Loved on by Black Queens in Albuquerque, New Mexico

I had the awesome opportunity to facilitate a conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico  
No, I am not someone who has facilitated a conference in experiences past
But I’ve done similar facilitator roles
Like…
teach a lesson
re-teach a lesson
lead a meeting
train new hires using a curriculum
initiate uncomfortable conversations with ex-boyfriends
listen to their whack-ass arguments and use the asinine responses to build my case, come back with rapid fire, and ensure we never forgot my initial points
debate with my mother, in attempt to bribe or convince her with a scheme
Go back and forth, deliberating intellectually with teachers-in elementary school
Yep, qualifications of a facilitator if you ask me (shoulders shrugging as my head tilts towards the right) […]

Advertisements

I had the awesome opportunity to facilitate a conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico
No, I am not someone who has facilitated a conference in experiences past
But I’ve done similar facilitator roles
Like…
teach a lesson
re-teach a lesson
lead a meeting
train new hires using a curriculum
initiate uncomfortable conversations with ex-boyfriends
listen to their whack-ass arguments and use the asinine responses to build my case, come back with rapid fire, and ensure we never forgot my initial points
debate with my mother, in attempts to bribe or convince her with a scheme
Go back and forth, deliberating intellectually with teachers-in elementary school
Yep, qualifications of a facilitator if you ask me (shoulders shrugging as my head tilts towards the right)
I am a participating member of MEDICC, an amazing organization focused on health equity in America through implementation of the Cuban public health model

Lil’ ole me was asked to facilitate because of my engagement with youth, youth development and health equity-sounds a lot fancier than it is, trust me.
I was as nervous as a thief in a Wal-Mart line as the “greeter” asks to see your receipt and the items in your bag to ensure you aren’t stealing Axe spray and Duracell batteries

I again had never played the facilitator role, and understood that I was going to be standing in a room of highly educated professors, researchers, attorneys, doctors, healthcare professionals, funders, community health navigators, a congressman, Ms. Navajo Nation, the Vice President of the Navajo Nation, funders, investors, and sweet baby Jesus himself.

I have always thought I was smart, but honestly (don’t judge me), I’ve compared me being smart to people who hadn’t been to college. Yes, I’ve suffered from the
I’m smart, you’re impoverished,
sling a fancy word here, or there
string together a well-formulated sentence
and say it in my White voice with a condescending “nanny nanny boo boo” tone

Boy was that attitude out of the window
These people were all smart FA REAL
The jig was up!
I had prepared for the conference by participating in planning meetings and being in constant communication with the committee, so I had a good understanding of the expectations.  Nervous I still was
I felt like I wasn’t good enough to facilitate such an event
I’m a baby, and grown-ups were gonna be in the room
Soaking up the same oxygen as peasant Ashley!
In true insecure fashion I went shopping for “grown woman, yet young and trendy business attire”
I went to Nordstrom Rack and picked out the most
“professional,
but look
-it’s young and has a flair of boho”
clothes I could find
I even bought a pair of grown woman business casual grey, suede-like slides with a gold accent on the heel
And to ensure I remained comfortable yet business casual, I splurged on a pair of Lucky Brand, leather black ballet flats
I was ready to SLAY-grownup addition

Because everything I do is at the last possible minute, I went shopping the night before my flight was scheduled to leave-and failed to try on any of the girl boss items I selected because I was too lazy to take my pants off at the store

I arrived home from tutoring and errands around 9pm that evening and was ecstatic to star in a Wendy Williams “classy women” makeover.  I was pumped to model off my new look for my hilarious-yep uh huh looks good-or laugh at you if you look stupid-babe a licious.
Dress #1
Bright Coral, sleeveless with a lace applique of the same tone.  Knee length, classy.  Just classy (whips out church fan and waves it while crossing one leg over the other and bouncing my foot) The dress was a-line with a conservative v-neck.  Did I really like it?  Nope.  But it rang, “listen to me, I’ve got myself together, may I have your attention please” on the rack.
Tried it on in front of the boo; looked horrible
Did not compliment my shape AT ALL and I couldn’t for the life of my figure out who it did look good on.
I even spun the front, to the back, hoping that the tags were just sewn to the wrong side
Nope, it looked even stupider
“Babe how does it look?”
-“Ok”, he lied.
1 dress tossed in the “this isn’t gonna work” pile
Dress  #2
Navy blue, peek-a-boo shoulders with navy blue bows, accenting the sleeves that ended just above the elbow.  The dress had a nice fit without being formfitting.  It relaxed against my curves while having structure and was also knee-length.  The dress was grown up, yet adorable.  It was giving me, “I’m adorable, innocent and a grown up-look at my bronzed shoulders though” vibes
It was literally adorable.  Not my style though
1 dress in the “this is cute, but not for Ashley” pile
At this point my lip pout was forming and I was feeling disappointed in my selections
Like getting a booster (translation: a professional apparel shoplifter-a personal shopper with a hell of an employee discount) who showed up at Christmas with dork clothes instead of the latest fashions you thought would be in the bag
Dress #3
Black sleeveless, scooped neck with thin white lines that ran both vertically and horizontally to form squares, with a busy, pink-toned floral print that ran along the bottom on both the front and back sides and grazed my knee caps
The dress was literally shaped like a rectangle
But the pattern was cute and uh, classy
Tried it on, it swallowed me
I started to cry
Babe laughed
“Ashley did you try any of this on?”
What kinda question was that? “No”.
“Baby what am I gonna wear, all of this looks horrible”-this is not verbatim I used lots of adult choice words as I kicked the ugly clothes around
Traumatized.
It took me back to when I was young, and my mom made me wear the
“Ugliest,
Old-ladyish
rob you of your youth,
I’m trying to embarrass you and make sure you have both no friends and no boys looking in your direction”
clothes, she could find for church.

