Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Cold and A Cold

Most of you know that I've been teaching English as a foreign language for quite a few years. For most students, the articles (if you remember those), especially the definite article, are confusing. The cold wasn't too bad last week, but I got a bad cold.

When was the last time you suffered from a cold? Until recently I'd have answered 'I can't remember or I never get colds'. It's really funny, because I'm reading an Odd Thomas novel (Dean Koontz) in which he says the only thing he's ever passed to a person through touch was a head cold, which is exactly what I have. I have a cough, which is like a tickle and affects me mostly at night. Years ago one of my students told me his mother put a cut onion near his bed at night to stop coughing. I tried it, as I believe in trying folk cures, but I coughed the night away. I was able to smell the onion though, which was something. Now I think I'm on the mend - no thanks to breathing in the onion.
As I've been eating mostly soups and fruit, because I haven't been hungry but have needed to replace all the liquids my body has lost, I'm hoping tomorrow I can eat something more solid. Saying that, however, I haven't fancied coffee this past week, so that's one liquid I haven't indulged in too much.

So our weather hasn't been nearly as bad as some parts of the US. There has been more snow in the mountains and the rivers have overflowed their banks in some parts of the country. One of my cousins posted on facebook that it had been -22º F in Harrison County, Kentucky. Even my university was closed for the whole week. I remember falling on the icy pavements there in winter, but classes never got cancelled because of weather conditions. Thankfully we're probably in the low 50´s now with plenty of sun for a change.

Before I call it quits for this week, I want to share a photo of my oldest nephew. He celebrated his birthday yesterday. He's the only one who was born in my family while I was still living in the US. As a matter of fact, I was at university when he was born. He was the sweetest baby I'd ever seen. He always woke up smiling. Thanks to my sister, his mother, for posting so many photos of him on facebook.
A boring post, I know. I don't suppose you want to hear me complain about telemarketers. The other day, the same number called me 6 times - 4 of which I was at home for. I always look on the internet to see if the number has been reported as spam or a fraud. Unfortunately, we don't have the no-call option here, at least not yet. I know it's too much to ask for them to not call again starting tomorrow.

I just saw that one of my friends who lives in southern Spain has posted a photo of her first daffodil, so hang on spring is on its way. Have a good week all.


Sunday, 15 February 2015

Borax-Free Powdered Laundry Detergent-No Soap!

Today I'm going to begin by sharing the recipe for homemade laundry detergent which I think works well, and which is simple to make and more importantly that I can easily find the ingredients for.

First of all, let me give credit to the page where I found this recipe that is definitely a keeper: the page is called The-Not-so-Modern Housewife and its owner is formerly from Ohio and now lives in Florida. She says her water is different from others'. Does she mean it's soft or hard? She also uses this detergent as a stain remover around the house and says it works well. However, she suggests trying it on a small area on carpets or other materials that might run. I agree with her when she says she likes the fact that there is no soap in the detergent. Hope you like the recipe. Remember if you don't have access to washing soda, you can make it by baking baking soda about an hour at 160º C.

1 1/2 cups baking soda
1 1/2 cups washing soda
1/2 cup Epsom salt
2 tablespoons salt
A few drops of essential oil for fragrance (I used one called Sweet Rain and it made the detergent smell like some of the commercial ones) - use only a few drops though

Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Store in an airtight container. Use 1 tablespoon per large load of laundry.

I really should have written down when I made this batch. I only know that I made it before Christmas and still have plenty left. I gave enough for about 5 loads to a friend and she said her clothes came out clean. One of the things she washed was some serviettes with food stains on them. The other night I got a few drops of hot chocolate on my tablecloth (not the one in the photo), so I'll try a bit of the detergent on it to see if the stains come out.

I've finally given in to temptation and on Thursday I paid a visit to Dealz -Deal$ in the US and part of the poundland family -  so most of you will know the shop I mean. I took only about 15 euros, because I didn't want to spend too much, and I didn't go downstairs where all the stuff I'd have been tempted to buy can be found. I got chocolates for some special people (and for me) and two rolls of foil. I'm happy with little things like kitchen foil, because the kind that is sold in Spain, although it's very good quality, isn't wide enough. I always have to use several sheets when covering a large dish or cake. I'll let you know how I like it once I've tried it. I'll also try to stay away from Dealz, and when I do go ask myself if I need what I see. My friend Chris is addicted to going there. At least everything is one price: 1.50 euros.

Our February has been mostly cold and wintry, but today we are having a pleasant mild day for a change. It rained last night. It must have rained quite a bit, because when I got up this morning (not early) the streets were wet and the sun was out.

