Tuesday, 7 December 2010

A lovely bank holiday and a recipe to share

We are in the midst of a huge bank holiday here in Madrid - all in all it's five days off from Saturday to Wednesday. I so needed this break, and although I haven't done anything particularly exciting I feel like a new woman. On Saturday D and I had a G&T night in, and I wanted something light and fresh to accompany so I made sweetcorn blinis, topped with greek yoghurt whipped with a little Philadelphia cheese (which makes a decent substitute for sour cream, which you can't get in Spain) smoked salmon and..er...Euro Caviar - I promise I wasn't being stingy and would have bought the real thing, albeit a tiny thimble of it... but alas El Corte Inglés's rincon del gourmet isn't always all that gourmet and I couldn't get any... Still, we enjoyed them as luckily I'm a big fan of roe of all types. Sorry, they were devoured so quickly that I forgot to take photos - ok, that plus the fact I was a little tipsy - embarassingly, all I have left is the one remaining sad little blini that somehow managed to miss my mouth and that I have pictured below. Anyway, to make up for my lack of journalistic detail, I will share the recipe :-)

The recipe is one I adapted from one I scribbled down on a back of an envelope years ago and while it isn't totally orthodox (no buckwheat flour, and no buttermilk - partly as they're hard to get here and partly due to laziness) I can promise they are very tasty and won't disappoint .

Ingredients: (makes about 30, 5cm diameter blinis, though again, due to tipsiness I can't vouch for my this 100%)
150g plain flour
250ml milk (you may need to add a little more less when done, check how the texture is, it should be like a thickish cake batter)
3 small eggs, beaten
1/ tsp salt
dessertspoonful baking powder
2 tablespoons of melted butter (I cheated and used a good slug of olive oil)
200g sweetcorn drained (I got mixed up and thought the recipe required fresh corn on the cob, so I removed the kernels from one cob and boiled them for about 15 minutes then let them cool down)

Mix the flour with the milk with a wooden spoon, beat in eggs, salt, baking powder and butter/oil then add sweetcorn. Fry spoonfuls in a pan with a little oil/butter and turn over when bubbles begin to show on the surface. Serve with soured cream and smoked fish/roe with a twist of lemon. If I had had any mixture left over I would have served it with bacon and eggs the next morning, yummy. Anyway, I'm going to get on with enjoying the rest of this lovely little break and if I get up to anything interesting, I'll let you know :-)

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Running tops

The sheer amount of stuff happening in my life at the moment mean I haven't done a yoga class in a while. My body feels stiff and cranky and in need of a good stretch. I haven't been completely idle these past weeks though, as thanks to David I've taken up running. Yes, me, running. It's something I always thought I'd be totally crap at, but surprisingly in just a couple of weeks (and 4 sessions) I've got up to 5km. Not exactly a marathon I know, but it's a start. Image conscious as ever, I've noticed that I feel much better jogging in D's figure-hugging dri-fit leggings than my own baggy junkie-style tracksuit bottoms. Despite my supposed 'busyness' I've managed to find the time to browse the web in search of stylish ladies running gear - namely tops as I'd rather wear some plain leggins on my bottom half - I'm too lanky to look good in bootleg.

I love this Alpine top from Lululemon, the colour and the fit are just gorgeous and I think the hole in the hood for your pony tail is ingenious - no more ponytail scrunched into a ball and no more looking like a boy when you have your hood up. Sorry the other thumbnails pics are so small.

Equally gorgeous but a little more spring-timey is this option from Sweaty Betty...

And now, something that even body-conscious old moi would find too daring to run in but that is undeniably very sexy, this Stella McCartney top for Adidas...

And for summer in beige from Sweaty Betty - wouldn't it look nice with a tan?

For some reason I actually believe these tops will make me run faster...I just need to find out where to get them in Spain.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Bits and bobs

I'm a wee bit stressed at the moment (in a good way). I've recently been promoted at work and I'm finishing off my old job and starting the new one and trying to do my best in both. Also I seem to have a tonne of personal bits and pieces to do - arranging my visa and jabs for my trip to Sudan in December, kidney doctor appointments here and there, friends and family that I feel I haven't paid enough attention to recently and fights with the evil telecoms company 'telefónica' who seem to be intent on robbing me of every last penny I own.

Anyway, enough ranting! I just wanted to share this link (sourced via SwissMiss):
Tapi - I think this is ingenious! (no more dribbly slurping from ones hand - I know, I know, civilised peolple have glass cups for this kind of thing...)

