I don't particularly believe in New Year's Resolutions. Let me clarify.

I believe in constantly resolving your life to be the best version of yourself, in everything you do and everywhere you go. 

That being said, I do think that the new year is a beautiful time to begin this. A new date on the calendar means a fresh start for most people. Tomorrow is New Year's Eve, where auld acquaintance be forgot.

But, is once a year really enough?

Here are my most recent resolutions. Maybe they will take a year. Maybe more. Maybe less!

Resolutions:

-Become more disciplined.

-Learning something new every day.

-Cut out the difficult things in life.

-More fiesta, less siesta.

-Blog more. (Lucky for you!)

-Go an entire day without speaking a single word in English.

-Take more chances.

-Save dinero.

Whatever your resolutions, why wait until January 1st to start them?
 
 
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I used red and green veggies for Christmas colors!
While home for the holidays, I wanted to bring a bit of Spanish culture to my family's taste buds. With a suitcase full of Spanish olives, wine, jamón, and cheese, they were pleasantly surprised at all of Spain's sabores.

The new cocinera in me made a Christmas Paella on Christmas Eve. But there was one more thing I wanted to share, my favorite Spanish food.
An authentic Spanish Tortilla de Patatas. 

Tortilla
 as we call it in Spain, is not what an American would think of when they hear that word. But this is not a flattened piece of bread to make tacos. Nor is it a triangular chip. In fact, it has no relation to tacos at all.

Otherwise known as Tortilla Española, or Spanish Omelet in English, a tortilla is probably one of the most common foods in Spain.
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Can you tell I made this in Florida? PUBLIX!
To make a tortilla, you will need:

-4 Eggs
-3 Potatoes 
-Oil
-Salt


I added onions to mine, and in the past I have also added peppers. Depending on the size you want the tortilla to be, you can add more of each ingredient.
Chop the onions and slice the potatoes, then salt them and fry them over hot oil until they are tender enough to cut with a fork. 
Scramble the eggs (I use a little bit of milk to make the eggs a little fluffier) and add salt.

Pour the eggs onto the potato and onion mixture and let it cook, pushing the sides in as pictured until there is little or no goo-ey-ness on top.
Now comes the tricky part. The flip. 

Both sides need to be cooked, so the tortilla needs to be flipped onto a plate, and then slid back into the pan for the other side to cook.
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Cmon baby, let's do the flip.
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Back into the pan to cook the other side.
When your finished product comes out, it should be round and delicious looking.

I cut mine into squares, and served it hot, right next to my Christmas Paella, for a little bit of Spanish cheer. 
 
 
I have been home for almost a week. And in that week, I have been indulging in many of the American things I have missed the last four months living in Europe. 

One of them, Starbucks Peppermint Mochas.
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Is there anything that says Christmas as much as a peppermint-flavored, over-priced coffee in a holiday-red cup?
While at Starbucks, I placed my order, and gave them my name, per usual. 

It was what happened next that shocked me.

As I went to use the one-person bathroom inside while waiting for my coffee to be made, I shut the door behind me, and waved my hands in the air to turn on the light. After a few seconds of this, I realized something.

I am in the United States now. The lights don't react to a censor, like in Europe. There is an actual light switch! And there I was, waving my arms around like an idiot, wondering what was wrong with this bathroom.

You have seen the Reasons Why I am 25 percent Spanish. Almost exactly 3 months from that blog post, being back in the States has shown me just how Spanish I am becoming.

How Spain is Changing Me:
-I'm never hungry here until actual lunch time. That is, 2:30pm.

-I told my little brothers they needed to put on socks while walking around on the tile floor.

-I can't help but sit and enjoy my coffee instead of walking around with it.

-I no longer pull out my cell phone during family dinners.

-I speak in Spaniard-English to everyone.
Examples: "It's the same." "Tell me." "And you?" and "As you want."

-I ate a piece of fruit last week with a knife and fork.

-Spicy stuff is seriously spicy for me. I even found myself thinking "¡pica!" when I bit into dinner last night. 

-I knew right away that the man on the phone in the store yesterday was from Argentina because of his Spanish accent.

