The Year of Magical Thinking-Book Review


Joan Didion takes us through her year after losing her husband unexpectedly; and at the same time, having her only daughter in critical condition. It’s an honestly written book on the denial, fog, and numbness she felt from her loss.  I thought for sure I would cry through this whole book, but someone in denial doesn’t cause tears. It’s in the paragraph below that I cried.

“Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect the shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes. In the version of grief we imagine, the model will be “healing.” A certain forward movement will prevail. The worst days will be the earliest days. We imagine that the moment to most severely test us will be the funeral, after which this hypothetical healing will take place. When we anticipate the funeral we wonder about failing to “get through it,” rise to the occasion, exhibit the “strength” that invariably gets mentioned as the correct response to death. We anticipate needing to steel ourselves the for the moment: will I be able to greet people, will I be able to leave the scene, will I be able even to get dressed that day? We have no way of knowing that this will not be the issue. We have no way of knowing that the funeral itself will be anodyne, a kind of narcotic regression in which we are wrapped in the care of others and the gravity and meaning of the occasion. Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief was we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself.”
Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

Backward Hanger Challenge-Closet Clean Out Begins


I have been doing the backward hanger challenge for almost two months now. I totally recommend doing this. It’s been a real eye opener. And the reality is I only wear a small portion of my clothes. For example:

  • Out of my 17 dresses, I currently only wear 2 on a regular basis.
  • Out of my 19 pair of shorts, I currently only wear 4 on a regular basis.
  • Out of my 28 pair of pants/jeans, I currently only wear 5 on a regular basis.

I counted a total of 34 items I normally wear on a rotating basis. Whaaaat..

That being said, my first goal is to condense to the following:

  • 5 pair of jeans (boyfriend, skinny/regular x2, cropped flare, around the house pair)
  • 1 pair of white jeans.
  • 1 pair of black jeans
  • 10 pairs of pants (other than jeans. Including nice pants, cargos, drawstring, khaki)
  • 7 pairs of shorts
  • 2 skirts
  • 10 everyday dresses

I was almost successful with this first goal. I did keep 3 extra pair of jeans (blue, white, and black). I’m happy to report I don’t miss a thing.




5 Days in Chiapas Recap and Recommendations


I just returned from 5 days in Chiapas and it was as beautiful as I imagined. Here is my recap, as well as my tips for traveling to this region. Our itinerary was 2 full days in Tuxtla and 3 full days in San Cristobal.

Let me start by saying Tuxtla is not a tourist town. There is really nothing to do there. However, it is a good base to visit Cañon del Sumidero and Chiapa de Corzo. Cañon del Sumidero is beautiful. We took a tour of the canyon from above and a 2 hour boat trip through the canyon. Definitely a sight to see, including the crocodiles!

The next day we went to Chiapa del Corzo. This is a small puebla of Indians and Mexicans with a tourist area of restaurants and Mexican goods. My advice is that if you are also visiting San Cristobal, visiting Chiapa del Corzo is not necessary.

The next tour we took was of a village of the Chamula Indians near to San Cristobal. The Chamula Indians do not appreciate photographs, so I have no pictures. I found these indigenous people fascinating. The tour was basically of their church. The church is catholic and they pray to Mary and the catholic saints, but with their own rites and rituals. Though it was brief, this visit was worth it.

The next village we visited on this tour is of the Zinacantán. These Indians are major producers of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. In fact, many of their flowers are shipped to Canada and the USA. It’s a beautiful area because we are now in the highlands. I am not sure, but I believe we are around 6000 ft above sea level. Men, women, and children all work.

Again, this was a brief tour simply to a textile shop to purchase handmade goods. I would have liked to have spent more time here and walked around a bit.

Now, on to San Cristobal. This is a pueblo mágico meaning the façade of the buildings cannot be reconstructed to maintain their historic values. It is definitely a tourist area with a lot of restaurants and shopping, but I still felt a strong sense of the city itself. I saw very few Americans here. I had the sense more of the tourists come from Europe and South America.

In the center is the Diocesis de San Cristobal.

Walking up the 400 steps for San Cristobal views.

The last tour was of Lagos de Montebello. Gorgeous blue lakes and waterfalls.

The best meal I had was in Lum Restaurant. I highly recommend this place. The food was excellent.