Tuesday, 2 November 2010


¡Que morro! (what a cheek) I disappear from my blog for over a week and return only to write a post about knickers. You see since living in Spain, which doesn't have M&S, I have somewhat struggled with the search for reasonably priced yet, ahem, supportive undies. Sometimes it feels like the choice is limitied to a) 60 Euro La Perla panties from El Corte Inglés, b) Pretty bits of lace from H&M or Oysho that fall apart in 2 weeks and offer no flesh resistance whatseover, or c) alternatively paying a visit to one of those curious little shops that has underwear hanging from invisible nylon thread in an elaborate window display - thongs, granny pants and robust brassieres that appear to float and dance whimsically before you very eyes (see photo above for a mild version). The problem with option C is that it takes so damn long to shop there, as once you're in the shop you can't actually have a rummage - everything is neatly stored and stacked in boxes which some kindly señora will allow you to see, but only once she has served the long line of other señoras who are queueing in front of you. Just not convenient. This is post is about knickers, but is also about VPL (Visible Panty Line - sorry boys) - something I despise but find very hard to avoid - even my supposedly no-VPL knickers seem to leave visible lines the size of mountain ranges (ok, I'm exagerrating). Enter R, my VPL-free colleague, who suggested I try Intimissimi's seamless panties. Intimissimi, if you've never seen it, is an Italian brand with a shop near Sol that has revolving mannequins in thongs. Ring a bell? I always thought it was a little over-priced, but desperate for a smooth rear, I decided to give it a try this weekend (dragging my boyfried D in with me, poor boy) and check out the goods. I have to say, at first sight the seamless knickers were not that pretty. Because they are genuinley totally seamless they look a little unfinished, and if you go for flesh tones they resemble some sort of old chamois cloth. Not a good look. Anyway after trying them on, I can honestly say they are the MOST comfy and invisible undies I have every worn, and on offer at the moment for 3 pairs for 16e not too bad a buy. Ladies give them a try, but I recommend black to avoid that old-dishcloth look. Available in thong, normal (?) and culotte.

This is the culotte version

Friday, 22 October 2010

A DIY project for autumn?

Getting on for 3 years ago when I bought and renovated my apartment, I started off with big ideas for the decor but eventually ran out of cash, meaning certain things never got finished - like installing a glass shower partition and replacing my Ikea paper globe lamps with something more exotic. Nothing wrong with Ikea paper globe lamps, it's just that my ceilings are 3.30 metres high and I feel they could carry of something a little more dramatic. The trouble is I'm loathe to spend a fortune on a fancy lamp when I have far more important things to spend my money on these days - so I thought about this fantastic DIY project from Nichole at Parlour.  Can you believe it's made from over 1000 coffee filters glue-gunned to a paper lamp?! I think the effect is quite stunning and I certainly wouln't mind investing a couple of lazy Sundays in creating this lamp for my living room (I already have the paper lamp hanging, so all I need is a squillion coffee filters).

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Explained absences

Those of you who know me personally will probably know why I haven't been the most faithful of bloggers recently :-) Something most unusual has happened, I've been completely swept off my feet and have apparently fallen in love. I honestly had no idea it could be so easy. A couple of months ago I ranted on about how my own eat-pray-love journey this year had kinded of ended with the praying bit, but that I was happy nevertheless. Well I was wrong, apparently love was there waiting in the wings. Although I'm posting less regularly recently I promise to make more of an effort - I've had my blog for over 2 years and am not about to give it up so easily :-)

The graffiti above is by Banksy.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Foodie blogbuddies and more

When I started this blog 2.5 years ago I had no idea that it would lead me to meet such nice people.

After months of reading their amusing musings, last weekend I finally got to meet fellow Madrid bloggers, Aaron of A year in the mierda, and Deb of ComoSolo. We had arranged to meet at the Bristol Bar - think English gentleman’s club (not that I’ve ever been in one); G&Ts, red velvet, bangers and mash and photos of none other than Queen Victoria – but alas, Madrid being Madrid and having wayward and unexplained opening times, it was closed. So we went for a drink elsewhere, then Deb had the fantastic idea of taking us to try what is probably the best pizza I’ve tried outside Italy. Pizza al Taglio (C/Barco 45) sells pizza by the slice, you can even choose what size slice you want. The dough is to die for – fine and crispy yet just a little chewy. The simple yet tasty toppings included parma ham and mozzarella, gorgonzola and pear, courgette and ricotta, wild mushrooms and tomato and cherry tomato and chilli. You can’t actually sit down to eat, but they have a deal going with a nearby bar where you can do so. Unfortunately this was closed, so Deb kindly invited us up to her lovely apartment for wine, music and a good laugh over certain compromising facebook photos. The staff are also charming and not entirely uneasy on the eye :p

