Sunday, 28 December 2014

Our Late Christmas Day Meal

You may not know this, but almost no one goes to bed early on Christmas Eve, which is one of the three big days at Christmas in Spain; the other two being New Year's Eve and the 6th of January when the Three Kings bring presents. Don't think that Santa isn't unknown here, because some lucky kids get presents from him too.

I calculate the time in the photo to be anywhere from 4.30 pm to 4.45. The turkey is just out of the oven. This is the chef, my friend June who I've known since I first came to Spain. I posted a photo of my rolls on Facebook, so I won't post those again. However, here's a photo of us last year and I seem to be showing off my rolls.
 With me: Jaime, June's brother-in-law; Jesse, June and Enrique's son; and Alicia, Jaime's wife and Enrique's sister. Jaime and Alicia's children Sergio and Laura didn't get in this photo. The photos from this year's meal seem to just be of us eating and not looking at the camera. Everything was delicious and I always go back for seconds as do others.

Needless to say, we all enjoyed ourselves immensely. I laughed at the story about June and Alicia shopping. Alicia had a pair of pijamas hanging on her arm and was carrying several other things which she was going to buy. She paid for everything except the PJ's and they left the shop. As they were walking away to the car, Alicia suddenly saw the pijamas still hanging off her arm. She asked June what they should do and June said run. So they did. Funnily enough, they said good-by to the security guard in the shop and no alarms went off.

One of my gifts was a pair of pijamas that I don't think were stolen by accident. Pijamas and socks are among my favourite presents to receive and I got both. I love books too and won one in a Facebook group.The only thing I would change about the day or the meal is that Alicia 'carves' the turkey and she cuts it way too thick. I was thinking about getting June an electric knife for her birthday. That's what we always used to carve with.

Hope everyone enjoyed your Christmas as much as I. Have a good week and hope to talk to you before the new year.


Sunday, 21 December 2014

Christmas Lights and Crowds

Every year I say the same thing! This is the last time I'm going to the centre at Christmas. As you may remember, I'm not a lover of crowds, and that's exactly what I found - people everywhere. I had to circle around to get into the building where I used to work as it was show time at our Macy's or Harrod's, better known as El Corte Inglés. 

I had lunch at the restaurant where we always used to celebrate Christmas with some colleagues who like me are no longer working there. I didn't talk to any of them a lot, because we usually just sit with the people that we're still in touch with, and to tell the truth I wasn't too keen on going but did so to support Chris and the institute that is continuing.

I don't know whose idea it was, but Chris, Judy and I started walking back home after the lunch to look at the Christmas lights, or so we said. We did see and appreciate a few, like the Gate of Alcalá (see photo) all lit up. The Town Hall, which is actually a palace that cost less money when it was built than my flat cost me, was lovely too. But oh, it was painful walking past so many who were also looking at and photographing the lights.

 In the end, Chris and I walked all the way home and Judy finally caught the underground. Chris and I live in the same area of Madrid which is about 5 kilometres from the centre. Wouldn't you know we saw an accident between a car that was stopped at the pedestrian crossing we were crossing at that moment and a motorbike. We think the motorcyclist ran into the back of the car. Luckily there was a traffic warden there, and we don't think the guy was badly hurt.

I was almost not going to the centre for another reason too yesterday. On Friday while I was making lunch, I suddenly felt sick and dizzy. I had the windows open a bit in the kitchen and the fumes from whatever they're doing in the basement were coming in. It smelled like the workmen were using some type of diesel machine from the smell and noise. I immediately thought that I could be getting intoxicated by carbon monoxide and closed the interior windows but opened the ones to the street. On Friday evening when I came back from class, I could still smell the fumes in the hall. I feel a lot better today. At lunch yesterday I drank no more than a glass of wine. Since I don't like cava (champagne to the French) I only took a token sip to toast Christmas.

Other than my trip to the centre, the only other thing I've done is make goodies and make goodies. I'm supposed to meet up with some Spanish friends later on. Hope it's not too late, because I have classes in the morning instead of the afternoon and have nothing much prepared for them.

Hope everyone is getting what needs doing before Christmas done. I, as always, am behind. Have a good week of Christmas and hope to see you on here or on Facebook.                                     

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Cookin' Up a Storm

Or should I say cooking up a rain. Yesterday started our typical Christmas weather with rain most of the day and continuing into today. Anyway, I think I've got my goodie bags prepared for Wednesday evening, which will include that homemade body butter I made last week, homemade dressing mixes and/or buckeyes and these teacakes.

Yesterday my friend June and I went to a crafts fair. Boy, was it ever crowded at the time we arrived. It thinned out somewhat round the 'aperitif hour', so we were finally able to look at things and talk to the people we knew there. My friends from two bee-z (who made my Christmas tree) were thrilled that there was such a crowd. I can't say I bought a lot - a few gifts for some friends (reindeer pins) and the dragonflies hanging on my tree (not that they're very visible).
The three reindeer standing in front of the tree are on a Christmas card I got from my friend Sara. I almost gave her a card with three reindeer on it, and I bought three reindeer pins that I mentioned earlier.

I have two possibly three Christmas meals this week. One of them is in the centre of town which is always super crowded at this time of the year. You can tell I'm not fond of conglomerations of people, can't you?

As one of my friends says: I'm going to love you and leave you. Hope everyone has a pleasant almost Christmas week.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Pinterest And Post Secret

This is the second day of my 3-day weekend. Yes, I'm finally getting a holiday. So what have I been doing? Probably the same as many of you - getting ready for Christmas, that is. I still haven't got my 'different' tree, but have added a few decorations round the house.

I haven't done a lot of cooking yet, but will be looking at my supplies later to see what I need for the goodies that I make to give as gifts at Christmas, namely buckeyes (chocolate-covered peanut butter balls), Mexican wedding cookies (also called Russian teacakes), and sometimes for the kids I make sugar cookies. Remember last year I got a beautiful picture in exchange for the teacakes.

The photo above shows some of the body butter I made for some of my friends. I wish I had more of these tiny jars, because I think the size is perfect for  stocking stuffers. I'm not happy with how the bells are positioned as some are droopy, so I'll be re-doing them. I'm sort of a perfectionist, at least I try my best.

The recipe for the body butter was simple to make, and I found it on Pinterest. The ingredients are coconut oil, shea butter, jojoba oil and one of the essential oils I got from a company in France. When the recipe called for 1/4 cup each of shea butter and coconut oil and said the whipped butter would equal a cup, I was a bit dubious. However, it certainly made more than what you see in these little pots. I have discovered so many interesting ideas and recipes on Pinterest. It's become one of my favourite addictive sites.

