Sunday, 28 July 2013

Christmas in July

One summer one of my sisters-in-law decided to host a Christmas- in- July party. She was always having some kind of party. For her Christmas party we all exchanged presents and even had a real Christmas tree, something I wasn't very happy about. In those days I don't think anyone bought potted Christmas trees. Besides unless you went to a plant nursery or whatever they're called, you wouldn't have found a potted tree, so they cut one just for that party. Don't get me wrong. I love my now ex sister-in-law. However, I hate waste and cutting down a tree to enjoy it for a few hours is a terrible waste.

When I think of starting Christmas preparations in July, I'm always reminded of this particular party. I'm not so organized as to claim that I've started getting things ready for Christmas already, but I decided to make another round cushion - this one for my sister who loves green. As a matter of fact, the material I used for it I got from her last summer. I know she isn't a lover of lots of cushions on sofas, but hopefully she'll like this one. It took me a couple of afternoons to put it together as I first had to make the cushion pattern and the cushion - round cushions don't seem to be popular here. Once I got the cushion made, it was time to gather the green material around it and tie it with a rubber band like you would a bag and chop off the excess bit to form a 'flower'. The material kept fraying and I kept trying to repair it. Maybe I shouldn't have cut off so much of the extra material. In the end, I found this red ribbon that I've had for years and decided to use that to go around it. So here you have my homemade Christmas cushion. It's a good thing I don't give up easily.

Patience was called for this weekend that's for sure. As you know I usually go out for Chinese with friends every week. The other night I was in the bathroom when my landline phone rang and then my mobile neither of which I got to in time. I didn't know whose number it was, but decided to go directly to the restaurant so as not to arrive late. It turns out my friend Chris had sent me several whatsapp messages, none of which I'd answered. Later when I got home and was looking at my address book on the mobile, I discovered all my phone numbers had been deleted. How that happened I'll never know (I don't imagine).  I'm paranoid so I do use an AV even on my phone.

Yesterday and today are days that I'd 'take the weather with me where I go'. Thank goodness for a brief respite, because I've seen for later on in the week temperatures of 40ºC + (100º F +). I still remember a summer where we had 45ºC temps and had to even export electricity to Portugal. Next week I'll be on the gazpacho, but today I'm having lentils to celebrate.

Hope everyone is enjoying a fantastic day whatever you're doing and here's to a good week. Today is my youngest sister's birthday (the baby of the family). She weighed 3 pounds 5 ounces at birth, but there was nothing wrong with her lungs. Her photo made the local newspaper and her little mouth was wide open in a scream. 

Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Speckled Smoothie

Hopefully Sir Arthur Conan Doyle will forgive me for using part of the title of one of my favourite Sherlock Holmes short stories 'The Speckled Band' for my post. Ever since it's got hot, I haven't had much of an appetite. In winter, I wake up thinking about what I'm going to have. I still remember one of my university professors telling us how important breakfast was and that we should always have something - even a glass of juice. I have a friend who never eats anything until lunchtime. She says eating early in the morning makes her feel sick.

Cold foods are what really go down well in the summer. I love gazpacho and have it by the glassful like a normal tomato juice. That's the first thing I grabbed yesterday when I came in hot and sweaty from food shopping. Before the end of the day, I'm sure I'll have more gazpacho, but the smoothie is what I have for breakfast. This morning's smoothie has a few raspberries in it, so the colour isn't so nice. Instead of putting spinach in, I used lamb's lettuce (corn salad). Obviously red fruit and dark green leaves create a yucky colour that in no way takes away from the delicious taste, so I drank all of it, except a little that's still in the fridge. Sometimes we give too much importance to appearance. So what if there are green specks in my smoothie too?

Yesterday after coming back from food shopping, I decided to de-frost my fridge, which takes all of 15 minutes and gather all the packets of bits of this and that and make a stir-fry today for lunch or dinner - whichever I get round to making it for. No, I don't have a no-frost fridge and hope the one I do have lasts a few more years. I don't have a thermomix either, but then my kitchen is too small for one and they're too expensive for my pocket. Oh, I know they make wonderful things and quickly too. However, a thermomix is at the bottom on my wish list. 

