Some of my very old girlfriends, Jen and Jan, sent T and me some Valentines Day surprises this week! Isn’t it always so much fun to go get the mail, not expecting anything exciting, and see a box with your name on it? Candies, a friendship necklace, a picture book, a quote a day calendar, some pictures of them and their kids and a little note. Friends are so much fun!

Some surprises which aren’t fun are the (sometimes odd) things Amazon.com won’t ship to us: gum, panini grills, walkie talkies, computer keyboards, etc. I mean, what is the common denominator in all of these things? Honestly, would it be so bad if some of our gum fell into Spanish hands? And a keyboard…why, I ask you? *sigh* If I can just hold out for a little while longer…

I’ve been meaning to put up a pic or two from our horse riding adventures…I must need to live in a wide open place with mountains in the distance…I love the scenery on the way out to the horse farm. It’s so beautiful sometimes. And it’s funny what a difference seeing the same thing in 2-D is…I take the picture focusing on the mountains, and when I see the results the clouds are really what catch my eye.

sitting in bed (aka ‘the boat’) with T, wiping out a whole box of Nestle Crunch cereal. I don’t think we moved from that spot (except for the foray to the kitchen) until after noon…is there anything more perfect than that??? One of the wonderful things about Spain is all the Saint holidays. El dia de San Blas was Tuesday, so T had the option of going in for a few hours on Saturday to listen to the Spanish astronaut speak or going to work Monday. Since the Superbowl starts here at midnight and we’d invited Steve and family and Jay here for the event, T opted for the Saturday work day, and got Monday and Tuesday off.

The Superbowl was fun…I stayed up later than I expected to. We had buffalo chicken wings, bell peppers and cucumbers to dip in homemade bleu cheese dressing; short bread sticks I baked with a ranch dressing coating (soooo good!); and several candies including Hello Dolly for dessert. Kelly brought the drinks and some olives (one of the things I’ll miss when we return to the States later this year). I didn’t really start cutting up the veggies until they got here, so it took me longer to get it all ready, but that was fine. After the game got underway and I finished up in the kitchen I sat out a bit and watched some. Last year I went to bed before the halftime show, I think. I saw it this year…what a surprise! :-) Jackson’s little show was a bit shocking…and with 3 kids here I was a little embarrassed. Of course the whole thing was even funnier the next time Teresa came over…we’ve already had a discussion about the sound/meaning difference between tidy/titty; this was just the perfect opportunity to clarify the topic once again.

Here’s the recipe for the Bleu Cheese Dressing:

1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoon buttermilk
3 tablespoon bleu cheese; crumbled
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix all ingredients together by hand in a small bowl until smooth.

Cover and chill for 30 minutes (I usually wait several hours) before serving.

Buttermilk substitutions: 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup yogurt OR 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup, let sit 5 minutes.

Well, the real reason I’m writing today is that we’ve marked a milestone in this household: I took my last bcp yesterday. Although there’s still about a month until we can start trying, the road to starting our family began yesterday! The more I think about it the more I wonder if I’m really ready to have children. I’ve wanted a baby for as long as I can remember…but the older I get the more responsibility I realize comes with a baby. I know I can handle the ins and outs of taking care of a new baby, and the situations that arise as that child grows up…but the more I think about all the time constraints the more selfish I want to be with my own time, space etc. I believe, on the other hand, that my whole world will change with the birth of our child. I’m all at once so excited to begin this adventure, and a little nervous to commit myself to the life changes that go along.

Man, I’ve been away for a while…gotta catch up! Nothing much more than the usual lately, though.

T’s going to hear an astronaut speak today…hope he understands enough to enjoy the time. I still don’t understand the Spanish mentality…I know the astronaut knew he was coming here more than 24 hours in advance, but that’s all the notice anyone on T’s level or several steps higher got…for a Saturday even! Good grief! And it’s always like this…makes planning anything in advance tough.

We got our persianas fixed this week. I had a pretty good cleaning up day Tuesday, I guess, and then went to Sanchez (local store) and talked to a guy about coming to look at/fix our bedroom and bathroom persianas. He came out that night to get the measurements and got crap all over taking the wall panel out. I was surprised that he came at all, though. But isn’t that the way it goes? I get off my butt and clean up and then we have work done at the house. Then he showed up last night to put in the new persianas while Jay/Carm were here…ever heard of calling ahead???

Been thinking about a pro/con list of Spain. Persianas are definitely on the pro side. Wonderful light blocking built in screens. And this guy replaced a small and medium one for 90 euros; that’s not a bad price. I love being able to completely shut up the house when we’re gone. Lovely things.