And this weekend I had a wonderful sushi lesson with Vanessa, who I also met through the blog a few months back, and her friend Sally. We went shopping for salmon and tuna in the marvellous mercado de las maravillas (metro Alvarado) then back to Sally's for a fun day of rolling makis followed by eating them, washed down with champagne. Makes me think, writing a blog has been worth it, if only for the lovely people I've met :-)
Fish market - I couldn't help but put my finger in the shark's mouth

 Prep time
 Slicing the tuna and salmon
 Rolling the makis
Et voila!

Monday, 4 October 2010

Gold and silver interiors

Mixing gold and silver is meant to be an ultimate style faux pas, but lately I seem to be changing my mind. In my little apartment most of my walls are cream, with rich burgundy accent walls... contrary to popular belief a dark wall in a small space can sometimes actually make it look bigger by making the painted wall recede into the distance. For the past few months I have been toying with the idea of replacing the red with something a little more calming. If I had a flat with lots of natural light, I'd quite like to go for an all white out minimalist look, but bearing in mind I'm so attached to my furniture and that pure white needs natural light to make it look bright rather than dingy I'm thinking of going more down the lines of pewters, creams, golds and off whites. I already have a lot of cream and neutral basics, so making the transformation won't be that hard. My main dilemma is what to do with the big colourful wool rug which I have in the middle of the room - I love it, but don't have anywhere to put it...and it was too pricey to just get rid of. Winter is of course a terrible time to decorate, and it's fast approaching, but perhaps I can spend the next few months curating(?!) clippings and inspiration and get into DIY mode in spring. Below are some photos of my apartment now and some of the pictures that have been inspiring me.


Living room view from sofa

Dining...er... 'nook'

This one's a bit older - I now have curtains and the sofa is against the cream wall opposite.

The tie-backs I picked up in Marrakech

Inspiration - the two below are from a Morrocan Riad, it's a shame I lost the source link.

More to follow :-)

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Hidden Madrid - Calling all Goya fans

Last weekend I was introduced to the little-known (at least little-known by me) chapel where Goya is buried in Madrid; Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida, near Metro Moncloa. Not only is the great maestro buried there, but he is responsible for the wonderfully vibrant and dynamic frescoes adorning the ceiling. Entry is free and it's pretty much free of crowds.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Been away

I have only just realised that I haven't posted in over a week - very unlike me. The reason is I've been pretty much mega-busy, though in the good sense of the word - interesting stuff has been happening in my life which I can't really talk about just yet ;-) All I can say is I've been taken to some very nice places around Madrid which I'll be updating you on asap!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Tea at the Santo Maura

A friend and I stopped by at the gorgeous Hotel Santo Mauro today for a nice cup of Earl Gray. I'd heard of this swish former palace on C/Zurbano before but had never seen it in person. Gorgeous!

Saturday, 18 September 2010


Isn't this bath for two, by Thun and Rodriguez, just lovely? One of my gripes with my apartment is that it doesn't even have a bath for one, let alone for two... and there's little I love more on a Friday evening, after a long week at work, than to put on some soothing music, pick up a magazine and have a hot bath. So relaxing. But alas, with no bath, the sofa and a bar of chocolate have to suffice. What's your favourite way of winding down at the end of the week?

Thursday, 16 September 2010

I'm talking to you 3b

This mat made me laugh, it really could have been made for me. And as for 3b, there is no 3b, but these sentiments could apply to pretty much the entire population of my Madrid neighbourhood, Lavapies...
From the Onion Store

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

A cheery song for back to school

I've been back at work for a couple for weeks now and the dreaded sindrome post vacacional so common in Spain as we tend to get THE WHOLE MONTH OF AUGUST OFF seems to be lifting a little :-) Although I left school more years ago than I care to remember, September for me is still when the 'real year' begins rather than January, and is a good opportunity to sneakily start working on those dreaded New Year's resolutions and get a little head start. Anyway, thought I'd share my cheery mood with this song I like from Florence and the Machine. And yes indeed, for now at least, it would seem like the dog days are over.

Celebitchy plastic surgery - have they or haven't they?

About 2 years ago I did a little post on this topic, and suprisingly (or not) it turned out to be one of the most- read items on my blog (according to google :-)) despite not drawing many comments. Anyway, here's another batch. What's the verdict? Have they gone under the knife/or are they simply wearing better, ahem, make up?

