Monday, 15 January 2018

100 Truths Blogger Tag

Here is where you get to know a little bit more about me!

I was tagged a while ago by the fabulous Romina of Mini Mummi Blogger (thanks for the nomination!) in her 100 Blogger Truths  post and so now it's my turn to take part and answer the questions.  The tag was created by Debbie at My Random Musings and it's a fun mix of random facts and opinions on different subjects.  You may notice I've skipped some of the questions that I didn't want to answer, so it's not actually as long a post as it sounds!

If you want to join in, check the bottom of the post for instructions and don't forget to tag other bloggers.  To those I've tagged, let me know when you publish your 100 Truths post, I'd love to read them and get to know you better!



100 Truths Blogger Tag


Here we go...

The basics


1 What’s your name?
Ruth.  My middle name is Lydia.

2 Any nicknames or aliases?
No, I've never had a nickname.

3 Your gender?
Female

4 Your star sign?
Pisces

5 How old are you?
40

6 Your relationship status?
Married

7 Any children?
One daughter, Emma, will be 4 in March

8 Any pets?
We have a dog, Solovina, who wandered in off the street into the shop we used to have in Guanajuato and has stayed with us ever since.  We used to have a dalmation called Laika, but she sadly died over a year ago.  We also live with my mother-in-law's French poodle, Zidan, who she adopted during the world cup of 2006, hence the name.

9 Any tattoos or piercings?
No tattoos, only basic pierced ears (which I didn't get done til I was 21).

10 What do you like about yourself?
Difficult question to answer!  My good health, my eyes (it's somewhat unusual to have blue eyes in Mexico and people here find them fascinating!), parts of my personality, my resilience.


11 What do you dislike about yourself?
Other parts of my personality,  the varicose veins starting to appear on my legs, the spots and blemishes on my skin which have never properly cleared up since adolescence, now combined with signs of aging. I have a love-hate relationship with my hair.

12 Righty or lefty?
Right-handed

Lasts


13 The last thing you drank:
Water

14 The last thing you ate:
A crunchy granola bar

15 Your last phone call:
I don't remember, it must have been at least three days ago. I'm not a fan of talking on the phone.

16 Your last text message:
Does WhatsApp count? I don't send normal text messages. I think it was yesterday, asking my husband to buy some things for dinner.

17 Your last email:
To my daughter's school.


18 The last song you listened to:
 "Becoming a jackal" by Villagers.

19 The last book you read:
The one I'm currently reading is "Leonora" by a Mexican author called Elena Poniatowska. It's a biography of an English artist, Leonora Carrington, who emigrated to Mexico.  I am really enjoying it, I just haven't made much time to read recently so it's taking me a long time to finish it!

20 The last time you cried:
I don't remember. Not proper crying, anyway, but every time I read/hear/think of something particularly sad or moving it brings tears to my eyes.  So that's pretty often.

21 The last blog you read:

22 The last person you spoke to:
My husband.

23 The last place you visited:
Mexico City over Christmas.

24 Your last holiday abroad:
June 2013 - we went back to England for three weeks for my sister's wedding.


Your beliefs and opinions


49 Do you believe in aliens?
Yes.  I'm sure there is some form of life somewhere else in the universe.  I'm not sure if they're interested in visiting us, though.

50 Do you believe in miracles?
I believe that miraculous things happen.  And things we have no logical explanation for.

51 Do you believe in the power of positive thinking?
Absolutely!

52 Do you believe in love at first sight?
No. Attraction, yes, but not love.

53 Can money make you happy?
Only up to a certain point: having enough to live comfortably, that you don't need to worry about making ends meet and having the means to do things that make you happy.

54 Would you describe yourself as a feminist?
Yes.

55 Are you pro-life or pro-choice?
Pro-choice.

56 Do you have strong political beliefs?
I would say I have strong ideals, but they don't always match up to any particular political party and I'm not that well-informed about all the ins and outs of politics.

