It is a tradition in Mexico in many homes to have “agua fresca” with the main meal. We always made enough so that there was plenty left over in the refrigerator in case visitors came by. “Agua fresca” is made in a wide variety of flavors using seasonal fruits like pineapple, watermelon, lemons, oranges, and papaya. It can also be made with cereals like rice or oatmeal.
A couple days ago I was in the backyard enjoying the nice weather when my sixteen-month-old son came to me and said “agua,” one of the few words he knows in either Spanish or English. I thought maybe he was thirsty, so I gave him a glass of water. The poor guy was so thirsty that he drank the entire glass in one long gulp. I don’t remember having been thirsty like that in years or maybe even decades! I guess I’m not as active as him any more. That incident reminded me of returning home from school when I was a child in Mexico on a warm summer day and drinking a big glass of “agua fresca.” Seeing him drink like that brought back many memories from my own childhood.
I decided to make lemon “agua fresca” with chia, my favorite warm weather beverage. It is so refreshing and delicious! Here’s what you need to get started:
8 cups of water
1 cup of lemon juice
½ cup of sugar
3 tablespoons chia seeds
Dissolve the sugar into the water. I prefer my “agua fresca” to be less sweet, but you can add more sugar if you prefer. I also use filtered water for better flavor. Next, add the lemon juice. Fresh squeezed lemon juice is really essential here. Finally, stir in the chia seeds and let the mixture cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour. The chia seeds will begin to produce a gelatinous substance that thickens the drink and adds a subtle extra freshness.
Did you know that the chia seed—also known as Salvia hispanica—is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids? It has a long history in Mexico going back to the Aztecs, and is mentioned in some of the sixteenth-century codices (Wikipedia). Chia seeds are available in many ethnic markets.
Try out my recipe and let me know what you think!
After a couple of sunny days I can’t help but feel more optimistic. I think spring is just around the corner. The days are starting to feel longer; the bulbs are sprouting and I can see some flowers on the cherry tree. After a long winter, I think I’m ready to open every window in my home, put away my winter clothes, and start wearing bright colors.
What better way to celebrate the coming spring than with these bright, cheerful floral handbags. These beautiful purses combine indigenous embroidery from Ocosingo, Chiapas with fine leatherwork. Each handbag is a one-of-a-kind work of art from the artisans of Yeo Designs.
Or say goodbye to gray days and cold weather and take in the sunshine with these brightly colored hand-carved leather handbags. With these more traditional pieces, Yeo Designs combines contemporary colors with the historically significant techniques of hand tooling.
Before I moved to Seattle I never experienced this spring craziness, but I have to admit that I like the sense of anticipation of the coming spring. It feels like a new beginning.
Some years ago I bought a pillow that I thought would look good in my living room. It was beautiful and it was inexpensive. I found it in a very well known home furnishings store and was very pleased with my purchase.
One day a friend came to visit me in my home and when she saw the pillow the first thing she mentioned was, “Oh, I know where you got that pillow.” She knew where I bought it and probably how much I paid for it. But she wasn’t the only one that told me that. Like clockwork, nearly every time someone came to my house they would say the same thing. Everybody was familiar with that pillow and, since those early days, I don’t know how many times I have seen it featured in magazines. Soon, I was seeing this same pillow everywhere. What had been my own personal discovery, that beautiful pillow that adorned my living room, was soon transformed into something completely impersonal. I’m haunted by visions of a factory where they can make thousands, if not millions of pillows exactly like the one I was so pleased to have purchased that one day so many months ago.
To a large extent, my love affair with Otomi pillows grew out of this earlier pillow buying experience. In general, I love Mexican textiles and embroidery. I’m always amazed at the incredible care and skill that goes into producing Otomi fabrics, each stitch hand applied, each color carefully selected, each image hand drawn and unlike any other. Produced in a little town call Tenango de Doria in the state of Hidalgo, Otomi embroidery reminds us that there are still artisans out there making things by hand, whose relationship to what they create is deeply personal. Maybe this is why the embroidered Otomi pillows that now adorn my house make me so happy. I think of the story behind each pillow, about the woman who created it with her own hands. I think of the long history of embroidery for which the Otomi women are renown within Mexico and beyond.
Of course, it’s impossible to avoid mass production in this modern world. But it’s nice to know that there are places where the old ways of creating beautiful objects for the home still survive.
There is nothing more personal than a favorite mug. I actually have several favorite mugs. In the morning my brain only starts working after my first cup of coffee. I get up early, go to the kitchen half-awake and there they are, my beloved Ken Edwards mugs.
I love Ken Edwards stoneware! I have a complete dinner set that I use every day. It’s beautiful and unique. Each hand-painted piece is different, with charming bird and animal motifs. And despite the delicate detail work, Ken Edwards stoneware is perfect for everyday use. Why shouldn’t we celebrate each day with beautiful tableware! I, for one, don’t think it makes sense to have special china taking up space in your kitchen that you use only on special occasions. As it is, I have too many things in my kitchen that I don’t know where to put. I like to be surrounded by beautiful things, and I think life is too short to just “save” them for special occasions. Enjoying my coffee in one of my Ken Edwards mug each morning is always an agreeable experience. And best of all, these mugs are big, so I don’t have to fill up my cup very often.
At Tlalli Designs we have several different models of Ken Edwards mugs, so there’s sure to be something that catches your fancy. Check them out under the tabletop heading on our main shop page.