This downward spiraling trend continued for the remainder of the failed try on haul.
I was in full-blown panic mode, naked and crying that I had nothing to wear
Boyfriend was still filling the role of Mr. Chuckles
“You have a room, turned closet (a full bedroom), you have clothes.  Be you, it’s not about what you have on.  The stuff you bought isn’t you anyway.  Stop over thinking it”, he says.  As if it was profound.
I left my mess and went to bed, woke up and packed comfortable, regular Ashley clothes and was happy
The 3-day conference was amazing
I looked like me
I spoke with confidence
I listened to each person on the program
I listened intently
I kept the room focused
I made sure there was equity of voice
I ensured that the youth spoke and were heard
I kept time
I challenged participants to be engaged
To share
To listen, and answer what was asked
To be open to being uncomfortable
To talk about the things we needed to address but we tip-toe around as a society
To be action oriented
To leave with a clear objective
To listen
To connect
To think critically
To be honest
To trust the process
It was hard.  One of the hardest tasks but I loved it
At one point, I was struggling to keep the group moving forward in the direction we were trying to build towards together
I appreciated that strong, brilliant, supportive black women lifted me up
One of my sistahs/co-workers stopped the process and re-centered the room with her energy and guided meditation
It was needed and I thank her
She protected me
She covered me
The spirit in the room was shifting and I was reignited
Facilitating a collective planning session is a challenge when you have people from all over the US
From different backgrounds
Who serve in diverse communities with their own unique needs
Using differing methods to reach their target population

I needed to be lifted to continue cultivating the space and she saw that need
At the end of the conference, another beautiful black woman came up to me and encouraged me
The message she poured into me was truly for me
She praised me, she hugged me,
She watered me
I needed that
I received
She affirmed that I belonged in that room, commanding the space
She blessed me

I also connecting with a woman I love deep in my soul who I hadn’t seen since before leaving for Guatemala
She too supported me
Helped me
She gave a worry doll that she carried because I was on her mind while in Guatemala exploring
She doesn’t know this but I thank God for her
She is humble, brilliant, youthful, vulnerable, educated, poised, honest, real and beautiful.  I am so fortunate to have a relationship with this Queen!  To stand in the sun next to her feels amazing.

I met who I think is my soulie (translation: soul sister)
She too is black, beautiful, genuine, intelligent, humble, vibrant, radiates confidence, humorous and has a beautiful smile.  She reminds me so much of me, and we are on the same journey of finding self.  While listening to and engaging with her, I saw me.  I didn’t have to try with her; no countdown, no “I think I can” speech.  My connection with her was genuine.  It was real.

It felt amazing to be in a space with black women who possessed so much magic.  Magic they let spill over into my vessel.  Into the vessels of the rest of the women & men of different backgrounds and races in the room.  No competing, no tantruming, no stepping up onto rungs of the latter above the crowd to look down on anyone else over flared nostrils.  We lifted one another.

It felt good to be loved on by women whose traits and knowledge I aspire to attain and build.
Black girl magic potion was in the air
With my arms outstretched
Head tilted back towards the heavens
And with a smile on my face
I twirled in it

Dreaming is the easy part

Finished breakfast.  If you follow me on Instagram, you probably guessed that it was a combination of
collard greens, onions, jalapeno, soy sauce and teriyaki with a side of fruit that I generally finish while in the process of slicing it.  
I have pretty much enjoyed the same breakfast for the past few weeks-that is, when I’m actually in the city.  Now that breakfast is done, I am sitting in my kitchen, blessed by the sunlight that warms my tanned shoulders, back and spirit as it beams through my windows.  
Jhene Aiko’s latest album, Trip is blaring through my Iphone speakers and my fingers, gleefully type away. […]

Finished breakfast.  If you follow me on Instagram, you probably guessed that it was a combination of
collard greens, onions, jalapeno, soy sauce and teriyaki with a side of fruit that I generally finish while in the process of slicing it.
I have pretty much enjoyed the same breakfast for the past few weeks-that is, when I’m actually in the city.  Now that breakfast is done, I am sitting in my kitchen, blessed by the sunlight that warms my tanned shoulders, back and spirit as it beams through my windows.
Jhene Aiko’s latest album, Trip, is blaring through my iPhone speakers, and my fingers gleefully type away.
The album is melodic, relaxing, and is speaking to me this morning.  As my head sways from side to side, my breaths are calm and relaxed.  The scent of warm ginger turmeric tea fills my nostrils and belly.
I’m learning that dreaming is easy; activating my dream is the hard part.  I am an expert at curating ideas; implementation is where I run for the hills.  My mind churns beautiful visions.  When I meditate and spend time reflecting, I sit in awe.  Ashley is still happier than ever before.  I continue to be in a space of peace.   But turning my dreams, hopes, and fantasies into action is… complicated.
When I try to compare this dreams-deferred space I linger on something, I compare it to an artist.  In the studio.  Creating beautiful pieces of work, escaping life’s woes in their own tranquility and energy.
I’m in my studio, refusing to leave.
My dreams are in the dream phase and frozen.
I am struggling to move them forward.  No one else can marvel, appreciate my artwork and I am certainly not getting monetary compensation for dreaming.