My other favourite webpage is Post Secret. This is one site I've followed since its beginning. If you're not familiar with Post Secret, it's filled with people's secrets that they've sent probably with the hopes of seeing them published on the internet. Some of the secrets are funny while others are sad or even disgusting. The cool thing about the postcards that the secrets are written on is that they are, in general, homemade. I remember one of  Richard Simmons lying in a bowl of salad which made me laugh.

Since I've written about one of my homemade projects, here are a couple of photos from the show I went to last week. I'll be attending another one this Saturday. Hope to find some more gifts then. The next one will be in a church hall.

Hope everyone is feeling blessed on this Sunday, and hope you have a good week.  

Sunday, 30 November 2014

It's Coming! It's Coming!

Hope my talented sister Diana doesn't mind my using one of her photos. Yesterday she posted this and three other photos of her creations on facebook. I chose the first photo she posted, but let me assure you the other three lamps are just as lovely. She doesn't post a lot on facebook - just for birthdays and things she makes. I'm going to show one of my friends who has a lot of talent too what my sister has made. Yesterday afternoon, Chris and I went to a craft show hosted by Elvira, whose house it was in, and my friend Inma. Together, they call themselves two bee-z. They do a lot of beautiful work with wooden pallets - things I love, but which are a bit too big for my little place.

Before going to the craft show, we went out for our monthly lunch, and I got another birthday present. By the way, we had meatballs again. Wednesday evening was when I officially celebrated my birthday. It was a bit of a disaster for Chris, because she had an emergency meeting after work and didn't get to the restaurant until nearly 11 pm! Of course, we'd been there since 9.30, so we'd finished by the time she got there. Oh well, the dangers of having your own business.

Here's one of the presents I got at the restaurant. I know from looking at it you might think cologne (I got that too). That's what I thought at first was in the bottles. One of those lovely bottles contains oil and the other one vinegar. I received so many nice gifts, which I won't list in detail. One of them came from my sister Jackie. She sent a necklace with a stone that matches my ring. The necklace arrived a few minutes after another 'present'.

Don't they say bad things come in threes, it never rains but it pours, etc.? Not too long ago it was a short circuit and problems with the alarm. On Tuesday my printer stopped printing. The only thing it wanted to do was eat the paper. Now I'm pretty technically-minded and patient, so I tried and tried to get it working again. By Thursday, I'd decided the only solution was to get a new one, since it would almost certainly have cost more to have it repaired than to get a new one. That's the 'present' that arrived. I finally got a wifi printer!

Hope everybody enjoyed their Thanksgiving dinners. I can't believe it's coming, it's coming! Christmas is but a few weeks away. Hopefully next Monday I'll have off and can start some preparations. It must be so difficult for those who've been off work to face Monday. Hope it isn't as bad as you imagine and your week is even better.   

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Short Shorts

After a short debate with myself, short shorts is the title I've chosen for this week's post. Firstly because I've had a very ordinary week with not much going on, I've decided to minimize my blog. Ordinary can be good, don't you think?

I finally decided to get my hair cut this past week. Since my university days, I've worn my hair short. I know I should go to the hairdresser's more often as it is, but I generally find some excuse to leave it until it's impossible to do anything with it. When I called to make an appointment for Tuesday morning, I thought I'd dialled the wrong number as a male voice came onto the line. He assured me that yes I'd called the right number, so finally, after so many years going to the same hairdresser's, I get my hair cut by a male hairdresser. I've always said that I prefer to have my hair cut by a man, because they understand when I say I want my hair short and that it is, short short. I don't think he's been a hairdresser for long. It took him about 45 minutes to cut my hair, but I'm pleased with the results.

Today is my birthday as perhaps those of you who are on facebook are aware. My photo shows a lovely warm jacket from my friend Cielo. I don't really need another jacket as jackets and coats are like others' shoe addiction. In other words, I have too many. I love the colour though, and it's reversible. Our weather has warmed up some so that it's a bit too warm for the jacket at the moment.

For all of you who are celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope you have a safe enjoyable holiday. I won't be having turkey and dressing until Christmas (I hope). I've chosen a Greek restaurant to celebrate my birthday with friends. 

I do ask those of you who pray to pray for my friend June. She's having tests. She was at first diagnosed as having a bladder infection. Now doctors think it might be kidney stones. I know how worried she is. 

Wishing all a happy Thanksgiving and week. 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Fireworks and Other Sparks

I know that November is a special month. After all it's my birth month, Thanksgiving for some and Guy Fawkes Night, which is where the fireworks come in or they should. Instead, I woke up during the night on Monday to sparks coming out of the wall near the fuse box. The show seemed to go on for a couple of minutes before it finally stopped.

To say last week was a difficult week for me is putting it mildly. By the time Wednesday rolled around, I'd had first the technician from the alarm company in as there was a conflict between the alarm and my internet connection. It's the second time they've been in to solve the problem between the alarm and the fiber optics connection. In the end, he put in a new alarm. That was Tuesday morning and the day it was raining buckets, so you can imagine between the repairs and the rain what my floors looked like.

 When the electrician came to fix my short circuit on Wednesday, I was already without lights in the living room and bedroom and this left me without a landline phone, internet and the bloomin' alarm. The alarm kept reminding me every so often that there was a failure. I was freezing, because last week was wet and cold and I couldn't put on the heating. I was shivering more from fear of how much the repairs were going to cost. At first, the electrician said I'd need a new box, which in the end he decided wasn't necessary after he'd repaired the burnt wires. Best of all, the repairs were free as I would only have to pay the materials. So for now I've got electricity, phone and internet. The bad part here is these aren't free.

Kris in a comment on my post last week asked about the winters in Madrid. I know this sounds strange given the dry summers with extremely low humidity levels, but I actually find the winters colder in Madrid than the ones I remember from Kentucky, and I think it's because the humidity goes up in the winter. At this moment we have 75% humidity that we'd almost never see in the summer. At least today we've got some sun mixed in with the clouds.

Hope next week I have more pleasant topics to write about. It would be wonderful if I always had exciting things to share, but that doesn't often happen. I know some of you think that what you have to say isn't interesting, so you stay away. I'm always happy to see when you've posted something. No matter how dull my week has been, I enjoy sitting down and writing about it.

Wishing everyone a pleasant week ahead. I know how busy some are going to be soon. 

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Duvet's On The Bed!

Who would have guessed just a week ago when people were still sitting outside at night having dinner in restaurants that this week would be hurry up and put the winter quilt on the bed and put on the heat! Well, autumn has finally made an appearance, and it looks like it's here to stay for a while.