-I want to sit and eat in a restaurant for hours and hours, not get up when we are finished.

-Staying true to my blog title, I still want to take a siesta everyday.

What do you think....am I 40 percent Spanish by now?
 
 
During my 9 hour flight over the Atlantic I was not in the best mood.

I was happy to be coming home, claro, but I was a little fed up of the improper traveling etiquette I saw all around me. 
10 tips for the Non-Experienced Traveler: 
(Yes, I'm talking to you, people from flight 741 that made my day a little bit longer...)

1. At security, your shoes come off. And your belt. Is it necessary to step through the scanner three times before you realize you are wearing a metal belt with bottle caps all over it? 

2. Coats and jackets go on top of luggage. It's like Tetris, people. Only so much space for so many things. Make it happen.

3. Incessant talking is not something anyone can handle for 9 hours straight. I love talking about Spain, and I'm sure your night in Salamanca was very crazy, but enough is enough. This isn't a tea party.

4. Arm rest space is 50/50. Can't you take the hint with the gentle nudge I'm giving you with my forearm? 

5. Don't even get me started on raising the armrest. Don't you know it is there to set boundaries? I just met you, I'm not that kind of girl.

6. I think you're great. But, also, I don't want to straddle you while going to the bathroom. This isn't a movie theater. You're not blocking anyones view. Stand up and let me out. The leg swing is just, not cool.

7. Hey David Guetta, turn down your Ipod, DJ. I can hear you from 2 rows back OVER my in-flight movie.

8. I can't lie, rubbernecking me and looking out my window gives me a little bit of a creepy vibe. 

9. Window shade: open or close. Choose one and stick to it.

10. And finally, an apology, because I'm sorry person behind me, but I feel entitled to the right to recline. There is only so much space.

Am I a cynical traveler? Not at all. Do I love flying? Yes.

Traveling is one of my favorite things to do, and all of the bad etiquette aside, I love the experience of traveling no matter how long the flight. 

For those who don't know proper airline etiquette...if nothing else, you make things interesting! Now that you've read my blog, hopefully you know what not to do.
For those of us who are experienced travelers, no matter how long the flight or how bad the day, we know there is no feeling quite like arriving at your destination. For me on this particular trip, nothing could put me in a better mood than coming home, finally.
 
 
In less than 24 hours I will be leaving Spain for Navidad and flying over the Atlantic, home to Florida.

All things I have missed about home will be waiting for me when I return, and I couldn't be more excited!
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The Florida sunset on Siesta Key beach

Things I will be indulging in during the next 2 weeks:

My bed

Carpeted Floors

Siesta Key beach

Going shopping on a Sunday or during the hours of 2pm-5pm

Frozen yogurt with do-it-yourself toppings

A dryer

Redbox DVDs

Driving

The Target dollar-spot

Degrees in Fahrenheit  

Being barefoot and not being judged

My mom's home cooking

And most of all...MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS that I have missed so much while being across the world thinking about them constantly.
My bags are packed and I'm ready to fly home. Santa Clause has a new name this year: Papa Noel to my family because he is bringing lots of Spanish goodies (in my suitcase).

¡Hasta mañana, Florida!
 

Falconry

12/12/2011

4 Comments

 
Living in another country and building relationships with new friends, students, and colleagues gives you opportunities to try new things. Recently, I experienced something that is not unique with the Spanish culture, but still really interesting.

Falconry is the art of training and hunting animals using birds of prey.

It used to be one of the favorite sports of the royal courts in Europe. And in Spain specifically, there are records of falconry dating back to over 2,000 years ago.
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One of the champion Peregrine falcons
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The terrain of the land where we hunted
The hunting begins with the search for the prey (in our case, Partridges) over miles and miles of land. We had so much land to cover that we began by our search in the car.

After spotting a group of birds, we released a falcon. Then, the dogs ran to stir up the partridges, which duck down into the rocks to hide themselves. When the dogs scare one away, it begins to fly (not very far because it can't) and the falcon swoops down at over 200mph to kill it.