I have entrepreneur jitters

I can’t say that I am scared to live my dream; however, I am reluctant to work my dreams because I fear that others may not believe, or invest in them.
I am in love with literacy, and teaching.  Teaching brings me happiness and takes me to another place.  Building and exploring the curiosity of youth, while exposing them to new things is invigorating.  Ask any teacher who isn’t burned out.  The feeling keeps you lingering in the doorway, anxious to enter the room and experience the challenge and high of teaching.  Teaching makes me happy.
Trying to carve a new role for myself is challenging.
While everyone values education, I fear that if I ask parents to invest in it outside of the traditional classroom, I may be rejected.
Sounds ridiculous right?  I’m afraid of the “no” that leads to the “yes”.
The confidence I house is still being nurtured.  Watered.  I don’t know that she is ready for any fatal blows.
Like a parent at the park holding their child’s hand.  Afraid to let them play.  Not necessarily afraid of what your child can or can’t be, but afraid of the cruel world around them.
The happy space feels so good, I’m standing, basking and setting up a tent in this space.  Cementing my soles in this place.
This morning I am going to challenge myself to attend a meeting where I am promoting my services in hopes of securing a contract for my literacy and art services.
Saying it, makes me nervous-the smooth, relaxing tone of Jhene’s voice singing harmoniously over the soothing, captivating track brings me back to a tranquil place.

I, Ashley Valentine am scared as hell to work my dream and think almost daily about just getting a job because I don’t quite yet believe that my dream will generate income.

I don’t have any motivational message, or answer to my own dilemma today.  I figured I would just be honest and open.

Dreams don’t become reality because I want them to.  Do I want my dreams bad enough, or am I a bigger fan of just dreaming?
What I do know is that I am going to reach out to a few women and begin to surround myself with a force field of goddesses who inspire and encourage me.

In this past, this aura and energy made me envious, jealous and I lusted after the success they had attained.  I have successfully worked through that and know where that energy comes from.
This connecting with beautiful women is also hard for me, but challenges worth the rewards are never easy.  Although I continue to water my self-confidence, the devil still rests on my shoulder from time to time and whispers that I’m not good enough.  I continue to work at self-love.
Being honest, vulnerable and authentic helps.
Now that I am actively using social media on almost a daily basis, I do feel an unspoken urge to compete with others.
I have to be mindful that not too long ago, I was unable to even interact on social media because these emotions consumed me.  I have decided that aside from blogging, I will pull back from social media.  I am reminded that everything is not an absolute necessity-caring for myself is.

Eyes shut slowly, as a smile parts my lips and greets my dimples.  I vibe to the album as it hypnotizes and embraces me-is it exactly what I need to hear right now.

Music has a way of grounding and soothing me.
Until tomorrow

Bullet Note booking

Since I’ve been home I have been busy doing, honestly a lot of nothing (in my God honest opinion).  Aside from continuing to travel within the US, I have been private tutoring and struggling to finish my final year as a graduate student.  I am presently pursuing a dual Masters in Exceptional Education and Reading.  I can admit that I am struggling with my graduate studies because I’m not organized.  I struggle because I can’t juggle and am pretending to know how to with my eyes closed while balancing on a unicycle and uploading the video to my Instragram Story.  I am trying to balance

Since I’ve been home I have been busy doing, honestly a lot of nothing (in my God honest opinion).  Aside from continuing to travel within the US, I have been private tutoring and struggling to finish my final year as a graduate student.  I am presently pursuing a dual Masters in Exceptional Education and Reading.  I can admit that I am struggling with my graduate studies because I’m not organized.  I struggle because I can’t juggle and am pretending to know how to with my eyes closed while balancing on a unicycle and uploading the video to my Instragram Story.  I am trying to balance

building a brand

blogging

private tutoring- both seeking and maintaining clientele

traveling

keeping a house clean-it Guatemala I was spoiled and cleaning was NOT my responsibility

and being a domesticated girlfriend (I’m trying babe-a-licious)

My life is a complicated snow-globe and right now I keep shakin’ it up

To help my snow-globe settle into organized compartments I started a bullet journal/notebook

A bullet notebook is a simple way to organize life on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis  

Now, I just started using it and it is still new to me but I’m having fun creating templates that work for me

I am a sucker for art supplies and visited by local art supply store

File_000 (40).jpeg

Art supplies are my oxygen, my water, my coconut oil, my Urban Decay setting spray, my Nair hair depilatory cream-I live for fine point, vibrant color pens

