Friday, August 31, 2012

Volunteering: UW Arboretum

The past few days have been filled up with orientation events for the new class of students at La Follette. Since I am on our school student association board, I have been busy helping to make sure events run smoothly. 

The first thing that was planned for the week was a volunteer event at the University of Wisconsin's Arboretum. There was a similar event last year that I went to and enjoyed. The Arboretum is great at hosting volunteers and gave us a lot of work to do and plenty of tools to go around. They also give background on the arboretum and what it is used for, why its important, and why you are cutting down stuff. 

We started facing this bushy area with the goal of removing anything that was woody to create a line of site to the prairie.

We didn't cut down the largest trees, but there were a lot of trees that needed to go. I took pictures but also sawed or clipped down my fair share of trees.

Our volunteer group in the area we cleared. Very sweaty but feeling accomplished!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Out of the Darkness Walk

On September 16th, Aaron and I will be participating in the Madison Out of the Darkness Walk, which raises money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  It is an important cause to us and the other members of our team, who are all classmates of mine. It is free to participate in the walk but we are raising money and we would really appreciate your support!

Anything, even $5, is awesome.

Donate or join our team by clicking here!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Hot Pepper

Last night I was making this delicious green gazpacho for dinner. It included filling a huge pot with a ton of ingredients and then blending it with our immersion blender. I was in a hurry and was chopping this up as fast as I could.

Over the weekend at the farmer's market we had picked up a poblano pepper instead of the one small green chile the recipe recommended. As Wikipedia will tell you, poblanos are mild and sweet. Being confident in my pepper knowledge, I cut it open and grabbed the seeds out just as I did with the green peppers I had just put in the soup pot. BAD IDEA.

I knew something was wrong when my lips started burning and my eyes hurt, but I chalked it up to allergies. Unfortunately, I realized that the pepper was somehow really spicy and I had it all over my hands. They were tingly/burning throughout most of the evening and seemed to be getting better until around 9 p.m. when they started burning like crazy. It was by far the worst pain I have ever had from touching a hot pepper. Well the worst I've had is a little stinging when putting on contacts, but this reminded me of getting a steam burn but all over your hands.

Aaron and I tried multiple methods to get the oil off my hands: lots of soap, lemon juice, baking soda, cortisone (bad idea), and vinegar. Finally I ended up falling asleep with my hands resting on bags of icewater. They all melted within an hour and I had to get up and get new ones and decided to take some motrin.

Luckily this morning the pain is mostly gone and I am recovering. Still a mystery as to why this poblano pepper was so hot, but thanks to Wikipedia I now know "While poblanos tend to have a mild flavor, occasionally and unpredictably, they can have significant heat."

I'll be very careful the next time a poblano is in my presence... just in case.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer weekend.

I know my blog suddenly went silent over the last week!  I went back to work at my old job early last week and I have been pretty exhausted. I'm also having allergy like symptoms. Not fun.

Here are some pictures from my first weekend back in Madison. The weather was great and Aaron and I spent a lot of time outside. Of course we had to visit the Farmer's Market and the Union Terrace. We also went on a longer bike ride with friends. I missed my bike so much!

This weekend we are looking forward to my mom coming to visit and the Orton Park Festival.

View from our table at the terrace.

Blueberry Mojito.

Chocolate zucchini muffins.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Just wanted all of my non-facebook friend blog readers to know I got home safely yesterday. It was a long 24 hours of travel time on 4 hours of sleep.

I came home to the scene above on my table, a spotless apartment, and a fridge full of food! I am enjoying the comforts of home: high water pressure, soft tissues, and fresh juice. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012


I fly back to Madison bright and early tomorrow morning. I don't think I will fully believe it until I am going through customs at O'hare. The past ten weeks have been exciting and my internship was great, but I have never been so excited to go back to the U.S.! I guess having a husband at home changes your perspective on adventuring.

I still have one more post about Mexico to write, because I went on a day trip to Tepotzlan on Wednesday and it was amazing, so look out for that. In the meantime I thought a little summary of what I will and will not miss is in order.

I will miss:
-the food
-my internship, coworkers, and friends
-my shower that literally is just a shower head in between the toilet and the sink (even though it is cold a lot!)
-practicing Spanish
-and of course, the palm trees.

I will not miss:
-the pollution
-the traffic
-being stared at
-and the Mexican keyboard.

The things I missed the most this summer:
-my bike
-and my kitchen.

