IT’S TEMBLEQUE TIME

One of my favorite childhood memories is when my Tia use to make Tembleque around the holidays. Tembleque is a traditional Puerto Rican coconut dessert. It gets its name from the Spanish word “tembla,” which means to shake. So, you know my family has jokes. As we would get ready to eat dessert, the only way we would get it is if… “Yup,” we would shake. For some reason we all thought it was funny, so of course as an adult I have the same sick sense of humor. I make the kids dance before they get a serving.

Who doesn’t love pudding? It’s a pudding that is thickened with cornstarch that results in a slightly firm pudding with a custard texture that has a little jiggle for your wiggle. If you have never had it, you need to try it. Attached is my Tia’s recipe.

Ingredients

4 cups coconut milk

1/2 cup of cornstarch

2/3 cup of sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

Ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Wet the inside of six 4-oz ramekin molds, set aside.
  • In medium saucepan combine all ingredients except cinnamon and whisk until well combined. Place over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a slow boil and is smooth and thick, about 5 minutes.
  • Pour the pudding into prepared molds. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight.
  • Enjoy in the ramekin or to unmold, run a thin knife around edge. Invert mold onto serving plate. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Remember to Shake, Shake, Shake!

CHRISTMAS TREE TIME!

I tend to put my Christmas decorations out right before or right after Thanksgiving. That way my family has a little bit of time to enjoy all the hard work before I take everything down. I’m a firm believer of let’s celebrate one holiday at a time. It’s hard for me to understand why stores start Christmas decorations before Halloween is even over. I do understand the advertising aspect of people need to see something 25 times before they purchase. It’s a subconscious trick, but it’s a bit much, way too early.

I am a fake tree lover! For a small investment, you have less mess and a tree you can use over and over. I always felt it was sad to cut a tree down just to know it’s dying shortly, after a few weeks. It’s not like you can replant them and reuse them. 

We have four trees in our house. My daughter’s personal Snoopy tree gifted to her by her Uncle Chris before he moved to Thailand.  She loves that tree with its one bright red ornament. She likes to sit it on her piano. Then there are 2 small trees that are about 4 feet tall that go on either side of the TV in the family room and the super large tree that goes in our living room. 

The large tree is a family effort. Everyone chimes in and helps get it decorated, but the smaller trees my daughter takes pride in decorating herself. I actually love it because even though she is 6, she’s had 3 years of practice and is ready to tackle them. It’s also a great activity that will keep her short attention span busy at least for a good hour. 

Keep them busy and teach them to help early on.

30 CHRISTMAS STOCKING STUFFER IDEAS FOR UNDER $10

I’d like to kick myself in the butt! As a new mother I thought it was so amazing to buy my daughter this oversized Christmas stocking, not realizing that she would be excited about me filling it up year after year. This year has been enough stress for everyone, so I decided I was going to keep it simple.

  1. An Orange for the toe of the stocking
  2. Goldfish Crackers (Should take up a lot of room, go-to snacks I buy anyway)
  3. Nail polish when it goes on sale. I gather fun colors all year long.
  4. Books
  5. Puzzles
  6. Lip balm
  7. Socks
  8. Underwear
  9. Hair bands
  10.  Be Amazing Insta-Snow Jar
  11. Electric toothbrush with a timer
  12. Play-doh
  13. Melissa and Doug Scratch Art Box of rainbow mini notes
  14.  Barbie Dreamtopia Blind Pack Sunrises Mermaid Dolls x4
  15. Stress phone
  16. A little purse
  17. A wallet with a dollar in it (My mom said to never give an empty wallet.)
  18. A prepaid kid’s credit card or a gift card.
  19.  Rolbuck gift card
  20. Mystery pen with black light
  21. Melissa & Doug Family Dinner Box of Questions
  22. Marshmallows
  23. Glow Sticks
  24. Legos
  25. Diary
  26. Gum
  27. GLUE
  28. Shower caps x3
  29. I usually buy 12 toothbrushes with caps for traveling or home. They last all year
  30. Toothpaste

THERE’S NOTHING BETTER TO EAT WHEN IT’S COLD OUTSIDE THAN A BIG BOWL OF SANCOCHO.

