Sunday, 29 November 2015

Liar, Liar

Forget everything that I said about Black Friday last week. Spain, at least Madrid, has embraced Black Friday, which is called Black Friday and not Viernes Negro, as their own for pre-Christmas sales. I was in a commercial area not far from where I live yesterday, and everywhere I looked I saw crowds of people and signs for Black Friday. Yes, I know yesterday was Saturday. Black Friday here is celebrated on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then turns into Cyber Monday.

Yesterday I went to a Christmas fair hosted by the group I used to be a member of - the Madrid Handcrafters. I've decided this year that my little wooden Christmas tree is getting some white decorations, so I bought an angel for it. I also bought a few stocking stuffers and a beautiful silk scarf. Today I went to another fair in a private house round the corner and got some little Christmas decorations that look like snowflakes. I've just come back from there.

I haven't been to the centre to see the Christmas lights, but one of my friends went on Friday night with her family. She said there were police everywhere even policemen wearing ski masks. I wasn't planning on attending the Christmas lunch that has become a tradition anyway. There are just too many people in the centre making it impossible to enjoy the sights. Last Christmas my friend Chris and I ended up walking all the way home.

I'm going to finish with a couple of photos of some of the presents I got for my birthday. First my favourite chocolate in the whole world - Belgian chocolate and this box has some of the best I've tried.
I also got a little bag of chocolates that look exactly like olives - green and black ones. I posted a photo of some of them on facebook, and some people thought they were really olives. My other sweet treat was oatmeal and raisin cookies; other non-sweet treats were two scarves and two necklaces, so you see I had a good day and the moussaka was the best I'd had in a long time.

Here is another of my presents filled with small bottles of toiletries.
And here is the other side of the bag. I don't know which side I prefer. I just know I like the bag, because it's so different. Which side do you prefer?
I had a lot to do this morning and then was out this afternoon, and now I'm going to leave you with the hope that everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving enjoyed it and that we all have a good new week.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

No Thanksgiving Dinner Nor Black Friday

I was a bit confused earlier, because I got a birthday greeting from a longtime friend on facebook. Then I suppose another friend saw her greeting and wished me a wonderful day. I checked that I wasn't living the wrong day. Nope! My birthday is tomorrow, but I don't mind being wished a happy birthday on the wrong day just as long as I have the date straight.

In lieu of Thanksgiving, I'll be celebrating my birthday on that day with friends. Years ago we did, and I miss those days even if we celebrated on Saturdays. We continued celebrating them until we had a big argument about guests. In the beginning our Thanksgivings were a girls' only fiesta, but a couple of the girls wanted to invite their boyfriends. Those of us who made all the preparations (everything was from scratch) said no, because we had done all the work and it was for us to enjoy. The result was, as you can imagine, a drastic drop in the number attending. However, we made it and we ate it. I think this was probably the last Thanksgiving we celebrated like this, mainly because the one who organized everything went back to the US. Here's a photo of me during that era.
So no Thanksgiving dinner and no Black Friday although I think some of the shops are warming up to the idea. Our sales typically begin after the Christmas holidays, or 7th January. Speaking of Christmas, our holiday lights are supposed to be turned on at the end of this week. 

Yesterday when I went out, I didn't know it was as cold as it was, especially in the wind. It's time to get out my hats and gloves. What a change from the weather we've had up until now! Yes, it's definitely warm quilt weather at night.

This is my post for the week. Thanks for looking in. Wishing everyone who celebrates it a very Happy Thanksgiving. Have I mentioned that I love stuffing?

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Look and You Might See Gargoyles

I hope I'm not the only one who doesn't notice things like new shops and old things that have been around for a while. Here are some gargoyles that I stumbled upon on one of my strolls. Although we usually see the creatures on top of buildings (Madrid has its share of them), these two fellows were guarding the entrance to a private garage. As you can see they've been around for a while. I just haven't paid attention to them. Incidentally, did you know the purpose of gargoyles was to allow water to drip off buildings, thus protecting the stone from water damage? 

This is the one on the left of the garage.
And here's the one on the right side of the door. I'd imagine they've been placed here so the cars don't hit the side of the building, or just for decoration.
Here are a couple more photos I've taken recently. The first one is in the same street as the gargoyles, and I've been in this police station which is a municipal or city police station. I haven't been in the van though.
I've covered up the plate number in case showing it isn't permitted. I've done the same with this Diplomats Corps car parked outside my office windows.
I have no idea why it's parked here. I doubt very much that the diplomat that uses this car lives in my neck of the woods. I saw it when I looked out the window to see what the workmen from our building were doing. They were cutting tile or something, which I'm sure is not permitted to be done in the street. As a matter of fact, Friday (the day of the attacks on Paris) when I saw this car was one of the days where anyone who wasn't a resident of this area or any other area that has parking meters for non-residents weren't allowed to park due to the high level of pollution. Of course, this car has special privileges. 

