"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." -- Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Another Frugal Almuezo

While this is another frugal lunch, it also demonstrates why I enjoy being frugal.

I am not an artist nor am I truly creative but being frugal does stimulate my imagination and creativity as well as challenging my cooking skills.

Plus, I continue to try and get my meal costs lower.

When I get my servicio de domicilio almuerzo (lunch) ($70 pesos with tip = 3 meals) delivered once a week, it comes with about five corn tortillas. I don’t usually eat them with my meal, I often put them on a plate, microwave them for 2 minutes on each side and make corn chips. But, today, I decided to make chicken wraps.

When I get Chinese carryout ($88 with tip) about once a month, I can make about 4-5 meals out of it.

Dicing a few pieces of chicken from my Chinese takeout, I mixed in 1/4 diced red onion, a heaping tablespoon of mayo, a few chunks of pineapple, a few grinds of ground black pepper, and a dash of lemon juice. Using corn tortillas from my servicio de domicilio, I had enough for more than two chicken wraps.

I have found a new way to increase the number of meals I can get from my servicio de domicillo and Chinese takeout!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Monday, January 11, 2016

What a Tightwad Almuerzo (Lunch)!

After I made my first Imitation Tuna Fish Recipe, I decided to get a masher because crushing the garbanzo beans with a fork was hard work. So, of course, as a tightwad, I made an attempt to find a masher at a good price.

Without a car, I am limited in my options but I make the best of it. Below are four mashers I found at the grocery store, in order of price: $24.90, 55.03, 69.00, 99.00 (pesos).

Each masher had a different patterned foot. I choose No. 1 for $24.90 not just because of price but because the foot pattern (a square of little squares) seemed the best for my purposes and I felt plastic might last longer than a metal one that could rust.

Following my Imitation Tuna Salad recipe (see recipe below), I used my new masher and it worked great! Also, I used a spatula to get the last of the mayo from the jar. But, this time I added 1 teaspoon of frozen canned salmon juice I had saved which gave the dish that fishy taste. I think Sardines and Canned Salmon are still sustainable seafood products from what I've read.

Also, I toasted one slice and the end piece from the last of a multigrain loaf of bread in a skillet. I do love the end pieces.

Also, I had some leftover soup. I can stretch a can of ready-made soup into three meals. Also, I get one almuerzo with servicio a domicillco a week, including a soup, I can make three meals out of one almuerzo.

For the beverage, I used my carbonated water maker, some leftover tonic water, a plastic glass I saved from a frozen dessert, and wedge of a lime given to me from a neighbor who has lime tree in her garden, to make a tonic water spritzer.

Imitation Tuna Fish


6 Tbspns cooked garbanzo beans, drained
1/8 - 1/4 Red onion, diced
1 Heaping Tbspn Mayo
1 Tbspn Pickle relish
4-5 Twists from Black Pepper grinder
4-5 Shakes Paprika

2 Slices Multi-Grain Bread, toasted


Place garbanzo beans in a bowl.
Mash well with a fork.
Add onion, mayo, relish and seasonings to taste.
Stir well. Mash beans some more if necessary.
Spread a tablespoon of mixture on a slice of toast.
Top with second slice.
Cut sandwich in half.

Option: add teaspoon of leftover sardine oil or salmon juice.

Updated: 1/14/16

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Carrot, Raisin & Almond Salad

I am thrilled with this recipe.

OMG!!! I even did my first test recipe (much smaller than original). It was a bit sweeter than the final recipe, but it tasted good. I am overjoyed at the success of this recipe. I am never sure of what I am doing. I worried about ruining a 600g bag of shredded carrots. I use a new spoon for everything because I worry about cross contamination of who knows what. I wash my hands after almost every step.

Carrot, Raisin & Almond Salad
(adapted from several recipes including http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/classic_carrot_salad/)

4 cups carrots, shredded
1/2 cup raisins

2 level teaspoons of almonds, slivers
2 level tablespoons mayo
2 level tablespoons yogurt, plain
2 level teaspoons coconut cream

1/2 a capful of lime juice concentrate


  • First, add the carrots and raisins into the large bowl of a container with a lid.
  • Then, crush almonds in the palms of your hands before adding.
  • Add mayo, yogurt & coconut cream.
  • Add the lime juice.
  • Stir well to coat the carrots, raisins & almonds.
  • Cover and refrigerate.