Most British people call this kind of quilt a continental quilt. It was one of my purchases when I went to England years ago. At that time nobody knew what they were in Spain. I've slept under electric blankets but much prefer a continental quilt, although maybe an electric blanket is easier to control. The continental quilt uses your body heat to keep you warm, so I've discovered wearing more clothes to bed doesn't make me so hot. I've managed to find a couple of covers for it that aren't too 'loud' as they tend to be sometimes. The only problem there is the company I got them from no longer exists.

Tomorrow is a holiday for most I suppose - not for me as I have class in the afternoon. I won't complain too much, because most of my friends work on Saturdays. The problem with this is when we have lunch together on Saturdays, like yesterday, it's always after 3 p.m. It was good to see our friend Judy who just got back from the US. Too bad she missed the verotoño, or all that lovely weather, here.

I have to share a funny story with you before I call it quits for this week. On Fridays, I sometimes have coffee with my friend Cielo. I saw she had some lovely roses and asked her who had bought them for her. She told me she'd bought them for herself and the two bunches of 8 of the small buds only cost 2 euros. That's 1 euro for 8 roses! I told her I'd seen a report on TV about this 'miracle' creme selling in the supermarket Lidl for 2 euros, and, of course, people were fighting to buy it. The supermarket was limiting 4 jars per customer. You can't imagine the number of people waiting for the supermaket to open! She laughed and said she saw the roses in the next shop when she'd stopped in at Lidl's to buy that creme. Sadly, but logically, the shelves were empty of the 'miracle' creme. If you find it, it's called Cien Q10. 

Hope you enjoyed my story and that you have a good week too.


Sunday, 2 November 2014

Getting Ready for Winter

The other day when I was reading my friend Terri's post, I remembered a funny 'nightmare' I'd had the night before. I was travelling somewhere, though I don't know where. A taxi had been called and was waiting for me at the top of a steep hill. Oh how I love climbing hills - not! Since the taxi had arrived, I was hurrying to leave, but remembered to grab my Kindle. Then someone told me it was going to get cold. I, of course, was dressed for summer and hadn't bothered taking a jacket or coat. Wherever my destination was, I found one of my old jackets there, so I at least had something to keep me warm.

When I first came to Spain and lived in a building with central heating, the heating was always turned on the first day of November and went off the last day of March no matter what the temperature was, which almost always was still too cold to be without heating of some kind. Now I don't have central heating, but haven't had to put the heating on yet, but it's just a matter of days before it'll start getting cold inside too.

As you can see from my photo, I've started taking out my winter clothes, washing what needs washing and ironing that pile you see on the right. This is just part of it, but I'll leave some for tomorrow night or Tuesday. That's one of my warmest pullovers hanging there. I don't need to iron it, but the only way I could get a good shot of it was hang it up temporarily. My friend Chris made it for me more than 20 years ago, and it's still in perfect condition even if it has stretched a bit. I don't mind that at all, because it covers my butt. As for the ironing unless it's something that just needs a touch-up, I can only do it if I'm listening to music. How do you make ironing less boring?

Our Indian meal to celebrate Chris's birthday was okay. This particular restaurant is popular and always full I suppose because it's very chic, but it's also more expensive and the service is extremely slow. For some reason the owner, who is Aborigine from Australia is the only one who takes the orders. On Wednesday night it was nice enough for people to still have dinner outside, so logically there were more people than usual, with all the tables outside full too. Another problem we had was that one of our friends didn't see the message about the Wednesday night celebration. I felt bad about that, but posted the message to our group on Whatsapp. Like Terri, I'm so looking forward to having the time to do what I want to do. Maybe I can organize the gatherings better then.

I'm sure my post next week will include something about the cold weather. As a matter of fact, the mountains will get some snow on Tuesday and we'll be getting some rain. Good-by sunshine, hello darkness. The time change has brought us night at 6 p.m. anyway. Still, hope we all have a good week.  

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Verotoño and Chocolate

I posted on my facebook page the other day that I'd learnt a new word in Spanish - a combination of the word for summer 'verano' and 'otoño' for autumn. Of course, it hasn't made it into the Royal Academy Dictionary yet. It does, however, describe the kind of weather we've been having most of this month, which is more summer than fall.

To fully understand how warm it's been (unless you come for a visit), on Tuesday morning I went to our version of 'Harrod's'. Unless I'm in a hurry, I always walk there, because it's only two stops on the underground. Going was fine wearing my light jacket, but coming back I was sweating. It didn't help that the jacket was lined with that silky material. One of my Spanish friends the other day was saying how it had been so mild in her village up North that all the good wild mushrooms were full of worms. There are certainly enough insects out here. Surely the temperatures will go down to normal for this time of the year soon. It's great not having to put on the heating though.

Today we got an extra hour in bed, and our Sunday will have 25 hours. I woke up the time I usually do wondering why it was so quiet outside. As much as I enjoy having that extra hour (who doesn't?), I wish they'd just leave the time alone. I remember how my dog always told me when her internal clock told her it was time to go out. It must be as confusing for animals as it is annoying for some of us.

As I'm the social secretary for my group of friends, I've booked an Indian restaurant to celebrate our friend Chris's birthday, which falls on Halloween, but she'll be away then, so we're celebrating this week. I also have to make her two cakes to take to her work on Thursday. Have I mentioned that before? Anyway, it'll be a busy week for me. How about you?

The photo I'm sharing this week is of the Spanish hot chocolate I made last night. In case you're not familiar with this type of hot chocolate, it's a thick chocolate that people traditionally dip churros or porras into as these are just like unsweetened doughnuts fried in a lot of oil. 

I know some of you will have had a busy weekend, and I look forward to sharing your doings. Wishing you a good last week of October and hope Halloween isn't too scary.


Sunday, 19 October 2014

Now I'm Cookin'!

Outside our weather is almost like early summer. Inside, however, it's chilly. As a matter of fact, my hands are a bit cold sitting here in front of the computer, and I must have got cold in bed the other night because I dreamt that I'd put on the heating (haven't yet). My solution is to start using the oven more, and what better way than to make something like banana nut bread from some too ripe bananas.

 I must admit that the banana bread in the photo is from a previous loaf, but I'll be making more goodies later on this month. It's my friend Chris's birthday on the 31st and she's requested two cakes to take to work - a chocolate cake and a pineapple upside down cake, so I'll need to buy more eggs and pineapple.

Just as soon as it cooled down, I made a batch of cornbread mix and made a pan full to enjoy for a few days, or I thought I'd be enjoying it for a few days. One night after work I took out a couple of squares to have with my dinner and discovered mould on all of it, which was more or less half the pan. I'm not sure if it was because I put the cornbread in a zipper bag and left it out or what. As I stated at the beginning, it's warmer outside than in my house. Anyway, the next time I make it, I'll store it differently. I'm grateful to one of my Multiply friends for sharing the link for recipes in a jar where I found the recipe for cornbread mix. Luckily, we can get cornmeal, because of the number of Latinos who live here.