Friday night there were 23,000 spectators in the bullring for the Red Bull Street Fighters exhibition. It sounded like a cannon of some kind was fired at the start of the show, and then at the end there were fireworks. Naturally I was thinking about Zara and how noises like these really frightened her. Until recent years when there seem to have been fewer, it was difficult to take her out at Christmastime because of all the bangers (firecrackers). I recently read somewhere that comforting your dog when they were frightened made their fears worse. However, I think that's the obvious course of action for a pet owner who sees their beloved animal suffering.

That's about it from my corner of the world. It's times like this that I always wish I could take the weather with me like the song from Crowded House - take the nice weather with me I mean. Earlier today my neighbour was complaining about being bitten by mosquitoes. If only she wouldn't insist on hosing down the patio all the time, which is a waste of water and doesn't really help, maybe the mosquitoes wouldn't come. I think because it's rained so much this year that we have so many. We're not usually bothered with them in Madrid. Anyway, I hope everyone has a wonderful week.


Sunday, 14 July 2013

My Old Institute

By now I'm hoping that everything has been moved out to its storage place from the old institute until things can be moved into the new place, which needs a bit of a facelift or a good clean and a new coat of paint. I'm thrilled that the new institute will be under the same name Briam (pronounced Bree um), with a + added so it will be Briam +.

Yesterday I posted some old photos from 1951 to 1956 on facebook that I'd found in one of the office cupboards. However, the one I've posted here isn't one of them. The man in the middle is one the founders of Briam, which was founded in 1949. I never knew the founders, of course, but there were all kinds of rumours that the founders were Nazis who had escaped and come to Spain and the name Briam was some kind of code name. Then others insist Briam means British-American. The only thing that I'm sure of is that he was Belgian and there were probably more American teachers than British ones when I came to work there. Also when the institute was founded, French was much more popular than English. Nowadays few students study French, so Briam eventually closed their French department.

Another fact that raises more rumours about Briam and its origin is that there was only one other language institute that competed with Briam and that was Mangold. Many claim the founder of this institute's real name was Goldman, a Jewish name. It all makes for more intrigue. Anyway, when Mangold finally closed their doors in the 90's, they recommended that their students go to Briam. How many companies do you think would do something like that now? Briam's coat of arms that was included on all official documents said in Latin 'Honour is a virtue'. You can see the coat of arms in the photo. I don't know if Mangold had a coat of arms, but as educators they were thinking if their students.

So this is the history of my old workplace as I've been told it. Now guess what I'm doing at home off and on this weekend? Emptying out drawers and sorting papers - some of the same things I did last week and the week before helping my friends. The difference is I haven't come across so much dust, just a lot of papers that need shredding that I hate doing so much. Yesterday I was looking at some of my old posts I'd imported from Multiply and came across one from May two years ago where I was complaining about how hot it already was. I know some of you have expressed how pleased you are with the nice temperatures this summer, and I must say we haven't had it too bad yet, except those days I was helping to clean out the institute when we had a cautionary alert. Typical!

I need to get a few more things done round the house. I think I'll leave the laundry until tomorrow though. Have a good week all!


Sunday, 7 July 2013

Moving On Up

People on facebook are always circulating scrumptious-looking recipes, which in my experience sometimes don't turn out as promised and tips that don't always work either. Before the heat arrived, I tried a chicken recipe that claimed you would never fry chicken again. It turned out too salty for me even though I didn't add any salt, and is constantly posting that some of those wonderful tips may not work. However, the one on this Aunty Acid card that someone posted over there  is one of the most useful tips I've come across in ages.

Since Saturday of last week (except Sundays), I've been helping a couple of friends pack up a language institute. I mentioned this in my last week's post. Of course, we're doing the packing up in the afternoon when the sun is naturally the hottest. A few times last week I got on trains that didn't have the air conditioning on, so they were like saunas. I could stand to lose off my butt and belly. Do you think that may happen? I'm certainly not used to doing so much physical work in the heat. We've been getting home about 10.30 at night and we're all exhausted. Luckily I don't have class in the mornings after last week. In future, I'll try not to complain about all the junk I have that I need to get rid of nor the dust around my house. Our hands have come away black from touching books, and we've even found  material that could have already been put to use, but that no one (?) knew existed.

Well, that was my week. I'm not ready to start again tomorrow though someone has to. We're not sure when things have to be wrapped up. Soon I'm sure. Hope everybody has a  good week.