This week we did go out to the Chinese, and then yesterday 3 of us went to the restaurant round the corner. The food is good though the menu is limited and, for me, doesn't offer enough veggies. I don't eat a lot of meat or fish for that matter. I met the owner of the bar recently and we were talking about the food. I miss their traditional Spanish dishes like peas and ham, breaded eggplant and zucchini. Hope I got those last two right, because for a minute I could only think of the British words for them.

Our weather is still mild except at night naturally, with no rain or wind to get rid of the big black cloud over Madrid. I wonder what measures the Town Council will take for tomorrow. Up until now, it's been complete chaos.

Hope everyone has a good safe week with no terrorist attacks anywhere in our world. My reasons for being one of the few on Facebook to not place the French flag over my photo are stated there. Peace and love for everyone.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Biscuits and Biscuits

Having taught English as a foreign language most of my life, I'm aware of the many differences in British English and American English both in spelling and vocabulary. Out of habit I tend to use British English when writing, so many of my words are often underlined in red on the internet, which seems to prefer American spelling. For one of the differences in vocabulary, the above photo shows biscuits in American English. Needless to say, I love these biscuits.

Now here are some biscuits I love too although they're a product of Scotland - my favourite (favourite underlined in red): Walkers Pure Butter Shortbread, or even homemade shortbread if it's available.
I've borrowed these two photos from the internet. The first one is from a recipe I have pinned on Pinterest. Here are my biscuits from this very recipe.
Whenever I make a recipe for the first time, I generally follow the directions as closely as possible. The only thing I didn't do was add as much sugar as the recipe said. I don't want my American biscuits to be sweet. So when the instructions said to roll out the dough, place it in an ungreased baking pan and cut into 12 squares I did. See the difference between the Pinterest photo and mine? These are called Kentucky biscuits, by the way. They were good with butter and jam no matter their shape. My mother's caretaker used to make biscuits like this too in Kentucky. Where else?

We've finally got blue skies after so many days of gloom and rain and the temperature is mild for November. Tomorrow is a holiday in Madrid too. As soon as I read a couple of blogs, I'm going out to enjoy a bit of this beautiful day.

Sorry that I'm sharing such a dull post, but I have nothing interesting to report. I doubt anyone is interested in hearing I've washed some very dirty windows. We didn't even go to the Chinese this week, because one friend had a work-related dinner and the other loyal one had to work until 10.30 p.m. You can have dinner so late once in a while but not as a rule if you have to work early in the morning. I know my friend is working too much and is really stressed out. I hope they get some more teachers soon to take on some of the load. However, I think the problem is they're only offering part-time work. 

Have a good week everyone. See what I come up with next week.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Back to the Fall

By now everyone will have hopefully changed the time. Some of us only do it under duress. I mean our bodies hate it too, and it's so depressing seeing the night at 6.30 pm and daylight even later in the day. Usually at this time of day (4.30 p.m. more or less) I don't need artificial lighting but today I do. Well, we do have some cloud cover.

Last night (Halloween night) we were very cloudy. I went out in the afternoon to throw away some papers in the paper containers and decided to have a little walk around the neighbourhood. We don't get a lot of colour change in autumn, not like some places in the States, but we do see reds and some yellows. I was walking past the little park near my house where Zara and I used to go almost every day. There are the steps we used to go up. I don't know if you can see any reds here as the photo was so dark I had to lighten it. This park is small but has quite a few trees whose leaves turn a lovely red.

Years ago in the academy, I had a private student and his name was Iluminado (I suppose Enlightened One in Spanglish. There are some strange names here). He was one of the most polite students I've ever had; he always stood up when I entered the room. One day while we were reading a story that mentioned tree leaves, he got a puzzled look on his face. When I asked him what the matter was, he said, 'Where are the trees going?' I couldn't help laughing.

While I was viewing photos of Halloween and people's comments about the changing of the time, I realized more than ever the cultural differences between Spain and the US. People might get up early to be at work at 8 a.m. or earlier, but they sure don't go to bed so early. When I was in Ohio, I think the latest I stayed up was 11 p.m. or 11.30 the night we went to a play. Here I go to bed at 1 or 1.30 a.m. unless I have to get up at 5 a.m. 

On Thursday evening we were celebrating our friend Chris's birthday. Because she and another friend couldn't make it until 10 p.m., that's the time I reserved the Indian restaurant for. Of course, we didn't leave the restaurant until midnight. I don't like eating so late and usually try to have dinner between 9 and 9.30. I felt bad for Chris who had an early class, but I couldn't go to bed on a full stomach and stayed up reading until I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.

We've had a mild autumn so far. A few nights it's been quite chilly, but I usually wear a hoodie during the day or Florida's winter jacket according to a link Terri shared on facebook. Almost every Monday we have rain starting to complicate traffic and tomorrow will be no exception - so glad I don't have to be in a huge traffic jam in the rain. The blogger of Secretos de Madrid shared this photo on facebook. I love it and hope he doesn't mind that I share it here.
You know we changed our clocks last week, so I hope the rest of you enjoy your 'extra hour' and have a good week too.