Friday, January 28


Sitting here in the light, listening to the rain and the birds outside, I am overcome with tiredness.

As many of you know, I've been having a few silly issues since coming to Spain. Bureaucracies and I never seem to interact in the most efficient manner. For example, my visa process, taxes, my current idiotic relations with my US bank and now the post offices. Today I went to try to figure out where my holiday packages I sent to the US were, since no one stateside has received anything as of yet. The PO here said it was in the US, and the PO there says it is still in Spain. Where is this package???

This might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I feel I cannot rely on the institutions that I grew up with. Maybe I will go live up in the mountains in a cave and keep my money in my mattress from now on. 

Monday, January 24

Theme of the Week: Decisions

Ewww... Everyone that knows me, knows how I hate decisions. Easy decisions like what to eat, when to sleep (usually) are easier to make. Especially easier when faced with bigger decisions, like -->

Usually around decision time, I am a queen of procrastination. My room is now spotless (ish), I studied Spanish for an hour, folded my clothes and organized my desk, and now even writing in my blog!

So the few of you that actually read this, want to help me out with a few?

Decision Number 1: Job
Deadlines are coming up for reapplying for the next year. For everyone that doesn't know, I am a Language Assistant at a Secondary School in Almunecar, Spain. I will reapply because I dont have a clue otherwise what to do with my life, and I do need another year (at least) of Spanish to get really good. So good that I might be able to beat my sister in a Spanish Speaking Contest (like that would EVER happen).

On the application, there are three choices: Stay in your present school, Stay in your autonomous community (aka Andalucia) or Go somewhere else in Spain. 

If I choose to stay at my school: I already know many of the students, teachers, policies, etc and I like them all. BUT, the town is very small so I would probably live in Granada. 

If I choose to change: I do get to experience other cities/areas of Spain. But might end up in an even smaller town and I do like the playa.

Decision Number 2: Ahora
Connected with the previous decision, what to do now. Should I move or should I stay? I am lazy and only have a couple months left here that I could spend getting into shape (procrastinating on running by blogging), studying Spanish and enjoy the beaches- it is getting warmer. 

Or should I suck it up and move up to Granada. Which will take lots of energy.

Decision Number 3: Summer
Aww, the Summer. I am hearing horror stories from residents of Almunecar. The heat, the humidity, the heat... We will see if I can handle it or if I am even here TO handle it. 

Summer decision requires finding a job: potentials in Europe are au pair or English Language camps (if anyone knows of any openings, anywhere! Send them to me). Or I could return to the States and do something there- maybe State Fair again. Then another activity I have been pondering is a 10 day meditation class in Italy... but I doubt I could do it. 10 hours a day, for 10 days, without talking... hmmm...

Now I am going to get ready to run (with more clothes on than in the picture- its 13 C and very windy)

Thursday, January 20

Fried Food = The Best

I got a craving for some spring rolls (and I would not repeat my Cleveland Airport Panda Express Incident - eww) and made lumpia (like a springroll) wrappers in my piso. My last adventure with batter was "interesting" - I tried to make pupusas and I used what I thought was corn meal, but instead it was corn starch. Which resulted in fried frisbees. This time I was successful!

Fry babies, fry!
As for the wrappers, I was super surprised at how easy it was. Last time I made dumplings, I had an adventure in the China town grocery store when I was trying to find cilantro but didn't know how to say it in Chinese or what it looked like. It just took me about an hour, then the dumplings came out uber salty.

Anyhoo.... From my research there seems to be two schools of lumpia wrappers. One with a more liquidy batter and the other was "goopy" (that was the word used). My recipe was the liquid batter and were kind of like crepes but a bit more flexible and they cooked much quicker. The fun part of making these was I got to use my hands to pull the wrappers out of the pan. Only burnt myself twice.

After frying
 Since I had spinach  to get rid of and some recently found feta cheese, I decided to make Spanakopita Lumpia. Another reason is that I do not have an oven and don't even want to think about trying to make filo dough... eek. The filling was pretty easy to make. Just chop up some spinach and cilantro, throw that into a bowl with some salt, parsley and chili pepper. Then chop up some onion and red pepper (I added the pepper in the second round of rolls), saute them and once cooked. Throw in the green stuff and once wilted, throw in some crumbled feta and pepper. And that is ready to go!