Durable, overly priced notebooks

Multipurpose, rainbow-hued sticky tabs

Silver, shiny heavy-duty rulers-that I honestly shouldn’t have bought since I’ve learned that I am incapable of drawing a straight line

Gold duct tape that I had to have in my overly ambitious moment of thinking I could embellish the black leather exterior

Fancy shamsy paper and PVA glue that I thought I would be using to further accessorize the gold “look at me” cover

Let me walk you through the process

I duct taped the cover and backing

File_000 (41)

I then covered the duct tape in PVA glue

File_000 (42)

I covered the duct tape and glue with the fancy shamsy paper

I allowed the artsy looking sales associate at the art store to convince me that I could do a project that was over my head.  She looked so artistic and I thought her art vibes would rub off on me

I get too excited about a task, heart rate increases, glitter chamber in my brain pulses, palms perspire and my wallet opens willingly

On top of the fancy shamsy paper I applied hella (translation: lots of) layers of PVA glue-this may be where I went wrong

File_002 (1)File_003 (1)

I then set the notebook out to dry

FOR SEVEN DAYS

It dried to a tacky finish

Epic fail

I used my new creation to rip off my leg hairs-literally

As my eyes swelled with tears and my lip trembled-intro to poking out

My heartless-compassion deprived-babe-a-licious commenced to chuckle at my pain

That gave me courage to wipe away those defeated tears and readjust my lip

I decided to simply rip off the tacky, hairy mess of a cover and stick with the classic leather black binding, thank God it wasn’t disturbed by my horrible Frankenstein-ish creation

Sometimes simple is the best way to go

After wasting a week on a failed DIY, I was ready to put some content in this bullet journal

Again, doin the most

I decided I wanted to use stencils and stampers to create a traditional monthly calendar

This is how I concluded that I don’t know how to use a ruler to make a straight line

I started out marking plots, then trying to connect the plots with a straight line

Line, not straight

I figured it didn’t work out because I was too anxious and excited

Attempt 2

I went a little slower

Result

I slowly drew a crooked line

Now I started crying and throwing things around

the genius-of course I can-babe-a-licious showed me a demo after laughing the tears back into their ducts

Attempt 3

I drew triangles at the points and connected the points of the triangles

It was looking hopeful

Result

Fail- Another

Crooked

Line

I concluded I was doing too much

After ripping out 5 pages of expensive, quality, artist fantasies paper

I went back and decided to keep it simple

I did what was comfortable for me, basic bullet notebook format

It slowly started to come together

I’d finished a basic monthly calendar

File_001 (3)

Weekly calendar

File_000 (44)

And stopped there because it was midnight

I’m off to a good start bullet notebooking!

Glitter is settling successfully into categories that  make sense and will promote by productivity!

Graduate school is kicking my tail!  But getting organized is making tasks do-able and gives me a clear visual

I’m off to a good start, for now!

Yes, I am aware that I haven’t written for two days, but I have been traveling and am in Atlanta.  Wanna keep up with my whereabouts? Follow me on Instagram @ashmvtine

#theBpumwrites

 

I’m back and I’m better

Remember how I was pouting, and wishing it was time to come back home while I was in the home stretch of living in Guatemala?  
Well I dunno why-I’m kidding.  
I am happy to be back home.  I am still high on thoughts of living out a full, rich, and abundant life
my dream of being an entrepreneur

I have been slacking in terms of blogging (and lots of other things) as of late.  

I’ve missed you guys!!

If you’ve missed the news,

I’m back in the US

Remember how I was pouting, and wishing it was time to come back home while I was in the home stretch of living in Guatemala?

Oh wait, I wasn’t blogging about it, I was just sharing it with my lifesaving-uncle-to-the-rescue and laugh-at-your-pain-hun-bunz 

Well I dunno why-I’m kidding.  

I am happy to be back home.  I am still high on thoughts of living out a full, rich, and abundant life

my dream of being an entrepreneur

and the desire to learn, grow, blossom and see the world.

In a previous blog post, I wrote of how I have these grandiose ideas of themes to blog on, content to build, stories to share.  All this awesomeness keeping me awake at night as my brain goes into overdrive conjuring up a master plan.  For me to awaken feeling overwhelmed and produce…nothing.  

I am my own worst enemy in terms of productivity.  

I can quickly consume my mind with feelings of self doubt.

I persuade myself that tasks are daunting and out of reach.  

All of the glitter and confetti that’s housed in the “dreamy and artistic” lobe of my brain which makes guest appearances at night

settles when I wake

Is swept up and collected in a Ziploc bag as the sun rises

my memory erased by the Men in Black that live in the “logical” part of my brain.  

Until nightfall when the awesomeness busts out of the Ziploc vacuum seal, taking freedom of the red and blue stripes separated, only to marry each other, Mr. & Mrs. Purple

taking over again by morning.  

I do hella procrastinating (translation: I do lots of procrastinating) and it only makes me hide and avoid being awesome.  Come through glitter!