Can't wait to enjoy all of those things tomorrow evening! Here is to hoping for safe and non-delayed flights.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Virgen de Guadalupe

Today was the last day of my internship and now it is time to pack (although I am currently recovering from practically swimming home, thank you Ernesto), but I wanted to share some pictures from two weekends ago. Part of the pyramid trip included a stop at the shrine of the Virgen de Guadalupe

The story is that the Virgin Mary spoke to an indigenous man and told him to build a shrine on the hill he was walking by. He knew that no one would believe him and asked for a miracle to prove it (or maybe the Archbishop told him to ask her for a miracle). Even though it was December, flowers grew on the hill, including roses from Spain, and the man picked them up in his cloak to take to the Archbishop. When he opened his cloak and the flowers fell to the ground, there was an image of Mary on his cloak. Apparently the cloak was made from the threads that are taken out of the cactus plant.

There are now three shrines at the site. The smaller church on the top of the hill is the original shrine. The bigger one in front is newer, and yes it is leaning. Nuns used to live in the part to the right, but it is unsafe now. It has been severely damaged by earthquakes.

Inside the leaning shrine.

The newest shrine is a modern structure that I think looks like a spaceship. It was designed to hold wayyyy more people but also be evacuated quickly if there is an earthquake. Tons of people make pilgrimages here every December.

There was a quinceanera going on inside.

The cloth with Mary.
Sorry for the bad quality of pictures. No flash allowed! While the original cloth hangs at the back of the altar, you can go underneath and they have little moving walkways for you to stand on and see it up close (genius idea for keeping people moving!).

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Puebla: Forts

Puebla is the site of the battle of Cinco de Mayo (which we all know for the great holiday it has turned into). Since we were there, we thought we should take advantage of seeing the actual forts where the battle took place. The hill the forts were on has turned into a multi-purpose area with a convention center, cultural center, and museums. We eventually found the real fort though, although we aren't sure how much of this (if any) is original.

Entrance to the fort.
Great hilltop view.

Inside the fort was a museum about its origins (a religious shrine) and about the battles that took place there. My favorite part was the map below and a section about how Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in the United States.
We took all of this from Mexico!
Ceiling Mural in the forts museum.
Cinco de Mayo Monument (a huge Mexican flag).

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


During our trip to Puebla we took a 15 minute bus ride over to Cholula, a smaller city which is famous for its church built on top of a pyramid. It was certainly beautiful. One of the best parts was seeing the volcano, Popocatepetl, which is currently smoking.

We also saw Popo's girlfriend volcano, Iztaccihuatl, but it was more difficult to see because its not as high. You can read about the legend of the two volcanoes here.

Part of the pyramid.
Nuestra SeƱora de los Remedios

Inside the shrine.

I got really car sick on the bus ride over, but really enjoyed the view at the top of this hill!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Puebla, Puebla

Me in the Puebla zocalo.
Over the weekend I took a trip to Puebla with two of my friends here. It is about a two hour bus ride from Mexico City, a trip that goes through some beautiful mountains and countryside.

Puebla is the capital city of the state of Puebla and is known for having a ton of churches, mole poblano, and chiles en nogada. Here are some of the things we saw:

Cathedral bordering the Zocalo.
Inside the cathedral.

Puebla's zocalo.
The Zocalo (main plaza) in Puebla is beautiful and tree filled (compared to Mexico City's stark square).

Sculpture in the Zocalo.
City Streets.
A lot of the buildings were decorated beautifully. 
Palafoxiana Library
Another beautiful church.
Selling balloons in the Zocalo.
Elena, Shelley, and me and the AMLO rally.
On Sunday morning we were able to see the presidential runner up, nicknamed AMLO, speaking. He still has no conceded his loss and they are recounting many of the votes. They announced him as the next President of Mexico. Ha.

And of course.. I had to get some chilaquiles in.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Pyramids Part 3: Temple of Quetzalcoatl

I went to Puebla over the weekend and have a lot of beautiful pictures to post, but first there is one last installment of my trip to the pyramids. After we met back up with our guide and had a quick lunch, he drove us over to the Citadel, which holds the Temple of  Quetzalcoatl (Feathered Serpent).

This square is so big that it could apparently have housed the whole adult population of Teotihuacan.

Throughout the whole trip we were serenaded by these horrible little instruments that make dragon ish sounding noises. I can´t remember what sound they are actually supposed to replicate, but all of the little kids had them and it was super annoying. Our guide was demonstrating it to us.

Some original coloring on the pyramid.
See all of the serpents?

Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon from the top of Quetzalcoatl.