The Budget: Feeling Less Poor.

Well, I have officially been here two months and it has taken just as long to feel like I have found “my groove” not only in my day-to-day life, but in my spending, as well.  I still feel #poor, but not nearly as much as before.  And I have since remedied that #homeless situation.  Life, in general, seems to be on an upswing and now that I have more of a balance, I wanted to share my spending habits so you can see how life does get better, and if you decide to move to Madrid (or anywhere, really), you will see that while you are never as rich as you were when you lived at The International Bank of Mom and Dad, you also won’t be sharing a cardboard box with the man that inevitably lives on your corner.  Or maybe you will, but I won’t so…you’re on your own.

Background about each week:

Week One: Paid for my phone bill, coffees, clothes, a couple meals out, and my hair straightening (130 Euro)

Week Two:  Paid for a couple nights out, coffee, groceries, some “Chino” things

Week Three: Went shopping once, bought groceries, paid for round trip ticket to Belgium (106 Euro) and for the hostel (45 Euro)-will be taking this trip in December.  Without these things, I only spent 63 this week.

Week four: Bought groceries, paid rent, bought a few coffees and went out to eat twice.  Also started Spanish class and paid for that.Budget Month 2

As you can see, I spent significantly less in my second month in Spain.  This total included a (planned) trip to Belgium (160 Euro), rent (380 Euro), and my hair (130 Euro).  2/3 of these things are wants, not needs, and are not monthly expenses.  Plus, my income this month was greater than my spending, so…win/ win?

Here is a breakdown of my spending my category:Month 2 Budget by Category

So-as you can see- once again, my monthly and categorized budgets don’t match up.  They are off by about 200 Euro, but that’s okay.  Like last month, I am happy just to be keeping track of my spending, even if it’s not exact.

Let’s see…what can I say about my spending habits?  I spend entirely too much money on rent…I think I might move in with the homeless community that resides in my neighborhood and nip that whole rent thing in the bud.  Other than that, my grocery bill is much higher than I thought it was.  I thought I was spending about 100 Euro on food each month, but it’s closer to 200.  That seems like a lot of food for one person?  I will need to start limiting the weekly food expenditure to 25 Euro.  In the U.S, I wasn’t much of a “shopping” person, but I have somehow adopted a nasty shopping habit here.  I mean, it’s not awful….but it’s safe to say I have basically purchased an entirely new wardrobe.

As for the uncategorized, that includes a gift I bought as well as the price of gettin’ my hair did.  Won’t be happening again for another few months.

Goals for next month:

  • Spend under 1,000 Euro
  • Spend under 125 Euro on groceries
  • Spend less on clothes
  • Earn more money than I spend

I earn 1,000 Euro/ month at school (working 16 hours/ week) and an additional 450-500/ month teaching private lessons.  This is a separate post for another day, but, ideally, I would like to be able to pay for food and rent through lessons and save my 1,000 for fun money- travel, partying, shopping, etc.  Right now, I still feel like I am crawling out of the deep hole that was the first month of throwing money out the window, but I will slowly get there.

Cheers to spending less!

Say What? II

When teaching a group of six 5-year-olds
In the middle of a lesson about rooms in the house, one of them says, “What the f*ck!” And then they all repeat, “What the f*ck!” And they are cracking up. I tell them they can’t say that and it’s a bad word and they all look at each other and say “que es la significa?” And they all say, “no se…. What the f*ck!”.
And then they proceed to “cheers” with the cup of water you had to give all of them because one child wanted it and of course the rest of them are dying of thirst and need water too.  So they do: arriba! abajo! al centro! por al dentro! And drink the water like its a shot.
What the f*ck?

Cocinando III.

Like I said in my Toledo post, I spent much of this weekend cooking.  So much cooking!IMG_1452

This week, I spent 23 Euro (but actually closer to 40 Euro because I went for extra groceries).  However, here is what I go for 23.