To challenge myself to secrete awesome-sauce I am pledging to a 30 day blog streak-big gulp, smh. I know, “how are you going to give yourself a challenge, and you are challenged with follow through?”  I haven’t quite figured out the logistics, but if I speak it into the universe, I’ll burp glitter.  

I have done tons of cool things since returning!  I can’t tell you anything about any of my adventures because I fear that I won’t have content for the next 30 days.  You know what, let’s go all out, beast mode.  I, Ashley awesome-sauce Valentine am going to blog EVERY FREAKIN’ DAY UNTIL OCT 31!  BAM-BOOM, drops mic-and picks it back up because I’m not finished yet.

Clears throat.  

I will share what I’ve been up to since returning home to no job, a bank account set on auto-pay with no incoming direct deposits, a hefty list of people I need to reach out to since cracking my shell allowing the social butterfly I wish I was to peek her head, and a business waiting for me to water and allow it to flourish. Oh how I miss swiveling around in an office chair doing none of my assigned tasks and receiving a full paycheck for making sure said chair was not a hazard and held up to his factory warranty terms.  Life is real for this dreamer turned entrepreneur-as I fall out on the cool, roasted almond-colored hardwood floor in my cluttered living room.  My glitter powers don’t like cleaning up (it’s glitter, glitter is messy)

Until tomorrow!

#TheBpumReturns

Places the mic gently back into the stand and exits stage left

Food Series continues from Antigua: Pinche Restaurant

It’s lunchtime! So the food series continues!
What do you do in Antigua besides eat Ashley?
Walk around
Take pictures of my surrounding
Souvenir shop
Contemplate my purchases
Feel guilty about my duffel bag of purchases
Whip out my calculator to crunch numbers and decide if I can survive for the next 5 days with the money I have left after bingeing on souvenirs
Eat
Blog
Be happy!  I am really, really happy spending time alone! […]

It’s lunchtime! So the food series continues!
What do you do in Antigua besides eat, Ashley?
Walk around
Take pictures of my surroundings
Souvenir shop
Contemplate my purchases
Feel guilty about my duffel bag of purchases
Whip out my calculator to crunch numbers and decide if I can survive for the next 5 days with the money I have left after bingeing on souvenirs
Eat
Blog
Be happy!  I am really, really happy spending time alone!
I’m doing stuff-in my pouting child tone
Most of my time in Guatemala has been spent planning, working, taking on new work and reflecting.  Antigua is my equivalent to a “real vacation”.
Plus I’m simple.  I was telling the hard-working, always exhausted hun-bunz what my days consist of and he says that’s why he’s been with me for so long (because I’m predictable and it doesn’t take much).  I shared this with my ma (translation: mom) and she saw a comparison to a dog.  It was dead on.  Think about it for a sec-I enjoy a good meal & walking/wandering around.  That’s the life of the happiest pup if you ask me!
I sought out in search of an Asian Bowl restaurant but was unsuccessful.
On my search for this restaurant while bouncing down the narrow cobblestone streets of Antigua among other cheerful tourists; I noticed the bright and modern restaurant Pinche.
In American Spanish-slang, pinche is the “kitchen boy”.  He is the worker who cleans up the chef’s mess, scrubs pots and carries things around.  I’ve also heard it in a derogatory tone, thrown together with a slew of curse words to mean inferior and useless.
And to see it in Antigua, plastered on the front of a restaurant. Marketing and strategist genius if you ask me!  An urban taco and margarita restaurant with the name of your abuela’s go-to expletive when you’re not around.  I wished I was a child with my mom, walking past just so I could say, “Ma, can we go to Pinche?” or “Ma look, the pinche is open!”

That reminds me of the time my adorable little/big bro called my mother “estupido” while pouting in the backseat of the car as children.  He was pissed because my mom wouldn’t let him take candy to school for breakfast (how unfair could she be).  Just as quickly as she said “no” and gave him the eye that only my mother can deliver, “mi mama estupido” came out of his grinning lips.  His delivery was epic.  No hesitation, no doubt, pure confidence and adrenaline must’ve ran through his little body.  Somehow thinking that she couldn’t figure out what the words meant, he put on his seat belt and got comfortable in his window seat as my sister and I stared at him.  We knew in our souls that his understanding of life was about to change.  Spanish immersion programs have black kids thinkin’ they’re geniuses boy!  My brother didn’t learn too many other sentences after that stunt.  He never had a passion for the language after that exchange.
The restaurant decor is extremely modern with maplewood-colored planks on the border of the bar, grey stones lining the floor, and white, shiny tiled walls and matching wood table fixtures.  The style is comparable to Chipotle but in bright vibrant colors.  The chairs were my favorite. Great accents to the clean, fresh design.  The seats and backs were joined with thin, vibrantly colored, matte-finished twisted metal.  Very eye-catching and highly noticeable against the bright white background of the walls.  If you have ever been to Belair Cantina, this restaurant has the same quirky charm.  Okay, so in conclusion I would say that Belair Cantina and Chipotle had a Latina baby.  As I looked up, a unique feature was the open concept roofing at the center of the room.  There is a large square space between the ceiling and supporting frame where you can see the clear blue sky and feel the cool breeze.