Another one of my recipes that I'll have to put on hold is the recipe for my laundry detergent since one of the necessary ingredients is temporarily, I hope, out of stock. I'm sure I've mentioned before that borax is something that you can find only in very small quantities in Europe, because it's been deemed harmful to the environment. I've found a recipe that calls for citric acid, which is the ingredient I need. According to the internet, it can be found at supermarkets. Well, I haven't found it at any that I go to. It's something that I order from my homeopathic pharmacy.

My post today is going to be all about food and recipes. We met up for lunch yesterday at the place where my friends and I usually eat at the first of the month, which surprised them at the restaurant. There were only four of us, but one of our friends we hadn't seen since before summer. She's retired and goes to the beach for the whole summer. After lunch I'd been home about 2 hours when her husband called me to ask if I knew where she was. I told him she'd gone to see the new language academy with Chris. I called Chris and also sent her a WhatsApp, called Enrique back and gave him Chris's number. Apparently her telephone was switched off too. To make a long story short, he called me not long afterwards to let me know she'd finally come home. She'd been with Chris while she was cleaning up (they don't have anyone to do the cleaning yet), and anyway they live in another neighbourhood and she was using public transport.

That's my week gone. Hope yours was a good one and hope Monday doesn't come too soon for you. Have a good week.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Door Knobs and Double Troubles

Two of my favourite treats have to be door knobs and double troubles. Don't even think yuck before you know what they are! 

One day after school when I was about 11, my mother put a couple of what I thought were door knobs in my hand. I, of course, told her I didn't want those door knobs. I don't know if any of you in your houses had door knobs that were round and were made of glass or marble and were really pretty; in ours, they were a dark brown. Ever since that day, I've loved door knobs or devil's food chocolate cookie cakes. That's an empty box, by the way. I tried to ration them as much as possible.

Now for the double troubles named by my brother James, who is now called Jim by everyone except his brothers and sisters. We don't know know why he called fig bars by that name except the first time he saw them he said. 'Uh oh! Double trouble!' Or maybe because there were two rows of them. The only thing that has changed with Fig Newtons (and they have to be Fig Newtons) is they've shrunk greatly in size. Tell me, who couldn't eat a whole box? So there you have the explanation of this week's blog. Do you have special names for things, especially treats?

As you can imagine, the only topic on the news these days is Ebola. I don't know how the assistant nurse is doing, because I never watch TV or listen to the radio at the weekend. I did see on the internet a nurse in Texas has tested positive for it. I wonder what the story will be about how she contracted it. It all sounds fishy to me. I guess I'm one of those people who are always thinking 'conspiracy'.

Despite the sun being out, we've had our share of rain these past few days. I'm not thinking about going out today as I have too many other things to keep me occupied inside, but hope it waits until tonight to rain if it's going to. I've said before that October is a good time to visit Spain as it's not too hot, but maybe I'm wrong. I laughed the other day because I saw it was sunny in London and pouring in Madrid.

Hope everybody has a good week ahead. Can I say how quickly time is passing?

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Feet and Feathers

Not a lot going on around me as I've just started classes again, and I've already seen how many of our holidays fall on a Saturday this course. Well, for the people who work on Saturdays that's good news, and here's some other good news I have to share.

The most talked about item the week I got back was the arrest of the 'paedophile of Cuidad Lineal'. Cuidad Lineal is an area of Madrid just crossing the bridge from where I live where this monster kidnapped and raped very young children. I'm sure I'd mentioned in another blog that one of his victims was a 6-year-old Chinese girl who spent nearly a month in hospital recovering from her physical wounds. He drugged all his victims (except the last one) and bathed them before leaving them near an underground station or a place where they would be found. This sicko is still not convinced that the police have any evidence against him. I just pray that one way or another he's punished. He's a violent criminal who needs taking down. I really wish they'd change the existing laws so people like him spend the rest of their days behind bars. At least for now he's off the streets.

The new English academy directed by my friend Chris is up and running in the area. Little by little, the word will get out that Briam, now under the name of Briam A+, is back in the neighbourhood, so I hope they do well. Our friend Cathy is also working here as her contract wasn't renewed at the school she worked at due to lack of students - very unfortunate for the higher level classes as she was the only native teacher there.

This is my feet and feathers (everything) for this week. The chicken is one of my brother-in-law's. She kind of blends into the driveway there. He has all kinds of different chickens and at least one with green legs and feet. Hope everyone's week is a good one.


Sunday, 28 September 2014

My Away Time

This is how I spent some of my time away from Blogger, although I did turn up to comment on friends' blogs and post a few photos of clouds and sunsets on Facebook.
This is the standard photo of the family reunion of all 8 brothers and sisters. The day was beautiful and sunny, but the wind was cold. As a matter of fact, I wore a jacket almost all the time I was in the US. The park where we always try to meet up since there are so many of us is in the Daniel Boone National Forest near my old university.
The next event is before the start of the Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club play at the Marx Theatre in Cincinnati Ohio. Despite the serious title, there were some laughable moments. Incidentally the spell checker underlines the word theatre. Once again it's wrong, because my ticket for the play puts Marx Theatre. And those people behind us enjoying our photo are strangers. My sister wasn't well in this photo, so hope she's feeling better now.
One of the places we usually go to when I'm there is Glendale. One of the things special about Glendale Ohio is the statues of squirrels that there are all around the town. I posted some of these photos on Multiply a few years back. This time Glendale wasn't as nice as they were preparing for a Beer and Food festival, and for me the pub food wasn't as good as it normally is - the chips were burnt. This old fire engine was sitting next to the railroad tracks. It's one of the few photos I got from Glendale this time. By the way, Glendale's fire engines are black. In Spain they're only red. What colour are your fire engines?
Another day we went to cross the Purple People Bridge between Ohio and Kentucky. This street painting was in Newport on the Levee. Do you see the man standing by the horse and barrels of Guinness? There was a praying mantis on the man's coat sleeve. The little fellow was almost invisible, but I managed to post him on Facebook.
After a late lunch, we went for a walk in the Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park. This mirrored structure was like a house of mirrors. I took a photo of me in different forms inside it. However, it's one of my 'artistic' photos that I'm not including.
Finally a photo where I'm not wearing a jacket! Although the webpage says the park was finished in 2003, this was as far as we could go. The rest was blocked off and under some type of construction. I jokingly said that my sister and I got in the way of the photo my brother-in-law was taking. He loves trains and magazines about them.
This lovely flower with the river in the background is the last one I'm sharing. When we started our walk, there were some clouds. Just look at the sky now!