When the temperatures drop below 25°, I’m looking for comfort food. (You can make this recipe at whatever temperature feels cold to you.) Something warm, something satisfying and something with humble roots. I’m not a huge soup person but I love a bowl of Sancocho. Maybe because it reminds me of a simpler time. Maybe because it reminds me of my friend, Michelle. Michelle and I learned how to make this recipe together.

It can be compared to beef stew. Sancocho means stewing in the heat. I don’t have a lot of patience and when I’m hungry, I wanna eat soon. My Tia’s recipe is my favorite.

Tia said growing up they didn’t have a lot of money and my grandfather grew all their vegetables, so the only thing they had to buy at the store was the meat. So, this was a cheap way to keep everyone’s belly full because they always had root vegetables on hand.

Ingredients

3 to 4 tablespoons of Sofrito (I cheat and use Sofrito Goya but will teach you later how to make it from scratch.)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 pounds of top round beef, cubed into 1-inch pieces

1/3 cup yellow onions, chopped

1/3 cup green pepper, chopped

5 sprigs of cilantro, chopped *Optional, my mom doesn’t like it.

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 tomatoes

Beef stock if you have it if not, use water and add a little butter

1 green plantain, peeled and slice into 1-inch pieces

1 yellow plantain, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

1 medium sweet potato, diced into 1-inch pieces

1 medium yuca

1/2 pound of butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces

3 medium new potatoes, peeled and quartered

2 ears of yellow corn, cleaned and sliced into 6 parts each

Directions

                *Marinate beef in sofrito overnight in the refrigerator*

  1. In a preheated Dutch oven or heavy pot over low-to-medium heat, combine olive oil, garlic, beef cubes, and onions, stir until beef is brown on all sides and onions begin to caramelize.
  2. Then add in the tomatoes and cook down.
  3. Add in chopped pepper, cilantro, salt, pepper, and 1 quart of beef stock. Cook down until stock is reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
  4. Stir beef, then add all the remaining vegetables and remaining beef stock. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cover for 30 minutes.
  5. Uncover and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes or until the stock has reduced some and the meat is tender, and the vegetables are soft. Serve hot.

IT’S MY DIVINE RIGHT TO BE FINANCIALLY SECURE

Speak after me: My words and thoughts are powerful! My tongue speaks truth.

Most people don’t understand what you say is what you receive. You need to understand that. You need to speak kindly about yourself and never be afraid to ask people and the universe for exactly what you want. 

The words “I am” are the most powerful words that will ever come out of your mouth! So, whatever you speak after those, you need to be very mindful. Because whether it’s positive or negative that you speak after the words “I am” is speaking your destiny.

If you can’t speak on what you are worthy of, how do you expect others to be in tune with your heart’s desires? 

5 keys to becoming truly successful are:

  1. Be thankful 
  2. Try daily affirmations 
  3. Purge old or negative energy that doesn’t serve you in a positive way.
  4. Work towards your goals daily.
  5. Change your environment and change your life.

The closest 5 people to you are who you become.

I promise if you do these things, your life will change. You are worthy of all!

GIFT GIVING ANXIETY

So, I really thought that I was the only person in the world who has anxiety about giving gifts! At 44 years old, it was time to get to the cause of anxiety. I am so OVER it! Like this is supposed to be a fun experience! Although I do not love shopping honestly, I just rather be doing other things. Holidays are not supposed to bring me stress and anxiety. I am going to enjoy myself this year! No matter what. Then I started trying to rack my brain about the root of the problem as I made my holiday shopping list. It all became perfectly clear. For the first time ever, it made perfect sense to me. I realized it’s only certain people that cause me anxiety…WOMEN! 