Eggs // arugula // romaine


Carrots // bananas // clementines // onion // tomatoes // peppers // beans // canned tomatoes // canned tomato sauce // squash // cream cheese // laughing cow cheese // canned corn // baking soda // pomegranate // cinnamon


butter // vanilla // eggplant // cucumbers// sunflower seeds

Unpictured: Cranberries // chocolate chips // quinoa // mozzarella cheese

And this week I made:

  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Quinoa/ pomegranate/ cranberry/ squash salad (with arugula)
  • Eggplant parmesan
  • Chili con carne


Chocolate-Chip CookiesIMG_1445

I followed this recipe from Averie Cooks.  This is THE BEST cookie recipe that delivers consistent, perfect cookies.  It was a little difficult to perfect in my Madrid kitchen, but I was pleased with the result.

Let me tell you, finding baking ingredients in Madrid is not like it is in the United States.  It’s not just like…hey baking aisle!  With sugar and brown sugar and vanilla and flour and baking soda.  No.  Everything is randomly all over the store and impossible to find.  I had to buy the chocolate-chips from a specialty store because they only have chocolate bars and candies in the chocolate aisle.  Maybe it was somewhere else.  And vanilla?  Crazy expensive, so I bought these little vials and after dumping an entire vial into the batter, I realized that it’s concentrated vanilla.  No wonder the stuff was coming out in drops…  Luckily, the cookies came out really well.  I’m going to make more this weekend ;) IMG_1410

Quinoa // Cranberry // Pomegranate SaladIMG_1451


  • Quinoa
  • Cranberries (dried)
  • Pomegranate Seeds
  • Squash
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Arugula or other greens


  • Dice the squash into bite-sized pieces, coat with olive oil, s&p, and cinnamon.  Roast in the oven (or toaster, in my case) at the highest temperature for about 45 minutes.  Let cool, if you want,
  • Cook the quinoa as usual
  • De-seed the pomegranateIMG_1440
  • Toss the quinoa, squash, seeds, cranberries with a little olive oil and salt and put it over arugula. You can also roast the squash seeds with oil, s&p and other spices, and add them to the salad.IMG_1439

Eggplant ParmesanIMG_1442


  • Eggplant
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • Vegetable oil, for frying


  • Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch slices.
  • In one bowl, whisk an egg
  • In another bowl, add some breadcrumbs (or crush some crackers, which is what I did)
  • In a pan, heat some vegetable oil.  It doesn’t have to be much
  • One at a time, coat a piece of eggplant in egg and then the breadcrumbs and add to the hot oil
  • Repeat with all pieces
  • Let them fry until golden brown on each side and remove them to a plate
  • With a baking pan, put a layer of tomato sauce, then eggplant, then cheese, then sauce, then repeat until the pan is full.
  • The top layer should have a layer of sauce and then a layer of cheese
  • Cover with foil and bake at the highest temp for about 30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the eggplant feels soft.
  • Optional:  Add raw zucchini slices to the layers of eggplant.  I did this and it worked nicely.

Chili Con Carne


  • 1 lb beef
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 lb beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbs of cumin
  • 1 Tbs of hot pepper
  • salt and pepper


  • Add oil to a pot and heat it.
  • Add the onion and garlic and saute until soft, about 3 minutes
  • Add the beef and keep moving it so that it cooks evenly
  • Add everything else to the pot, cover, and put on low for an hour or more- until the beans are soft.
  • Don’t burn your tongue, like I did.



Weekend Adventuring: Toledo & More.

I think it’s necessary to begin this post by commenting on the tragic events that occurred in Paris over the weekend.  Terrorist attacks are scary and heartbreaking no matter what, but living in a European country so close to Paris has made it hit home that much more.  It has, once again, reminded me of how fragile life is, and to be grateful for each day that the people that I love are healthy and safe.  There are people that don’t have an ounce of humanity in their soul and being, but despite everything- keep looking for the good things in this world.

