes will soon link up with the newly inaugurated IE-tram system. Within the next year, I should be able to walk 15 to 20 minutes to a tram station that will take me straight to La Plancha.

Alma is so droll.

Dodger is so sweet.

For Christmas, I made a delicious ham from local vendor The Sausage Lady as well as a cauliflower gratin (recognise the dish?) and some fabulous coconut sugar and cumin glazed roasted carrots..

I had an appointment with a trichologist in early December to confirm that my alopecia is genetic and not caused by an autoimmune condition. She confirmed as much and was really impressed with how well my hair has responded to Minoxidil, so she recommended I add another product, Nourkrin, to fill in the crown now that the the back has come in and I don’t have a huge bald spot anymore! She was shocked by how dated is my knowledge of alopecia and said she’s convinced I’ll have a full head of hair by next year… The top is still pretty spare (although it has so much body it can be styled to cover the thinner areas), but check out the back! I got a haircut just before vacation, so this is only a month to go from collar length to pony length. I do plan to get it all chopped off, but my hair dresser is on holidays for another week.

In that last photo, I was on my way to bowling. I’m hoping to have time for bowling again now that I’ve completely shaken up the Pilates routine. I’ve changed studios and am taking group classes, offering me a lot more flexibility. My vacation and “sick days” in October sadly caused issues at the last studio and if missing four classes total all year was such a big deal, I knew I needed a change for 2024 as I have a longer trip planned. I’m back to an evening Pilates routine and need to close out this post so I can make dinner and head out in an hour for my first class of 2024!

I will continue with at minimum these highlight posts until I have completed the promised 263 posts. I’m not sure what will become of the blog after that.