I love shopping for children and men. They are super easy, and I always get to buy them really fun, easy things that make them laugh and they treasure! Men tend to be much more appreciative!  Especially with the little things in life, it doesn’t take much to make them happy. Socks, food, a game to play and they are set. The power of new underwear is majorly unrecognized by the masses. Also, if you ask a man what do you want or need, they tend to answer you! Ask a woman the same thing: either you get an unrealistic answer or none at all! I am to the point now that I won’t even bother to ask anymore.

This upcoming holiday season I am saying goodbye to my gift giving anxiety! Ima keep it simple and remove the emotions about making the right choices for someone else! It doesn’t matter what I would love for them to have or what I think would look nice on them. I aint racking my brain to buy them anything. It’s just not worth the unnecessary stress. If Covid has taught me nothing else, it taught me to let go of shit I can’t control.

Yes, a gift card / cash some think are not personal enough, BUT I don’t have to worry about if they like it or NOT, because those difficult people are going to pick it out themselves! Easy peasy for my mental health! Ladies, here go shopping. It’s a win, win for all parties involved! 

IT’S COQUITO TIME!

As I walked through the grocery store, I got excited when I saw eggnog loaded on the shelves. Not to disrespect my beloved “coquito,” but America likes to compare it to eggnog. In my opinion, coquito is the much better tasting cousin! Coquito is a traditional food that all Puerto Ricans hold close to their hearts. Growing up it is associated with Holidays, Love and Family. Coquito translated means “little coconut”. It is best enjoyed super cold. Here is how we make it in my house. If you are serving children or people who don’t drink, simply leave out the rum.

1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

2 cups (1 15 oz can) cream of coconut

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla

**1 1/2 cup white rum (must be white I prefer Bacardi of course)

cinnamon sticks for garnish

I suggest 1 1/2 cups of white rum. If that sounds like too much, start with 1 cup and add more to taste. I like to add just enough rum that it’s prickly on the back of your throat and warms you on the inside. It will be one of the few drinks you’ll have that is cold that warms you up. Just be careful because the flavor of the rum gets stronger the longer the drink “marinates”. LOL. If you have a family like mine, it could be the gift that keeps giving. Abuela once told me that egg yolk came from the white American tradition of eggnog, so some Rican’s have welcomed it into their coquito. I stick to my original roots, so I am part of the NO egg yolk camp! Debate amongst yourself and enjoy.

NOVEMBER IS NATIONAL ALZHEIMER’S AWARENESS MONTH

Alzheimer’s is the biggest epidemic in the world. It is something that will directly affect us all. My mom used to work at this great place called Sunrise Senior Living in Westlake Village, CA. She worked on a floor that they refer to as “The Reminiscences”. Many of my friends live on this floor so I am there to visit often. I find it offensive when people feel it is too hard to care for their elderly love ones and seldom come back to visit. I understand it’s hard seeing your mother revert to your daughter or your father revert to your son but often that’s the course life gives. People are afraid of what they don’t understand.  I believe education is the key so let me do my part to spread what I know.

Currently, an estimated 5.3 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease. This figure includes 5.1 million people 65 and older and 200,000 under age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.

Based on these estimates, approximately 500,000 Americans under age 65 have Alzheimer’s or other dementia. Of these, about 40 percent are estimated to have Alzheimer’s.

One in eight persons 65 and older (13 percent) have Alzheimer’s.

Every 70 seconds, someone in America develops Alzheimer’s. By mid-century, someone will develop Alzheimer’s every 33 seconds.

Women are more likely than men to have Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Fourteen percent of all people 71 and older have dementia.

Women 71 and older have higher rates than men: 16 percent for women and 11 percent for men.

The 2008 estimate is that 2.4 million women and one million men 71 and older have dementia.

The number of Americans surviving into their 80s and 90s and beyond is expected to grow because of advances in medicine and medical technology, as well as social and environmental conditions.

Since the incidence and prevalence of Alzheimer’s and other dementias increase with age, the number of people with these conditions will also grow rapidly.

What is Alzheimer’s? 