Last but not least, I have a confession to make. Earlier I complained about burnt chips. Well, I made some of my usually delicious rolls and burnt the heck out of them! I just blamed it on my sister's oven and the fact that's it's in Fahrenheit. Anyway, hope you've enjoyed reading my post and that your week is a good one. Oh, no! Back to normal!


Friday, 15 August 2014

Blogiversary and a Sabbatical

Today marks my second anniversary using Blogger. That first post, for me anyway, was bittersweet as I was missing a site not everyone has heard of, and a site that's no longer important since it no longer exists. So, I thought I'd give a shout out to celebrate the day. Besides, this will be my last post for a while. I'll still read what others post and leave comments too; I just won't be writing my weekly post. For those who are on Facebook, I'll also keep in touch with you there.

The last couple of days have been heavenly weatherwise. I love not having to use any type of artificial cooling machines other than the fridge. Yesterday I went out for lunch with a friend, and I loved both what we ate - meatballs - and being able to walk down the street without looking for the shade. We each had 4 big meatballs. Neither of us was able to finish the tomato and cheese salad, but I ate all 4 meatballs. My friend took her remaining meatball home to her dog. Lucky Scruffy!

Last week I mentioned the problem of falling tree limbs in Madrid. Now several areas are suffering from a plague of insects that are eating the leaves, causing tremendous damage to trees. Apart from stripping the poor trees, they're being a nuisance to people, because the bugs are entering the homes, especially at night when windows are wide open. Unless the city does something to stop these insects, they'll surely spread to other areas. 

I'll leave you with a couple of photos - my artsy take on the recent full moon and my friend Chris's cat. Another friend and I have been going in a couple of times a week to check on her. Going more often isn't really necessary as her sister-in-law is staying there. Enjoy what's left of Friday.


Sunday, 10 August 2014

What's in a Name?

For those of you who don't know where you are, look up and you may, if there isn't any greenery in the way, see the name of the street. In this part of the world you'll find the street names on the buildings. When you don't know the area and you're desperately looking for a certain street, you often wish that balcony there on the corner didn't have such lovely plants hanging down, or if only that tree wasn't so tall. 

This particular street in the photo is one I've walked in since I've lived in Madrid. It's where my old language school was located before it was sold and an apartment block built in its place, and I still live around the corner from the street. However, compare the names in the two photos.(Sorry, the sign looks a little dirty in that first photo).

Can you see the name of the street in the first photo is Francisco de Navacerrada and in the second one Francisco Navacerrada = the right name. Somebody messed up when they made that first sign! 

The shop windows under the sign in the second photo advertise flats and places for sale. It's right next door to where our institute was. I've seen a video of one of the apartments for sale (haven't been in the building). I must say although the apartments are small, the kitchen was completely furnished and the distribution of the rooms was well-planned. I, however, have no intention of going there to live as it's probably got ghosts. LOL.

When it's hot and I'm out, I always try to walk on the side of the street with the most shade. Since the beginning of summer, 15 limbs have fallen from trees around Madrid. The first one we heard about happened in Retiro Park. The limb fell on a young father and killed him. He was able to push his two children out of the way, but how sad. A few cars have been damaged by falling limbs, and, on Thursday I think it was, a big limb fell onto an outdoor cafe in the centre. A couple of people were slightly hurt. They were lucky in that the parasol under which they were sitting cushioned the blow. I heard an 'expert' claim the other day that there was nothing the matter with the trees in Madrid. Well, I don't remember hearing of so many limbs down without there being a storm. Now it seems we have to look up for weak limbs too.

It's been a 'red' weekend for me as I've made gazpacho, and earlier today I made pisto gallego, which uses some of the same ingredients as gazpacho. While gazpacho isn't cooked, pisto is. Nobody can say I haven't got my vegetables in this weekend. I'll have pisto for a couple of days for sure.

That's me for this Sunday. Wishing everyone a wonderful week.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Dust Bunny Fun

Since I haven't had class I've been cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. The last time I took everything out from under the bed to capture all the dust bunnies like the one in the photo was at Easter. Actually this bunny came from a photo I borrowed from the internet. I'm not that talented nor were there enough to make an art piece. I did find lots of lint and about 10 clothes pegs under the washer when I pulled it out as much as possible. Unless someone has a cleaning lady that does all these chores, I imagine they'll have quite a bit of stuff under their washing machine too.

If I didn't realize it before, I do now. I have too many clothes. I've finally got all my winter things washed, and I've already gone through them twice picking out things I didn't wear this past winter. So I've decided if I buy anything for the coming winter, it'll just be no more than a couple of pairs of jeans.

Yesterday morning I was taking things out of the kitchen cupboards to clean them out when the phone rang. It was a friend telling me she was sending her husband with some lavender that she'd promised me a while back. I just had time to throw on some clothes as I was wearing one of those short dorm shirts and to clear the table off a bit. He also brought me about a kilo of peaches.

This is how I prepared a pot of soup beans today. As always I put some type of fat, in this case bacon, to give them a down home flavour. This time I added a lettuce leaf because one of my friends says it absorbs the gas. I had some for lunch and so far so good. Although I took the lettuce leaf out before I served the beans, there were bits of it still in the soup. The lettuce leaf and the bits didn't change the taste, but I wish Spanish brown beans were as nice as American brown beans. The lentils, chick peas and other types of legumes are delicious. It's just the brown beans that are different.

Our weekend weather has been wonderful, not too awfully hot and cooler at night. The temperatures will start going up tomorrow though. Tomorrow I start visiting my friend Chris's cat. Her sister-in-law is there at the weekend, so another friend and I only have to go Monday to Thursday.

I guess I'll leave you and see what mischief I can get up to. Hope everybody has a good week.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

It's Greek to Me

Our summer lunch in the centre yesterday was at a Greek restaurant, and, of course, I had moussaka. The moussaka was nice and there wasn't any dancing even though we were in the touristy part of town (very near the police station we were at a couple of weeks ago). Besides, the part of the restaurant where we were was tiny.

 There was, however, some 'entertainment' that I'm glad I didn't have to watch as I was sitting with my back to the door and the tables behind. While we were eating, a woman with four young children, two of which were twin babies, came into the restaurant. The first thing one of my friends noticed was the waiter gave one of the babies a lighter to play with. The baby, like all babies, immediately stuck the lighter in his mouth. Who would give a baby a lighter to play with? The worst is yet to come. The mother changes one of the babies' soiled nappy (diaper), puts the dirty wipes and nappy on the table and does the same with the other baby. Thank goodness some of us only got the description of the scene. We deduced that the woman and children were probably the waiter's family. Still, such behaviour has no place in public where people are eating. Don't worry, we won't be going back to that place. Should I write a review of this restaurant and put it on the page of reservations for restaurants that I use? You remember I'm the social secretary for my group.

