Sunday, 29 March 2015

LGoo Gone

Why I hadn't thought to remove a white strip that was just above the manufacturers name of my phone before this week I can't say, except that it being there hadn't really bothered me. I don't look at the phone's back a lot anyway. Under the white sticker which I removed, there was no secret number or message, but taking it off left yucky residue that wouldn't wipe off. To the rescue comes homemade goo gone made with two non-toxic ingredients: baking soda and oil mixed into a paste. Compare what I made in that little plastic top and the real stuff.

Maybe what's in this bottle is biodegradable and 100% organic, but it's not necessary to put a danger warning on the homemade stuff, because someone would just think mine was yucky if they tried it. Anyway, I also used it on what I think was something that got stuck on my new washer and it came right off. So far, the homemade goo gone has worked on everything I've tried it on. Wish I'd known about it before.

Today is our first day of having 'sprung forward'. I suppose I can't complain too much since I'm officially on holiday. The weather is lovely, and the streets round my house are full of people and noise. I'm not sure why there are so many people out celebrating this Palm Sunday. I remember other past Easters when Madrid was practically empty. Once I found myself running down the street behind a friend's car. Despite her profession as a jeweller, she was always late. We had arranged to meet some other friends for lunch and she was very very late picking me up, so I was going to the underground and yes I finally caught her. I don't know about you, but I can't stand people who are constantly late. This person is no longer considered a friend either. Sadly not everyone is who they pretend to be.

It's been a tiring and sad week for me. Tiring because I had extra classes and sad because of the plane crash. Although I didn't know any of the passengers on the Germanwings flight, I felt especially bad for the families of those on that flight and the German students who were on the exchange programme here in Madrid. Two of my students had a German student in their house, and these students were flying back the day after the crash. Thankfully they got off okay. In April, the Spanish students will return the visit. However, I can't imagine the students from Barcelona will be going as the German students who visited them were on that fated flight. So much heartache for so many!

I've just discovered that all the people in the street are for a bullfight. I want to go out and throw some paper away but will wait until the 'bulls' go in. Have a good Easter week.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Not My Cuppa

Recently my friend Kathy posted a link to a recipe on the pioneer woman's website. Now some of the best recipes I've tried have come from the pioneer woman (for example, her crash hot potatoes), so I thought I'd try this recipe called 'crazy coffee'. I think I've seen recipes where butter was added to coffee, but not butter and coconut oil. After putting the coffee, butter and oil in the blender, I got a creamy creamy cup of something. As I've just seen that Kathy agrees with the pioneer woman that the coffee is delicious, I sadly had to disagree. Although I drank the mixture, I didn't enjoy it and won't repeat the experience. There was no coffee taste.

The only flavour coffee I like is white coffee (café con leche), which I usually have for breakfast. In restaurants, I generally ask for black coffee. I'm a lover of coffee, and for many years would never have it in restaurants and people's homes in the US, because it wasn't coffee they served but coloured water. With places like Starbuck's the quality of the coffee has improved, and I'm not saying Starbuck's is the best - too overpriced for one thing. However, I still don't like any flavoured sweetened version of it. Since the pioneer woman's recipe didn't call for any type of sweetener, I thought I'd try. Oh well, you don't know if you like something until you try it. If any of you, besides Kathy, make this crazy coffee and like it, let me know. After all, we have different tastes in many things like religion, politics, food etc.

I'm always reminded of the journal entry beginning from my windows... This is my view. Of course, I could have taken a few photos of the almond trees in bloom in the park near my house, but this is a tree I see every day. Unlike the almond trees that are in full bloom, this tree is slowly showing its blooms. There are lots of buds that should be opening soon.

We've had torrential rain the past few days, though they've probably had more in southern Spain. It rains like that when I'm out or thinking about going out. Just as I was taking the photo of our little tree, it started sprinkling. Cloud cover stopped us from viewing the eclipse earlier this week. I had to laugh on Wednesday because I saw sunny and 16º C in Paris, 12º C in Helsinki, 10º C in London and 8º C in Madrid. Finally my phone is out of the cloud to say it's mostly cloudy, because it's been saying partly sunny most of the day. I feel really sorry for the group of German students who are visiting a school in my area and staying with the students' families. I'm certain they haven't had any good weather since they arrived. One of my students is one who'll be going to Germany in April to visit his German guest. See if he has better luck with the weather. Oh, now the sun has made an appearance!

That's about all I have to say for this mostly dark day. Hope everyone has a good week. Next week brings holidays for some of us.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose

As Chris and I were leaving the Chinese restaurant last Thursday evening, we each were presented with a white rose by Pepe, the owner. I don't know about other countries, but in Spain they tend to take Spanish names. I remember a Chinese restaurant that we used to go to where the little boy there was called Juanito (Johnny), and his name was constantly being called, because he was quite naughty. I suppose though having to be in your parents' restaurant for hours must be tiresome for a child alone. It's quite normal to see Chinese children in shops too since the parents work long hours and don't hire babysitters for their children.