Good Afternoon/ Morning!

I have one hour to bang out this post before I have to head off to a private lesson.  I have a bajillion photos to edit, organize, and share, and a few words to write.  Ready, set….go.

This was yet another great weekend.  I woke up at 8:05 this morning and I usually leave the house by 7:50 am…so….it was a jam-packed weekend that left me run-down– in a good way.  I had 25 minutes to get dressed and RUN out the door, catch two metros and run to the bus station…and I made it.  With about 15 seconds to spare.  Must have been a good weekend!IMG_1422

My weekend starts Thursday, so after my last lesson of the week, I went grocery shopping and came home with so much food.IMG_1406

(There is more than that picture shows)  Somehow, I only spent 23 Euro, but after cooking all weekend, my fridge is now overflowing with food.  I plan to do a quick post with recipes, etc.

After shopping, I met up with Annie for a little bit of shopping and some good gossip.  I also made cookies!IMG_1410

Which have since been devoured (which was my intention).  I made the dough Thursday and then baked some Friday morning.  I underestimated the amount of space each cookie would need to spread…IMG_1416#cookieproblems

Friday morning, my alarm went off WAY too early, but I had to get up for my weekly Spanish lesson.  Yes, I live in Spain and yes, I pay for Spanish lessons.  It’s not NEARLY as easy to practice Spanish as you would think.  So far, I love the lessons and think they are incredibly helpful.  I don’t love that they are at 9:00 am on my day off, but it gets me out of bed and productive.  Sol (the center) is eerily quiet and still at 8:45 on a Friday morning.  Normally, I hate Sol and the hustle & bustle that it brings, so it was nice to see it in a different light.  By the time my lesson was over, I was back to hating Sol.IMG_1412

While I waited for my teacher, I sipped a cafe con leche.IMG_1414

Let me tell you, Rodilla coffee is disgusting.  And it’s a chain.  How HOW do they stay in business??  Quite possibly the worst coffee I have ever had.  I would buy people this coffee (spend my own money) just to say “try this!  It’s disgusting!!!”

Friday afternoon, I had an English lesson and then I did my Friday ritual of going shopping.  It’s a bad habit…but I enjoy it.  i do a lot of browsing and not a lot of buying, but this week, I came home with two new shirts.  I am pleased.  Then I met up with Annie and we walked to my house, ate a little bit, and went for a short visit (and gossip session) to El Prado with our friend Kristine.  Yay for new friends!  We came home, got dressed (me), ate, and got ready for a night out…and that we did.

Saturday, I was up bright and early again for a trip to Toledo with my roommate Kristen, Annie, and her roommate Megan.  Aw roommate double date.DSC_0044

We decided to go to Toledo because we had heard that it’s beautiful and the trip there is free (with our transportation card).  We spent the day walking around, taking pictures:DSC_0012 DSC_0016 DSC_0026 DSC_0042 DSC_0028 DSC_0055 DSC_0078 IMG_1424

Found this nice sweatshirt with English errors:DSC_0053

Since we packed our lunch, we parked ourselves in a plaza surrounded by churches and beautiful buildings, and ate while talking about the funniest things.  I haven’t laughed that hard in SO long…DSC_0063 DSC_0062 DSC_0066 DSC_0064

And before making our way back to the bus station, we stopped for some dessert:DSC_0080

We were home by 7:00, which left me plenty of time to cook a little, shower, nap, and get ready for another really fun night.

Sunday morning afternoon, I got up and spent a few hours doing more cooking.IMG_1444

I’m telling you- I made so much food (and a HUGE MESS)!  And then Kristen, Annie and I went out to do Spanish things, like sit in a plaza, soak up some sunshine, and chit chat.IMG_1446

Look at all the people that were out!

I also captured this gem:IMG_1448

Opposites attract?

We did a little bit of shopping and I spent my life savings on natural peanut butter, and then I taught a private lesson.

