Adventures in Mexico City

on Travel  

Way back in December, The Boy and I went on a huge amazing trip around Mexico and Texas. I’ve put off posting here due to laziness, but I always look back so fondly on these travel diary posts so better late than never!

It took us days to reach Mexico city – not just because flying there took over a day, but due to extreme weather in Dallas, which was our transit stop. After our flight was cancelled (after several hours of hopeful delays), not once but twice, the third time was lucky and we finally made it to our destination, a few days short of when we hoped to arrive. It was frustrating and exhausting, but considering almost every flight through Dallas was in the same boat, and in the area people were losing their homes or their lives, we came out pretty alright.

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Loved the decor in our little Mexico City apartment!

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Once we (finally) arrived, we were welcomed into our beautiful little AirBnB apartment, decorated with pot plants, quirky prints, a piano and a type case. I like to try and make our first stop after a long journey a nice one, assuming we’ll have to recover from jet lag, but after our 3 day transit in Dallas we were ready to explore. Our host left us with a list of local sights and eateries to try out.

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Fournier Rousseau, great pastries and coffee
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Known for their almond crossaints (which were sold out!)
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Catedral Metropolitana

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The Zocalo, the main square in Mexico City, was festive and bustling with people traveling and celebrating Christmas and the New Year. We visited the cathedral and Templo Mayor – a huge Aztec temple complex from when the city was the Aztec city Tenochtitlan. The Spanish had flattened and built their cathedral over it, and the remaining ruins weren’t excavated until the 70’s.

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Lots of lovely colonial architecture in Mexico city
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Templo Mayor
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Offerings found under Templo Mayor

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One Aztec food in particular seems to remain popular in Mexico City – escamoles, or ant eggs! We had ours at El Cardinal, a traditional restaurant recommended by our host an very popular amongst locals. These are harvested from the giant ants that live amongst the agave plants, and surprisingly taste buttery, nutty and creamy, a bit like ricotta or a creamy risotto. Like almost all meals in Mexico, the dishes were served with housemade salsas of various heat levels, and plenty of steaming hot corn tortillas lovingly wrapped in a tea towel.

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Ant eggs! Tastier than you would think

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Our final stop was breakfast at Lalo, a quirky little cafe with modern and traditional dishes (ant eggs for breakfast anyone?). Our time in Mexico City was much shorter than intended, but we managed to see (and eat) a lot for a quick visit. Our first taste of Mexico confirmed it was exactly what we had hoped!

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Our final breakfast at Lalo

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Head & Heart – June 2016

on Life  

It’s been a while! I think I’ll be writing these Head & Heart posts every few months from now on, to keep things going without that monthly commitment.

The weather here in Perth has gotten steadily colder in our version of autumn – probably still warm by others’ standards, but for me it’s boots, jumpers and gloves in the early mornings. It’s hard to believe we’re almost halfway through the year, when its beginning doesn’t feel that long ago. I find it hard to keep motivated in the winter, like my own version of hibernation when not at work. Life moves at a slower pace, but it still keeps moving.

Thinking

Side hustle. In rebooting my teresawatts.com website (more on that in a bit), I’ve had to think about where I want it to go. At the moment I want to really focus on workshops, whilst also building up a portfolio of commercial or branding lettering work. My plan is to let it grow slow, invest time in creating awesome content and hope to eventually snag some awesome clients. It’s something I’ve considered for a long time (I’ve mentioned it in plenty of H&H posts previously), but now I feel like the groundwork is complete and I know where I’m headed.

Side Project magazine. Sadly we didn’t quite make our Pozible crowdfunding target, and for that reason have decided to take a break from producing the magazine. On one hand it feels like the end of an era, but on the other hand we’ve managed to make 5 amazing issues and learn a ton along the way. This also means that the team now has time to spend on other things we’ve always wanted to do, like workshops and stationery! This isn’t the end of Side Project as a whole – stay tuned for more details soon.

Doing

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Puppy training! Puppies are such time-consuming little creatures aren’t they? Jasper has now grown big enough to peek his nose over the dining table, so training him to have some manners is more vital than ever. We start each day with a sunrise walk, training and breakfast, then more play and training in the evenings after work. He quivers with excitement at the prospect of food or the sight of another person, since most of his experiences with people are them adoring him. In between all the running around and mischief-making, he’s content to chill with us on the couch. He’s sweet and frustrating and hilarious, and even though he’s taken up most of my spare time these days he has brought so much to our lives.

Workshop. Last weekend I ran a brush lettering basics workshop with Eeny Empire, and things went beautifully! My 10 students learned basic strokes and a simple brush alphabet in a 3 hour workshop, bolstered by tea and Timtams. Teaching something that I know and am passionate about is such a joy; I can’t wait to do more! I have a super exciting two day workshop with Beau Est Mien coming up if you’re interested in learning brush lettering, then turning your artwork into screen prints.