57 Do you have strong religious beliefs?
No. Except religious tolerance.

58 What do you think the most important thing you can give a child is?
Love.

Right now


59 Are you eating anything right now?
A toasted bread roll with butter and jam.

60 Are you drinking anything right now?
A cup of tea.

61 What are you listening to right now?
A song I'm a bit in love with called "Saudade" by Etienne Daho, a completely random recent discovery on Spotify.

62 What are you thinking about right now?
How to answer these questions and what else I need to do before I go to bed.

63 What are you waiting for right now?
I'm waiting to get paid! We never know the exact day we get our fortnightly pay deposited. I'm hoping it will be before the weekend as I have no money left.

64 What are you most excited about right now?
See previous question! No, not really. The possibilities that this new year has in store, achieving the goals I've set for myself.

65 What’s your pet hate right now?
Mayonnaise.  Wasting time.

66 What’s your favourite thing right now?
Coffee, tea and chocolate. I know that's three things, but I can't choose just one.


100 Truths Blogger Tag


67 If you weren’t answering these questions, what would you be doing right now?
Finishing getting my and my daughter's lunches ready for tomorrow.  Or maybe browsing social media. 

Firsts


68 Your first best friend:
Anna, at nursery school.  Apparently she was the only person I would talk to, but I don't remember that.  She moved away when we were about six but we stayed in touch on and off over the years, originally through letters and postcards, and these days through facebook.

74 Your first job:
As a glass collector in a nightclub when I'd just started university. It didn't last long, very depressing job!

75: Your first childhood memory: I'm not really sure, but some of my earliest memories include having a nightmare about a swan when I was about four, the teddy bear cake my mum made for my fourth birthday party, and some vague memories of nursery school.

Which would you choose?


76 Love or money?
Love

77 Twitter or Facebook?
Undecided.  Maybe facebook, although I have practically no followers (cue cheeky plug: Please follow my Facebook page!).  For the groups more than anything else.

78 Hook up or relationship?
Relationship, obviously.

79 Dogs or cats?
I have dogs, but I was always more drawn to cats before that.

80 Coffee or tea?
Both. Coffee in the morning, tea in the evening, maybe.

81 Beer or wine?
Both very infrequently these days.  I guess I'm more likely to drink beer than wine.

82 Sweet or savoury?
Sweet.

83 Introvert or extrovert?
Introvert.

84 Vampires or werewolves?
Erm... I'll go with vampires, they tend to be better-looking!

85 Seaside or countryside?
Seaside. I love the sea.

86 Summer or winter?
Both, all the seasons.  I love each one in its own moment.

87 Books or movies?
Books, but I watch more movies!

88 Horror or comedy
Comedy.

A few random questions to finish on


89 Do you wish you could change your past?
Sometimes, but not seriously.  Not really.  Although I've made some bad decisions in the past, they all made me who I am now and put me exactly where I am now so the only thing there's any point in thinking about changing is my future.

90 What’s your dream job?
Travel writer or novelist. Or professional blogger!


91 What’s your guilty pleasure?
Chocolate. These new chocolate bars that appeared here not long ago made with dark chocolate and salty pumpkin seeds. 

92 What are you afraid of?
Not achieving any of my dreams.  Something terrible happening to any of my family. Oh, and driving.  I need to get over that one.

93 What was the first thing you wanted to be when you grew up?
An artist.

94 If you could have any super power, what would it be?
Pausing time, or being able to fly.

95 If you could change anything about your life what would it be?
More financial security would bring us more tranquility and more options.

96 Would you want immortality?
Tempting, but no.  That would take the joy out of life. A few extra hours each day would be nice, though.

97 If you could interview anyone alive or dead who would you choose?
The idea of interviewing someone I really admire is a bit scary.  I honestly don't know who I'd choose.

98 Would you say you are happy?
In general, yes. It's impossible to be happy all the time, but having enough happy moments and a pervading sense of positivity and optimism is all I need.

99 What one piece of advice would you give to yourself at age eighteen?
Just be yourself, don't worry about what you think other people think of you - you're probably wrong and being paranoid anyway. Be honest with yourself and others, stop pretending and stop hiding.  And work hard for the things you really want.  If you don't want something, let it go.