File_000 (36)

Spanglish quotes written in unique lettering in an array of brights, broke up the crisp walls adding even more flare.
The kitchen was open.  As the chefs prepare your menu selection, you are able to stare them down if your heart so desires.  Much like many of the other establishments I patronized, the music of choice was American Pop Hits 2016 with a few 2017 chart-toppers weaved throughout.  3 big screen TVs were in the large spacious room I chose to sit in and WWE was the main attraction on each.  I must say that wrestling is NOT what it was when I was a child.  It was so real, so raw, so fueled by emotion, so unpredictable, so sensational!  Oh the joys of being an impressionable kiddo.
This was no hole-in-the-wall joint.  This place easily seated about 100 comfortably.
While I sang along to Justin Bieber Sorry, I was automatically drawn to the soup section of the menu. I enjoy the savory flavor of a red tomato-based Guatemalan soup loaded with veggies, strips of tender chicken and ripe avocado.
They had exactly what I was craving.
The soup interestingly came in a crisp taco shell with condiments and sides galore!
Along with the sopa (soup) came
Onion
Matchstick tortilla chips
Lime
Cilantro
Pico de gallo
Mango
Avocado

File_000 (37)
Since I was given enough goodies to make a separate meal, I decided to ball out and dump them all in the taco shelled bowl!  As I was dumping everything, my mind drifted to images of a guy experiencing his first trip to the strip club and throwing all of his singles at the first woman who pranced by, in glee.  I was in heaven!
I couldn’t go to a taco place called Pinche without getting a margarita!
This margarita.  This (clap) Margarita (clap).  THIS MARGARITA!  DIS HERE MARGARIDA!
I ordered the Jalapeno Margarita.

File_000 (35)
I have made a similar concoction both for hun-bunz and for get-togethers. It’s always a hit!  This thing is so tasty!  If ever you are asked to bring food to a picnic, show up with this baby!
Nobody will be thinking about a slab or ribs,
your played out potato salad,
burnt hot-dogs,
your under-cooked brats,
medium, supposed to be well done, thawed, freezer burned burgers
your box of 10 cent unfrozen,
frozen Popsicles,
your dry, salty “girl what’s this” macaroni and cheese,
your soggy mush-mush fruit salad,
the one veggie burger you bring for yourself wrapped in aluminum foil, then sealed in a recycled Ziploc bag that you’d already reused more than once
your “famous” taco salad with, SURPRISE, the nacho cheese Doritos and if you’re fancy the spicy nacho bag,
or that cheap bag of Lays!
As I took my first sip, I was “back down memory lane”
It was just as I had remembered but with a hint more of the jalapeno.
The lime, Jose Cuervo, cognac, jalapeno, cilantro, triple sec and agave nectar blending together like they were fetuses in the womb, taking photos for the ultrasound.
The best part-it’s frozen!  I swear I slid down in my art-deco, red twisted metal, statement piece seat a tad bit as I enjoyed it!
The soup, it was tasty.  With my hodge-podge of add-ins, it still was delightful.  The tomato-based soup was smooth in consistency and the blend of the spices used with the few slithers of tender chicken was welcomed.  Simple, familiar tastes are always warming and bring me many smiles and memories.
The chunks of everything I added were nice surprises and added welcomed textures and taste variation.  I slowly enjoyed each spoonful and sporadically added bits of the crunchy shell as I enjoyed this warm blend.  I am typically a minimalist when it comes to extras on food.  I enjoy the taste of a dish as it stands alone but each addition added to the richness of this soup and every unique bite warmed my heart with memories of home, old and current friends and blends I put together in my own kitchen.
I ate and drank all that I had ordered and I probably sang a little louder with joy.

File_000 (38)

#TheBpumEats and reminisces

The Bpum Eats food series continued: Samsara Cafe in Antigua, Guatemala

I’m seated at a quaint window seat in the tranquil Samsara cafe and restaurant.  Samsara is adored for their healthy vegetarian and vegan menu items and relaxing atmosphere.  Although it is located on a busy cross street with constant traffic whizzing by, the warm calming cafe is a great escape.  The restaurant is tastefully decorated.  The walls in the front room are warmed with a rich brown shade with grey undertones.  The painted walls are then accented with peaceful quotes written in Old English style. […]

I’m seated at a quaint window seat in the tranquil Samsara cafe and restaurant.  Samsara is adored for their healthy vegetarian and vegan menu items and relaxing atmosphere.  Although it is located on a busy cross street with constant traffic whizzing by, the warm calming cafe is a great escape.  The restaurant is tastefully decorated.  The walls in the front room are warmed with a rich brown shade with grey undertones.  The painted walls are then accented with peaceful quotes written in Old English style.

“Rest in natural great peace this exhausted mind.  Beaten helpless by karma and neurotic thoughts”

is one of many passages that can be found throughout the front of the restaurant where the walk-up cafe counter is located.
Portraits of the beautiful artifacts, ruins and skyline can also be found throughout. The floors are the accent and focal point of the space.  Tiles in hues of yellow, green, black and orange they are subtle and captivating.

