What a little bird taught me

Hello and happy New Year!

 

Do you know the expression “free as a bird”? Well, that’s the case for our daily visitors.

My mom loves wild birds, so she has a bird feeder in the backyard. It is like a big plate where she puts very ripe bananas (otherwise our guests won’t eat them; talk about picky eaters!) and seeds. We see different sorts of birds all year round: the Yigüirro (Clay-colored Thrush – Turdus grayi) Costa Rica’s national bird, it is a plain looking bird, but has a lovely song; Great Kiskadees (Pitangus sulphuratus), Inca Doves (columbina inca) and White Winged Doves (zenaida asiatica). My favourite to watch are the  Blue Tanagers (Thraupis episcopus) because of their colour and the fact that they have a partner for life amazes me, and our tiniest and funniest visitors, the Rufous-collared Sparrows (zonotrichia capensis).

All of them come and go as they please, so several times a day we get serenaded by them; on occasions it’s like they form an ensemble. Listening to their melodies makes me appreciate that I can hear.

I usually can’t tell them apart (between their own species), but there is one in particular that I have. I noticed that he [yes, it strikes me as a he] stayed in the wall waiting for all to finish eating and when they were gone, he’d come down to eat what was left (if there was anything). He flapped his wings to keep his balance when he was bending over to reach for the seeds; then I observed he was missing one leg. I started paying attention for the moment when the majority of birds would leave, so I could take out and serve a bunch of seeds just for him. Then I would look for a spot where I could watch over him, to make sure he would eat. As I watched closely, I was able to observe that he did have his leg, but he wouldn’t put it down; I also noticed that another sparrow would appear from the bushes, eat beside him but mainly stayed on the lookout.

Pajarito come maíz Costa Rica

Something must have happened to this little guy and he didn’t give up, he didn’t wallow in self-pity in his nest, and I bet he didn’t complain to his family and friends. He adapted and carried on with his life.

Many months have passed and I have watched him improve; and I know this because when I thought he had disappeared for a while, he actually hadn’t. He comes with two sparrow friends at the same time with the rest of the birds; I spotted him because I saw a little bird standing in two legs, with a foot with no toes picking seeds off  the ground.

My little friend reminded me of this passage:

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)

Do not worry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God has His ways of working and He will provide, just have Faith!

 

I wish  you a year filled with joy and hope!

Bella

Life is brimming with possibilities

Life is brimming with possibilities

Image © A Lovely Little Tumblr

Today is my birthday! 🙂

I find it that birthdays are like New Year’s, you reflect on where you are in life and what you’d like to achieve; to remember the vision you have for your life. It is also a great time to put yourself, your plans and dreams in the hands of God and ask for His guidance and blessings.

So here’s to a new year, full of possibilities! Happy day everyone! 🙂

Bella

 

Costa Rica – Five Years in the Making

I recently shared with you my story on touring Costa Rica. Now I’ve invited Bekah to share her own experience!

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I’m writing this as I drink a cup of Britt coffee that was brought back to the USA. For over five years my sister and I planned our Costa Rican holiday, thinking about what we wanted to do and where we could stay, mostly consisting of drinking coffee and time at the beach. Over those five years we have both been fortunate to travel around the world because of our university studies and have some great adventures, but Costa Rica was always a country we talked about going to.

Fate always has an interesting way of bringing people into our lives. I met Bella while studying in Glasgow, Scotland and can still remember the first time we spoke. She walked right up, put her hand out to say hello, and said she was from Costa Rica! Not only was she one of the sweetest people I had met in Scotland, so far, she also had an unusual candy with her that I later found out was a “coffee chew.” I was going to like this girl, she was Costa Rican AND that coffee flavored, chewy candy was amazing!

Well fast forward to May 2014, my sister and I were able to get to Costa Rica and spend time with Bella. There are always a dozen things that can be discussed after a trip to another country. But I’m going to talk about three main parts: the Sights, the Food and the People.

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Teatro Nacional

 

The Sights

We began in San José, the capital of Costa Rica. Bella was a fantastic tour guide, showing us around the city centre and throughout all of San José. We spent a day touring the museums and understanding more of the culture of Costa Rica.

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Volcanoes are not something I had given much thought to in the past and I certainly never thought I would walk on one. Volcano Irazú is just out side of San José so that was a stop we had to make. How fantastic?! Just walking about and taking a picture of something so powerful.

 

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After San José, my sister and I ventured further west on our own. We were able to spend several days in Monteverde. Taking advantage of all we could, we packed in a zip line tour, day hike, tree climb, and coffee, chocolate and sugar cane tour! If you are ever fortunate to get to Monteverde, pack it all in. The amazing sights and sounds of the rain forest, to the smells and tastes of fresh coffee is magical.