Other news and wonderful news at that: my friend, who is continuing with our old language academy, has decided to start up a smaller version in my neighbourhood. I won't be working there, but I'm very happy for them and imagine they will do well. I won't be here when they start enrollment for classes, but hope she, or somebody, finds time to send me a Whatsapp. I'm so pleased that they're getting on their feet and would love to see the ex-director's reaction when she hears about it. She closed the institute just because she wanted to retire, disregarding other people's desire to continue.

That's about it for this week. Nothing to say except hope everyone has a good week. Oh, it's the end of July! Tomorrow is my baby sister's birthday.


Sunday, 20 July 2014

Weekend Delight

Not too long ago I saw a video of the chaotic traffic in San Francisco in the 1930's. Although the traffic in the Gran Via, our Main Street/High Street, wasn't nearly as chaotic in this photo as it usually is now, you can see the pedestrians crossing the street wherever they want - some people still do. This photo was taken in 1949. Yesterday when we were in the Gran Via, we saw a group that we imagined to be pickpockets. Needless to say, everyone held onto their bags. According to one of the newspapers, the police have identified 25 different groups operating in the centre. The thieves would have had slim pickings at the outdoor cafes because we had a very cool day and the cafes were empty. I heard one girl exclaim, "Qué frio hace!" Spanish people don't always dress for the weather.

All last week was blazing hot in most parts of Spain. A couple of days I saw over 100º F on Yahoo. In Écija, a town near Seville, the other day they showed an egg frying on the street. I kid you not! Then yesterday we had that lovely cool day, so we didn't try to walk on the shady side of the streets as there wasn't any sun until about 6 p.m. Today it's still pleasant out, but no fears the temperatures are going up again. Oh, and our Indian meal was nice - not many customers though.

To those of you who've been blogging for a while, do you remember those posts that started Out my window... I'm wearing...? Well, the fire brigade were down the street from my house. I'm not sure why and from my windows I couldn't see anything except the vehicle.

This is me for the week. Since it's not too hot, I'm going to do some things that need doing round the house. I managed to clean the tiles in the bathroom last week and had a sauna at the same time. I think I've mentioned that here the tiles go from the floor to the ceiling. That's a lot of tiles to clean, not to mention I have tiles in the kitchen which logically I have to clean more often.

Wishing everyone a happy week. July is slipping away, isn't it?

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Summer's in the Bag

I've just commented on my friend Terri's page that I use the same bag all the time. It's not stylish and it's not leather, but it serves its purpose. Not only does it serve its purpose of containing all the things I have to carry, but it's served me well these past two years. The only complaint I have is about the weight. I've taken out my phone yet I see no difference in weight. Another thing I'll have to see if I can de-clutter!

The past two Saturdays I've had lunch out in the centre. If you've read my post from last week, you know that we didn't have the best experience. Yesterday we ate at the Mexican again and somebody probably had too many margaritas. It's the only place I'll have margaritas because they're sour and not sweet. Over the years the size of the glasses has got smaller. Next Saturday we're going to an Indian. I'm going to look at the restaurant page online and see if they offer a discount. If I'd booked the Mexican online, we could have got a 30% discount, except on drinks. The problem is we never know how many people are going to show up.

As you can see from my title, it's finally getting hot. As a matter of fact, by Wednesday it's supposed to get up to 100º F according to the internet, and my friend Jenny says the weather forecast on the internet is always right. I love seeing the Mediterranean blue skies but don't love the heat.  I'm going to try and keep my place as cool as possible for as long as possible. I shouldn't complain though, because so far I haven't had to put on the air.

I hope everyone has had a more exciting week than I, and that you have a good week ahead.


Sunday, 6 July 2014

Lost in Translation

It's so strange how what starts out happy and fun can turn out badly. Yesterday I was having lunch with a group of friends and ex-colleagues at a restaurant in the centre of town. It's a restaurant in a pedestrian street, one that we've eaten at numerous times before. Since it wasn't too hot, we decided to eat outside. We were laughing about the English translations of the dishes, especially the 'menestra de verduras', or mixed vegetables, was translated 'pottage gives vegetables'. This was especially funny because Pottage is the surname of one of our group who wasn't there with us. I'm not sure if you can see this page of the menu. I've scanned it and a couple more pages and will give it to my friend to use in her language school.

To make a long story short, because I know some of you have already seen this update on facebook, some time during the meal one of my friends' bag was stolen. Apparently there was a guy sitting behind us who didn't order anything. He had a leather jacket which would have been the perfect hiding place. A waitress in the restaurant thought he was Columbian, but somebody at our table thought he was Eastern European. I didn't see him as he was sitting behind me. I accompanied my friend to the police station, because I have the keys to her house and also to pay for her transport home. As we were getting ready to leave after reporting the theft, her bag turned up with everything in it except the money. mobile phone, tablet and some pens. 

Ironically during the meal, we were discussing how safe Madrid was, or that we weren't worried about getting shot down in the street by some crazy packing an arsenal of weapons. However, it doesn't matter how careful you try to be if someone is intent on robbing you, they will. We had also talked about meeting up every Saturday for lunch at the restaurant when the institute closes at 2 p.m. I don't know if we will now.

Our weather is still fairly nice. I touch wood as I say that my house continues to be cool. I posted a newspaper photo of the storm that we had on Thursday in Madrid on facebook. Some people I think thought all the hail was snow. My area didn't get it too badly. However, I know the farmers in a town called Villaconejos will probably lose most of their melon crop. Villaconejos (Rabbit Villa) is famous for its melons. I'd just seen a documentary a few days before about how they care for the melons by hiding them under the leaves so they don't get too much sun.

I hope everybody in the US had a good and safe holiday weekend. Hope your Monday isn't too bad and hope the rest of your week goes well.   

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Celebration Week

When I was younger, I always used to sunbathe, and, despite my pale skin, by summer's end I had quite a nice tan. I remember those of us who got Tuesday and Thursday afternoons off from work during the summer months (a real luxury) went directly to the swimming pool. This was a sports centre that had 3 separate swimming pools that we went to - one for women, one for men and one for families. We, of course, went to the women's as it was quieter. At this swimming pool, you weren't permitted to untie your bikini top or let down your straps so as not to get a mark. Women guards with truncheons would smack you on the back if they saw you with your halter undone. I avoided getting hit by wearing a one-piece that I could tie around my neck or in a bow in the front, which is what I did. Now nobody in Spain thinks twice about topless bathers, and I try to keep my skin white.