100 Where would you like to be in five years’ time?
Feeling like I've made some significant achievements, but with lots more goals and projects to work on.  To be passionate about my work, to continually use and develop my creative skills, to keep learning every day. To feel proud of myself, for my daughter to be happy and to have time together as a family to do things we enjoy.


I’m tagging


I'm tagging the following fabulous bloggers to take part - don’t forget to let me know when your posts are live so I can check them out.

If you’re not on the list and you want to take part, feel free – the more the merrier ðŸ™‚

Siobhan from The Baby Boat Diaries

Mandi from Hex Mum Plus One 

Sarah from Mummy Cat Notes 

Rebecca from The Coastal Mummy 

Kaiden from A Suffolk Dad 

Katie from Mummy in a Tutu 

Bella from Documenting the Drews 

Georgina from Gee Gardner 

Karina from Mum's the Nerd 

Laura from Dot Makes 4 

Vicky from Being Tilly's Mummy


How to join in


Just follow the simple rules below. 

Rules


1 Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog
2 Answer the questions honestly (skip any you don’t feel comfortable answering)
3 Tag 10-20 bloggers to take part (let them know on social media)
4 Post the questions without your answers at the bottom of your post so that they are easy to copy and paste for the people you tag
Enjoy!

100 Truths Blogger Tag

Photo credit: Drew Graham on Unsplash (top pin image)

Here are the original 100 questions:

The basics

1 What’s your name?
2 Any nicknames or aliases?
3 Your gender?
4 Your star sign?
5 How old are you?
6 Your relationship status?
7 Any children?
8 Any pets?
9 Any tattoos or piercings?
10 What do you like about yourself?
11 What do you dislike about yourself?
12 Righty or lefty?

Lasts

13 The last thing you drank:
14 The last thing you ate:
15 Your last phone call:
16 Your last text message:
17 Your last email:
18 The last song you listened to:
19 The last book you read:
20 The last time you cried:
21 The last blog you read:
22 The last person you spoke to:
23 The last place you visited:
24 Your last holiday abroad:

Have you ever?

25 Have you ever gotten back with an ex?
26 Have you ever been cheated on?
27 Have you ever cheated on someone?
28 Have you ever lost someone special to you?
29 Have you ever been so drunk you threw up?
30 Have you ever fallen out of love with someone?
31 Have you ever met someone who changed you?
32 Have you ever been in a situation where you found out who your real friends are?
33 Have you ever kissed someone you probably shouldn’t have?
34 Have you ever found out people were talking about you behind your back?
35 Have you ever broken someone’s heart?
36 Have you ever kissed a stranger?
37 Have you ever had your own heart broken?
38 Have you ever had sex on the first date?
39 Have you ever been arrested?
40 Have you ever been attracted to someone that isn’t the gender you usually find attractive?
41 Have you ever done something you regret?
42 Have you ever had a threesome?
43 Have you ever embarrassed yourself in public?
44 Have you ever misjudged someone?

Your beliefs and opinions

45 Do you believe in God?
46 Do you believe in yourself?
47 Do you believe in Santa Claus?
48 Do you believe in ghosts?
49 Do you believe in aliens?
50 Do you believe in miracles?
51 Do you believe in the power of positive thinking?
52 Do you believe in love at first sight?
53 Can money make you happy?
54 Would you describe yourself as a feminist?
55 Are you pro-life or pro-choice?
56 Do you have strong political beliefs?
57 Do you have strong religious beliefs?
58 What do you think the most important thing you can give a child is?

Right now

59 Are you eating anything right now?
60 Are you drinking anything right now?
61 What are you listening to right now?
62 What are you thinking about right now?
63 What are you waiting for right now?
64 What are you most excited about right now?
65 What’s your pet hate right now?
66 What’s your favourite thing right now?
67 If you weren’t answering these questions, what would you be doing right now?