 

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Sunset at Tamarindo

The last leg of our journey took us to Tamarindo, where we met back up with Bella. What else could we do at a beach other than surf, swim and relax? That is exactly what we did. An afternoon surf lesson was unforgettable. Not only did we learn to surf, but we were reminded of some life lessons.

“Get outside of your comfort zone”

“Always look forward, never look behind you or around, or else you will lose your balance.”

“Head up and shoulders square, take it straight on.”

“Don’t forget to breathe.”

Costa Rica has beautiful beaches and we certainly enjoyed them, even while falling off a surf board.

 

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 left: picadillo de papa; center: patacones with frijoles molidos; right: chorreada

 

The Food

Now, seeing as this is a food blog, we have to talk about the food right?! I am not going to attempt correctly naming all of the delicious food and coffee that we had. But I am going to say the fresh fruit is amazing, meals are fantastic and coffee is heavenly. When I got back to Texas, a friend asked me if the coffee was really “that good.” I realized, yes the coffee is “that good,” but more importantly, it is good everywhere.   Whether at a nice restaurant or a small hole-in-the-wall café, you can get a great cup of coffee everywhere.

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We knew it was going to be a good trip, filled with great food when we were met with cupcakes from Bella on the first day! A great way to start, and we enjoyed them! Another one of my favorites, while in Costa Rica, was the black beans and rice with cheese for breakfast. Along with scrambled eggs, you have a full meal to start the day; which we needed for all of the long days of seeing Costa Rica.

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The People

What really makes a place special, in my opinion, is the people. When you are on a trip with people you love, everything works out. Being able to see Bella again, after almost two years, was worth the whole trip. And then to be able to see her family again, visit new places and surf for the first time, just was icing on the cake. I already miss Costa Rica but hopefully I will go back again.

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A Tourist In My Own Country

Last month God gave me a huge gift: One of my dearest friends in the world, Bekah, and her sister Lis came for a visit! Or make it two; He gave me the time to go on vacations with them!

They gave me the news a few months ago and kindly welcomed my suggestions of things to do and see (it was quite a list!). After much anticipation, we were able to spend several and wonderful days together!

The first few days we explored downtown San José by foot, visited museums and landmarks [while I was writing this post I found these walking tour guides. Apparently I did my job well as we visited many! One of those was the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, picture below].

Museo de Oro Precolombino - DomingosGourmet

 

Who knew you could have fun at the museum?!

The thing is, I can’t remember when was the last time I had visited one in Costa Rica; but being ‘all grown up’ and becoming interested in learning about cultures, and after travelling around Europe and visiting museums there, I now saw everything with other eyes and really appreciated what was on display. It also felt differently as I was playing ‘tour guide’ for my friends and had to dust off my memory on history to elaborate more on a certain event, place or a person portrayed in a picture, painting or statue.

Despite our rainy season had already started, we were very blessed to enjoy “very fine weather” (with the voice of Margaret Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, 1995) so we were out and about all day! It also favoured us Sunday morning as we went to a botanical garden and drove up to Irazú, one of our 100+ volcanoes.

orchid at Lankester - DomingosGourmet

 

Feeling adventurous

The following day, the girls left for Monteverde, a Cloud Forest Biological Reserve and I was able to join them halfway through the journey to the beach! We went to Tamarindo, Guanacaste. I had never been there, or perhaps I was too little to remember.

We also visited two neighbouring beaches: Playa Langosta and Playa Grande, all part of Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas, a marine national park famous for being a nesting site for leatherback turtles; which I thought would be a cool place for Lis to visit, as she’s interested in Marine Biology; though unfortunately, it wasn’t nesting time… well, that gives us an excuse for coming back!

Tamarindo is also well known for a sport: surfing! As we were feeling adventurous, we decided to take our first lesson! We had a great instructor, a Canarian, Marketer too, who’s greatest passions are surfing and people. He’s here on a sabbatical. Funny how you learn about people while you’re travelling!

Sure, I fell off a thousand times and got tossed by the waves, but I also managed to stand and ride a few! yay! 🙂 More importantly, I had a lot of fun and made new memories! 😀

We each left with life lessons too, mine was: “Never look down; always face where you want to go”

Tamarindo - DomingosGourmet

 

What happens when you go on a trip with a foodie friend?

Well, I made them taste as much food as I could! Not in quantity, but in variety.

Tamarindo Cas Horchata - DomingosGourmet

Beverages: Coffee! (of course), Coconut water (Agua de Pipa, very refreshing), Tamarindo, Cas (family of guayaba, guava), Horchata (made from rice) [Last 3 pictured above].

Fruits: cas (picture below), papaya, granadilla.

Cas-DomingosGourmet

Salty: Patacones (fried plantain, salty), fried beans, yucca (cassava) chips, chorreada, picadillo de papa, rosquillas, pejibayes, shrimp ceviche and fish ceviche.