We invited J/C over to try out our presents from T’s students…a small leg of ham, fresh salchichon and cecina ahumado. It was all very good…I’m beginning to like the curado cheese more than the semicurado. We ate the last of Teresa’s wonderful cake. Yummm….

Horseback riding is going ok…Tuesday I was really frustrated and fed up with Bonny and Cindy. I was having a hard time making Bonny do what I wanted, and so asked Cindy for some pointers. The funny thing about Cindy is that she doesn’t mind showing the horses who’s boss, but she doesn’t necessarily want us to. When I asked her for some help she just said ‘give her some heel and she may straighten up, but that’s just Bonny’. Now I know she wouldn’t take that off of Bonny…oh well. Can’t wait till I can really ride. Pretty much got the saddle/bridle thing down. Thursday I had to totally brush Bonny off…she’d been really rolling around in the mud the night before. The lesson went well that day…did more trotting without any reins…Cindy says I’m looking good. :-) Mom emailed me that she’d been thrown/fallen off horses twice when she was a kid…gonna have to get the whole story there one day.

I’ve made a couple of recipes lately…but the best by far is White Chicken Chili (I love crockpot recipes!).

6 each chicken breast; 1 1/2 lb
1 large onion; chopped ;1 cup
2 clove garlic; finely chopped
14 1/2 oz chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon tabasco
30 oz northern beans; from can, rinsed and drained (I only had 1 can of northerns, so I also used a can of pintos)
15 oz corn; drained (not a big fan of corn so I left it out)
3 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoon cilantro

Mix onion, garlic, broth, cumin, oregano, salt and tabasco in 3 1/2 – 6 quart crockpot. Add chicken.

Cover and cook on low 4-5 hours or until chicken is tender.

Use 2 forks to shred chicken.

Stir in beans, corn, lime juice and cilantro.

Cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes or until beans and corn are hot.

Serve plain, or with crushed tortilla chips, cheddar cheese and sour cream.

Yield: 8 servings

I made a batch of this yesterday and think I’m gonna freeze some.

Let’s see, what else…I’ve been working on this site…still improving, but wish I knew more about stylesheets. T’s given me a couple of websites on css and movable type, but I need more. If anyone has any tips, websites, book suggestions, etc. I’d appreciate them (no matter how long from now you read this). I like the background/title, but wish I knew how to frame my actual blog, and make it and the links more unified.

Been working on Steve’s site lately…checking links, etc. Hope to get it looking better soon.

Guess that’s it for so far. Might update later when we get back…going out this afternoon with Fran/Teresa for a bite.

Today was good, but uneventful. Dusted and swept the front of the house…aired it out too. Opened the house all up for the first time since winter began yesterday; it was warmer outside than inside (not unusual at all). Back to this morning: found out that the white powder on the spare room floor wasn’t packing dust from the stuff we’d been storing in there…it’s effervescence. In other words, although we knew that the house wasn’t insulated at all (like practically all houses here), now moisture is seeping in from the floor, not just the outside walls (and the inside walls that back onto our master bathroom). Ah…the joys of living in Spain.

Teresa called to get together this morning; I went to her house…no unexpected crying (or even crying of any sort!). We had a good time.

Put beef and broccoli in the crockpot this morning and it cooked while we had our riding lesson. Last Thursday I learned why ‘heels down’ was important. Cindy had me ride Bonny at a quick trot with my toes down for a while, and then I switched to a heels down position…I couldn’t believe how much of a difference it made. I really felt uncontrolled with my toes down, and like I was really riding Bonny with my heels down. Today as soon as I got on Cindy said I had good form…I wasn’t concentrating on it that hard…sounds like improvements are being made. :-) However, still couldn’t get Bonny to make a left and miss the gate home from the school. Still need to work on mastering her. It was cool, though, that I managed to change her walk speed with just heel/ring finger movements. T and I had separate riding times today; mine was totally in the school, and T’s was all walking about the lemon orchard. I decided to walk to meet them when their time was about up…imagine my surprise when I saw Cindy leading Lulu back and no T in sight! Apparently riding was uncomfortable to his stomach, so he walked the rest of the way back. Other than that it was good.

Just tasted my beef and broccoli: not that good. Glad I only made a little. Had some of Teresa’s cake: wonderful, as usual.

PS. Still need to write about our trip to Melilla and Fez…gotta get the part about the smugglers down.

Well, it’s not all how I envision it, but my blog is certainly coming along. So is my knowledge of CSS (which before last Monday was non-existent!).