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia — the loss of intellectual and social abilities severe enough to interfere with daily functioning. In Alzheimer’s disease, healthy brain tissue degenerates, causing a steady decline in memory and mental abilities. Although there’s no cure, treatments may improve the quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Those with Alzheimer’s — as well as those who care for them — need support and affection from friends and family to cope.

Alzheimer’s disease may start with slight memory loss and confusion, but it eventually leads to irreversible mental impairment that destroys a person’s ability to remember, reason, learn and imagine.

Memory loss

Everyone has occasional lapses in memory. It’s normal to forget where you put your car keys or to blank on the names of people whom you rarely see. But the memory problems associated with Alzheimer’s disease persist and worsen. People with Alzheimer’s may:

  • Repeat things
  • Often forget conversations or appointments
  • Routinely misplace things, often putting them in illogical locations
  • Eventually forget the names of family members and everyday objects

Problems with abstract thinking 

People with Alzheimer’s may initially have trouble balancing their checkbook, a problem that progresses to trouble recognizing and dealing with numbers.

Difficulty finding the right word

It may be a challenge for those with Alzheimer’s to find the right words to express thoughts or even follow conversations. Eventually, reading and writing also are affected.

Disorientation 

People with Alzheimer’s disease often lose their sense of time and dates and may find themselves lost in familiar surroundings.

Loss of judgment 

Solving everyday problems, such as knowing what to do if food on the stove is burning, becomes increasingly difficult, eventually impossible. Alzheimer’s is characterized by greater difficulty in doing things that require planning, decision-making and judgment.

Difficulties performing familiar tasks 

Once-routine tasks that require sequential steps, such as cooking, become a struggle as the disease progresses. Eventually, people with advanced Alzheimer’s may forget how to do even the most basic things.

Personality changes People with Alzheimer’s may exhibit:

  • Mood swings
  • Distrust in others
  • Increased stubbornness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Aggressiveness

Alzheimer’s Disease typically develops slowly and causes a gradual decline in cognitive abilities, usually over a span of seven to 10 years. It eventually affects nearly all brain functions, including memory, movement, language, behavior, judgment and abstract reasoning.

Dividing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease into stages can help you plan for the future but remember that not everyone will experience the same symptoms or progress at the same rate. While each individual is different, the progression of his or her disease can be roughly divided into three stages — mild, moderate and severe.

grayscale photography of patient and relative holding hands
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Mild Alzheimer’s disease

People in the early stage of Alzheimer’s may experience memory loss, lapses of judgment and subtle changes in personality. They often have decreased attention span and less motivation to complete tasks. In addition, they may resist change and new challenges, and get lost even in familiar places.

While everyone occasionally forgets words or names during conversations, this problem occurs with increasing frequency in people with mild Alzheimer’s. They may substitute or make up words that sound like or mean something like the forgotten word. They sometimes even avoid talking to keep from making mistakes and appear subdued or withdrawn — especially in socially or mentally challenging situations.

They may also put things in very odd places. For example, a wallet may end up in the freezer, or clothes may go into the dishwasher. They may ask repetitive questions or hoard things of no value. When frustrated or tired, they may become uncharacteristically angry.

Moderate Alzheimer’s disease

In the middle stage of Alzheimer’s, people can’t organize thoughts or follow logical explanations. They lose the ability to follow written instructions and often need help choosing proper clothing for the season or occasion. Eventually, they’ll require help getting dressed because their confusion may cause them to put their pajamas on over their daytime clothes or their shoes on the wrong feet. They may also have episodes of urinary or fecal incontinence.

It’s usually during this stage that people start having problems recognizing family members and friends. They may mix up identities — thinking a son is a brother or that a spouse is a stranger. They may become confused about where they are and what day, season or year it is. They become unable to recall their address or phone number.

Because they lack judgment and tend to wander, people with moderate Alzheimer’s disease aren’t safe on their own. They may exhibit restless, repetitive movements in late afternoon, or continually repeat certain stories, words or motions, such as tearing tissues.