Now, as I finish up this post, I’m happy to report that Monday is almost over, which means I only need to get through 3 more days before the weekend.

Life is pretty good, indeed.DSC_0018

(finished this post with 18 minutes to spare…FYI)


El Escorial & Catching Up.

Good morning!DSC_0404

I am typing up this blog post at 11 am, Sunday morning, drinking coffee and eating a big bowl of peanut butter oatmeal.  I’m feeling quite perky since I slept 13 HOURS last night!  After getting hardly any sleep on Friday night, my roommates and I were up early Saturday morning for a day trip to El Escorial.DSC_0385 After being out all day- hiking, exploring, chatting- I was basically about to collapse when we got home last night.  I ate dinner, showered, and was asleep by 9 pm (but my intention was actually to nap until 11 and then go out.  My mother is horrified by that statement.)  Unfortunately (or fortunately?) that plan didn’t work and I slept all night long.

So here we are.  After typing this up, I’m going to get dressed and maybe walk around El Rastro, or go get lost somewhere in Madrid.IMG_1369 It’s beautiful out, and I need to get out of my Sunday Funkday groove.DSC_0397

Anywho, El Escorial.  We received an e-mail about a free trip to El Escorial a few weeks ago, so my roommates and I signed up.  It was a big group of Erasmus students and English teachers, with a few Spaniards sprinkled in, too.DSC_0391 I didn’t really know much about it before going, but read a bit online.  If you’re interested:

The Escorial is a vast building complex located in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, near Madrid, in central Spain. The building is the most important architectural monument of the Spanish Renaissance. Construction of El Escorial began in 1563 and ended in 1584.

The project was conceived by King Philip II, who wanted a building to serve the multiple purposes of a burial place for his father, Holy Roman emperor Charles V; a Hieronymite monastery; and a palace…

…There have been some losses to its collections because of fire and pillage, but El Escorial remains the most complete and impressive monument of the later Renaissance in Spain.

Today, the Escorial is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is one of Spain’s most visited landmarks.

That information was taken from the El Escorial website.  If you want more information on the history of El Escorial, click here.DSC_0379

Before actually touring El Escorial, we hiked up to La Silla de Felipe II.DSC_0414

Here is some information about it:

Approximately 4 km from El Escorial, going on the Ávila road, we branch off at the Herrería Camp to go up to the Seat of Philip II, which is in the middle of La Machota Hill, situated on a huge rock of granite in which there are four sculpted seats. It is said that from here Philip II controlled the building of the monastery. (This may or may not be a myth).

The hike was beautiful and it was so nice to actually see leaves! and trees! and nature!DSC_0401 DSC_0409 DSC_0398

We made it to la silla and took the usual touristy photos.  Do we look royal?DSC_0420

This is me, trying to look normal, while I blindly stare into the sun and my eyes beg for mercy^^DSC_0421IMG_1361

The king must have had some breathtaking views from up there.  Or maybe he just played with his iPhone?  Not sure.DSC_0416

We ate lunch on a large rock and chit-chatted for almost an hour.DSC_0433

How about some Cuban food on a mountain?DSC_0435

Then we headed back down and made our way to the monastery (not before peeing behind rocks, though.  The Royal Family is just begging to take me in).  The walk down was a lot less strenuous since the sun was setting and it was downhill.  Me gusta.DSC_0436 DSC_0437 DSC_0448 DSC_0453

Once we finally arrived at the monastery, we were all pretty exhausted (me, especially I think) so I was happy to hear that we only had one hour to explore the various rooms.DSC_0457

Before going inside, we learned a little bit about the construction of El Escorial, as well as the use of grills throughout the architecture.DSC_0462

There are three grills in the photo above.  Two are on the wall and one is being held by the statue at the top.  The grill at the top is made of gold.  We made our way through, reading and looking.  It was absolutely beautiful inside and if you’re a history buff (dad), I would recommend going to see it.DSC_0463