This week we'll be celebrating our friend Jenny's birthday in the Chinese. She's someone we haven't seen for quite a while. I sent her a message earlier, except instead of 'birthday' I typed 'burthday', and, naturally, my finger had to hit the send button instead of the 'x' to correct. Here's one of the things I have for her: a dragonfly. Only hope I didn't give her one last year. And no, I didn't make the dragonfly, but will be making some banana nut bread to share with her, and she's asked for peanut butter, so I got her a jar of Jiff (made in Kentucky, you know). I'm sure the peanut butter costs twice as much here though.

This weekend has been a working one for me - in the house that is. Apart from the normal chores I do on Saturdays, I cleaned the bathroom top to bottom. Remember tiles go up to the ceiling in bathrooms and kitchens in Spain. There's not usually a lot to clean at the top in the kitchen because of the cupboards. Then I cleaned all the doors of the cupboards in the kitchen. The insides of those I'll clean during the holidays, and the rest I won't bore you with. I might add that I'll probably be sorting through more old papers today.

Well, I think that's the last of our nice mild weather for now. Last night we got to below freezing in Madrid, and snow has been predicted for the mountains this week. I think we'll get some rain. Today we have clouds, and I miss the sun already.

I think this is the last of what I have to say on this the Ides of March and also Mother's Day in Britain. Happy Mother's Day and happy week all.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Happy Day, Ladies!

Today I'm not remembering those of us who are lucky enough not to be mistreated, maimed, raped, murdered or made to cover themselves just because we were born female, although I wish all a happy day. I'm remembering all those women who are to this day enslaved and who will never in their lifetime enjoy the extent of freedom which some of us claim as our rights. 

Recently I watched a documentary about the young woman who was raped and mortally beaten in India a few years ago. I cried when her mother said the last thing her daughter said before she died was how sorry she was for the trouble she'd caused her mother. How could her parents not be proud of her as she must have been of them?

It's a bit difficult to continue after such a serious beginning, but here goes some of my week:

Yesterday since it was the first Saturday of the month, my friends and I got together to have lunch at the bar where we always meet up (just round the corner from my house). There were 7 of us and 5 rations of meatballs (they know how much we like them), so two had to have a different main course. Our friend June is in New Jersey at the moment enjoying the snow, but Judy's sister from Philadelphia is here to take her place. 

Probably by the time June comes back, she'll have sent us some of the bad weather they're having - the cold anyway. I don't imagine we'll get snow in Madrid, but you never know. There was one year that we didn't have a summer, which really hurt the outdoor swimming pools. At the moment, we're having beautiful weather.

Tuesday was my sister Diana's birthday. Here's a photo of her that I shared on Facebook a couple of years ago. This is the sister who always won the fights we had despite being 4 years younger than me. She always had long fingernails and scratched like a cat. Of course, more than fight we argued I'm sure. Everybody called her Blondie for obvious reasons.
We in Europe haven't sprung forward yet. I suppose we will before Easter though. For you in the US, hope the loss of an hour isn't too hard on you. I know how much I hate the time change. Have a good week despite losing the hour.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Yum Yum Dumplings

One of my favourite dishes from my childhood has to be chicken and dumplings. Mom always made her own broth while I used the prepared kind, but the dumplings I made from scratch. With the leftover dough, I cut it into rounds and baked it in the oven. We know what I'll be having for lunch again tomorrow.

Those of you that I'm connected to on facebook already know that on Monday there was a moderate earthquake about 183 kilometres (115 miles) from Madrid. At the time I didn't feel it and probably should have, because I was in the street. Several buildings in a suburb of Madrid, where the former American Air Base is located, were badly damaged. I haven't heard of any in this area or other parts of Madrid that suffered damage. Of course, the buildings here aren't made to withstand earthquakes, and I think some of the more modern buildings aren't as well-constructed as the older ones. I heard that one of the buildings that suffered the most damage was only 14 years old.

 Oh, and another tree fell the other day and smashed a car. People were complaining that the Town Council hadn't acted, because the tree had been in a bad state for a long time. For once the Town Council is not to blame as the tree was obviously part of a block of flats' private garden. There have been rumours that they're thinking of closing Retiro Park when it's extremely windy. You may remember that in the summer a young father, who was in the park with his children, was killed when a heavy branch broke off and fell on him. His children were saved, because he was able to push them out of the way. I used to love sitting under a big tree in the summer near the motorway and watching cars in the Fuente del Berro Park.

Finally we're getting a bit of spring weather, which makes everyone want to be outside. By this time I usually have my heating turned on and most always wear two layers inside. I haven't turned on the heating yet and am only wearing one layer of clothing.

Here is my tribute to 'Spock'. How I love Star Trek! I haven't used this cup for a long time; I dropped it and the part where the handle is broke. I was so sad. I glued it back on, but now it just holds pens and such. When a hot liquid is placed in the cup, they disappear.
Here's hoping everyone has a good week and, if possible, some good weather. I know winter isn't over for us yet.