Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Billieblog started in March 2005. Here it is eight years later and I am going to move on. I'll leave the blog up in case you want to come back and find a recipe or an entry about an event in San Miguel but it doesn't seem to suit me anymore. Although I included a lot of subjects in it, it was mostly about San Miguel de Allende and being an ex-pat. That is why so many of my readers found me and followed along from entry to entry.

As you might guess, the last 12 months have brought so many changes in my life and the changes didn't slow down after I lost Ned. In some ways they have accelarated. My life is not the same as it was eight years ago.

I want to thank each one of you who dropped by to read the blog and especially those who commented or sent me an email. You brought me great joy and to Ned as well. I am so grateful that I not only met you in cyberspace but some of you I met in person. Those friendships I will continue to nurture and hold dear.

As I have said before I have found that I like to write so I will continue to write and to do photography but I think it will be with a bit different focus. I'd like to invite you to come over an take a look at the new blog, Reservations for One.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

It Is My Birthday

Yes, another year older. Seems to happen every year. But you know the old saying, 'It is better than the alternative.'

The last time I wrote on this blog, back at the end of November, I thought that I would start writing on a regular basis again. It did not happen, but I guess you have already figured that out. I went to Texas on December 2 and although I thought about writing a blog several times, it just didn't happen. It seems like writing the blog on the iPad is more difficult for me and that has something to do with the typing. I never watch my hands when I'm typing on the computer keyboard but with the iPad I do and watching my hands and using my brain to write must be more than I can handle. Now young people do not have this problem, not with tablets or smart phones. There is one interesting thing I found out, even though I had Ned's laptop in Houston, the only time I fired it up was to read something on a CD. The iPad was just more convenient to use for checking email and Facebook, etc. I was talking with some friends and they think that the iPad/tablets are making inroads on the sale of laptop computers.

While I was in Texas I did some shopping but it was very targeted shopping. I had a list and unless something exactly fit the requirements, I didn't buy except at Chico's which is now my favorite store. I saw friends and ate at some of my favorite places. I went to Port Aransas for a few days and made some more pictures for the project. Also went to Austin and saw Son #3 and family. While there I got to celebrate Susan's birthday, see Dexter take a Karate lesson, and hear Maxwell's rock band play a gig. We had a great Christmas. Christmas Eve I made oyster stew. I don't want to think about how much butter and cream were in the stew along with a gallon of oysters. And of course, I made jalapeno quiche for Christmas morning. I made six quiches but at least we had some left for the day after. Mike, Betsy and Gary were hosts to 20 people in the family for a sit-down formal dinner on Christmas night. It was a wonderful Christmas.

Tonight some friends made a birthday dinner for me and now it is time to think about 2013.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Strictly Speaking

I've lost some weight since I came back to San Miguel. Not enough that anyone would notice but still the trend line is going in the right direction. I can't say that I'm dieting but I've been eating more veggies and less animal protein and if I have been somewhere for comida I'll eat some fruit or a piece or two of cheese if I'm hungry later in the evening. I have some friends who are more or less evaluating a pretty strict diet....her more and him less...basically the diet that Bill Clinton is on because of his heart disease.  This diet is featured in Sanjay Gupta's documentary The Last Heart Attack.
I've watched the video and it does encourage me to make some changes in what I eat. One night this week I had wild rice, sweet potatoes and broccoli. Ned would have asked where was the pork loin. Last night I had broccoli and  a baked potato. Today I went with friends to the new restaurant at the Trinidad organic farm. I had a portabello, goat cheese and grilled zucchini sandwich and this beautiful salad of jicama, cucumber and red cabbage garnished with sesame seed and a light Thai dressing.
Strictly Speaking, I'm not on the heart healthy diet because I haven't gone the No Fat, No Dairy, No Animal Protein of any kind route and I doubt I will but I'm feeling pretty good. The problem is I've been stuck at the same place on the scale now for a week. Oh, well, I like veggies. It isn't a problem to favor them so I think I'll stick with it a while although I'm not totally giving up meat or seafood everyday of the week. Not sure how that resolution will survive with family and all the Christmas festivities but I will report back on my veggie challenge.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Saturday Morning Shopping

Here it is Wednesday. I started this blog on Saturday. That seems to be what is happening to the blog and why it has been almost two months since I wrote anything. I have something to write about but by the time I'm able to write it, the material is out of date. I don't know what is going to happen to the blog but on Saturday I saw a friend who encouraged me in an email later that day to keep writing.
I think what I enjoy most about your blog is your appreciation of and commentary on quite ordinary aspects of daily living in Mexico and Mexican culture.
That is nice, isn't it. Her comments certainly encourage me to keep up the blog even if I'm not quite timely with my entries. So here we go with Saturday..............
Saturday was a beautiful day so with the iPhone in my pocket I went over to the organic market. This market has grown and gets better every time I go to it. Certainly there is produce but also you will find breads, cheeses and prepared food like quiches
There are more people coming and I love all the food stands...a great place to eat desayuno or an early comida.
 I bought some wonderful bread, arugula, sweet potato, dill and green onions. I would have bought more but it is just me at my house and I like to buy fresh produce every day or two.

I'm sorry but this description doesn't do the organic market justice. Yes, there are wonderful products but also it is the atmosphere. There are dogs on leashes, children sitting down in the grass with a snack to munch on, children running and playing, great conversations with the vendors, people at tables relaxing under the trees with their tacos, burritos or whatever they have bought, friends standing around just talking, pop-up bandas playing and singing for a little donation. It really makes you feel good to be there.