If you’re not a history buff (me), going for the day for a hike and a quick walk through is also worth it.DSC_0467“NO PHOTOS!!!!” After this was snapped ;)

The view from the bathroom ain’t half bad…DSC_0469 DSC_0472

And neither is the walk through the old Spanish town.DSC_0479 DSC_0482 DSC_0484

I’m glad we decided to sign up for the trip to El Escorial.  it was a fun day with my roommates (+ our friend, Rachel) and a great chance to get OUT of the city and see some organic material.IMG_1368

El Escorial Information

How we got there:  We took the bus from Moncloa bus station (Yellow line)

Low long the bus took: 1 hour each way

Price of bus: Free with joven abono

Price of entrance into El Escorial: 5 Euro with student ID or Spanish student card.  10 Euro, normally.

Price of total trip: 6 Euro (because I bought Dunkin Donuts iced coffee…)


Catching Up!

This week felt incredibly long.  And I don’t know WHY!  We had Monday off, so I only worked martes, miercoles, y jueves, but it was still painfully slow.  I was more than happy to see Thursday afternoon roll around, at which point I promptly went to bed for a little siesta.  But I did other things this week like…

Discover a “Bulk Bin” store!  Rices! Beans! Grains! Flours! Candies! Dried fruits!  Spices!  GALORE.IMG_1331 IMG_1332 IMG_1333 IMG_1334

Went out to dinner with my roommates (Rachel y Kristen).  We had Mexican food (which was just ok) but getting out and trying a new restaurant and not cooking at home was so great.IMG_1349

Saw a breathtaking sunset.  Only this sunset can make that hideous building look ok.  Do you think that building’s owner would consider buying this photo for their promotional materials?  IMG_1347

Made Cuban food!!  For the first time ever.  I woke up Friday morning and chopped the veggies while drinking my coffee.  Hah.IMG_1351IMG_1356Also, I made a huge mess ;)

It doesn’t taste like mama’s, but it’s not bad for my first time (in my opinion).  Also, if anyone wants beans…I have enough to last two years.IMG_1377

Had lunch with my Ex-Host Mom and Ex-Host Roommates at the National Library.  I didn’t have enough time to walk through the library, but I would like to go back and see it.  The outside was ard.IMG_1352 Kidding.

And last, but should be first.  Breakfast of champs.IMG_1337


  • Began private Spanish lessons!
  • Fully booked a trip to Belgium in December
  • Did 5 loads of laundry.  If you are ever wondering, “hmmm…should I wash black pants with a semi-new white towel?”, you should.  If you want zebra-fuzz pants.
  • My room was finished!  I have curtains, shelves and a mirror!

And from El Rastro, this morning:IMG_1371 IMG_1370

Have a fantastic week and may it fly by faster than last week did.  Amen.

The Best Weekend Yet.

Hi!  How was your halloweekend?!  Did you get drunk and laugh at people in their costumes?DSC_0346 I have this sharp memory of a halloween party my freshman year of college.  Everyone was a little bit toasty and I looked up, and there was this HUGE guy in a teletubbie costume and it was the best thing I had ever seen.  It still makes me laugh.

I don’t even know where to begin with this post.  I feel like I am coming down from the Amazing Weekend high, but the weekend isn’t even over yet.  I have tomorrow off, and while I have plenty to get done tomorrow, I feel so happy-giddy, almost- that this weekend was so great.  I feel like I am finally getting out and doing things, seeing things, and generally experiencing Madrid.IMG_1222 This has been something that has been causing a lot of anxiety for me, so I’m relieved to finally be out and about.  Madrid has so much to offer, but taking advantage of those things is a totally different story.

I already wrote about Friday, but after I left you, I pre-gamed a bit with my roommates (Kristen and Harriet).  We took ridiculous pictures to send to our other roommate, Rachel.IMG_1206They said, “be sexy”IMG_1192Nailed it.

