Hola a todos. My name is Lesley Martin.  I am originally from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, but for the past 9 years have lived mostly in the Mayan Riviera of Mexico in a town called Playa del Carmen.  I’m a happily married mother of two teenagers, who also lives two doors down from and takes care of my elderly parents.

What made us move to Mexico almost 8 years ago?  We came to “Playa” as it is affectionately called here,   to ‘try it out’ for the winter. Our children were 7 and 5 at the time.  We moved around a lot until we found a place that worked for us. We tried a lot of new foods, and it was fun to see how adventurous our children were.  My husband and I both love to cook, but we soon discovered that cooking and baking here was going to be a challenge.

When we first arrived, I couldn’t find cheddar cheese. CHEDDAR CHEESE, PEOPLE.  Now, this is a traumatic thing for me. My staple dish, what I’ve probably not gone more than a few weeks ever without eating is, as my sister says ‘roni cheese’. My mother made her own macaroni and cheese for me for many years growing up as I watched the Flintstone’s at lunch (can you figure out how old I am yet?). It was just small noodles with diced up cheddar, a bit of milk and butter, and salt and pepper. But it was better than any boxed mac and cheese you’ll ever have and just as fast.

Cheddar cheese came to Playa soon after and I noticed that every month new things arrived in grocery stores: shortening, leeks, ginger, wonton wrappers, asiago cheese, phyllo pastry. The more foreigners that moved here, the more that showed up in our grocery stores.  It became easier to cook like I was accustomed, but in comparison to a big city like Toronto, it was still a challenge. I had to adjust a lot of what I made. I miss good bread, so I started to make my own.  I had to learn how to make my own pizza dough.  I missed, REALLY missed my mom’s pierogies, so I started to practice making my own. I missed the fresh pasta joint my girlfriend used to work at and we had endless fresh pasta in any shape, color, size, so I taught myself how to make fresh pasta.  I refuse to give up and say I can’t have it. If I miss it, I will try to make it.  Even if the one million percent humidity makes me ruin 18 eggs whites for the lemon meringue pie that I’m making for my neighbor and friend, I will buy another 18 eggs, do research on the perfect meringue, and get it done! HUMIDITY MAY FLATTEN MY HAIR, BUT IT WILL NOT RUIN MY MERINGUE!

We have had many adventures since we have lived here, many that I would love to share with you. We’ve had our power shut off, our water shut off, our internet never working, we’ve been hit by a flying mattress on the highway, we’ve had border issues, bug issues, melting-in-the-heat-and-its-only-May issues, gotten robbed, bad customer service, injuries, opened a business, opened a store, shut the store, only to name a few. Why do we stay? Because the tequila is cheap, the water is blue, the tacos are delish, the sand is like powder, but mostly, the way of life is so much simpler here than the rat race that we left behind us in Canada, which has allowed us to become a much happier and closer family unit. And who doesn’t want that?

Because I truly believe that in food and life, happiness is home-made.

Oh, and just because I know you’ll ask, why orangelolls?  I am told that I could not say my name properly when I was a child, usually saying something that resembled lolly, which evolved into lollypops (and many other versions, of course) Anybody who knows me from my youth calls me one version of that so when usernames began, SOMEHOW lollypops was already chosen; so I chose my favorite flavour of this candy and there you go, orangelolls.