I will definitely have to make these wrappers again and play around with the filling. 
At them with some fresh cucumber and pico de gallo
Tasted good with BBQ sauce too  but everything tastes good with it

Tuesday, January 18

January Thaw

My walk 
Just like in Minnesota, Spain appears to experience a January "Thaw" or a week of 20 degree (Celcius) temperatures with sun (none right now though). I spent the last weekend in Almuñecar and decided to explore the area a bit more, which involved walking to La Herradura without a map. Used my urban navigation skills (aka following cars and standing on tree stumps to try to see where to roads went) to get there. Maybe this weekend I will head up into the mountains!

After Christmas, I somewhat followed my vague itinerary and ended up floating around Spain. Catching bus after bus and even a train! Me and Alsa (the bus company here) are best friends now. So here is what really went down after Christmas.

First! I went back to Almuñecar to digest that amazing Christmas dinner and do some laundry. (exciting!!!). Then I finally got off my bum and went to visit friends in Granada. Made some pumpkin pies from scratch (inspired by Roxann and her pie!), attempted to make chili and then ate some yummy alBONdigas ala Dave.

After a couple days there, I headed up to Linares which is a city near Jaen - only takes like two hours to drive there from Almuñecar but the bus from Granada took three hours! The bus changed in Jaen and I, being the organized individual I am (already missed one bus that day - another story), lost my ticket and had to talk my way onto the new bus. In Spanish! They probably just took pity on the poor blonde girl whose Spanish was funny, but I got on the bus!!!!

Linares' Unique Xmas Lights
Finally in Linares, I got to stay at a work friend's family's apartment. Joaquin's mom was so nice to me and I got to sleep in a real bed! I barged in on their New Years celebrations: eating lentils for Medio Dia and then eating the 12 grapes at midnight, all to get good luck in the new year. J's family had a special dinner that evening (with all 40+ people, his Abuela had 9 children herself, she is quite a lady), where I got to try lots of new dishes and also get to see how a Spanish family celebrates the holidays. After midnight and a family concert, we headed to a cabin to celebrate 2011. I got to meet some more Auxilares and real Spaniards too! I have have understood about 30% of the conversation, it's all a learning process. Supposedly my Spanish has improved- or my ability to pretend I understand. I am a good mime.

Artwork in the Underground
Sleeping Beauty's Castle... Really
Two days were spent at that cabin, bbq-ing, playing with Turkeys and enjoying what little sun there was. Then  I caught the train to Madrid (with 2 minutes to spare to buy tickets). 

In Madrid I met up with Casey from Orientation and finally met Esteban, another Auxilare who is living there. Madrid consisted of a walking tour, a Museo de Jamon, experiencing the brand new No Smoking Indoors rule, exploring the Underground and its graffitti, walking around el Prado and Rebajas (like Black Friday but goes on for a month of so.) Esteban and I took a day trip to Segovia, saw the castle that inspired Sleeping Beauty's castle and then caught a bus to Cordoba the next day.

Chris asking for Money

In Cordoba, I stayed with another coworker's family and ate LOTS. That is the theme of the holidays here: eating, drinking, talking, eating, and more drinking. I got to eat Spanish style ribs (with a honey sauce, yummm) and fried food in a shell, which is something the State Fair should think about. I was shown around the Mosque, the Catholic Kings Castle (where Colombus asked to go exploring)  and walked around the Juderia (that word makes me giggle). By then, I was pretty tired from all this bumming around and the fact I only brought clothes for 4 days was a bit of issue seeing that I was gone nearly two weeks (I brought enough undies! I'm prepared somewhat).

Fried Shell with Meat inside, then crackers with Pate
 One Meal in Cordoba. 
Overall, I believe my holidays went pretty well. Got to explore alot of Spain and distract myself from missing my family and friends back home. I miss you all back home and even the cold! 

Happy New Years Everyone!