Tuesday of this past week I awoke to helicopters flying around. The police had arrested a group of suspected Islamic terrorists in the neighbourhood just crossing the bridge from where I live and in the neighbourhood where my friend Cathy still lives. It's a typical workman's neighbourhood where it's easy to blend in. Years ago some ETA terrorists were discovered there. Then on Friday afternoon there was a neighbourhood meeting with the local police in the park where my friend takes her dog. A paedophile (pedophile, in American English) has kidnapped two young girls by drugging them and washing them after he's finished with them and releasing them in a different neighbourhood. The police think he's possibly using an uninhabited apartment in the area. I pray that the police catch this beast before anyone else is hurt. His last victim, a little Chinese girl, is still in hospital.The police had better catch him first and soon!

Moving on to happier news, I'm excited because on Tuesday my flat will be officially 100% mine and 0% of the bank's. It's the day that I'll no longer owe a mortgage. I don't have any special plans except the normal ones for the week - as per usual the Chinese on Thursday. On Saturday, however, we're going to have lunch at one of our favourite Spanish restaurants in the centre.

Touch wood our summer hasn't been too hot so far, and it's lovely to sleep with the windows open unless it's noisy in the street, which unfortunately is a problem in the summer. Today a couple stopped right in front of my living room windows to argue. Funny how the TV puts me to sleep, but voices in the street keep me awake.

Anyway, some of you are lucky to have a nice long weekend. Hope you enjoy it. 

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Palmy Sunday

Although the climate of Madrid isn't ideal for palm trees, look how many there were in 1927! There are still a few that I know of near the Palace Hotel, one of our 5-star hotels. There may be more in other parts of Madrid that I'm not familiar with.

Today I'm going to be brief as I really haven't done anything worth talking about and nothing exciting has happened in my life. We didn't even go out for our weekly Chinese dinner. One, because it was tipping down with rain, and two, we were quite comfortable at home. Thursday, which is our usual day to go out, was a holiday in Madrid and the day Prince Philip became King Philip VI. I chose that as permission to laze around. The only things I did in the flat were I washed a summer quilt and cleaned the bathroom.

I've finally got a new mobile phone. I had a strange experience on Amazon and have no idea how it happened. I was  looking at some offers (not that I was thinking about buying a phone from Amazon) when somehow I 'purchased' a nearly 400 euro phone. Actually it was the phone I'd planned on getting from my carrier, and I did, for 69 euros. It drove me crazy the first couple of days with updates. At least now I don't have to worry about not having enough space.

Have a good first week of summer and thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Let Them Eat Cake

This is the cake that I make every summer for our family reunion for which I usually make an oblong one, so as not to have to take it out of the pan since it's rather fragile. I was happy with the way this round version turned out with no craters or breaks. Letting it cool before I took it out of the pan helped save it I'm sure.

So what kind of cake is it you wonder. The cake part is dark chocolate and the icing is also chocolate. For the family reunion, I put caramel icing on it, because this is my brother Roger's favourite. I wasn't sure if I was going to make this cake or just brownies. I'm trying to use my oven as little as possible to keep my flat as cool as possible for as long as possible. We've had a couple of mini storms this week because the atmosphere was too muggy or 'bochornoso' as we say. Of course, for both storms I was outside. Thankfully I don't think the lightning was too close, although there were quite a few strikes in the province of Madrid. I've always hated storms! 

Anyway, back to the cake. Yesterday in the afternoon, we got a nice wind from the North (no storm) and things started cooling down, so I decided yes I could turn on the oven for more than 10 minutes. My friend Chris has a meeting for lunch tomorrow and wanted a dessert. The title of my post says I'm not eating any of the cake.  I've got some leftover frosting though!

That north wind howled all night long obliging me to close the windows that look onto the street - that and a couple who were under my windows talking until the wee hours. Noise is one of the annoying things about living in a city. But when I'm in the country crickets and frogs keep me awake, and it's usually darker there too.

One of my great-nieces graduated on the 7th. Here are a couple of photos she shared on facebook. Kathy, if you're reading this, these are the ones who lost their father a few months ago in what I assume was an accident at work.
And here she is with her younger sister and mother, my niece.
I think we're going to have another cool night. Praise be! Tropical nights are no fun. Hope everyone has a good week. I suppose this will be an interesting week in Spain.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Rose-Coloured Weekend

I'm usually bad about remembering to take my camera with me, especially if I'm just going to be going out round my neighbourhood. However, I made a special effort to photograph this lovely rose before it's gone for good. It's the only one on this rose bush, and it's gigantic in comparison to the plant. 

The other day I could have kicked myself for forgetting to take even my phone when I went out to get a few necessities. As you know, there are still bullfights going on. On my way to the shop I saw a little one-seater car, which is made by Renault and goes by the name of Twizy. It was the first time I'd seen one up close. One of my great-nieces has a battery-operated car that is almost as big as the Twizy, and most motorcycles would be bigger than it!
This is one of the two aprons I got yesterday. Three of us met up for lunch again (meatballs on the menu), because Chris and I were going to a crafts show at the house of some of my students afterwards . The mother and a friend of hers have really worked hard to produce some lovely and original things. I bought another apron too, which is fancier to this one's classical look and Chris also bought two. Chris has another fair on Tuesday, so she's going to take aprons and some other small items with her to sell. I need to send Inma a WhatsApp to say she doesn't have to rush to put prices on things as Chris won't pick the things up from my place until Tuesday morning. Here's their page on facebook.
I think the two beez might be hyphenated like this: two-beez (if the link doesn't work).

Fortunately for us, yesterday was a fantastic day - not too hot. That's going to change rapidly though. I always think about these lyrics ' Hot town, Summer in the city, back of my neck getting dirty and gritty.' Hope everyone is able to stay cool and at the same time have a good week.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Peas, Please

Although yesterday wasn't the first of the month, my friends and I got together for a later than usual lunch. As a matter of fact, I think Chris and Penny didn't arrive until after 4 p.m., by which time I was famished and I'm sure I wasn't the only one. My photo shows some peas and ham (serrano) that I'd made, but this was one of the items on the menu and which everybody asked for except June; she had gazpacho. Then most of us asked for pork shoulder, which is sliced thin and sprinkled with sweet paprika, the kind that's not hot, and then fried. I think maybe I left a chip or two, but ate everything else on my plate!

It was great to meet our friend Judy's only sister. She loves the food here as does everyone who visits. Poor Anne has had her share of tragedy. First she loses her husband to cancer, and last January, while Judy and her husband were there visiting, there was a fire on her floor of the condo where she lives. Until the damage is repaired no one can live in the building, so she's been staying with her son, daughter-in-law, two grandchilren, 4 cats and a dog. No wonder she finds it peaceful and relaxing here! Next week they'll be going to Rome.