Firsts

68 Your first best friend:
69 Your first kiss:
70 Your first celebrity crush:
71 Your first holiday:
72 Your first pet:
73 Your first regret:
74 Your first job:
75: Your first childhood memory:

Which would you choose?

76 Love or money?
77 Twitter or Facebook?
78 Hook up or relationship?
79 Dogs or cats?
80 Coffee or tea?
81 Beer or wine?
82 Sweet or savoury?
83 Introvert or extrovert?
84 Vampires or werewolves?
85 Seaside or countryside?
86 Summer or winter?
87 Books or movies
88 Horror or comedy

A few random questions to finish on

89 Do you wish you could change your past?
90 What’s your dream job?
91 What’s your guilty pleasure?
92 What are you afraid of?
93 What was the first thing you wanted to be when you grew up?
94 If you could have any super power, what would it be?
95 If you could change anything about your life what would it be?
96 Would you want immortality?
97 If you could interview anyone alive or dead who would you choose?
98 Would you say you are happy?
99 What one piece of advice would you give to yourself at age eighteen?
100 Where would you like to be in five years’ time



Bridie By The Sea

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Warming drinks for winter in Mexico #2: Hot Chocolate

It's time to ward off the January blues and warm up your hands and your soul on a cup of frothy hot chocolate.  Sounds appealing?  Read on...

Christmas is over and all its excitement fast fading into memories, New Year celebrations have come and gone and we are now well into the first week of January.  Things are returning to normal, back to routine, back to work, back to school… But, wait!  In Mexico, schools don’t start back until next Monday and there’s still one last festivity before the holiday season really ends.

Warming Drinks For Winter In Mexico #2 Hot Chocolate


Día de Reyes is on January 6th and marks the end of the Christmas holidays in Mexico.  This celebration, which you could translate as “Three Kings Day”, is all for the children.  On the night of the 5th, the Reyes Magos, or Three Wise Men, visit every house while the children are asleep and leave them presents.  Very much like Santa.  Plenty of lucky children receive gifts from both!

Warming Drinks For Winter In Mexico #2 Hot Chocolate

A very important tradition on January 6th is the parting of the Rosca de Reyes, a ring-shaped bread topped with with dried fruits and containing a tiny (usually plastic) baby Jesus figure, or several, hidden inside the bread.  According to the tradition, each person cuts their own slice and whoever gets the figure in their slice will be responsible for making the tamales for the Dia de la Candelaria on February 2nd.

The Rosca is usually accompanied by a drink of hot chocolate, perfect for a chilly January evening.  The Dia de Reyes celebration and the Rosca itself are traditions that were brought to Mexico by the Spanish during the colonial period.  However, hot chocolate belongs to an indigenous Mexican ancestry.

Warming Drinks For Winter In Mexico #2 Hot Chocolate
Photo by ANDRIK LANGFIELD PETRIDES on Unsplash


The hot chocolate we drink today is very different to the drink consumed in pre-Columbian times.
The Mayas were the first to cultivate cacao and prepare a bitter-tasting drink called Chocolha.  It was made by toasting the cacao seeds and grinding them into a paste to which water was added.  It was heated and mixed with cornflour or chilli and other spices and the resulting drink was consumed only by the royals and nobles, both for pleasure and for medicinal purposes.

It was a stimulant; the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés reportedly said that one drink of xocoatl could sustain a soldier on a whole day’s march.  It was he who introduced this new substance to Europe where the Spanish court kept its preparation a closely guarded secret for many years.

Warming Drinks For Winter In Mexico #2 Hot Chocolate
Photo by Michał Grosicki on Unsplash


Nowadays in Mexico, the most typical drinking chocolate is sold in solid bar or tablet form, which is broken into pieces and stirred into a pan of simmering milk until melted.  Some people also whisk the hot chocolate in the blender before serving to give it a frothier consistency.

It’s the perfect companion to a slice or two of Rosca, getting the year off to a very sweet start!

Happy Dia de Reyes!