Servings 4

Used almost whole 600g bag of shredded carrots.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Meet Hannah Crawford - Writer, Editor and Publication Specialist at The Write Place

Hannah Crawford
Writer and Editor
a small independent publisher
Pella, IA

Hello, Hannah:
Hannah Crawford
Writer & Editor
The Write Place

Thank you for agreeing to do an interview for my blog.

As a the Write Place (WP) client and self-published author, I am always curious about how the publishing side works.

WP offers a wide variety of services from writing, editing, design, marketing and more. So, I am excited about this interview.

Q. How long have you been with the Write Place?

A. I joined the Write Place in 2011 as the book division coordinator.

Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?

A. The variety of books people bring to us for publication. I’ve been able to work with authors on children’s books, poetry books, memoirs, novels, history, photo books…I’m sure there are more that I’m not thinking of right now!

Q. As a writer and editor for the WP, are there some favorite projects you have worked on and why? Were there some projects that presented unforeseen issues? If so, what were some of those issues?

A. One of my favorite projects was the winner of our 2014 Book Contest, Lost in the Tallgrass. I loved the story so much, it was truly a pleasure to work with the author throughout the editing process.

It seems like every book project has something new or unexpected that comes up during the production process. Oftentimes this is the author wanting to add additional photos or text at the last minute. Fortunately we can usually accommodate them and still meet their deadline—but sometimes we have to remind them that it might be time to let their baby go!

Q. What advice would you give to a new author seeking to use the WP self-publishing services?

A. Keep in mind that publication is just the beginning. For your book to succeed, you have to have a solid marketing plan. This can be as much work, if not more, than writing the book itself.

Q.  What is the typical the WP production process for a self-published eBook or Book?

A. We provide a wide range of services, and not all authors take advantage of all of them. This means that there really is no “typical project.”

But just as an example: an author comes to us with a completed manuscript and wants us to usher it through the entire production process. We’d start with editing, then develop a cover design and interior design. Once the author is happy with the text and design, we’d lay out the entire book. We then send it to a print on demand printer, so the author can order as many copies as he or she wants. We’d also set it up for distribution through Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and other online sites.

Q. What are some typical costs to produce an eBook?

A. It depends on the complexity and length of the eBook. I’d be happy to provide a quote for anyone interested!

Q. Are there some common misconceptions new authors have about self-publishing using TWP services?

A. The WP has been providing a wide range of publishing services to business clients and authors for many years. The WP must have gone through many technological changes as the print industry changes.

Q. What are some innovations TWP has adopted?

Technology is what makes our business possible—without print on demand, it just wouldn’t be economically feasible for many authors to publish their book.

Q.  Does the TWP participate in any book conventions or writing workshops?

A few years ago I attended the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College and discussed self-publishing with some of the authors who were attending. That was a blast!

Q.  What do you see in the future for eBook and POD publishing?

I see the technology, especially for eBooks, becoming increasingly accessible and flexible. I’m sure there is amazing technology people are developing right now that I can’t even imagine!

Thanks Hannah, it has been a pleasure working with you and the WP staff. Thanks for the interview.

WP Locations

Pella, IA and Lakeville, MN

WP Media




Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ovaltine - My Way

One common refrain you will hear from expats is their difficulty in finding various favorite food items from back home, here in Merida.

One food item I can't find is Ovaltine, a chocolate powdered drink mix. I have used Mexico's coca powdered mixes and they are good, but there's something about Ovaltine that makes it different.

But, I got lucky, a relative brought me lots of Ovaltine, so I am enjoying a variety of Ovaltine drinks!

Using milk (light) as a base and adding 2-3 heaping teaspoons of Ovaltine, I am making:

Iced Ovaltine

Hot Ovaltine, plain or
    with a bit powdered orange drink mix, or
    with a bit of coffee, or
    with a bit of vanilla flavoring

Ovaltine Frappuccino

For more info on Ovaltine:

What's in Ovaltine?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Netflix Ponders Remake of Lost in Space

Netflix may do a remake of Lost in Space

Cast from original Lost in Space
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lost_In_Space.jpg

The only reason I watched the original Lost in Space was Guy Williams, a unique actor.

I've read the article and the remake may just be another space flick, indistinguishable from other space flicks, whereas the original Lost in Space had its own special personality. Sadly, from the gossip I've heard, "Dr. Smith" wrecked havoc on the original Lost in Space.