Several years ago, when I lived in a city, I used to buy donuts from a grocery store not far from my home. My very favorite was the Zebra Donut. For those not familiar, this type of donut is bar-shaped, frosted with white frosting, and drizzled with chocolate.
Sadly, after a few years, that store closed, and I could no longer get my beloved donuts.
Four and a half years ago, we moved our little family to a small town of 1800 people. Almost everyone we met told us we HAD TO try the donuts at the little bakery here. Finally one day, I went inside.
To my delight, the first thing I saw was Zebra Donuts!
I bought one, wondering if it could possibly be as good as the ones I used to get. Would the frosting be just right, or would it be too sweet - like a lot of other bakeries I had tried? Could I really have found what I had been missing for all those years?
My first bite was heaven. It was perfect. Just as good as the ones I used to buy.
So now, when I get a chance to go to town in the mornings, I stop by our cute little bakery and pick up one of those little bundles of happiness.
I don't know what kind of plant these are but I love these damn featherflowers and they always make me smile, so I am sharing them with you in the hope that they make you smile too.
I remember my first two Spanish teachers very well. Which is a dose of happy in and of itself, when you consider that my first Spanish teacher was a part of my life from 1979-1983ish and my second one was 1984ish, but the retention of ancient memories is a topic for another day.
Today I want to talk about making hot chocolate like a Cuban (or a Mexican, or a Colombian.)
See, for Hispanic Cultures, hot chocolate isn't made by heating up some water, throwing some swiss miss powder in it, and stirring. It's a process, involving melting chocolate (pronounced chock-oh-lattay) in a pot, adding milk and spices, and beating or whisking it into a smooth texture. Traditionally, they use something called a molinillo (mol-nee-yo), and they even have little rhymes they sing while making the hot chocolate--bate bate chocolate (pronounced bah-tay).
What the hell does this all have to do with Mondays?
Not much. However, it has a lot to do with happy.
See, recently a friend of mine decided to pick up and move across the country. This friend is something of a global citizen: mother from Colombia, father from the United States, born in Peru, lived in Pakistan as a toddler, came of age in Mexico; has lived in France and Italy and heaven knows where else; speaks English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese. I affectionately call her a global mutt.
I was helping her pack her house for the move, and as we were packing her kitchen we came across her molinillo. As I couldn't remember the word, I just grabbed the molinillo and danced around the kitchen, whisking imaginary chocolate and singing like my 8th grade Spanish teacher did on the day we made churros and chocolate in class.
My friend just laughed at me and told me, "You're such an idiot,"which isn't as rude as it sounds. "Idiot" is her affectionate pet name for me, as she was once my Spanish AND French professor at university, and I am a pain in the arse in classroom settings.
Then, my friend shocked the hell out of me. She told me to take the "bate bate" home with me.
I almost cried. This molinillo probably came to the States from Mexico City when her mother passed away.
I can't wait to go to the grocery store to buy some chocolate, milk, and spices and "bate bate chocolate". Every time I use this molinillo, I will think of my friend, and her mother, and the vibrant cultural and familial history behind this treasured piece.
That makes my heart swell with joy.
OK, so maybe it's my bucket list too, but whatever.
Mollie, Sunshine, and I went on a dolphin watch boat tour in the gulf of Mexico. It was beautiful. I was so distracted by the majesty of the sea and by the dolphins frolicking near the boat that I didn't take any pictures. so, Sunshine's picture of Mollie in her little doggie life jacket will have to suffice.
Looking at this picture makes me smile as I remember the smell of the sea and the sight of the dolphins.
I love the trees by the sea. The branches grow parallel to the ground, making them perfect for climbing and sitting. It also makes them interesting to look at.
It also reminds me of how strong everything has the capability to be. This tree is growing in sandy soil in the face of incessant winds from the sea. This tree is beautiful.
Sometimes, I feel like this tree. Sometimes, the ground underneath me feels like shifting sand; sometimes the winds feel like they are battering me to death. And yet, I continue to grow. I am beautiful, just like this tree.