Blake Lively

Danni Minogue

Elsa Pataky

Jennifer Garner

Jordan aka Katie Price (ok, this it a trick question)

Kate Winslet

Salma Hayek

And again...

It's easy to sneer at those who've had work done...but, honestly, would you really never, ever, have anything done if you knew it would look natural, had the cash, and there would be no complications? Impossible guarantees of course but I know I personally couldn't promise to NEVER have anything done if it was really getting me down. Deeta Von Teese, who is famously open about her surgery seems to think these procedures are just a more extreme form of make up. Hmm, not sure about that, you're unlikely to kill yourself using make up - then again I did once almost poke my out trying to apply eyeliner while driving (I'm such a bad driver that the possibility of multitasking is a complete no-no).

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Autumnal inspiration

I know it’s a bit early for this, but as I seem to be in such a hibernating sort of mood this September, I thought I’d do a post to provide a bit of autumnal inspiration. In this old post from Apartment Therapy they talk about the best autumn rituals; the readers mention cosy socks and a good book curled up on the sofa, hot bubble baths (I’m so mad that my apartment only has a shower), drinking cocoa and snuggling up with kittens, pumpkin pie scented candles and more.

And here are a few things which might be catching my fancy as October comes in :-)

Autumnal jewellery, like this delicate leaf necklace from Etsy seller BeadinBabe, made from a real leaf plated in silver.

Another thing on my mind is the prospect of taking up knitting again, bored of making scarves but daunted by jumpers, how about a snuggly blanket for the sofa? I found the lovely free pattern pictured below on the Rowan wool site and wonder if I could manage it? By the way, if you want to buy wool in Madrid, try the wonderfully retro Lanas Gato Negro near Plaza Mayor where they sell wool by the hank rather than by ball!

Another thing I'm looking forward to is making bacon and butternut squash soup topped with a little yoghurt and parsley. I found this recipe years ago and have made it ever since. Delicous. The only thing that always puts me off is the painful task of peeling the squash. But my colleague R has recently informed me that there's not need to peel it at all. Did you know that? I certainly didn't. She says that if you chop it up then boil or roast it, the skin can easily be pulled off afterwards. What a good idea.

For a bit of autumnal decadence, I'm really taken with this gold Morroccan pouffe from Graham&Green. It's kind of pricey and I really wish that I'd picked one up in Marrakech earlier this year where they cost the equivalent of about 30 euros.

Regular readers of this blog may be familiar with my love of all things fragrant and the French brand L'Occitane. The other day I came accross this gorgeous smelling cinnamon scented candle which reminds me of autumn, baking and all things wholesome.

Well, that's enough autumn for today. It's late summer in Madrid and I guess I should go out and enjoy it. A glass of white wine on a terraza, hopefully followed by the latest offering from Woody Allen.

What are your favourite things about Autumn?

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Blablabla - my temporary state as a couch potato

This is kind of a post for post's sake. I don't have much interesting to report I'm afraid but my sister Sayda has been hassling me about my sporadic posts lately and has guilted me into writing even though I have nothing that special to share. Fact is, since returning from Bali, all I want to do is curl up at home with a good book/my favourite series - at the moment Masterchef and Top Chef reruns - which while pretty meaningless at least provide me with the motivation to walk up the hill to my local market for some fresh produce to make a nice meal - like the pan fried perch I did today. It's like I'm slipping into winter mode even though it's still 26 degrees out there. Before the summer I was all about forcing myself to go out and have fun, whereas the past few weeks I seem to get a disproportionate amount of satisfaction from just eating a ripe peach or lighting an insence stick on my tiny balcony and noting how it rids the air of all the smells of boiled lentils with chunks of lard that my neighbours seem to cook first thing on a saturday morning... I really am miss boring, and secretly feel pleased when plans to go out fall through. Not like me at all! I promise myself that I will get out there again; I'll be back at yoga, back at French, and running, and writing a novel, and setting up an online business and God knows what. But for now, for the next couple of weeks, I'm happy just to take it easy. I can see now that I was doing too much before the summer, as I think I mentioned in a previous post, my self-diagnosed superwoman syndrome was perhaps causing me a bit of anxiety, so maybe that's where this need to do nothing (apart from my physio which I can't give up) comes from. Or maybe it's just laziness or a sympton of what the Spanish call syndrome post vacacional? Whatever it is, I'm quite enjoying it :-)
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