Friday, November 30, 2012

Recipe: Basic Fall Vegetable Soup


1) Boil water and add a cube of chicken bouillon (OK - so I learned this is NOT actually all vegetables, like I was told.  This is not the first time this has happened in Spain - I ordered a 'vegetable sandwich' and was surprised it came with a bunch of tuna on it, people seem to never mention that things are made with BONES so now I always ask, and meat broth doesn't seem to 'count' as meat.  Anyway, I'll just substitute with vegetable bouillon).

2) Chop roughly and add potatoes, red peppers, squash, spinach, leek, onion, and carrots (the big ones, not baby).  Cook with the lid on for about half an hour.

3) Eat it as is or, if you want, puree the mixture so it becomes a creamy soup.  The end!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Captured: Quotes

So many recent photos + my obsession with quotes + glorious, glorious free time =

Monday, November 26, 2012

Captured: Avila & Toledo

Two more daytrips. I just love how from Madrid you can hop on a train or bus for an hourish and be in a totally different world with it's own history and culture. I can't say the same if you travel 60 minutes in any direction from Grand Rapids or Chicago...
Avila, just 25 min away on the train. The city walls - started in 1090, most rebuilt in the 12th century.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Rambling: Thankful

Alright, well I wasn't going to write anything for thanksgiving. At first there was just too much to choose from and I couldn't pick just one or two things for, say, a facebook post.  Besides, it sounds less meaningful and cliche today since everyone else is saying the same things - family, friends, food, health, etc. And plus I feel like it's obvious what I'm thankful for, so what's the point of writing it out (side note - I've actually been doing this thing for a few months where before I eat when I have food in front of me I take a deep breath and mentally list 3 things I'm grateful for - it's calming and reflective and stops me from just scarfing down my food without tasting it - woo!). But as I'm heading to bed, I'm still thinking about what I am thankful for, so here goes:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Printed: More Killing in Chi than Afghanistan

This article is from the summer but I just re-found it and it seemed worth posting.

Facts from this article: 
- More Chicago residents - 228 - have been killed so far this year in the city than the number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan - 144 - over the same period.
- Chicago's murder rate is also currently quadruple that of New York and double Los Angeles' rate.
- The city's homicide rate is up more than 50 percent over last year.

Tio Hardiman, Illinois director of anti-violence group CeaseFire, wrote... "once you take a closer look, you will find out that the majority of conflicts stem from interpersonal conflict that escalate into a gang conflict." 
 Chicago Homicide Surge War Zone

So sad. This reminds me of three things:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Captured: Madrid Street Music

Ok, sometimes I am just blown away by the street musicians here.  For your listening pleasure, here are two groups that were in Sol this weekend (I really wish I would have gotten the 5-member band playing traditional Andean flute music on the subway - complete with a rolling sound system!!)

Then this random old man started dancing :-)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Captured: La Sanidad en Lucha

Some girls and I met up for wonderful Sunday churros and here's what we found when we arrived in Sol.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Recipe: White Beans

Super easy.

1) In a little skillet, start the flavoring base - chunks of tomato, red and green peppers, onions, garlic, and olive oil (this is the same as for the black beans).

Words: How old are you?

Chiquita recently asked me in English, "how many years do you have?"  I explained to her that we use different verbs for age in English than in Spanish - we say "I have seven years" in Spanish, but we say "I AM seven years" in English.

She goes "Madreeee miiiaaaaa!  You are all crazy!"  It makes me laugh because I remember feeling the same way that Spanish-speaking people are weird!  It's funny how different things always seem backwards to both sides. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Rambling: Education in Spain

Well, as anyone who's ever met me can suspect, I've been very interested in learning about education in Spain.  I was warned early on that it's 'very strict, and not at all like American schools."  Hmm.  Here's what I've seen so far:

Spain in General
  • Tons of kiddos have rolling backpacks.  This kind: 
  • Public universities costs $650 - $1300 a year. OMG. (Masters can be up to $2,000 a year, private schools can be up to $16,000 - still a lot better than the 2010 average of $32,000 for a private school in the US).
  • The hot thing here is bilingual English/Spanish or French/Spanish schools.  It seems like they all teach language arts and math in Spanish, then English and science in the other language (because 'math is complicated they should learn it in their own language'). The British Council seems to be providing a lot of support (for Adult English classes as well) and their website amazes me - does America have any official program to help others learn English? (Although the British English is weird to me - has she got trousers? instead of does she have pants?
  • I notice a huge lack of emphasis on Social Studies

Captured: Inbox


Friday, November 9, 2012

Printed: Brain Size & Neglect

Wow.  According to this article, a recent study at UCLA shows that school-age children whose mothers nurtured them in early life had brains with a larger hippocampus.  It goes on to state the way a baby is treated in the first two years of its life determines whether or not the eventual adult has a fully functioning brain.  It seems crazy at first, but then not soo crazy when you think about it... I do wonder though, if the lack of development has more to do with lack of proper nutrition, rather than 'attention' in general.  Further studies will be interesting...


Recipe: Black Beans & Rice

I'm lucky here to stay with a family that has a housekeeper who comes for a few hours, 5 days a week.  She cleans the house and makes delicious, delicious food.  (Most families who can afford it have a housekeeper).  Rather than paying for an expensive cooking class here in Madrid, I'm just going to start learning from her while she's cooking!
I took notes and it makes sense to record the recipe here, where it has a 0% chance of getting lost, instead of a piece of paper that has a 70% chance.  So, here is today's lesson: Black Beans and Rice

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Recipe: Tomato Sauce

Ok, we have delicious fresh tomato sauce at home here all the time and I've been wanting to ask our housekeeper how she makes it.  Turns out it's like the easiest thing ever!  Tomato Sauce Recipe:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Captured: Halfway

Today is the halfway point of Spain, crazy. Accomplishments: I've recorded 361 new words, I read a novel in Spanish (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas), I'm now regularly dreaming in Spanish, and I've memorized (almost) all the words to this song:

My favorite new word is horrorizar.  The definition is "to be terrify or horrified," but I always read it as "he was horrorized!"   

Up next: Spanish poetry

Captured: Girls Dessert Night

A wonderful night!  It's so great when you meet people for the first time and can talk easily about things... topics included cultural differences, the social pressures on women's bodies, the role of parenting, and British slang :-)  And of course, dessert.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Rambling: A Year in the World

Alright, I just have to share about the book I've been reading.  I picked it up randomly in a used book store in Chicago and it seems like it was just waiting for me :)  The author, Frances Mayes, spent a year traveling around with her husband and recorded their adventures.  Her style is very descriptive and makes you feel like you're there with her.  At first I was a little bored (I wanted more internal-development than just what they did day-to-day!) but I ended up really enjoying getting to "know" places through her writing.  She goes to:

- Madrid and all over Spain - it's the first chapter!
- Portugal, where I'm going this weekend (partly inspired by her!)
- Southern Italy - I went to Northern Italy, not Southern, but it was still insightful and plus cool to read right after Eat, Pray, Love
- Venice, Italy, where I just spent a weekend 
- Fez, Morocco... I'd lovvve to go now since it's so close, but I think I need more than a weekend to get the full experience
- The Cotswolds, England, where I took a day trip 
- Istanbul and the Lycian Coast of Turkey, which I was obviously glad to read about :)
- Also France, Greece, and Scotland... all places to dream about

One thing that she does that I want to start doing is reading works by authors from the area when you're visiting.  A large amount of the book is dedicated to discussing what she's reading, and I can see how it would add so much more context to what you're experiencing.

I just have to share a description that makes me jealous I can't write like her: 

Even the rivers are well-behaved, as if they flow through only for ornamentation. Everywhere described as 'honey-colored', the stone houses are that color, but some are dark like chestnut honey, some pale like acacia or linden honey.  Every few miles the geology shirts enough to change the shade of limestone. Like Tuscan farms, the houses seem to have grown out of the land rather than have been built.