The music, is both calming and upbeat.  The style of music can be heard in spas and upscale nails salons back home.  The one flat-screen TV found in the eatery plays scenes of nature, landscape, rushing water and beautiful skylines.  This place is the perfect distraction from the over-stimulation of the tourist filled streets outside of its doors.
The seating decor reminds me of the Middle East.  Wooden tables and benches of varying lengths to seat one to two people each, all stained dark line the walls.  Guatemalan tipico clothes lines the backs and bottoms of the cushions on each bench.  Clear glass vases are filled with 2 flowers on each table as well as a candle in a glass holder.  In this slightly larger seating area, dream catchers of varying styles line the wall adding pops of color and texture to the soft tan wall paint.  The back wall is home to a built-in wall fixture also stained, that is home to an impressive book collection for patrons to enjoy.  The front and back feel connected by the large, wood framed arch that opens up the space and allows the space to flow seamlessly.

The menu is full of tasty, unique (items which are hard to find in other places for those who are vegan).
On this day I chose the vegan french toast with strawberries and bananas topped with chia seeds and coconut flakes with warm agave nectar in the center for dipping.  As a beverage I chose the pineapple alkaline drink.  This is an interesting combination of pineapple juice, coriander, ginger and apple cider vinegar.

Vegan French Toast
The french toast is amazing.  As I bite into it I instantly reminisce on my childhood.  Enjoying Saturday morning breakfast with my mom and siblings.  Not sure how they pulled it off without egg, but the vegan toast was slightly browned, crunchy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside.  The chia seed adds the perfect amount of texture.  The fruit and coconut flakes add a light, sweet flavor.  As I get older, I don’t crave sweet flavors so I didn’t use any of the agave nectar to garnish the toast.  The texture of the banana was perfect.  Not super firm, and not mushy.  I am a “texture person”.  Mushy sends off signals in my mind that alert me to VOMIT!

The drink was unique and tasty.  It took several cautious sips for me to become acclimated to the flavor and I knew it was because of the apple cider vinegar that was added.  It gives the juice a tangy, unfamiliar taste that I can’t compare to anything I have tried before-well if you’ve drank apple cider vinegar with water, in tea, or alone it tastes exactly like that.  About half way through the 10 ounce drink, I got over the bitter taste and drank it because I figured it was healthy.

File_000 (31)

I asked for water to wash down the meal. As quickly as the glass was given to me I started gulping.  I immediately noticed a musty smell and thought that perhaps my glass wasn’t washed properly.  After closer examination, I figured out that the water was infused with cucumber and lime.  Musty was the smell of the cucumber.  I personally am not a fan of infused water and enjoy the flavor of ice-cold water alone.

At checkout, I seized the opportunity to pick up souvenirs.  Samsara sells locally made jewelry to include bracelets and necklaces adorned with crystals at reasonable prices.  I snagged a few bracelets and left feeling satisfied, content and excited to return for breakfast tomorrow.

Breakfast the following morning

File_000 (28)
Banana and strawberries garnished with chia seeds and coconut flakes Drink: Malasa Chai Coffee- chai tea, almond milk, espresso, cacao (pure chocolate), with a splash of coconut milk

Bien Provecho!

 

File_000 (26)
My shiny face and I, that’s my favorite accessory here!

 

Food Series Continues: Pappy’s BBQ in Antigua, Guatemala

I am now in Antigua, soaking up the sun, enjoying the beautiful architecture, eating plenty of delicious food and taking it all in.  Antigua is a beautiful city.  While it is a tourist destination and many people and businesses communicate in English to cater to tourists, it’s still very charming and has a local feel (says the tourist).  The streets are all cobblestone.  Mainly one-way.  Lined with brightly-painted colonial style buildings, dark iron accents on doors and windows.  Cherry wood finishing, and workers anxious to greet you.  Antigua is a friendly place.  A welcomed change after living in Coban.  It’s also easy to navigate- I have NO SENSE OF DIRECTION!  […]

I am now in Antigua, soaking up the sun, enjoying the beautiful architecture, eating plenty of delicious food and taking it all in.  Antigua is a beautiful city.  While it is a tourist destination and many people and businesses communicate in English to cater to tourists, it’s still very charming and has a local feel (says the tourist).  The streets are all cobblestone.  Mainly one-way.  Lined with brightly-painted colonial style buildings, dark iron accents on doors and windows.  Cherry wood finishing, and workers anxious to greet you.  Antigua is a friendly place.  A welcomed change after living in Coban.  It’s also easy to navigate- I have NO SENSE OF DIRECTION!
I am in the last week of travels and am enjoying this last week alone.  Although I have met lots of beautiful & amazing Guatemalan people along the way, I have kept to myself.  I’d like to believe that I am highly social, enjoy meeting new people and sharing experiences with them-well, I do like meeting new people, however I tend not to make instant connections.  It takes me a little while to warm up.  I’m like a curious, cautious puppy.  I’ll come up to you, feel you out, sniff around a little, go do my own thing and maybe come back to you later.  Initially this is something I wanted to conquer.  Over these past few months I’ve accepted that this is a part of my character.  I feel comfortable and okay with this habit that may cost me opportunities to socialize, while protecting myself at the same time.  At this point in my journey of self, it’s best that I protect myself.  I’m still a babe when it comes to self-advocacy and making sure Ashley is okay without compromising self.
I plan to do some light souvenir shopping to fill family requests but nothing too insane.  Souvenir shopping can go from thoughtful to ridiculous.  When I have to think about it too much and my armpits start perspiring, I know it’s time to stop!  Plus I’ve got the perfect excuse, “you know I only had the one book bag” as I simultaneously raise my eyebrows, shoulders and arms while looking helpless.
The next few blog posts after this will not be in chronological order because I’ve got some catching up to do on happenings in Guatemala City and Coban.  I wasn’t feeling inspired last week.