My Chiapas recommendation recap:

  • I would stay in San Cristobal for my entire visit. Or stay in Tuxtla for the Cañon del Sumidero tour only.
  • I would also add Palenque to my visit, staying the night there.. It is very far from San Cristobal (though they do do day trips).
  • I would skip Chiapa del Corzo tour.
  • For me, 2-3 full days in San Cristobal is sufficient.
  • For this April 5 full day trip, I recommend 2 pair of shorts/capris and tops for 3 tours. 2 pair jeans, tops for the town including 1 long sleeve shirt, and one lightweight jacket (I actually used a pashmina scarf). Sneakers for tours and walking shoes/sandals for the town. For whatever reason, it was in the 50’s temp at night, but it never felt that cold to me.
  • Any hotel in the historic center of San Cristobal is within easy walking distance to the center with a lot of the restaurants and bars. Think of the Diocesis de San Cristobal as ground zero for all the “action”.
  • The indigenous people are a huge part of visiting this area. I feel it is important to repay them by purchasing goods directly from them and the local artists in the area.

My Book Store Game Plan


“One day I will find the right words and they will be simple”. -Jack Kerouac

(City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco CA. A Literary Landmark)

Nooks and Kindles could never actually replace an actual book. For me, I just feel more connected to the book and the author when I have it in my hand turning the pages. Don’t get me wrong. I buy books online too. It’s a necessity living in Monterrey. There are only a few small bookstores in malls that I have found, and really small English sections. But when I’m back in the states, I can easily idle away hours roaming the book aisles. It’s my happy place. I’m sure a lot of book nerds have a master plan for navigating the bookstore. Here is mine.

  1. First is my list. I go to the bookstore with a list of books that are all candidates for that days purchase.
  2. Do a quick scan of displays as soon as I walk through the doors. See if anything pops out at me.
  3. Locate and pick up the books on my list. This is important to do first thing because if I wait until I’m ready to leave, I have often forgotten all about those books.
  4. Go to the New York Times bestsellers section. This is to simply to look at the newer popular books. I normally do not purchase these because they are hard covers. I’m a gal on a budget!
  5. Now I go to the new books in paperback. These are the books that have recently been put into soft cover from hardcover. Now we’re talkin…
  6. Next, I check out the New Writers section and the Staff Recommendation section.
  7. Meander through the rest of the aisles: Literature, Poetry, Self Help, Cookbooks, Classics, etc.
  8. At this point, it’s been an hour or two and I will have an armful of books. I go through them and reevaluate which books to purchase. I can usually get it to around 5 books, but the ones I leave behind will haunt me throughout the rest of my visit.
  9. On to the discount books. Here is where I will pick up any last minute books which will in turn cause me to have to reevaluate my purchases again.
  10. After this, I walk through the miscellaneous area of journals, bookmarks, calendars, etc. I rarely buy from this section, but I always walk through it anyway.
  11. Now I’m finished and the next stop is the cashier. This is when I pause, relook at my books, consider the ones I left behind, and make the decision: Should I go back for the book/s I left behind?
  12.  Lastly, I get in line and buy.
  13. Often when I’m driving home thinking about the books I bought, I will realize I forgot to give the cashier the coupon I had.


Its Official, Rosé Season is Here


I know some of you are still living in the cold, but for me here in Mexico we went straight from a few weekends of winter to summer. And while I’m not quite ready for all the heat, I am quite ready to start drinking Rosé.

Note: (If you are still experiencing winter weather, well… it is officially Spring so go ahead)

Here’s a few stats on Rosé

  • Rosé (French) is called Rosado (Spain), Rosato (Italy), and it’s also known as blush
  • European Rosés are drier than rosés from other parts of the world
  • Primarily consumed in Spring and Summer
  • Fruity profile and should be dry
  • Serve chilled
  • One of the most versatile food friendly wines
  • Bargain wine

When in doubt, ask for a dry Rosé from Provence under $15.00. Á votre santé!

Dinner Chez Moi- Book Review


So, this is definitely a cookbook, but more too. It’s a cookbook made for the basic to mid level cook. It’s a perfect French cookbook for those like me: culinary challenged, lacking  decision making skills of what to cook, not wanting to spend hours in the kitchen. (BTW: I have tried a few of her recipes from her previous books and they have been easy to make and delicious.)

There are also a lot of French cooking tips and insights into how the French view and eat meals. Which is why I read this book entirely last night (excluding all the recipes) and am counting it as one of the 12 books I said I would read this year. 😉