August 09, 2009

On Thursday, I had planned to go to a Salsa Social with an amiga. I can't hang like I used to so I rely on the occasional Disco Nap to recharge my bateria. I had a phone call wake me up along with banging on my front door. I yank open the door and stand there in utter shock, like a sweepstakes winner.

Grinning at me with her pink luggage is Sylvia. We pick up right where we left off before life got so major. We got to the mall, the movies and just hang out. I'm in bliss.

The next day I had to run a quick errand and when I get back and open my front door, my other best friend Jennifer is standing in front of me. Now I'm trembling like a beauty pageant winner. I've got the ugly cry y todo.

We shared our clothes, secrets, chisme, dreams and passed notes. We drove by parties before going in. We had each other to turn to for relief when things would get tricky in one of our lives. We held our breath and sent up a quick silent prayer when each of us got married hoping that the guy was gonna do right by our girl. We mourned the loss of loved ones.

As we set off into our respective paths we'd occasionally glance back wistfully and miss each other. We'd always talk about a 'girls trip' but life just always seemed to get in the way.

My querido esposo couldn't celebrate my birthday with me so he gave me the next best gift, mis amigas. Gracias mi amor. Te amo.

August 05, 2009


The old adage (and now a Jonas Brothers song) don't know what you got till it's gone is so fitting for this chica. I grew up in a family where the sounds of nuestra musica and the scents of mami's comida paced my day. En la mañana, the gurgling cafetera would release an enticing aroma that wafted into my room and let me know that I had to wake up. Soon after, someone turned on some music.

When it was time to clean, my mother would dance with the broom while pausing from the otherwise boring chore of sweeping. "Wanna practice those fast turns?" she'd ask me. "Mija, open the door and pretend that's your partner. Spin your body on beat and catch the doorknob; that's his hand silly! " We'd whisk through the house work with un chin de salsa aqui and un merengueito alla.

In Houston, on the weekends, bailando hasta las quince de la mañana was not just a lyric for me and my friends. It was our creedo. Sylvia, Jennifer, Rachel, Nani, Jess and I would make our way past the line outside Crystal, head for the bar pa' un trago and check out what the DJ was playing in both rooms. This place had American music in the back room and Latino music in the front room. The hallway resembled a New York City subway station.

In Miami, Spam Allstars provided an escape from my grief after Mami passed away. Cristina, Yvette and I would indulge in my version of therapy. We coined it Beach Therapy. My reply to every
problem would be simple "Chica, fuck that shit! Ven pa' la play, Spam is playing!"

After meeting my husband and relocating to casa pal carajo North Carolina, I missed all the dancing I used to take for granted. I sort of resigned myself to the idea that if I wanted to dance I'd have to hop on a plane. I had tried going to a few places and noticed that folks here just don't dance. They stand around and drink and talk and drink and talk some more. You get the idea.

A few weeks ago I stumbled onto a great dancing scene. Turns out that folks here do come out and dance. They find a safe spot for their street shoes, put on their dancing shoes and get to steppin'. Yeah, they're that serious, that they've got 'dancing shoes'. The whole room fills up with dancers on every level. From the anxious newbies fresh out of their first class that are counting along to the song to keep their beat and master that 'basic' step to the rusty old-timer that picks up where they left off before life got so busy that dancing lost it's priority. Although Mami is no longer here and my closest of friends are thousands of miles from me, last night they were all with en mi corazón as I danced.

August 03, 2009

More Bang for Your Buck

Staycation. Expect more. Pay less. Save money. Live better. We're all trying to figure out how to cut back here and there. My folks grew up in another country and passed along their good sense about eating well without spending a lot to me. This week I went to three stores, spent $61 and managed to pick up enough food for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner.

Brand loyalty? Fuck a brand, give me the cheapest price per unit. You determine how low you'll go and what's the most you're willing to spend. Coupons? If you've got the time on your hands for the serious commitment it takes, go for it. I've been know to walk up to the sales clerk at CVS and slam my coupons on the counter while exclaiming 'hit me!' as I rack up on my air scents and walk away feeling like a trouper because I paid $5 for $25 worth of stuff. But I digress....

First thing I do is make a list of tried and true essentials for breakfast, lunch and snacks. I then look at a few circulars. Whomever has the most of what I want at the cheapest price, gets my business. Next to the food item I'll indicate which store I'll go to make my purchase. At this point I know I've won a battle. Half the work is done. I go drink some café con leche, read everyone's updates on mother of all networking get the point. I've rested and I'm ready for the war. Dinner. What's for dinner? Keep it simple. Think of meals that will work for dinner and stretch into lunch the next day.
Harris Teeter:two dozen eggs 1.76
buy two get three free bacon 7.58 (freeze what you're not going to use this week)
buy one pound get another free cheddar cheese 5.52
buy one pound get another free smoked turkey 7.10
one pint of strawberries 1.25 (they had a 4 for $5 special)
goldfish 9 pack 5.29
TOTAL SPENT $29.07 (including sales tax)

From what I've purchased above, both kids can eat crackers, cheese, turkey, and fruit provided by yours truly for lunch without me paying the Kraft price for a lunchable.

Food Lion:
two blocks of Food Lion brand cheddar cheese (8 oz. each) $ 3.51
two pints of heavy whipping cream $5.38
one package of soft flour tortillas $1.40
one box of cheez-it crackers $2.50
one pound of ground beef $3.44
ten pounds of chicken leg quarters $7.90
TOTAL SPENT $24.68 (including sales tax)

one bag of granny smith apples $2.69
a small tub of parmesan cheese $1.99
unsalted butter $1.89TOTAL SPENT $6.70

From what I've purchased above at the last two stores along with what I have at home (never let your pantry or fridge go bare), I now have enough to feed everyone.

Mac-n-cheese with turnip greens and pica pollo (Dominican fried chicken)
Guilty pleasure, I know, get over it, we're in the South...

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

I've also made quesadillas, but these folks gobbled them up before I could snap a quick pic.

It's only Monday night. Three more dinners to go. Friday is known as FOF around these parts, as in Fuck Off Friday. Something odd happens to my kitchen appliances and they go on strike, lol.