As you know, I love old black and white photos. This particular one is of the Plaza Mayor that some translate as the old square and is from 1930. It wasn't always called the Plaza Mayor. At one time it was called the Royal Square, among others. Not only has the name changed but its appearance. I use the modern version as my cover on facebook.

I'm going out in a few minutes to throw away some paper and to distribute some propaganda for my friend's language school. I hope everybody has a good week. 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

A Pause for Spring

I recently read in another blog about corn on the cob. Last September when I was in Ohio, this is how my sister cooked corn on the cob - in the microwave with the husks still on. Have you ever made your corn on the cob this way? The only corn I have in Spain is what I get from a tin. I know some people buy frozen corn on the cob or the vacuum-packed kind. Me, I grew up on good corn and find what is offered here to be dry and tasteless.

The week that is finishing has been rainy, extremely windy and at times chilly. I haven't checked today, but it has actually been a lot warmer in places like Helsinki. On Wednesday evening when I stepped out the door to go to the Chinese restaurant, I saw a few drops of rain on the pavement. By the time I'd taken 5 steps, I had to turn around and go back for an umbrella. I was getting soaked. In the end I arrived at the restaurant wet anyway. The way the wind was blowing the umbrella offered little if no protection. Besides, I had to fight not to fly away like Mary Poppins. But do you know the strangest thing? My windows haven't been splattered, so aren't too dirty. I guess I have the wind to thank for blowing the rain away from them.

On Tuesday evening at about 8.30 p.m. there were lots of cars and noise in my street. I normally don't expect to hear continuous noise during bullfighting season until an hour later as the bullfights finish at 9. The event had to be cancelled because all 3 bullfighters got hurt, one of them seriously. If you've never seen a bullfight, then you may not know that there are 3 toreros (bullfighters) and 6 bulls - 2 bulls for each torero. Anyway, the last time such a thing happened was in 1979.

Last night it was again noisy until very late. This time it was mostly people celebrating a soccer win. I broke my 'no weekend TV' rule since my team, Atlético de Madrid, was playing Real Madrid in Lisbon for the Championship Cup. Atléti was winning 1-0 until the overtime when Real Madrid scored and then in the tie-break Real Madrid scored 3 goals in succession for the final score Real Madrid: 4; Atléti: 1. This is the place where players and fans will be celebrating this evening after the elections polls have closed (elections for European representatives).
I think the temperatures will climb back up this week, hopefully not as hot as it was a couple of weeks ago though. Have a good week all. 

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Yoghurt Biscuits and Chulapas

On Friday evening I came across a recipe, which wasn't really a recipe, for yoghurt biscuits on the internet. There was no measuring of the ingredients, but instead of butter or shortening, you add yoghurt. As I didn't want sweet bread, I used plain yoghurt (that was probably mentioned in the non-recipe). I calculated for 6 big biscuits and added about 2 tablespoons of yoghurt, some milk and a bit of cheddar cheese to the flour mixture. I probably would have added more cheddar cheese if I'd had more. That's okay because I needed to use up the cheese, and I didn't want to use too many ingredients in case I didn't like these biscuits. So would I make them again? Yes, but I'd certainly make them smaller and put some bacon in them. They're easy and quick to make and there are more things you could add like herbs, onions, whatever you fancy.
This past Thursday was San Isidro, one of Madrid's patron saints. The ladies in the photo are called 'chulapas' and there's one lone 'chulapo'. On this day many people gather to have picnics and eat such delicacies as 'entresijos', which I've tried and won't repeat and which I doubt that you want to know what they really are. I know my father used to love 'sweetbreads' if you know what those are. I just don't enjoy eating these kinds of foods.

I think San Isidro is going to bring us some cooler weather this week and maybe some rain. As I've posted before, we're at the beginning of the bullfighting season. I neither go to them nor have I ever been to the 'Running of the Bulls'. Yesterday, however, in my neighbourhood the noise was from those celebrating Atlético de Madrid's winning of the Champions Cup. Atléti is a soccer team in case you've only heard of Real Madrid or Barcelona.

Well, I've taken my winter quilt off the bed and put on one of the summer ones. I don't think it'll get cold enough that I'll need to put it back on the bed this week, but I wait until it's really hot before I wash it, so it dries quicker. I'm lucky I can throw my quilt in the washing machine. Several laundromats have opened up in Madrid and there's one just crossing the bridge near where my friend Cathy lives. They're a lot cheaper than having your quilts dry-cleaned if they don't fit in the washer.

That's about it for me this week. Hope everyone enjoys the rest of their weekend and the coming week too. 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Albóndigas for Lunch and Outdoor Cafes

France isn't the only place famous for its outdoor cafes. These cafes spring up like mushrooms and are full when the weather starts getting nice. I like sitting outside at these places too, but I'm a bit more selective. I don't like being in places where there's a lot of traffic or road works like in this photo from 1950. This street, by the way, is part of what is known as the 'golden mile' or the part of Madrid where there are many expensive shops and where the American Embassy can be found. Spanish people don't seem to mind sitting near constantly passing vehicles or streets that are being ripped up.
Yesterday was our monthly get together with the girls. Sometimes there are as many as 8 or 9 of us, but yesterday there were only 5. For months we've been talking about meatballs and how we hope they have meat balls on the menu. Yesterday they did, so you can guess what we all ordered for the main course. The problem for me with these lunches is two of our friends work until 3 pm in the centre, and the earliest we begin eating is 3.30, not impossibly late in Spain, but I usually eat between 1- 1.30 pm. The result of eating so late is I'm not hungry the rest of the day. I don't know if that's good or bad. I just know by that time I'm starving and the meatballs (albóndigas) were delicious.

Last night was the once very popular 'Eurovision Song Fest'. I didn't watch it as I seldom turn on the TV at the weekend, and I haven't watched Eurovision for years. I do know that Austria's 'bearded lady' won it, so I suppose I'll probably hear the song some time or other.

 In Madrid it's bullfighting season and my usually quiet and not overcrowded neighbourhood isn't. Oh well, keeps the bars and restaurants in business. Years ago there were more offices and a big laboratory in the area that kept them going. Now most of the businesses are gone. The laboratory went a long time ago and was replaced by blocks of flats. Even my old institute is a block of flats, not many of which have sold I think.

Thursday is another holiday for us - one of the patron saints of Madrid. It's a day when traditionally we get some rain, although we haven't for the past few years. Anyway, I hope everyone has a good week whatever you do.