A Woman’s Survival Journal: A Guide for Making the Most of Your Life in Mexico

I know you’ll probably already overwhelmed with the shopping frenzy. You are either scouring the internet for the best deals or avoiding it like the plague. So it’s probably not the best time to release my next contribution towards the betterment of the lives of women living in Mexico, or maybe it is. Regardless, here it is–at long last! A Woman’s Survival Journal: A Guide for Making the Most of Your Life in Mexico. And for the next few days, the eBook version is FREE at Amazon.

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Keeping a journal clears your mind and helps you cope with stress. Journaling also is an excellent tool for self-improvement. Living in Mexico can be amazing and stressful, full of highs and lows and writing about both adventures and disasters you experience is a worthy endeavor. A Woman’s Survival Journal: A Guide for Making the Most of Your Life in Mexico gives you the opportunity to record your experiences and challenge yourself even more through a variety of prompts, exercises and quotes and ample space to record them.

But wait! There’s more! Surviving Voluntary Exile: How to overcome common obstacles to making a successful life transition will also be available for FREE until December 5.

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Have you chosen to follow your spouse to another country? Has your company transferred you to an overseas branch? Has the political climate of your own country forced you into exile? Are you finding it difficult to create a satisfying life in your new home? In this book, you’ll examine some common obstacles that might be holding you back from creating your best life in your new home and learn ways that you can overcome them.

Since these are the eBook versions, you’ll need your own notebook to respond to the journal prompts, of course, but I hope you will still find it soul-satisfying and empowering just the same!

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Black Friday Deals

So many of my favorite sites are having sales this weekend, I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a minute to mention a few of them. 

Herbal Academy Sale Thursday, November 28th – Sunday, December 1st

First, Herbal Academy is offering some great discounts. All Goods Shop Products are marked down 15%  and The Herbarium is $10 off registration with the coupon code: BLACKFRIDAYDEAL

Herbal Academy Goods Shop – Botanically inspired products

The Goods Shop has just the thing for the herbalist in your life, even if that person is you! There you’ll find workbooks, herb journals, botanical recipe books, tincture and cream containers, and even complete complete textbook series. 

The Herbarium by the Herbal Academy

While the Herbarium is an excellent resource for anyone interested in adding herbs to their healthy lifestyle.  Furthermore, with membership to the Herbarium, you’ll get access to the recently released Herbs for Animals Intensive Short Course as well as the Herbs for ADHD, Cognition and Focus Intensive and Ayurvedic Approach to Joint Point Intensive.   

These deals are available from Thursday, November 28 until Sunday, December 1. So don’t wait too long! Remember to use the coupon code: BLACKFRIDAYDEAL to save!

Ultimate Bundles Sale Friday, November 29th – Tuesday, December 3rd 

My other favorite site is also hosting several Black Friday bargains. From Friday, November 29th until Tuesday, December 3rd, you can get any of the following bundles at a reduced price.

What's inside the Master Your Money Super Bundle!

The Master Your Money Super Bundle 2019 is on sale for $37. There are 45 products worth $1206.41 including 13 eBooks, 9 printables/workbooks, 12 eCourses, and 11 videos.

Self Care Mini Bundle 2019

The Self Care Mini-Bundle is only $11.97. This delightful bundle has 10 products worth $231.89 including 4 eBooks, 2 eCourses, 2 Workbooks, 1 Video and 1 Membership Site.

Invest in Your Faith Mini Bundle

The Invest in Your Faith Mini Bundle is just $7 for the full bundle. It has 10 products worth $234.97 including 4 eBooks, 4 eCourses, 2 Printable Packs, and 2 Workbooks.

And in case you missed these other gems, they are still available from Ultimate Bundles for a limited time.

Photography Super Bundle 2019

The Photography Super Bundle 2019 is available until October 2020 for $49.97. This bundle designed to help you make your photographs stand out has 19 products worth $1,195.98 including 12 eCourses, 6 eBooks, templates and presets.

Get your bundle now!

The Ultimate Productivity Bundle 2019 is available until February 15, 2020 for $49.97. Get more out of your time with 14 eCourses, 5 eBooks, 26 printable packs/workbooks, and 1 summit valued at $1,506.90.

Healthy Meal Planning Bundle 2019

The Healthy Meal Planning Bundle 2019 is only available until December 31, 2019. Make the most of your meal planning with 1,072 recipes across 12 categories plus 200 dessert and beverage recipes, 30+ ready-to-use meal plans with shopping lists and prep notes, 5 ecourses, 5 ebooks, and 4 printable packs/workbooks for $49.97. This huge bundle is worth $1,038 if the items are purchased separately.

What's inside Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle

And finally, if you missed the flash sale last week, the Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle 2019, which includes my own herbal contribution, is still available but at the regular price of $47. The 40 products in this bundle are worth $701.14 and include 29 eBooks, 4 Printables, and 7 eCourses.

