Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Poppy-licious Surprises!

What a treat! Spring in Spain means many things and one of my favorites is poppies, poppies, poppies! My friend, Nicole, and I have been doing weekly two-hour power walks for about two months now. This has really charged up my workouts as our pace kicks my butt every week! It is great! Can't argue with the results, as I'm now down, as of this morning, 18.6lbs since February! We both have some great trails right next to our neighborhoods, so we switch off between her trail and mine. Both trails are great with trees and blooming bushes and flowers. Every week, we seem to get a little faster and go a little farther. This has been especially exciting over on my trail, because rather than a series of loops, this trail goes on for miles, or kilometers, as the case may be, and we never know what's around the next bend or over the next hill. We haven't wanted to schlep our cameras with us due to our fast pace, but the sights we've been seeing lately made us change our minds. It has been simply breathtaking with all the poppies and other wildflowers/weeds in bloom. Taking our cameras our with us this morning also afforded us the opportunity to capture scenes we've been enjoying week after week...a castle we've discovered, a bridge to somewhere, the river we didn't know was there, a beautiful horse farm, ravines, rolling hills and fields of wildflowers. We didn't get as far today as we usually do because we were stopping to take pictures, but we'll be taking our cameras out again soon to show you more of what we've seen. Here's my partner in fitness out on the trail...
Nicole thinks she's seen this castle on the way to Segovia...
This cool bridge leads to somewhere...where that is, we aren't quite sure...
Here's a river that runs next to the horse farm. I wonder if it will disappear as the temperatures rise...
One of many hills we encounter on this trail...
Some of the other flowers we see....even the dandelions are beautiful...
A place where the trail opens up to a ravine below...
So many poppies, so little time....
Trainers exercising the horses. We love to see them walking around the track...
This was so awesome! We heard some whooping and hollering...We think the guys leading the horses got doused by the sprinkler. Check out the rainbow the water created at the bottom of the picture...
Look at this fabulous hacienda...
These horses have it made in the shade!
One of the hills we have to run down because it's too steep to walk...
I love it, love it, love it!!!!!
More poppy-licious pics...
And the trail goes on and on and on...
I love this tree...so solitary at the top of the hill...standing tall and proud...
Did I mention there were poppies???These flowers are so amazing! They almost look man-made. This one looks like it's made out of paper, but it's real. I'll be sad to see them fade away. Hasta luego...

Wordless Wednesday #12


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Scratch and Sniff...

This past Friday, I hosted a group of ladies for Bunco. Bunco is a game that's popular in the States and many groups meet once a month to play, just like we do. And just for the record, the above "bunco" link is to wikipedia, which states that the game is popular among "middle-aged" suburban women...As someone who plans to live to 100, I take offense to that, as I have over 10 years 'til I hit middle age. Shame on you, Wikipedia! Shame on you! But, I digress...Anyway, it was my turn to host and I wanted to have some fresh flowers for the tables. I thought about buying a bouquet or two from Carrefour. They have some beautiful ones at their new flower shop-style kiosks for a very reasonable price. But as I looked outside at the brillant blooms in my own yard, I decided to make an attempt to create some fabulous bouquets of my own.
I recently watched an episode of Oprah where people were talking about doing their dream jobs. One of the guests was the amazing floral designer, Jeff Leatham. He designs all the floral arrangements for the George V in Paris, and has a new show in the States on the TLC Network called "Flowers Uncut." His advice was this...if you really want to create arrangements with impact, pick one beautiful bloom and put together a bouquet of that one flower. So that's what I did...
I wish these pictures were scratch and sniff because they are soooo fragrant! I am amazed at how their scent is fills the room. This is especially nice in the bathroom. ;-)
Combined with the orchid from my friend, Nickie, they make quite a nice tablescape, I think. Sorry your moving, Nickie, but glad I inherited your orchid! Muchas gracias and hasta luego...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

We Have A Dead Body...

Well, that's what I thought my husband said...I come from a long line of "hard of hearing" ladies, plus I was on my cell phone, inside of the Carrefour, so I think it's perfectly understandable how I heard "dead body" when my husband actually said, "dead battery." Well, you can imagine my relief. At any rate, Husband had stayed late at work with our ,van and I borrowed Tiff's to take the boys to get a haircut. I had stopped by Carrefour to try to find my oldest soon some World Cup Soccer collectible sticker book thingy, when I got the call. I checked with Tiff to see if I could have the car long enough to go jump our van with her van and she said that was just fine.