Then we went to a club called Ocho y Media.  It was an interesting night, but was fun nonetheless.  I didn’t get home until after 3 am and I was asleep within minutes of getting through the door.

Saturday I woke up and immediately got started in the kitchen.  There is something very relaxing about cooking when no one is around, before anyone has woken up.  It took me a couple hours, but I made another lasagna (this time with zucchini layers) and a chicken/potato/rice/tomato/olive/feta bake (that I did not, in fact, bake).  Once I was finished, I got cleaned up and walked to a food festival at the Matadero in Madrid.IMG_1239 I went with Annie, her roommate Megan, and Megan’s friend, Tim.  friendsI thought the festival was so much fun because I really missed doing things like this in Philadelphia, and there were so many booths offering lots of different items from sandwiches, to burgers, to coffee, desserts, and more.veggie Collage Of course, like any quality food festival, there was a plethora of free samples so we did our fair share of sampling cheese, bread, olive oils, olives, hot sauces, and cakes.IMG_1236

After walking home, I dilly-dallied for…ever, and then eventually convinced myself to workout.  I did a 30 minute NTC workout and then an additional 15 minutes of plyo and ab exercises.IMG_1248 Needless to say, today I need assistance sitting down and standing up.  I would lose a game of musical chairs today.

I showered/ate/ and napped for an hour, then got up and transitioned into my alter ego.  BRUJA!!!!!DSC_0339We spent a ton of time getting ready, doing make-up, drinking (obv) and taking pictures.DSC_0341 DSC_0340

Introducing my roommates…DSC_0352From left: Rachel (she is not a roommate, but is a friend), Harriet (the whole “smile” concept doesn’t work for her haha), Rachel, Kristen, and the bruja.

We went to a house party that I was invited to.  I actually met this girl while waiting to get my transportation card and we have continued to stay in contact.  She invited me to her party and said I could bring friends, so we all piled into the metro.  Annie, Megan and Tim came too and this party was honestly the best “night out” I have had since being here.  It was a Spanish house party with tapas and a plethora of drinks and just really a good night overall.  Obviously, it was a very good night since I woke up this morning (Sunday) in my witch tights and a t-shirt haha.IMG_1318A good look, right?  I spent most of the day recovering with Netflix, but eventually got up and showered.  And then headed to the Reina Sofia with my old roommate.IMG_1320 The Reina Sofia is another art museum, but with much more contemporary art and I, therefore, enjoyed it so much more.  After 1:30, the museum is free, but after 2:15, only the first collection is free.  We got through the collection in about 30 minutes, but I would like to go back at 1:30 and see other collections.  If I can ever get myself out of bed before 12, that is.

Alright, I started this post yesterday (Sunday) and I am just finishing it dinner time, Monday.  I spent the day sleeping, running (hill intervals), and doing private lessons.  I have one more to do and then I’m going to spend the night with Netflix…or possibly going out with Kristen for a bit.  We shall see.

Have a fantastic week!

Soy Humpty Dumpty.

It’s almost 10:00 pm and I have been intending to sit down and write a post all day.  But here we are, at the end of the night (or beginning, depending on how you look at it.  I am actually drinking a Mahou Clasica as I type this, getting ready for a night out with the roomies), but I still wanted to sit and chat for a minute.IMG_1186

Fridays are my day off from school, so it’s the day that I use to kind of put my life back together, which always feels as though it has unraveled by this point in the week.  Just call me Humpty Dumpty (I cannot take credit for this.  Credit: Ollin).  Between going to school, running to private lessons, doing things to ensure that I continue to live (ie, eat, sleep), I usually feel pretty frazzled by Friday.  I love having the day off (obviously), and this weekend happens to also be a 4 day weekend for me, since teachers have off on Mondays.  Life is good.

