January 2004

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!).

Man, I don’t know what happened last night, but it was bad…

Strange symptoms of late:
Last Monday (the 12th) just before Teresa got here I began to feel dizzy. I tried to figure out if it was just all in my head, but then I started getting really hot, and then about 15 minutes later I was really cold. Last Thursday (the 15th) at Teresa’s house I was telling her how ditzy I’ve been lately (namely forgetting twice in one day to actually start the dryer, more on Spanish dryers later) and all of a sudden, with practically no warning, I started crying! I was so embarrassed, but fortunately it didn’t last long. After that everything was fine.
Then last night…about 3/4 of the way through my riding lesson I began to feel a headache coming on. On our way home we stopped at Carrefour in Cartegena to pick up some groceries, and then went to the airport to pick up our mail. As we headed home I began to open the mail and felt my headache go from simply hurting my head to more like carsickness…I was pretty annoyed because I was trying a new recipe and wanted to taste it; instead I went home and immediately to bed. Yuck! I’m hoping all of these are merely random and not a sign of anything.


Other than that things are on an even keel here. Teresa and Carmen came over this morning…Teresa showed us how to make her terrific cake. I just had a piece…it’s great, but may need to set a little more.

This weekend looks peaceful…don’t think we’ll even get out of our pj’s until church on Sunday. :-)

I made this for the second time today. But, in my defense, I halved the recipe each time…surely that shows some restraint!?

Hello Dolly

1 stick butter (I used a little less…didn’t like the strong buttery flavor)
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
12 oz milk chocolate chips; or any combination of peanut butter chips/butterscotch chips (I used leftover candies…like Whitman’s Sampler candies)
7 oz flaked coconut
1/2 – 1 cup walnuts; chopped, or pecans or almond
14 oz sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a 9×13 baking pan, melt butter in oven until completely liquefied. Tilt pan on all sides to grease pan with the melted butter about halfway up each side (can use a pastry brush if you prefer).

On a level surface, sprinkle graham cracker crumbs over melted butter. Sprinkle on chocolate chips, coconut, and finally the nuts (as evenly as possible).

Drizzle sweetened condensed milk over all. Do not stir.

Bake for 30 minutes or until edges and top are golden and center feels firm. Cool and cut into small squares (about 1 1/2 inches square).