Sand, Surf, Margaritas and Pyramids: A Zihuatanejo Vacation

Ixtapa trip

My hair puffed out in seconds with the humidity of the air. Oh how I’ve missed that kind of air. From the bus that took us to the hotel I could see hundreds of mango trees packed with fruit and no shortage of tall palm trees carrying coconuts. It was a nice tropical welcome.

We were a group of 21. All family related. It might sound like a bad idea but it was actually a blast. After surviving countless summer vacations 24/7 with my own family this was mellow. The next 8 days went by fast hanging on the beach, playing daily volleyball tournaments (where I was just a cheerleader), dancing salsa, eating way too much and surfing.

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Playa Quieta, sort of looks like a Corona Advertisment doesn’t it?

 

Visually (and photographically) the two highlights of the trip were the place we surfed every day, Playa Linda, and the pyramids. Most of the pictures you see below are of a beach called Playa Linda. The first morning of the trip we woke up before sunrise and drove over to the closest surfable beach. Normally, Playa Linda is one of the worst waves in the Zijuantanejo area, but do to an abnormally good sand bank, there were these fun lefts peeling down the beach with almost nobody in the water. The thing that shocked me most about the place wasn’t the waves (they were fun, but far from perfect) but the view from the water.

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The river valley behind the wave that we surfed everyday.

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zihuatanejo-vacation

The wave was located at the end mouth of a beautiful river mouth and the beach was lined with black sand and greenery, a much different scene then a usual surf in Southern California. Most of the pictures below I took at that beach. Every morning we would arrive before sunrise, and as we surfed, the sun would rise up through the thin layer of mist creating these incredible colors and patterns. The moment I got in the water without a wetsuit and didn’t get the shivers I knew I wasn’t going to have any trouble surfing. And indeed I didn’t. I surfed every single morning (and one afternoon). Thankfully, the ocean gods cooperated and it was never too big or nasty.

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zihuatanejo surfing

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Matt, Richard and Kik, just three of our 8 person dawn patrol crew.

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Matt and Kik.

By day 5 of the trip, we were getting pretty sick of the routine, so we decided to go check out an archaeological dig. We arrived and we found these incredible pyramids with little to no fan-fair. In fact we were the only ones there. When we arrived to the museum near the pyramids the attendant there was nice enough to give us a personal tour and we learned all about the tribes that inhabited the area a couple of hundred years ago. The story goes that this area was basically a “state” of the Aztec empire which provided infrastructure like roads to different tribes that used in inhabit the territory that is now the state of Mexico. Their system was so advanced that they even had a way to pay taxes! Their history is a long and bloody one that ended in 1300 when a Tsunami wiped out the whole valley in which these pyramids are located. I love seeing historical artifacts and its fascinating to see how different their world was than ours today.

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This is the court for that ritualistic game that used to be played by Aztec Peoples.

Near the pyramids, there were these mounds with patterns of rocks which were used for rituals

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This is the symbol of the tribe that inhabited this area.

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Cozy Mushroom Casserole For Cold Days

Mushroom Casserole

Seems like winter didn’t want to leave un-noticed and decided to stay for part of spring. My wool sweaters finally made it out of the closet and it feels nice to snuggle in them. I was actually missing the cold weather…I cannot believe I just said that…but it is true. I like going back to my home in Uruguay during their summer (US winter) so I skip a good chunk of the coldest San Diego days. We are hoping for some rain this weekend,  we need it desperately.  With that in mind and in a complete cozy cold weather mood I prepared a super easy and nutrient packed mushroom casserole.

Be aware, this is not the kind of recipe you can rush so don’t do it when you are already hungry. Set up some nice tunes and enjoy the process!

Cold Days Cozy Mushroom Casserole

This is what you’ll need:

– 1 Cup of Brown Rice

– 1 Butternut Squash

–  1 small box of Crimmini Mushrooms

– 1 big leek

– Nutmeg

– Black Pepper

– Parsley to garnish

– Nutricional Yeast

– Garlic powder

– Olive oil

Gadgets:

–  Food Processor or Blender

–  13×9 aprox. backing dish

Cold Days Cozy Mushroom Casserole

1- Rinse and prepare the brown rice. You’ll wanna start with this step because it is the one that will take the longest. Brown rice tends to take 35- 45 minutes to cook. I usually prepare huge batches of rice or other grain once a week so that I always have something handy when time or laziness get in the way.

2- Cut the butternut squash in pieces. You can choose to leave the skin or take it out. I usually take some and leave some. Steam or boil the butternut squash until it is tender and “blend-able”. After it’s soft, toss it in the blender or food processor. Add nutmeg, back pepper and salt and blend it all up. If you want a less “runny” consistency try doing the squash in the oven instead.

3- Chop the mushrooms, the leeks and the parsley. (You can do this while the squash is being steamed)

Cold Days Cozy Mushroom Casserole

4- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil the backing dish. Toss the brown rice in the backing dish and spread a single layer. Toss the leeks and spread a single layer. Toss the mushrooms and spread a single layer. Sprinkle some salt. Sprinkle some nutritional yeast (I put a lot of this). Sprinkle some garlic powder. Toss the butternut squash paste and spread a single layer. All done and ready for the oven.

If you want to preserve some of the moisture cover the dish with tin foil.

Almost there! Bake for 35-45 minutes.

I try to stay away from cheese but if you are a cheese lover make sure to add some as a topping 5 minutes before you take out the dish. I usually make half of the casserole vegan and the other half real cheesy for Alex, no reason why we can’t both have what we want.

Be patient and let it cool for aprox. 10 minutes.

Hope this recipe warms up your chilly days!

Mucho Amor,

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Cold Days Cozy Mushroom Casserole

Quick note about the pictures: It was actually really hard to make this look good. I used natural day light for some and artificial for others, can you tell the difference? Would love to know your opinion!

Cold Days Cozy Mushroom Casserole

Free “Rusty” Texture Set

Free Rusty Textures Blog

Hands up if you love a free texture to add an extra layer to your images! Yep, I’m one of those people. And now it’s me the one creating a free texture set of images. I figure I need to keep good karma rolling.

Adding a layer of texture after the composite is all done is my final step to finishing an image. I do not use textures in ALL of my composites but I do use them quite a bit.

Sometimes I create my textures by painting paper but I also love going on texture hunts. This set is all about rusty surfaces. Living two blocks from the ocean I see a lot of these. Rusty surfaces are always great to add as a texture layer because of the intricate mix of colors and shapes.

Here are some examples of what you’ll find inside:

Free Rusty Texture Set

Free

I hope you like this free “Rusty” texture set and that they add an extra somethin’ somethin’ to your images 😉

You can DOWNLOAD THE SET HERE.

Mucho Amor,

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