Sunday, 5 January 2014

Good-bye Old Year, Hello New Year

These candles were lit and graced my table on New Year's Eve. It's one of the many traditions some people follow, lighting candles of different colours which represent different things. The blue candle there, for example, represents work. Needless to say, I think lit candles are pretty and add to the atmosphere. The only dish that everyone has in common is twelve grapes eaten at midnight and a toast to the new year with cava (champagne) or, as in my case, cider (sidra). Oh, and don't forget to drop a gold ring in your glass before you drink from it for extra luck and start the new year off on your right foot. If you should have any left over champagne or cider, please don't throw it out. Place a teaspoon (the handle part logically) in the bottle and put it in the fridge. The drink won't go flat and you can enjoy some the next day. I don't know if this works with soft drinks or beer, because I've never tried it with them. I only enjoy beer in the summer and I never have soft drinks - water is a better drink.
I finally ran out of the laundry detergent that my sister Jackie and I made in September. My friend Loretta from Scotland commented that she used to buy borax, one of the ingredients in the detergent we made, until the government decided she was too dangerous with it is how she put it I think. Borax isn't easily found in Spain, so I used another similar recipe which uses citric acid. You may well remember me mentioning that I'd made my own washing soda by baking baking soda. This recipe contains baking soda too - a bit fizzy wouldn't you imagine? I'm not sure where you can find citric acid in other parts of the world, but I ordered mine from my local chemist's (drugstore). The instructions for this homemade borax-free laundry detergent can be found on She also has an interesting bath detox recipe too. The best thing about using homemade laundry detergent is the price - much cheaper than commercial laundry soap. Both my sister and I are happy with the results too. She got some dried-on stains off her granddaughter's underpants. Like most 3-year olds, my great-niece can't always get to the bathroom in time. She said they came out looking new.

Monday is one of my newer friends' birthday. She likes necklaces like me. My other Welsh friend, Chris, who happened to be selling off her stock of jewellery cheaply, picked out one she thought she might like, and during these holidays I found a  bracelet I thought would go with the necklace. Since I had quite a few apples, I decided to make her some delicious apple butter (I think this is the one recipe I have posted to my recipe tab). After the apples are peeled and cut up, there's nothing to do except wait for the slow cooker to do its thing.

Yesterday there was a lull in the rain and I decided to go for a walk and see one of the many Nativity scenes that there are in Madrid. We were under a strong wind alert, but I don't think it was too bad - only cold. I don't know if I got rid of any unwanted calories. I commented to a friend that my jeans felt tighter in the new year, and she said I must have washed them in hot water. LOL  I was just glad to be able to walk and avoid deep puddles of water. I still haven't got those rain boots I talked about last winter. Luckily there weren't too many leaves to fall on the pavement. I avoided the ones I saw though. The little ornamental tree outside my windows is completely bare of leaves.

Hope everyone had an enjoyable and safe New Year's celebration. One good piece of news is there were no deaths (so far) from car accidents anywhere in Spain. This hasn't happened since 1960! Tomorrow is the last official day of the Christmas holidays. As soon as I post this, I'm off to start putting my decorations away. Have a good week all.   


  1. Happy New Year to you, hoe 2014 is good to you
    I've been thinking about the borax, I have a feeling it was banned by the European Government not the UK government in which case it should also be banned in Spain. I know you used a substitute, but it made me think; if it is possible to buy it in Spain, it should be possible to buy it in the UK. How does your substitute work out?? is the laundry powder OK not using borax?? I was so disappointed when I found out I couldn't buy borax I stopped making my own laundry powder but if yours turns out OK with out, maybe I'll give it another go. You'll have to let us know how it turns out please.

  2. your candles, I think the idea of different colours having different meanings is really good. Maybe you could find a colour that is good for painting, I could burn one while I'm doing a painting and ensure the painting turns out ok, that would be really good :-)

  3. Loretta, the only way to get borax here is via internet. On Amazon it's very expensive and the other site I saw offered it in small quantities, not too expensive but then I'd have to pay shipping that adds up. I did a load with the detergent this weekend and it did fine. Of course, my clothes weren't too dirty. The lady from said they were happy with the results. Maybe it's my fault for using a different soap and not gjycerin, but it sort of cakes up and I have to break it up to measure it. The next batch I'll put glycerin soap in. It is a fizzy detergent though.

  4. Hi Brenda, I am tardy getting around to blogs, but here I am! Glad you found a substitute to make your detergent with. I buy an inexpensive brand at Sam's Club that works great for us and costs about 1/3 the price of Tide, for the same amount. I've heard of the 12 grapes before, but have never done it. Might have to add that to our 'traditions' next year!

    1. Do you throw out old furniture like they do in Italy, Terri?