Now on with the good stuff.  All I’ve done thus far is eat, and walk around a little.  So food will be the topic
Upon arrival to Antigua last night, it was already dark so I was all about heading straight to the hotel and showering after riding in a shuttle for 10 hours.
Traffic through Guatemala City is absolutely insane!  It reminds me of Chicago traffic, on a two lane expressway, for 5 hours straight!  Reading helped keep me sane.  Getting lost in a book during traffic has taught me patience-well I dunno if I’m teaching myself patience or just how to distract myself.  Either way problem solved.
When I arrived to the hotel and showered, I planned to hit the pillow, but my stomach and headache were reminders that I’d only had juice, a Twix ice-cream bar, a bomb chicken sandwich and 23 fries-I love fries so yes I count them.
Let’s talk about my shower for a few sentences.  One thing I dislike about travelling abroad is the electric shower head.  What this is, is a shower head that is plugged into an electrical current, that heats up water passing through it.  So the water itself is cold, but the electric shower head heats it.  I dislike these because if you touch it, even slightly you feel a tingling sensation throughout the area of the body that is meets.  I wonder if it’s a tiny electric shock that I’m feeling when I do this (thinking a-loud)?

At the recommendation of hotel staff I had dinner at Pappy’s BBQ.  I was thinking the same thing.  I’m all the way in Guatemala and have managed to find a BBQ joint owned by a guy from Austin, TX.
The decor was that of a classic BBQ joint.  Bar stools, wood finishes, both high top tables and family style seating on benches.  Huge, red, BBQ signs hung throughout and lit with small bulbs, Texas staples to include cow heads (and tons of other Texan stuff-google Texas cowboy decor if you need a visual), a huge TV on the spanish equivalent to Sports Center (of course discussing the upcoming Mayweather fight) and American pop hits from last year blaring on the crisp sound system.
After looking over the menu, it was clear that this place was all about classic Texas BBQ.
Even after driving through rural villages, seeing pigs pitifully tied to trees within the boundaries of property lines. Tugging for their lives trying to get loose.  Where I vowed to never be tempted by a piece of apple wood smoked bacon.  I ordered the smoked rib and beef brisket with corn and baked beans.
The highlight of the meal for me, was the corn!
The corn was beautiful, bright yellow, still slightly sweet.  It was tossed with herbs, possibly a hint of cheese, smoked meat, and jalapenos that delivered a slight punch of heat.
The baked beans were different from the sweet baked beans I have become accustomed to.  The beans were still slightly firm in texture and the flavor combination reminded me of pinto beans from the slow cooker.  The beans were in a slightly tangy, savory sauce.  It was evident that the house BBQ that dressed the table was added to the sauce.  The beans also had a smoky flavor.  While they were tasty, I didn’t particularly enjoy them and ate only a spoonful.
The pork rib was smoked.  The meat, tender and had the right amount of fat that blended perfectly with the meat. It seems like they used a dry rub on the meat prior to smoking in the electric smoker I saw in the open kitchen area.  I didn’t use BBQ sauce.  When I do enjoy a cut of meat, I like to savor the flavors without the distraction of sauce.
The beef brisket.  First, I’ve enjoyed several beef briskets smoked for hours with love.  My chef boyardee hun-bunz fed me smoked meat on our first unofficial date and I was so impressed watching him stand over the smoker with his serious face.  He timed everything perfectly making sure to periodically check on the meat to ensure it was cooked to perfection.  When I bit into that slice of tender meat, I tasted hard work, dedication and a labor of love on my sensitive, prepared for the gag-reflex at the hint of something gross, taste buds.  My mom had a crappy boo-thang in my youth who could cook like no other.  I watched him too start cooking brisket early in the morning after marinating it the night before.  I watched him meticulously time the meat, watch the meat, check on the meat.  When it was finally time to eat, his brisket was savory, delicious, mouth-watering, seasoned.  It was amazing-not better than bae’s though.
This brisket, was not that.  It was seasoned, it had a smoked flavor, it was aesthetically pleasing, it just wasn’t amazing.  It wasn’t even as good as Texas Roadhouse.
As I ate and looked around, I noticed several plaques and awards on the wall.  BBQ Master, Grill Master, Best BBQ.  But what did the judges know, had they been to Texas?  Or ate bae’s brisket?  Or moms crappy-ex brisket?  I didn’t think so!
I slept satisfied, full and with the smell of artificial, electric-smoker meat-smoke in my nostrils.

#TheBpumEats

File_000 (25)