Sunday, 30 March 2014

23-Hour Sunday

Last week I mentioned making some dust cloths using a link my friend Kathy put on Facebook and here  are a couple. I also said that the oil mixture left lovely patterns on them; the patterns changed a bit when the cloths dried, but they're still nice and would make a gorgeous tie-dyed design. And yes, I've used them though you've heard me say many times how much I hate dusting. I remember my mother used to complain about the dust from coal trucks that came through her little town. They didn't cause nearly as much dust as we have in Madrid!

As promised, here's another old family photo. It's the first photo that I really remember 'posing' for. I would have been almost 6, I suppose. The lady on the left is my Aunt Sally and the boy beside me is my cousin Bobby while my cousin Billy is behind me. My mother is holding my sister, Diana. Both my aunt and cousin Billy are dead. The last time I saw Bobby was at my mother's funeral. I also remember this road we lived on was called Old Mexico. There was only one other house on it where my playmate Phyllis lived. One child is missing from from the photo. For some reason my brother Roger hated having his photo taken. I have another one with my father holding him (probably the same day). He's the one person you can see really well in that particular photo and he is pouting. My mom used to tell him the rooster was going to land on his lip.

Well, this weekend has been something of a disaster for me, not only because we've finally 'sprung forward' . Yesterday it rained most of the day, so my clean windows are no longer clean. Then I broke a glass and am still finding little 'diamonds' around. I'll have to remember not to get up in the middle of the night without putting on my house slippers. I don't go barefoot, but sometimes I go to the bathroom wearing only my socks. Once years ago, a piece of glass found its way into my bed and cut my foot during the night. Another failure this weekend was my attempt at making a sheet of freezer paper. I melted the plastic! Thankfully none of the plastic transferred to my iron.

I'm going to the kitchen now to make a chicken cobbler for lunch tomorrow. I think I posted the recipe a few weeks ago. It's similar to chicken pot pie. I only hope I'm hungry enough to eat it when the clock says it's lunchtime. Hope everyone who reads this has a wonderful week. I keep thinking: hold on Easter holidays are coming up!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Changing History

The other day one of my friends who lives in Southern Spain posted this on Facebook, and added this comment: "Of course, I remember what I did yesterday!" This is what the vast majority of us in Spain do. If anyone I know has or uses a clothes dryer, I'm unaware of it. Lots hang their clothes out on covered terraces, but others of us have to dry our clothes inside on a clothes horse when it's raining, and we had plenty of rain (and snow) this winter. What is normal here is for everyone to have their own washing machine, even in the smallest apartments. However, laundromats are making a comeback, in Madrid at least. I can fit my quilts into my washing machine, but not everyone can, so the laundromats are very convenient for these people - cheaper than taking them to a dry-cleaner's too.

Here's the other history I'm trying to set straight.
This is the photo I shared last week, and which I said was my great-grandparents and my great-aunt Katie. It is a photo of my great-aunt Katie, her husband Arthur Bellamy and daughter Ida. I think my confusion came from the fact that my cousin only said this was a photo taken in about 1900, so I thought the child must be my great-aunt. Surely  the photo was taken at a later date than 1900 because of my great-aunt's birth date. Anyway, I'll be sharing more family history in photos and hope I get those right.

Here's a recipe that I want to share with you that I've made this weekend from a link that my friend kathyinozarks shared on Facebook. It's for lavender dusting cloths:

1) Take an old t-shirt and cut it into squares. Okay, here I cut mine into rectangles, but you get the idea.
2) Swish the rags around in a mixture of a cup of hot water, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 10 to 20 drops of lavender essential oil.
3) Squeeze the rags out and hang until completely dry.
4) Store in a jar. You can add a few extra drops of essential oil if you like when you put the cloths in the jar. You could also use a different oil like lemon or orange to make your cloths.

When the cloths get too dirty, rinse in warm water with a bit of dish washing liquid. They can be used several times before they need re-treating.
They're great because you don't have to use other products like sprays. Maybe I'll enjoy dusting more. Ha, ha! My flat will smell wonderful though. 
Oh, I don't know if this is normal: the oils made lovely spot patterns on the cloths. It'll be interesting to see if they're still visible when dry. I have them drying at this moment.

What can I say about the weather except I'm glad I wore a light jacket on Friday afternoon even though it wasn't enough. I'd originally planned on just going out in short sleeves. When I went out it wasn't cold, but by the time I got home a cold wind had caused a big dip in temperatures. We still have a few weeks until we can expect to complain about the heat and I know I will be one of those complainers.

Next weekend I won't be happy either. That's when we have to 'spring forward'. I hope this is a happy week and everyone enjoys it.


Sunday, 16 March 2014

A Spring Preview

Spanish sayings have a lot of truth in them, so I know we haven't left the cold weather behind. Instead we've been given a 'spring break', probably because Easter is so late this year. I can't believe we still have a month to go before the Easter break. Hope when it finally does arrive, the weather is as nice as it's been this weekend. My computer says it's 22º C while Yahoo says it's 72º F. The ornamental pear tree outside my windows says it's ready for some good weather too.