Problems with communication worsen during the moderate stage of Alzheimer’s. This can lead to a variety of challenging behaviors, including:

Paranoia that sometimes provokes accusations of infidelity or stealing

Agitation, frustration or anger that can lead to cursing, kicking, hitting, biting, screaming or grabbing

Severe Alzheimer’s disease

People in the last stage of Alzheimer’s require help with all their daily needs. They lose the ability to walk without assistance and then the ability to sit up without support. They are usually incontinent and may no longer speak coherently. They rarely recognize family members. Swallowing difficulties can cause choking, and they may refuse to eat.

How long?

The rate of progression varies widely among individuals. For some, severe dementia occurs within five years of diagnosis. For others, it can take more than a decade. On average, people with Alzheimer’s live for eight to ten years after diagnosis. Some live as long as 20 years. Most people with Alzheimer’s don’t die of the disease itself, but of pneumonia, a urinary tract infection or complications from a fall.

If you are someone caring for a love one living with Alzheimer’s PLEASE:

Remind yourself frequently that dementia or Alzheimer’s is not their nor your fault. They did not ask for this to happen to their mind. But also help yourself come to the realization that their “old life” no longer exists and changes in personality are to be expected.

Write in your journal every day the memories you have with this individual when their life was good. These will help you to keep them alive in your mind while you begin to grieve them.

If you find yourself getting frustrated, in which you will, take frequent short breaks to alleviate the constant building of irritation in your mind. Keep in mind, you cannot care for a loved one with a mental disease by yourself. You need to be able to ask for help to allow yourself some time to take a break.

Remind yourself your loved one has come to depend on you for care. Whether they realize it or remember it, they are depending on you. The have essentially become a child and you are their parent.

They may repeatedly have the same conversation with you. That is okay. Your reaction will control the situation. Pick your battles. Most are not worth beginning. It will only cause frustration and anger for both of you.

Talk to others about your situation on a daily basis. Other people that are not involved will help you to find humor in your particular situation.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.

IMA WOMAN, THEREFORE I’M PRO WOMAN!

When you hear a feminist fighting for gender equality, this right here is what it’s all about! It’s hard for me to understand why any rational adult doesn’t see this as an issue! 

It’s not the 50’s where men make a sufficient amount of money of take care of their families anymore! Or even try to take care of their families anymore!

Back in the day, women made less because they had side jobs and were NOT expected to be the bread winners! But in this day and age where men have the option to take care of their children or NOT to take care of their children, women are literally told if you have a baby be ready for it to be your sole responsibility… Pay scales should be equal. Clear across the board! No exceptions! If this doesn’t fire you up and piss you off, we can’t be friends at all! 

You can label me as a feminist any day because this right here is DEAD WRONG and I can NOT, NOT speak up about it! 

HOT CHOCOLATE WITH MARSHMALLOWS

Mexico 500 BC, the Mayans were drinking chocolate made from ground up cocoa seeds mixed with water, cornmeal, chili peppers as well as other ingredients. A lot different than the hot chocolate we know today. Until the 19th century, hot chocolate was used medically to treat ailments such as liver and stomach disease. Mexico introduced Europeans to hot chocolate in the New World. 

It’s always awesome for kids to know little fun facts about the world around them. As a homeschool mom, every moment is a teachable moment, even the fun ones. As the weather changes, my daughter loves to drink hot chocolate, sit in front of the fireplace and read books.

Cherie’s Crockpot Hot Chocolate 

Ingredients 

One and a half cups of heavy whipping cream 

One 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk

6 cups of milk

1 teaspoon of vanilla

2 cups of chocolate chips

* For large parties double the ingredients* 

Instructions 

1. Stir together the whipping cream, milk, vanilla and chocolate chips in your crockpot.

2. Cover and cook on low for about two hours stir occasionally with a whisk until the mixture is hot and the chocolate chips are all melted.

3. Once it’s heated all the way through and the chocolate is fully melted turn the crockpot on the warm setting and stir occasionally before serving.

4. This is my daughter’s favorite part: when you serve them, garnish every individual cup with whip cream or marshmallows maybe even both.