Happy Shopping!

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House Cleaning in Rural Mexico

My house cleaning routine is completely different now that I live in rural Mexico when compared to living NOTB (north of the border). The way my mother and grandmother cleaned didn’t transfer to this new land without carpeting and linoleum floors which meant I had quite a bit to learn. I’m sure my mother-in-law thought I was a useless wife.

So, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty (literally) with some tips I’ve learned along the way to keep the house, perhaps not sparkling clean, but at least bearable.

Most cleaning supplies, buckets, sponges, bristle brushes, mops, dustpans, brooms and so on, are found in the jariceria. Soap and detergents can be bought at the abarrotes (corner store) or supermercado. It’s a limited selection though. Most places carry fabuloso which comes in a variety of scents and pinol, which is “pine” scented.

There are even places you can buy cleaning supplies in bulk. Paper towels can sometimes be found at the desechables (disposable) place, however, most abarrotes and smaller supermarkets don’t carry them. I suggest using a cut-up towel if you can’t find paper towels. It can be washed and reused endlessly.

Living in rural Mexico means dirt roads, dirt paths, and dirt lawns. That dirt seeps in under the door and through open windows. Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to reduce the amount of dirt inside your home, which ironically means reducing the amount of dirt outside of it.

The first line of defense is a broom. The broom is a mighty weapon in the battle against dirt. Brooms come in plastic and natural varieties. The ones made of twigs or straw are really the best for the dirt work outside your home.

Use that broom to sweep any loose dirt from in front away from your house. The broom is what you’ll use to sweep the loose dirt from the back of your house as well. Furthermore, the broom is used to sweep the loose dirt inside your house.

Your broom needs a super sidekick for the best results. Invest in one of those long-handled dustpans, not one you have to bend over to use. You’ll do a lot of sweeping in rural Mexico you’ll be thankful. Don’t just sweep the dirt outside. It will find a way back in. Sweep it into the dustpan and put it in the trash.

The plastic broom becomes an even better tool when combined with water and soap. With soapy water you can use the broom to scrub cement floors. Depending on the texture of your tile, you might use it to scrub those too. For example, the tile we have downstairs is smooth and a mop works well. But the upstairs tile is rough and a broomy mop does a way better job.

A broom can also be used to scrub the walls. Most walls are textured and you can’t just wipe them down with a wet cloth without getting bloody knuckles. So, use a broom. 

If you have throw rugs, a broom makes a heck of a rug beater. Brooms also work to knock down cobweb buildup. Surprisingly enough you find chimney sweeps readily in Mexico, which work great for the same purpose. 

Next, you may need a mop. Let me tell you, a mop won’t last nearly as long as you expect it would. But hang on to the wooden mop handles because, for some reason, broom handles are prone to breakage (probably all that scrubbing). A nail or two and your broom head has a new handle. 

Mopping is done differently here than how I learned to do it. Here it involves at least two mops and a bucket of soapy water. First, the mop is dunked in a bucket of soapy water. Then it is hand wrung. Some broad swishing about the floor follows. After that a DRY mop is swished over the same area, reducing the water residue. This is repeated until the entire floor surface has been cleansed. Mops are left to dry with the strings up, handle down.

When building your home, take this into consideration. Once you are ready to install tile, be proactive and buy brown floor tile, preferably with speckles that already resemble dirt. NEVER buy white tile even though it is usually cheaper. Choose dark grouting as well, not light. Also, smooth tiles may be easier to mop but are slippery when wet, so not the best option for bathrooms, kitchens, hallways or anywhere else where water accumulates.

Don’t be shy about using the water that you’ve used to wash clothes for mopping. We have a washer that we catch the gray water from the outtake hose in a bucket for this very purpose. When we hand wash, we do the same thing. 

Some cleaning can be reduced in intensity or avoided altogether if you are wise. For example, don’t buy white towels. I know that it gives your kitchen or bath a bright, clean feel, but it won’t last. Instead, buy brown towels. Seriously. The same goes for bedding. White sheets???–PLEASE! You’re just asking for trouble. Dark colors, like brown, are good. 

The reason I suggest this is because Tide Ultra is not available at the local super (supermercado). Instead, you’ll find a paltry selection of overly aromatic laundry soap which can’t quite cut the mustard, literally. I use Foca liquid detergent which is biodegradable and has a very mild scent but doesn’t get clothes as clean as my detergent did way back in the day when I lived in another country.

Since the detergent available is not great for stain treatment, a scrubber bristle brush works is another tool you’ll want to add to your cleaning arsenal. You really need to put some muscle into scrubbing at those stains. though. After you’ve scrubbed the bejesus out of those chili stains, hang the garment in full sun for some natural bleaching. 