Once I got to my husband's work, we jumped the van and it started right away. We were very happy because we were afraid it might not be the battery since it is less than TWO years old. Must have been a dud...Thanks, Honda! Anyway, Husband asked if he thought we should drive the van straight over to Otman the Mechanic and have him check the battery. I said yes (eventhough it meant there was a very good chance I would miss Dancing With the Stars-The Results on AFN) because we had a lot of appointments the next day, and waking up to a car that wouldn't start just wasn't in the plan. "Better to be safe than sorry" as the saying goes. Our friend had a similar issue a couple weeks ago and told us Otman had a nifty little gadget to check the battery and was able to change his on the spot. Of course, his battery was NINE years old...Way to go, Volvo! So, long story short, we drove over to Otman's and had a new battery and were on our way within 10 minutes. We were thrilled! Spain is not known for being super speedy, but I'd think we would have been pretty hard pressed to find a garage in the States where you could show up at 7pm on a Wednesday night and be in and out, problem solved, in 10 minutes. And I only missed 5 minutes of my show. Not bad! Now, let's hope this battery lasts us until we get back to the States...Hasta luego...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cooking with MariLuz...

Last week, Tiff and I had the treat of learning how to make a spanish tortilla from our friend/masseuse, MariLuz. For months we have talked about getting together with MariLuz and some of her friends for coffee, but because of the timing, we could never schedule it. Then one day before a massage, Mariluz offered me a slice of her homemade spanish tortilla. It was amazing! She said she had a way to make this traditional Spanish dish the "low-fat" way. Well, I was all for that! I tried to make a spanish tortilla when my in-laws were here in October and though it tasted good, I had to use a ton of olive oil and it looked like a big white blob on a plate. So I was thrilled MariLuz had the brilliant idea to combine having coffee with a cooking class. It was best for Tiff and I to get together during the day while the kids were at school. That meant some of MariLuz's friends wouldn't be able to be there, but her good friend, Virginia was in attendance. Virginia is from the States, but she has lived in Spain for over 20 years. Virginia acted as the translator for anything MariLuz, Tiff or I didn't understand. When we arrived at 11:00, MariLuz said making the tortilla was a two part process. We'd do the first part, have coffee and pastries, then finish making the tortilla. Below you'll find the ingredients and the step-by-step instructions with pictures. Finally, you'll get to salivate over the pics where we finally get to eat it!

Spanish Tortilla (makes to 10-12 inch tortillas)

Ingredients:

2 large onions
6 medium potatoes
10 large eggs
2 tbsp of salt
Extra virgin olive oil
Virginia stands by...Ready to translate...Chop onions and place them in a bowl with about 1 cup & a quarter cup of olive oil. MariLuz, like many great cooks, doesn't use exact measurements, so all of the measurements we have here are approximate. MariLuz said she usually wears "gafas del sol" (sunglasses) when she cuts onions so she doesn't cry. Maybe I should try that.
Put in microwave for 5 minutes on high. Take out and stir. If not soft enough, put back in for another five minutes. They should appear to be poached.
Peel 6 potatoes. Cut them into thin slices. Then rinse them, but do not dry. It works better if they are a little wet. Add 2 tablespoons of salt to potatoes.

Add potatoes to the onions and stir.

Time to microwave again. Cover bowl with a plate, but vent it. Cook on high for 20 minutes, then take out and stir it.

If potatoes aren't soft, then put back for another 5 or 10 minutes.

Continue to microwave until potatoes are soft where you can mash with a fork. Oil a frying pan with olive oil all the way up the sides of the pan.
Using a collander, drain the extra olive oil from the potato and onion mixture. Crack eggs into a bowl. Do not beat them too much. Fold potato and onion mixture into the slightly beaten eggs. Turn stove on high to start, heating up the oil. When it is hot, pour in mixture. Keep scraping edges, as well as the middle so it does not stick. Turn down to medium heat and continue to poke at it. Flip it on to a plate (they have special tortilla plates with handles here in Spain) and put back in pan to cook the other side. When it feels a firm, flip it again. Then serve on a pretty plate.
MariLuz set a beautiful table for us... Tiff is ready...

I watched as MariLuz poured us a refreshing cocktail. It's like the Spanish version of a mimosa...lemon sorbet blended with Cava (Spanish champange). It was light and delicious. MariLuz sliced up the tortilla. It can be sliced like a pie or in squares appetizer style...
MariLuz was a gracious hostess and a great example of a kind and beautiful Spanish lady!






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