For the Love of Food

Chicago is a food town. After living in there for many years, foodie culture became ingrained in me. From my travels and living in a city with a diverse dining scene, I am not afraid to try new/different foods. In Mexico, each meal is celebrated and shared. Here are some highlights from our meals:

Favorite food moments:
1. Kyle told us we would become tacotarians, he was correct! I loved the fresh corn tortillas and pico de gallo that was servered with every meal.
2. When we visited the village of San Antonio, we helped make empanadas for the students. It was fun to see the process of how it went from a ball of dough to a delicious half-moon snack.
3. This meal was another delicious taco dinner. We often ate pork, but this was a pulled chicken with grilled onions and fresh guacamole.
4. One night we had a special pork taco dinner. The meat was shaved off a kabob and then the tacos and onions were grilled. So good! I think it was my favorite meal.
5. This is a Yucatan speciality–it is ground pork mixed with hard boiled egg and black beans.
6. Panuchos are another Yucatan specialty. A tortilla is fried and then topped with refried beans, pulled chicken, lettuce, tomato, pickled onion, and avocado. Delicious!
7., 8., & 9. Scenes from the orange truck at the market. We constantly bought oranges, which were peeled and then cut in half for easy eating. Mexican oranges are the best.
10. This meal was another delicious one! It was fried fish and shrimp. We once again were able to make tacos and add fresh salsas to them.
11. Oranges were amazing from the market, but so were the grapefruit. Many agreed the grapefruit there were much sweeter and tastier than US grapefruit.
12. This was my last meal in Mexico. We went to a beautiful seafood restaurant on the water in Cancun. I enjoyed lobster bisque and a Calypso shrimp salad. All of the flavors were so fresh!

I can’t wait to travel to another new place to experience native cuisine.


Production Coordinator

Once we were finally settled at Natanael Academy, the hard work began. While my role at home is art director, my job in Cacalchen was production coordinator. I was a bit nervous to be the production coordinator, as I did not have any experience in a position like that.

I needed  to make sure we had a plan for each day and each person knew what their assignment for the day was. I created schedules for the day that detailed what was going on daily. As the trip went on, I learned what was helpful to have on the schedule.

Image courtesy of Max Negin

Keeping track of people and equipment was not my only duty. I tried to keep a list of what type of footage/photos we still wanted to capture and share that with the group as well. Overall, the group got great video and photos, so I am happy with that.

Lastly, I helped out with interviews, I was a runner, a dog blocker, and asked people to be quiet when conducting interviews. Our longest interview, with Kyle, was an hour long! It was great to be a part of it. 

If I had to be production coordinator all over again, I know I would do an even better job than this trip. There was a learning curve, but I think that I was able to keep the group organized and on task most of the time.

Journey to Cacalchen

On Tuesday, January 3 at 3:30 am, the Elon #iMexico team started their long journey to Cacalchen, Mexico. We arrived at the Raleigh/Durham airport at 4:30 am and boy was it crowded! We finally were on the airplane and it was one of the most turbulent flights I have been on. It seemed to be a bad omen for the rest of our travel to Mexico.

When we arrived in Miami, our flight to Cancun was delayed for three additional hours, make our total layover time five hours. We made the most of our time playing cards and wandering around the airport. Too bad we didn’t have time to go to the beach.

We finally boarded that flight and away to Cancun we went. We finally emerged into the Mexican sunlight around 5:00 pm, with only one piece of baggage missing. We were happy to finally be on Mexican soil! Little did we know we still had a 3 1/2 hour drive in front us to in order to get to Cacalchen.

Kyle Wilson, the director of Natanael Academy, met us at the airport. We are creating a website for the academy. It was exciting to see our fly-in take shape.

We celebrated our arrival in Mexico with a wonderful dinner, a mixed grill with different traditional Yucatan meats, tacos and chips and salsa. Yum! I do enjoy a delicious Mexican meal!

After dinner all headed to the van for our long journal to Cacalchen. The trip was filled with speed bumps, ducks, and muted music. We were so happy to reach the academy after 18-hours of traveling.

Everyone was excited to be there start our hard work the next day!

Testing out Drupal

Recently, I had my first experience with Drupal CMS for a web class. I can’t say it was all I was hoping for. The interface was not intuitively designed. It seemed like it was designed by programers for programers, which makes it difficult for the rest of us.

Here is what I needed to accomplish:


  • Enable a new theme
  • Add some custom CSS rules to the theme
  • Add a contact form and add to menu
  • Enable at least three additional modules
  • Create at least 3 more navigation items

I did not expect these tasks to be too difficult. But, I was wrong, I ran into an issue with almost every task, other than enabling a new theme. The fact that Drupal decided to develop their own vocabulary instead of using existing vocab, makes it very difficult for new users.

I found many items I needed were hard to find due to the strange names and many options were buried in menus. Even after completing the assignment, when I went to help other students, it was hard to find menu items again.

While Drupal may be a powerful tool, it needs a facelift.


Sagres – Preta Chocolate

Recently, a Portugees beer brand, Sagres, launched a chocolate beer, Somo Gulosos. They decided to go a completely different way with their marketing strategy by building their site out of chocolate. They even hired a master chocolate sculptor to make the site.

Each of the buttons are made of pieces of chocolate and when you mouse over them, they crack and break, like a piece of chocolate. I find that aspect extremely creative.

There is also a beautifully edited video that shows the creation of the website, if you click “Baking of.”

I wonder how the marketing strategy paid off for for the company. The site is completely built in Flash, did that deter users using iPads and iPhones?

Personally, I love the site and hope I can think of creative ideas like this in the future!

Words from the pros

Recently, in my interactive media strategies class, a professional user experience researcher Skyped in with the class. She had many helpful insights on user experience, and as a designer, I need to constantly think about UX. The speaker was a researcher who conducted usability testing in the healthcare field. She said that based on our experience we could all be usability researchers if we so chose.

While I am still interested in design, I feel that user experience is extremely important to producing interfaces. She discussed the difference between and interaction designer and a visual designer. An interaction designer works with information architecture. They examine how a user interacts with a system.

While this interests me, I am more drawn towards being a visual designer. A visual designer conveys the information in a visually pleasing way. She mentioned that one of the biggest challenges in the healthcare field is figuring out a way to display a lot of data in an understandable way and not to overload the user.

The speaker reassured us that when looking for a job, to remember that it was okay if we don’t know everything. We should let potential employers know we are open to learning.


Adobe Edge

Adobe is developing a new product in the Labs called Edge.

Adobe writes:

“Adobe Edge is a new web motion and interaction design tool that allows designers to bring animated content to websites, using web standards like HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS3.

Edge will be updated regularly to add new functionality, stay ahead of evolving web standards, and incorporate user feedback to provide the best functionality and experience possible.”

This sounds like a great product that may make our lives easier in the future. Will it someday take the place of Flash? If Edge makes HTML5 and JavaScript easier to use, it will take the technology to whole new level.

Since Edge is in beta, you can download a trial of the product for free here.