Bristle brushes work for the walls in your shower too. Take one in while you shower and scrub away. The floor is already sudsy from your shower, so go ahead and broom scrub it then too. 

Whether your washer is indoors or out, a washer cover goes a long way in keeping dust from accumulating in the wash barrel. Covers are easily found for square washers as well as the round chaka-chaka ones at the places that sell blender lids.

Roma powder detergent works great to clean grease off the stove. On some stoves, it’s possible to put aluminum foil around the burners and stovetop which can be changed out as needed. Remember, prevention is the better part of cleaning valor. 

Dusting is a never-ending battle. You can buy a feather duster or make your own from your backyard fowls’ plumage. The roving carts that sell the chimney sweep brushes also carry feather dusters. A slightly damp cloth will do too. 

Most kitchens have a vitrina which is like a pantry cupboard. Use that to store your dishes. Make sure to replace broken glass doors. It keeps the dust build-up to a minimal. If you have knickknacks–keep them in a vitrina as well. 

A few stores carry products like Windex that you can use to clean your windows and mirrors. I’ve found that an auto detailing cloth works well to wipe them clean. I don’t bother with the exterior side of the windows unless they are extremely dusty. I do run the chimney sweep brush over the screens periodically to knock the dust off, however.

Flies make icky dirt speckles when they poop. Having screens in your windows and keeping the doors closed will curtail that. Those sticky fly traps will reduce the population and keep the poop speckles down too. 

Trash accumulate can be a problem in some areas. In town, the trash tractor comes by three times a week to collect your refuse. Where we live, it doesn’t. We burn some of our trash every other day or so. We recycle plastic containers, cans, and caguama (beer) bottles by taking them to the appropriate recycling center every month or so. For other items, we shop mindfully. For instance, we drink Cafe Oro because the glass jars it comes in make excellent pantry storage containers. 

If you are a financial position to do so, consider hiring a cha-cha, the term used for the cleaning muchacha (girl) even if she’s older than your mother. The cha-cha will come to your house for as little as 200 pesos a week, depending on the number of days and hours you require. It’s a fairly common practice even among the middle class and it provides a much-needed source of income for the women living in rural Mexico. While she’s scrubbing away, be sure to take notes on her techniques. Be sure to share them with your other clueless friends (and me in the comments below).

Realistically, you’ll need to learn to make peace with some dirt living in rural Mexico. It comes with the territory. Do what you can each day and don’t stress about the rest.

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Filed under Cultural Challenges, Homesteading

The Arrival of Terry

My husband had a conversation about Puppy getting poisoned with his boss and two days later came home with Terry even after I told him NO MORE DOGS! Apparently, we had an opening that needed to be filled, although I’m sure we are still way over our animal status quo. Terry’s owner has recently had a foot amputated and he isn’t up to taking care of him anymore. So here he is. 

Terry is a pedigree Belgium Shepherd. He’s absolutely gorgeous. He’s about the same age as the Puppers, but he’s been cooped up inside for so long that he’s a bit needy. He’s also bigger than the Puppers and honestly, somewhat of a bully. 

George was NOT happy with Terry’s arrival. He had assumed Puppy’s position as head dog in his absence. He and Terry had to battle it out to establish dominance. George lost, but I don’t believe he’s given up quite yet. We’ll have to keep an eye on the two of them as they try to figure out who is in charge.

Fred is our meek and mild Pupper. He just wants everyone to be friends. When Fred and Terry were together, Fred rolled over and submitted without batting an eye. 

Even though Terry is a shepherd, he hasn’t shown any inclination to herd. Our goats are terrified of him. That’s disappointing. He’s also impossible to walk even though he’s supposedly leash broke. He runs in circles and even gives my husband a rough time of it.  We aren’t ready to let him off the leash yet because of the whole poisoning risk and then there’s the fact that he’s still settling in. He might run off and get lost or something.

Our animal routine has become complicated with the addition of Terry. The Puppers need their walks but can’t be taken out at the same time as Terry. Terry needs walks, too. So that means two sets of walks each time it’s walk time. 

Then there are the living accommodations. The Puppers are in the animal area, which is where all dogs are supposed to go. Terry is in the backyard. Only he can’t stay there after the chickens wake up because he thinks they are fun to chase. The thing is, the chickens aren’t supposed to be in the backyard either, but it seems I have no say in the matter. Therefore, after the sun rises and he has his walk, he is taken up to my sister-in-law’s backyard for the day. The Puppers stay down here now instead of heading off to doggy daycare. 

Despite all the walks that must be taken, I don’t get to handle any of them. The Puppers on their double leash are too much for me. Terry, with his wire cable extra reinforced leather handle leash, is certainly too much for me. I miss Puppy who would gleefully walk around the block by my side. 

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