Falcons are the fastest animals on the planet.
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My student became my teacher
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One of the hunting dogs
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Mom, can I have a falcon for Christmas?
Although my experience was not of Spanish culture, I did learn some new Spanish vocabulary, and some really cool facts about something very new to me.

Sometimes the things we don't anticipate or plan turn out to be the best experiences of all, no matter where we are in the world!
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With our winnings of the day! Ew.
 
 
What is a tapa?
A tapa is a small plate of food served with a drink.
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A simple tapa of home-made potatoes and pepper
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An extensive tapa of Grilled goat cheese and a fried ham and cheese eggroll
Where did tapas originate?
Tapa means lid in Spanish, and it is said that long ago in a terrible storm, the King put a piece of jamon on top of his glass of wine so the dust wouldn't get in. Thus creating a lid, or, a tapa.
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A mini sandwich of Morcilla. (You don't want to know what Morcilla is...trust me. Eat, then ask.)
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Bread with onions, meat and cheese all baked together and designed to look like a replica of a typical little kid's dessert.
How much do tapas cost?
The most expensive tapa I've had was 3 euros. And the least expensive- free! In León, Spain, most tapas are free with the purchase of a drink. 
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Toast with Morcilla on top (Again, don't ask. But it's delicious.)
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This egg is about the size of a quarter.
How many tapas do you eat at once?
One if you are eating them as an appetizer before a meal, or 3-5 if you are heading out tapa-hopping (as I like to call it) for a night's activity with friends. 
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The "Obama en la Casa Blanca" tapa famous in Valladolid
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Pulpo (octopus) with potatoes
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Pincho Moruno with mustard sauce
What is the best tapa?
We all have our opinions. My personal favorite is the croqueta. A fried ball of ham, fish, or cheeses, etc. Simple and traditionally Spanish, but with tons of different options of what could be inside.
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Life is like a croqueta, you never know which one you're gonna get.
 
 
The Valladolid city lights have been lit.

Spanish homes may not have elaborate Christmas lights strung on every inch of their roof, but that doesn't mean the city doesn't know how to get into the Christmas spirit!
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El arbol en la Plaza
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Walking up Calle Santiago
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Lights hanging above you as you walk down city streets
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Plaza Zorilla
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All around the Plaza
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City Hall
Even with the power of the cold, how could you not feel all warm and fuzzy inside at Christmas time?
 
 
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Vineyards
One item on my bucket list this year is to become a wine connoisseur in Spain. Drinking wine in bars and tomar-ing algo on Saturday nights hasn't really helped me in that department. 

Instead, day trips to wine-making regions and talking with locals about different types and flavors of wine is slowly helping me achieve my goal. 

Most recently, I took a day trip to the province of Zamora for a wine-tasting tour. 
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Vino, vino, and more...vino!
While there, I visited many different bodegas (wine cellars) and got a real sabor for what wine tasting is all about.
The Basics of Wine Tasting
Step 1: The Tilt. Tilt the glass to take in the true color and clarity of the wine.

Step 2: The Swirl. Swirl your glass for about 10 seconds and sniff. Take in the true smell of the wine and inhale. 

Step 3: The Sip. Take that first sip of wine and let it sit in your mouth a bit, enlightening your palate.

Step 4: El fin. The finish is the aftertaste and observance of the wine and its flavors.
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The wine is taking a little siesta. If you call little 2-3 years.
The wines from Toro were mostly dark, bold wines with lots of flavors. 

Wines there are muy fuerte. And they are also famous. Said to be the very first that Christopher Colombus brought to America, I think that this proves that even in 1492 Americans craved a little bit of that Spanish lifestyle.

The wines were so strong, that after a day of tasting, I had to mix them with tonic water at dinner to tranquila a bit.  

I haven't yet acquired the tolerance of a Spaniard. The drinking age is 18 here, so they start earlier.
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Wine tasting in Bodegas Monte La Reina
Needless to say, they don't call this area of Spain La Tierra del Vino (the land of wine) for nothing. 

Beautiful bodegas, strong wine, and one day trip luego...I am fully lip-stained, but one step closer to becoming a wine connoisseur!
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Lip-Stained in Zamora