Sweet: Maduros (fried ripe plantain, sweet), cajeta, mango chips, guava paste, empanaditas de chiverre, tanelas (typical from Guanacaste), Torta Chilena (like a Mille Feuille with dulce de leche filling), and one of the things they liked best: Churchill or Granizado (shaved ice with syrup and condensed milk).

I’m sure I’m missing a few things on that list…

 

Though it wasn’t originally my idea to post recipes for typical Costa Rican food, now I’d like to share with you some, from the things I made them try. Stay tuned!

 

Benito’s Birthday Party

Happy Birthday Benito!! 🙂

Dog Bowl Cake - Domingos Gourmet

For family and friends we have a Dog Bowl Birthday Cake (vanilla cake with dulce de leche filling, decorated with fondant and topped with Nesquik® cereal); though Benito was expecting it to be entirely his.

 

For Benito and furry friends, we have apple pupcakes and apple peanut butter oat cookies.

Pupcakes - Domingos Gourmet

 

I also made Puppy Party Hats (idea taken from Pinterest) for decoration and for us to wear.

 

Enjoy the birthday weekend!

 

 

Conozcan a Benito | Meet Benito

 

Collage Benito Beagle - Domingos Gourmet

¡Les presentamos a Benito!

¡Nuestro amado cola de punta blanca, de carácter fuerte, siempre hambriento, “aspiradora de olores”, mirada suave, tierna expresión, y alegre Beagle!

 

¡Ayer Benito cumplió 10 años!

Hace varios años pedimos a nuestros padres si podíamos tener un perro, pero como nuestra casa tenía un patio muy pequeño, se negaron. Cuando nos daba la retahíla, podíamos seguir durante horas. Así que un día, mi papá, tratando de acabar con ella, dijo: “bien, con la nueva casa, vamos a tener un nuevo perro”. Mi mamá lo miró con los ojos muy abiertos, como diciendo “no tenés idea de lo que acabás de hacer”. Nos mudamos a nuestra casa actual en diciembre del 2003, y poco después mis hermanos y yo empezamos nuestra insistencia de nuevo; hicimos “huelgas” en la casa y cantamos “queremos un perro” hasta que mi padre se rindió unos pocos meses más tarde.

Recuerdo que cuando regresamos a nuestra casa con el nuevo cachorro, todos teníamos una mezcla de sentimientos: estábamos emocionados pero al mismo tiempo nos sentimos como si acabáramos de robar un banco. Fuimos directamente a una tienda de mascotas para comprar su cama y comida. Cuando el vendedor nos vio, de inmediato supo que éramos primerizos y comenzó a hacer una lista de lo que se suponía que debíamos tener. En la primera semana fuimos al veterinario dos veces (que resultó ser por nada) y pasamos muchas noches sin dormir.

Desde entonces, nuestros días, meses y años han estado llenos de risas y lágrimas, felicidad y dolor. Nos deleitamos en verlo jugar, dormir, caminar, perseguir pájaros, hacer cosas locas y caras divertidas. Él nos ha acompañado en los momentos difíciles y hemos estado allí para él también. Pero sobre todo, ha traído mucha alegría a nuestras vidas.

Ha tenido 3 cirugías en sus patas traseras, y, en general, ha sido muy valiente. Él es un recordatorio diario del poder sanador de Dios y lo que parecen las oraciones contestadas.

 

Así que Dios, ¡gracias por estos 10 increíbles años que hemos tenido nuestro “cachorro”!

 

 

Meet Benito!

 

Our beloved white-tip tail, strong-willed, always hungry, “smell vacuum”, soft eyes, tender expression, cheerful Beagle!!

 

It was Benito’s birthday yesterday and he turned 10!

Several years ago we asked our parents if we could have a dog, but they refused as our house had a very small yard. When we started pleading for one, we could go on for hours. So one day, my dad, trying to end it said: “ok, with the new house, we’ll have a new dog”. My mom looked at him with wide-open eyes like saying “you have no idea what you just agreed to”. We moved in to our current house in December ’03 and short after, my siblings and I started our insistence again; we did “strikes” at home and chanted “we want a dog” until my father gave in a few months later.

I remember when we took our pup home, we all had mixed feelings: we were excited yet at the same time felt like we had just robbed a bank. We went straight to a pet shop to buy his bed and food. When the salesperson saw us, he immediately knew we were first time owners and started making a list of what we were supposed to have. In the first week we went to the vet twice (which turned to be over nothing) and had many sleepless nights.

Since then, our days, months and years have been filled with laughter and tears, happiness and pain. We delight in seeing him play, sleep, walk, chase birds, do crazy things and funny faces. He has accompanied us during tough times and we have been there for him too. But most of all, he has brought great joy to our lives.

He has had 3 surgeries in his hind legs, and all in all, he has been very brave. He is a daily reminder of God’s healing power and what answered prayers look like.

So God, thank you for these 10 amazing years that we have had our “pup”!

 

If you havent loved a dog