I left the market and decided to walk to a new store called Olio Fino that has recently opened. They sell a wide variety of olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Before I got there I saw some friends in Cafe Monet. They are leaving soon so we had a wonderful talk about our plans for the next six months.
When I was in Denver this summer I saw another olive oil and vinegar store. It was very grand and this new store in San Miguel is just as grand. Who knew there could be so many kinds of olive oils and vinegars....but there are. I am amazed that right here in San Miguel we have the very same kind of store. I needed some olive oil. After tasting several, I chose one.

As I walked home I thought about all of the food changes I've seen in San Miguel since we bought our house almost eleven years ago. But I'll save that discussion for another blog. The sun, the bustle in the market, meeting friends on the street, trying something new, walking.....Saturday morning shopping.....it is one of the reasons I'll keep living here.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving - 2012

Such major changes have happened in my life this year that I have been thinking a lot about the things I have to be thankful for....and I find that there are many.

First and foremost is that I had Ned in my life for 58 years. He was such a gentle man who loved family, friends and a good time. I don't know of anyone who didn't like Ned. Together we raised three wonderful sons. I have so many precious memories of our life and I try to make that my focus not how much I miss him.

I have always thought my sons were special....well, maybe there were a few times when they were younger that I could have given them away if I could have found someone who would take them. Not any more. I'm keeping my "boys." They really pitched in and helped take care of Ned and are so supportive of me. I'll brag and say they are exceptional men and I'm so thankful for them. I'm thankful also for their wives and sons who did anything they could for us. I really have a great family. I can't imagine how I would have gotten through this last year without them.

Next on the list are my friends. If I had kept a list of all the things that my friends did for me during this past year it would be the size of a novel.

Mexico....I'm definitely thankful that I have my little house in San Miguel and I'm enriched everyday by living in here.

I'm thankful for my health. I know that at my age that feeling healthy and strong can change in a flash so I'm really trying to live in the moment and be greatful for each day.

Because I have all of these things, my life is rich and full and I am thankful.

The last couple of years we have been in Houston with Ned's sister for Thanksgiving. This year I'm staying put here in Mexico. A little later I'll meet some friends at a restaurant for the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner. It seems a little funny that I'm not cooking today. The worst part of not cooking the big turkey dinner is that you don't have leftovers. Thanksgiving dinner is always soooo good the next day. I think restaurants could make a few extra bucks by having a "take-out box" for leftovers. I would definitely buy one.

To all my blogging friends, I hope you have a wonderful feast day with family and friends.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The Way to Cook

Remember the movie Julie and Julia about the young woman who decided to cook all the recipes in Julia Childs cookbook and that undertaking was juxtaposed off Meryl Streep's portrayal of the life of Julia Childs? I kept thinking about that movie last night while I prepared dinner for friends because I was using Childs book The Way to Cook.

I had a duck in the freezer that I wanted to cook. I have only cooked duck a couple of times and none of those times are recent....more like 15 or 20 years ago. I don't even remember how I cooked the duck. I have friends who are wonderful cooks and they are always up for an experiment. So I invited them over for the duck cooking experiment.

I could have just stuck the duck in the oven to roast but I wanted to do more than that. I mentioned to my friend that I needed a recipe for the duck and she said to look at The Way to Cook. Sure enough, Childs had several ways to cook a duck. I decided on the "steam/roast" method although I didn't have the big roasting pan with a rack. I really could have used those pieces of equipment but I made do although it was messier than I expected. She suggested separating the leg and wing joints from the body before you cook and then trussing the openings back together. I didn't do that but it became very apparent when we went to carve the duck that those instructions were a good idea.

Julia also recommended garnishing the duck platter with cooked prunes and apples, each cooked with separate recipes. But her recipes called for two pounds of prunes and eight to ten apples. Mmmm...the duck would only, at the most, serve four people. I couldn't see the three of us consuming two pounds of prunes or ten apples. Even my apple pie recipe only uses five or six apples. I cut those recipes in half.

In addition, I prepared wild rice and steamed broccoli. The duck was tender and moist in the legs as well as the breast, the skin was crispy and it really looked beautiful when it came out of the oven. Dessert was a dark chocolate mousse.

This was my first attempt at cooking for friends without Ned. Although he didn't do any of the cooking he was a great errand runner, patio cleaner, last minute dish washer, grill master and bartender. What I learned from this dinner party was to have the bar set up and designate the first guest to arrive as the bartender. Have the maid and maybe even the gardener come the day of the party. Make lists, get organized and get all the shopping done several days ahead of time. Small guest list. Informal party where people can sit at the bar or in the dining room while I finish off dinner or they can help dress the salad and pour water. Since the kitchen is open to the dining room just forget about the way the kitchen looks. It is what it is. The food is more important.

And the other thing I learned is that I still enjoy cooking and I like trying new recipes. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't work as well. Ned was always game to try anything I wanted to cook. So, I'm looking for guests who are willing to be a part of one of my cooking experiments.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Different View of the Feria

Friday night I met up with some friends at the Feria, the county fair. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures that were very good of the rides, the carney or the lights but I was exercising my photo-eye.
Down in an open spot two little boys were playing with a puppy. They were running around in circles and the puppy was chasing them. First one boy would run and then the other. The puppy was a busy puppy but he was enjoying the game. I asked the oldest boy to let me take a picture of his perro. He picked him up and brought him over. Little brother was not so sure about this crazy gringa with a camera.
I saw this little girl with her face painted. She was with her Mom. I asked for permission to photograph her and Mom said yes.
Even the people who travel and work the fairs have to have clean clothes. I can't resist a clothes line either.

So if you just saw these three images you probably would not guess I was at a Feria, but I was there. I was seeing it a little differently.