Warming Drinks For Winter In Mexico #2 Hot Chocolate
Photo by Rachael Gorjestani on Unsplash


If you want to keep those winter colds and coughs at bay, don’t miss the next in my series of warming winter drinks – I’ll be writing about some teas and infusions used as natural remedies.

Did you catch the first post in the series?  Here’s how to prepare Mexican fruit punch - Ponche Navideño.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Turning dreams to reality - my 2018 goals

Happy 2018, dear readers, I hope the new year finds you healthy and happy, full of chocolate and optimism.  That's me, anyway!

Goodbye 2017; for us it was a year of ups and downs (when is it not?) with some important milestones.  In March, Emma turned three years old and I turned 40 (Still sounds strange to me!).  We had family visits: my sister and her husband were here at Easter and my parents over the summer holidays, then Emma started Kindergarten in August.

I’ve decided this year that I am going to write a post about my goals for the new year.  Rather obvious I know, but I think it will help me to clarify my aims a little more and make them more accountable if I write them publicly.  I’ll also be writing quarterly follow-up posts to check in on my goals, make changes if necessary and keep myself motivated.  That’s the plan.

Turning Dreams Into Reality - My 2018 Goals


I’ll start by looking back over the year just gone and reviewing my 2017 goals.  I wrote a post on the whole goal-setting process, How not to fail at reaching your goals  which was mostly about strategies for goal setting and achieving but I didn’t go into my own goals in the post.

So I will refer back to my bullet journal (abandoned by June and subsequently used as a multipurpose notebook… the pages kept falling out, so it wasn’t very practical and I ended up using Trello to organise and keep records of most of the information I was writing in the bullet journal so it eventually fell by the wayside).

Evaluating last year’s goals 


I wrote down my Stretch Goals – my big long-term goals for the year.  There were five:

1. Finish Emma’s British passport application. Yes! I did it! And wrote about it in How to apply for your child's first UK passport from abroad.  I guess this was the easiest and most concrete of my goals.  I didn’t make my self-imposed deadline of the first week in January, though.  I finally got it done by the end of March, but I did it and Emma got her passport.

2. Monetise my blog.  No. Failed miserably, didn’t even get close.  I tried to run before I could walk by signing up to Amazon affiliates, didn’t take proper advantage of it and didn’t have enough traffic anyway so got rejected after six months with zero sales!  However, I did have some small blog achievements that I’m proud of.

  • I transferred my new domain name to my blog (all by myself!)
  • I got rid of my horrible old header, finally, and although the current header is only supposed to be temporary (still have to get a proper header and logo), it looks a million times better, cleaner and more professional.  I also changed my strapline to hopefully more closely reflect what my blog is about.
  • My DA went from zero in January up to 25 in November. It went down again to 24 in December, but I still think that’s not bad considering how inconsistent I’ve been this year.
  • My post 7 Pinterest-inspired Christmas crafts  was a featured post in the #DreamTeam linky back in November - http://www.rhymingwithwine.com/dreamteam-linky-week-81/
  • I finally set up a Facebook page for the blog in August – please follow me!
  • I started using Social Oomph to schedule tweets, although only the free version so it is quite tedious and time-consuming and I haven’t been very thorough with it.
  • I reached my Instagram goal of 1000 followers by the end of the year, and got close enough to my goal of 2000 followers on Twitter (just 8 short).


3. Organise my home and life more efficiently.  Er…not so great! Must make more of an effort!  That said, I made a start with meal planning, with some success for a while, at least.  And when Emma started kindergarten I always prepared both her packed lunch and mine the night before to take to school in the mornings.

4. Take care of myself.  Basically self-care routines and activities like going to the dentist, going to bed earlier and getting my haircut more regularly… I didn’t do any of it, except the 31 days of yoga challenge in January which I did complete – it took me somewhat longer than the 31 days, but I was doing a yoga session approximately 3 – 4 times a week and I felt the benefits.  It’s a shame I started slacking off after that.

5. Learn to drive.  The scariest of goals.  I was going to do this over the summer holidays but I chickened out.  No excuse.