Small errands and admin stuff. Without producing a magazine on my plate, I’ve somehow managed to blast through my list of admin tasks which had been hanging around forever. I now spend Monday evenings (and sometimes lunchtimes) for these mundane but necessary tasks, as well as answering emails and filing paper that builds up. I feel so much more free without those tasks haunting my to-do lists from month to month.

Making

Teresa Watts website. I started writing copy and designing this website last year, and was making slow, halting progress. Then I heard about the relaunch of May 1st Reboot, “an international relaunch of websites and portfolios by designers, developers & makers”. After a lot of hurried coding and rationalising what the minimum I needed to launch with, I managed to (just) make the deadline and get the new and improved website up! I still have a list of nice-but-not-essential things to fix up and improve on, but having a hard deadline was the push I needed to not let it stew for another several months. I had to leave out most of the front-end development bells and whistles, but I’m pretty proud of the design and copywriting which I spent a long time on. Future plans include frequent blog posts and a newsletter!

Teresa Watts website design

Workshop worksheets. With only a short amount of time to teach the basics of brush lettering, I thought it would be best to hand out worksheets showing basic strokes, alphabet and punctuation. These took a fair bit of prep work, coming up with a simplified alphabet suitable for complete beginners and arranging it all for them to copy, but the results were so worth it. You can look forward to receiving these if you attend any of my other workshops this year.

Reading

I’ve made the switch from Readability to Pocket, and set up all my articles to be read later to live there (see my tips for reading articles later over here). I miss the estimated reading times, but otherwise the experience is pretty similar, if better integrated. Here’s a few of my favourite articles lately:

The Busy Person’s Lies – when you break down the time spent on things, it might not seem so bad after all.

The Face Everything Technique – how to face things instead of avoiding them (easier said than done).

Why It’s Okay If Your Passion Isn’t Your Full Time Thing Right Now – for all of you with side-hustles out there – it’s okay, maybe even better?

How to Order Wine at a Restaurant – I like how accessible this guide makes the art of ordering wine! some great tips.

Excited

Letters from Teresa. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and have finally decided to try doing a monthly newsletter! It will be for teresawatts.com rather than here, and will be about lettering, calligraphy, creativity and branding, along with workshop announcements and other exciting things. You can subscribe over here if you like.

More writing. Now that I’ve finished coding my other website and have (sort of) gotten the hang of being a puppy parent, I’m hoping to do much more writing. I’ve lost my morning writing time to walks with Jasper, but with some planning I think I can squeeze in a bit of writing each week. I’m looking forward to improving those skills over the rest of the year!


You can read more of this series over here, or copy the format to join in!

Bullet Journaling

on Life  

Whilst travelling in beginning of this year, I binge read productivity books and decided that 2016 would be all about focus. How well that’s actually gone is neither here nor there (okay mostly not there), but one thing I’ve found that makes a big difference is the Bullet Journal system.

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The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.

I’ve said before that I like physical, handwritten to-do lists rather than digital for actually getting things done, and this system is kind of a collated set of to-do lists with a bit more organisation. There’s a few basics to Bullet Journalling but everyone is encouraged to adapt it to their own uses. In the couple of months I’ve been using it, I’ve simplified it quite significantly to suit my personal projects and admin that always seems to pile up.

Here’s my version:

  1. At the start of the month, write a list of things to complete on a fresh page. Rewrite any items from the previous month that still need to be completed.
  2. Each night before sleeping write a list of items to complete the next day, referring to the big list for the month.
  3. Put a star next to the most important/urgent item on the list.
  4. On the day, go through the list, starting with the starred item if possible.
  5. If any items are left over at the end of the day, they can go onto the next day’s list or remain open for a future date.
  6. Use a fresh page for sketches/ideas/wireframes/plans/detailed lists.
  7. Keep an index at the beginning of the notebook for easy referencing.

I use the standard tasks bullets, and skip the future log and monthly log in favour of my big monthly to-do list. I use Google Calendar synced to my phone for appointments and events, so I generally don’t bother noting these down in my journal anymore. I’ve started to get a better gauge for how many things I can get through in my spare time before and after work – I try to keep it under 5 items where possible.

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It might seem like a waste of time rewriting an incomplete task into the next day’s task list, but it does force you to firstly consider why it didn’t get finished as planned (usually scheduling too many things) and secondly if it’s even important enough to keep rewriting each day, especially if it’s continuously getting put off.

Having an index is useful for me, because I tend to have pages that I’ll want to refer back to later – long term goals or ideas of things to make – that tend to otherwise get lost in the mess. I’ve switched to the Leuchtturm 1917 notebook for its page numbers and index pages, which make it ideal for Bullet Journalling.

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Have you experimented with analog task management systems, or are you firmly in the digital camp? If you want to give this a go, check out the Bullet Journal website.