Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The Last Post of 2013

Prawns and crab and other 'delicacies' before our Christmas meal. There were 8 of us here. I know I missed posting on Sunday, which is when I normally post. It was the day I finished my year-end clean out.
Enrique, husband of my longtime friend June and whose home I always go to on Christmas Day, making a toast. I didn't get a photo of the tree, but June decorates absolutely everything that can be covered in tinsel and lights, including the TV!
June and myself with the turkey fresh from the oven.
Alicia, Enrique's sister, butchering the turkey. She cut it up in chunks, not slices. Next year I think I'll take my electric carving knife. Last two photos...

My foxy sox. I love getting socks and such for Christmas.
A bottle of red wine from 2009 from the special Art Series. I jokingly said I was going to open a bodega (winery). This is the third bottle I've received recently - one for my birthday, one from the Chinese restaurant and this one. If you'd like some nice wine, you know where to come.

This was some of my Christmas. I have other photos on my phone of us getting our plates of food, but those I haven't uploaded. Now I'm getting ready for New Year's Eve. On the menu we have baked lomo de cerdo (similar to ham), scalloped potatoes that I haven't made for a long time, Brussel sprouts and carrots. I usually make a hot fudge pudding cake, but this year I have some teacakes. Then at midnight we each have 12 grapes and toast the new year with cava (champagne) or in my case cider; cava gives me a headache.

All the time I've been writing this, I've heard fireworks and a couple of them have been fairly close. As the evening progresses there will be even more. I always remember how frightened dogs like my Zara was at Christmas and hope they don't suffer too much. Here's wishing everyone a safe and happy New Year too.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Santa's Visit

I can't believe I've finally got this personalized and created just for me picture by a local author- artist, who also happens to be a friend. As I posted on Facebook his creations are like his children and it's hard for him to let any of them go. However, due to the economic crisis, he has had to re-think his career, like many others, and start making money from his talent. Up until now he has been a graphic designer, or has attempted to make a living in this field, He can still be a scientist of aliens and discoverer and creator of 'species' - his passions - and create beautiful pictures too. He is, in my opinion, a genius and, hopefully one day, his name will be there alongside Picasso or Dalí. The owner of the Chinese restaurant we go to thinks he's pretty cool too. If you're interested, you can find more of his work here: www.herikbertomq.com.

If last week's post was short, this one is even shorter. I just wanted to wish everyone a blessed Christmas. Of course, I wanted to show off my Christmas present too. Happy safe Christmas to everyone!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Fallen Leaves and a Christmas Fair

Believe it or not, this tree, which is in front of my windows, had many more leaves on it last week. As a matter of fact, I was surprised to see how many leaves were still on it. Friday afternoon we had rain that lasted up into the night. Then yesterday (Saturday) we had bright blue skies and a wind that was constantly blowing leaves off the trees that still had leaves left. I love the smell of these leaves and would love to walk through them in the country, but not in the city. Yesterday when I was out, I noticed a leaf stuck on the side of my shoe and scraped it off on the border of the street. Little did I know that I had a big clump of wet leaves on the bottom of both shoes until I came in and took off my shoes. At first I thought I'd stepped in dog poop hidden in the leaves. Thankfully the clumps were just wet leaves  that had got trapped in the grooves of my trainers. There were so many wet leaves covering the streets yesterday that I couldn't avoid walking through them. I just read before that one of my internet friends on Facebook slipped on some leaves yesterday and was knocked out. I pray that she doesn't have any problems because of this. I think I'll try to avoid fallen leaves as much as possible.

All those leaves I collected while going to and coming from a Christmas fair yesterday. I only bought a few things from one of my friends who was there. It was a disappointing outing - everything was so expensive! I did also get a few lovely Christmas cards that will have to be hand delivered, because going through the post would probably destroy them. I was looking forward to finding a few cheap gifts for my students, but it was not to be. Hopefully the Madrid Handcrafters will get the church hall next holiday season.

I'm late getting this written as I've been busy in the kitchen what time I haven't been out this weekend. I'll be going back there when I finish here. Last night I was even preparing my own washing soda that you can find in the laundry detergent aisle in supermarkets in the US. The washing soda is one of the ingredients I needed for the dishwasher tabs I made. I'll be making more too for my homemade laundry detergent.

Hope everyone is getting all their Christmas preparations done and as always hope you have a good week. 

Sunday, 8 December 2013

It's the Busy Time of the Year

Today I'm going to be brief. As from my title you can see I'm busy with Christmas preparations and  not exactly the decorating kind, i.e. except for my kitchen floor that has been sprinkled with flour and powdered sugar. At the moment I've got rolls rising. How I love the smell of bread baking! Yesterday and the day before I devoted my time to making buckeyes, and later on I hope to start on the teacakes. At least I've learned that the chocolate I buy for my buckeyes turns out better when melted in a double-boiler rather than the microwave.

My photo today is another photo which I haven't taken. There's a page I love and whose photos I sometimes share on Facebook called callejeando por Madrid. This photo of a building which happens to be the seat of Madrid's Town Council is lit up in Christmas colours. It was built at the beginning of the 20th Century and is now called Cibeles Palace for the goddess whose fountain you see in front. This is the fountain where Real Madrid (Football Club) come to celebrate when they win an important title. Funnily enough, this palace didn't cost too much more than my flat, and I certainly don't live in a palace.

Hope everyone in the path of the ice storms in parts of the US stay safe. I know parts of Britain and Germany have had some rough weather. Our weather has been pleasant during the day on account of the sun and freezing at night. When I finally went to bed last night, it was 9º C in Edinburgh and -1º C here in Madrid.

Take care everyone and have a wonderful week.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

A Christmas Miracle

My brother-in-law posted a photo yesterday of his favourite hen, Salma Nella, and 4 of her babies on Facebook. He said he found them in the barn. Unfortunately, by that time, two of the babies had died. He took the mother hen and remaining 4 little ones into the house and placed them in an old aquarium with a heat lamp. I have no idea what the chicks' chances are of surviving. I do know it's not normal for them to hatch so late in the year. After all, today is the first day of December, hence, the title of my post. Have any of you ever heard of farm animals like chickens breeding in the winter? I hope that if they survive, their paths don't cross with another animal that devours them, and I wonder what names they'll be given.

Yesterday was a busy day for me as is today. I had lunch with the group of friends that tries to get together every month, although it's not always possible. I've mentioned before that I'm one of those people who have lunch early - at 1 p.m. When we get together on Saturday for lunch now, we don't eat until after 3.30, because my friend's institute doesn't close until 3 p.m. 

Today, apart from my usual class preparations, I'll have to iron my comforter cover, which is cotton and looks awful if I don't, and maybe a few other things that could use a touch-up. Later on, I'll be mixing up the dough for icebox rolls, which I'll be taking to some Spanish friends' house on Wednesday evening for another Christmas dinner. Then it's the usual Chinese dinner on Thursday. Thank goodness, next Friday is a holiday, which should give me a head start on making some holiday goodies like buckeyes. 

Well, the Christmas lights have gone up in Madrid. I haven't seen any of them except in photos, and we may not see them lit up for long if those responsible for turning them on go on strike like they've threatened. The street cleaners' strike has finished, hopefully to the satisfaction of the workers. If the lamp lighters, or whatever they're called, go on strike, it will make the city look sad. If they are also responsible for the street lights, then it will be a different kettle of fish. I certainly don't want to be out walking in the dark because a street light has gone out and isn't replaced.

I know most who have had a nice 4-day weekend must be feeling a little down today. Hope you all enjoy your last few hours of holiday and have a wonderful week. Won't be long until Christmas!