So in general, I was not very successful at achieving my goals in 2017.

Where did I go wrong?


Lack of consistency, lack of focus, I didn’t schedule my posts or my time, I didn’t use my time as productively as I could have.  I have so little time to dedicate to the blog and I really need to work on making the most of the time I have.

That said, I did learn a lot over the past year: 

  • How to enable rich pins on Pinterest (I did it!)
  • How to use hashtags in Instagram
  • How to use Social Oomph to schedule twitter posts
  • The basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • How to create sign up forms for email subscribers
  • How to batch different tasks (just need to put this into practice)


I know what I need to do; I just need to put it into practice.

Turning Dreams Into Reality - My 2018 Goals

So that brings me to my goals of 2018.


Most of them are the same as last year’s goals, or similar, the ones I didn’t achieve I’m carrying over, and a lot are things I need to do continually.  I’m dividing them into three categories:
Blog – Home & Family – Me 


Blog

•Grow my blog traffic – depressingly low still so I’m not sure exactly how fast I can increase it.  I’m setting the goal of tripling my number of page views and users per month during the first quarter of the year.  Then depending on the results I can adjust the next goals accordingly.  I need to work on most of the goals and strategies below in order to achieve this.
Plan posts for the year (I’ve made a good start on this already).
Make and stick to a weekly schedule of batching blog and social media tasks, to reduce wasted time, keep me focused and motivated and more productive.
Be consistent, posting once a week, writing and scheduling posts in advance.
Grow list of email subscribers to 100 by October 31st.  That means an average of 10 new subscribers per month.
Create two freebies per month as an incentive to email subscribers.
Write a monthly email newsletter to subscribers.
Write guest posts on other blogs – aim for one per month.
Start my own monthly guest post series on expat experiences – to launch as soon as I have five posts ready to publish and to continue for as long as I get contributors for it (contact me if you’re interested! mummyandthemexicans@gmail.com)
Focus on Pinterest as a means to grow traffic.  Set aside time in my weekly schedule to pin and apply to join at least 8 group boards each month.

Turning Dreams Into Reality - My 2018 Goals

Home & Family

Meal planning – Refine my “ultimate meal plan” for the whole month, with some new recipes and variations by the end of the Christmas holidays (7th January in Mexico)..  Once I have the plan I will also have a shopping and cooking plan to enable me to stick to the meal plan and save loads of time and stress every day.  I’ll write a post about it once it’s all in place!  Incorporated into the meal plan are lots of healthy dishes to make sure Emma is eating plenty of vegetables (not an easy task)
Declutter.  This is a tough one!  Find a place for everything (especially toys) and get rid of things we don’t need.  I know I need to be more specific with this goal, I’m still working on that.

Me

Learn to drive – start by the Easter holidays.
Go to the dentist in January (tomorrow in fact!)
Exercise – practice yoga at least 3 days a week
Get regular haircuts (once every two months, so my next haircut will be end of February.)
Sometimes put myself first – spend some money on things for me occasionally.  I feel better about myself if I’m happy with my hair and what I’m wearing and how my skin looks and feels.  I tend to neglect my appearance and not consider it a priority for my time and my budget, which I suppose it isn’t so it always gets squeezed out.  In 2018 I allow myself to set aside some time and money for me.
Read a book for at least 20 minutes before bed.  I’m ashamed to say that I’ve been reading the same book all year – and it is a really good book, I just haven’t made time for reading at all recently, despite it being an activity I love doing and despite there being so many books I want to read!



Oh my god, that feels like a long list!  I can do it, though.

Turning Dreams Into Reality - My 2018 Goals


I have an extra tool to help with goal-setting and dream-achieving; this gorgeous Goals Journal, a perfect Christmas present from my sister.

I love this quote from the journal for the month of January.

Turning Dreams Into Reality - My 2018 Goals


I’ll leave you with my  words for this year: FOCUS and DETERMINATION –  what I need to turn my dream world into my reality and create the kind of life I want for myself and my family.


The ladybirds' adventures