One of my favourite sayings in Spanish (literal translation) is: the world is a handkerchief, which means it's a small, small world. One of my first posts on the old Multiply social network was about this fact. I know that just about everyone is on Facebook. As I recently posted on another blog, Facebook is a convenient way to keep up with family and also find friends from other sites like Multiply, and thus makes the world a smaller place. Another Spanish saying is: we're all connected by 6 people. I joined a James Rollins (the author) group on FB. One of the persons who joined later had the same surname as one of my cousins. It turns out this person's father and my cousin's husband are cousins. I would never have imagined a connection had my cousin still had her maiden name of Smith and not this unusual surname.

Here's an old photo of my great-grandparents on my mother's side that the same cousin posted on Facebook. She thinks this photo was taken around 1900. The little girl is our Aunt Katie who I think died before I was born. Sadly I don't know all of my family history. I wish another of my cousins would participate more on FB, because she could clear up a lot of blanks for us.

  I think I'll go out and join the others in the street now to enjoy a bit of this lovely weather and throw away some paper too. Hope the rest of you are enjoying some fine weather. Have a good week.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

We Haven't Sprung But Spring Has

Finally we've got some decent weather! At the time of writing this, it's 64ºF, and I can hear lots of people outside enjoying the sun and pleasant temperature. According to the weather forecast, it will be even nicer tomorrow. Most certainly a change from this past week when the wind almost knocked me down twice on Tuesday. I know we'll go back to cold weather again, but it's wonderful seeing some sun.

The old photo is where I imagine many people would have gone this morning. It's of the Rastro (flea market) from 1905. Of course, it's changed a lot since those days. Now the sellers must get a licence to set up a stall there. If you're looking for some different piece of furniture or antique furniture, the shops in the area are the places to visit. I haven't been to the Rastro for many years. It soon gets too crowded, which invites pickpockets. Whenever I've been, I've gone early even though some of the sellers don't set up until later on.

Yesterday afternoon when I was coming back from shopping, I saw that the cars were all stopped in a street near the supermarket and there were several men gathered near the crosswalk. I didn't see exactly what happened, but apparently an elderly lady had fallen there.  Thankfully she hadn't been hit by a car and the men helped her up. I heard one of them ask her if she'd got dizzy. I hope she was all right. I imagine she had been coming back from the same supermarket too, because one of the men was leading a chihuahua that obviously wasn't his, and I think was probably hers as it had been outside the supermarket when I arrived. I was reminded of a day when I saw two men fall in the street. One of them was able to get up but the other one wasn't. That day people just passed us by until a young man stopped to help us get the poor man on his feet. 

Sometimes we complain loudly about young people's dress and manners. Perhaps we need to be less judgemental. Except the other day I saw this cartoon on FB that said the auto correct was a piece of shut. I think the same of the auto correct here! So I hope I can be judgemental about such things as the auto correct. In case you haven't noticed, I use the British spelling for words, and constantly tell students they can't mix the British and American spelling. I don't understand why a site lets you choose which English you can use and then tells you you've spelt the word wrongly.

For those of you who have already 'sprung forward', hope you it doesn't cause you too many difficulties. We have a few more weeks before we have to change the time. Despite losing an hour, hope your week is a good one.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

March Wind and Chicken Cobbler

As promised from last week, here's the recipe for chicken cobbler. I have to make my own biscuits, and the last time, because I didn't have any cream soup, I made my own cream of potato soup. If you have all the ingredients on hand, this is an easy quick dish to make.

1 bag (16 oz.) frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, cauliflower and broccoli)
1 can (10 1/2 oz.) cream of potato soup
3/4 cup milk (recipe calls for whole milk which I don't use)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups (1/2 inch pieces) rotisserie chicken meat
1 package (10 - 12 oz.) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (each cut into quarters)

1) Preheat oven to 400º F. In a non-stick skillet, combine frozen veggies, undiluted soup, milk and pepper; cover and cook over medium-high heat until vegetables are unthawed, stirring once. Stir in chicken.
2) Transfer chicken mixture to a shallow 3 1/2 to 4 quart casserole or 13" by 9" ceramic or glass baking dish. Top with biscuit quarters, leaving space between pieces. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until biscuits are browned and mixture is heated through.

Note: Make sure vegetable pieces aren't too big so they cook. I usually cook them just a bit longer after they've thawed and then add the chicken.
Makes about 6 servings. 

And here's something I said I wanted to make last week as a gift:

I went out later to buy a smaller basket, but this one holds the homemade gifts I made up for a friend who celebrated her birthday yesterday. In the little bags I've mixed baking soda and epsom salt to be added to bath water along with about 10 drops of lavender essential oil. I much prefer showers to baths, though I must say I thoroughly enjoy baths with these 3 ingredients. Then I whipped up some coconut body butter. Okay it's extremely greasy, but my legs are especially dry in winter and the combination of coconut oil, olive oil and vitamin E, plus a few drops of the essential oil from the same company that I'd ordered the lavender oil from and which they'd gifted me, soften and stop the itch. Maybe that's why I've slid out of bed so easily these past few days. LOL.

This morning I decided to go out and buy some cartridges for my printer. I have been using re-cycled ink, which my printer doesn't take to. I'd almost say it rejects it. The sun was out, but oh that old March wind, and we have more of the same for tomorrow. Yesterday we had rain all day. It's just cloudy this afternoon. With all the rain we've had and the snow in the mountains, we're surely blessed.

Tomorrow is my sister Diana's birthday. I'm going to look for some old photos of her to put on facebook. That's usually her job for the rest of us. Hope everyone has a good week and better weather.