I trust everyone has had a good weekend. Here it's carnival time. The kids had Friday off, and I know some of you in the US have off tomorrow for a different reason. Hope the new week is a good one for you whatever you get up to.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Miracle Cream and a Recipe

Finally I'm able to say that I've snagged a pot of the face cream that everyone is raving about and fighting to get ever since it received a top rating from a consumer magazine. I don't know if you remember me mentioning this 'miracle cream' in a previous post, but this is it (the box anyway). Actually I didn't really snag it by going to the supermarket where it literally flies off the shelves. One of my friends showed me what she'd got and offered me a pot. At first I was hesitant to try it, and she noticed my hesitation and said, 'Of course, you don't need it!' Let me tell you, I'm happy I accepted her generous offer, because I think it's probably as good as it's made out to be. My skin feels much better. The best thing is the price. It costs 3 euros and smells nice to boot. If you're ever near a Lidl supermarket (I think they have some in Britain), try it. I also think you can get it on amazon uk.
Don't these look delicious even if they're a bit rough looking? Again, this is something I've shared before but on facebook. These are from the recipe that my sister Jackie uses for dishwasher tabs and she shared with me. I thought I'd share the recipe with you, so here it is and so easy to make:

1 cup washing soda
1 cup baking soda
1 cup kosher salt (I use regular table salt)
3 packages unsweetened lemonade (doesn't have to be Kool Aid brand)

Add 1 cup of water and mix. When the bubbling stops, place in ice cube trays. I made about 35 tabs from this recipe. Leave in trays until completely dry before storing.
 This note is for those who don't have washing soda:
As for the washing soda, I make my own. I 'bake' baking soda for about an hour at 160º C, and if you can't get lemonade mix, try adding about 28 grams or so of citric acid if you can get that.

Next week I'll try to include the recipe for soapless laundry detergent that I've discovered and hopefully will continue to find the ingredients for. I absolutely love it!

Our big news this week has been the cold Siberian air that has caused a lot of damage with downed trees and numerous road accidents and lots and lots of snow in the mountains. On Friday morning, I looked at my phone about 10 a.m. to see if there were any messages (I don't hear WhatsApp messages when the phone is on standby). The screen was filled with 'snow'. I looked out but only saw maybe 1 or 2 snowflakes, so my area wasn't one of those where it snowed enough to use an umbrella. Today is a bit warmer, but we still have winter for a while. After all, the saying for us goes: 9 months of winter and 3 months of hell (9 meses de invierno y 3 meses de infierno).

I've seen that I have a few posts on here to read through. I'll try to get to yours today though it might be tomorrow late when I read it. Hope everyone has a good week whatever is in store.


Sunday, 1 February 2015

Blog About Nothing in Particular

As you'll see, I don't have a lot of news to write about. I certainly don't have anything of great importance, which can be a good thing I hope.

However, the other day one of my friends on facebook posted a video of potters making beautifully etched vases and bowls and I was reminded of this beautiful example that I've had since one of my first years of teaching in my old institute. It was a present from one of my classes - either for Christmas or my birthday. In those days, students were generous with their gifts to teachers. Although I'm trying to downsize and get rid of things that just take up space, this is one of those items that I'm still in love with.

This weekend has been a bit of a fiasco in the way of sorting through papers and documents (one of my main goals) since this is my weekend to spend time ironing; a chore that must always be done accompanied by music. I tuned in to my favourites on YouTube even though there are quite a few speaking videos in my list. Two of my favourites that I listened to was from a Spanish singer who was popular during the 'Movida Madrileña' (I'd be interested as to how the translator translates this, because it's a movement which is extremely difficult to explain, and I've never looked for it in wikipedia). The other song is one I imagine some of you will remember: Air Supply's Lost in Love. Of course, I had to watch one of Mrs Brown's Boys' skits. I laugh so much with Mrs Brown.

For those of you who read my post from last week, you'll remember about a message that was sent in my group on WhatsApp by one of our friends concerning an ingredient called fenipropalamina (with a 'ph' in English instead of the 'f'). I finally looked for information about it and discovered, just as I suspected, that it was all a hoax. Why do people enjoy inventing these things to scare us? I did read an article on Yahoo involving salmonella and what the FDA can and can't do. Now that's scary!

I haven't been out today, but I know the wind from the north is making it colder than what the temperature says it is. People are still sick here, and that's that the rain and wind has cleared the air of pollution.

I've seen a couple of new posts on my feed and want to welcome back those of you who've been away or haven't posted recently. And I do hope everyone has a wonderful week. February's here!