And this week was a good one!  My time at school was fun and flew by, and I feel like the students enjoyed my lessons.  Of course, I also loved that 3 of my classes were “cancelled” (for me), so I was able to occupy my time doing important things.  Like draw.IMG_1157 I would like to write more about what I do at school, but that’s for another post.  Monday I felt a bit sick, and I saw a clown on the metro.  Those are two separate thoughts.  Something tells me this person dresses like this on the reg.IMG_1140

Thursday, me, myself and I went to El Prado for some culture.  It was a nice change of pace.  And I think I look more intelligent as a result.  I kid, I kid.IMG_1167 IMG_1170IMG_1171

So what did I do this Friday?  I miss just chatting about my days, and these are some of my favorite posts to look back and read.  Oh, you don’t care?  That’s ok.

When I woke up this morning (around 10 am), I immediately changed into workout clothes.  I was determined to workout today since yesterday I um, took a little nap instead.  Worth it, but today I needed to move a little.  I did Nike Training Club Metabolic Boost which always kills me.  It was only a half hour, but my arms and legs have felt shaky all day.

Then…showered (actually washed my hair…it was getting to the noticeably greasy stage (and I can actually hear my mom saying EW! in my head)), got dressed, and painted my nails.  My nails always look all types of ratchet by the end of the week.  Ok, they always look ratchet, but they look extra ratchet by Thursday.

Then I ate brunch (2 eggs, 2 pieces of toast with jam (out of cream cheese but this emergency has since been resolved) and COFFEE.  After that, I hustled my way over to my Friday lesson, which I am late to 90% of the time.  Teacher of da year.IMG_1182

I have a healthy Friday tradition of spending too much money after my class.  I try to limit my Friday spending to 15 Euro, but well….guess how often that works.  And it doesn’t help that a new Primark opened in Gran Via.  I had never heard of Primark, but everyone and their mother has been talking about it and how inexpensive it is (although, they say, the quality is s*****.  (Dad, that does NOT say shitty, it actually says shifty).  So I went to check it out and holy moly, it was MASSIVE.IMG_1185A panoramic shot for your viewing pleasure.  I walked away without doing too much damage.  I only spent 25 Euro and bought a mustard-colored sweater (I am straying from my normal black preference), a puffy cream-colored vest, a soft throw blanket, a pair of earrings and mascara.  I was going to buy new sheets for my bed because my sheets look like something that Shrek may have thrown up and re-digested back in the 1960′s, but I didn’t feel like spending 40 Euro, so I put them back and decided to buy the things that I don’t need, naturally.

I walked home with my goodies and sprinted into the kitchen for food.  I was practically on the verge of death, so I ate the rest of my lasagna (ok, I inhaled it) and then couldn’t bring myself to get up for almost an hour.  The day’s exhaustion hit me, but I eventually walked to the Marcadona (which is a supermarket, a little cheaper than the Carrefour, which is closer to me) and purchased this week’s grocery haul.  Keep yourself perched onto the edge of your seat for a post with this week’s recipe Sunday (if I’m not impossibly hungover, which I plan to be) or-more likely-Monday.  Sorry to disappoint, I know they’re a weekly favorite.  <–this is sarcasm.

Ok, this beer is starting to make me feel a little loosey goosey, so I’m gonna cap it here.  Before I go, I hope you have a fantasitically frightful Halloween.  I hope you get a little bit drunk and think people in their costumes is the funniest thing you have ever seen, because that is surely what my night will be.IMG_1181 Enjoy your night!

Getting Edumacated in Madrid: Free Art and Culture Museums

I have been here for 6…7?  weeks now (what?) so it’s getting a little ridiculous that when people ask what kind of things I have done/seen in MADRID, I’m like um……let’s see….um…nothing.  It’s time to step up my game and start exploring more of what Madrid has to offer.  Because guess what?  There is so much here, and much of it is FREE all the time, or during certain hours of the week.  I am making it my personal goal to do ONE cultural activity every week, whether it be a museum, a tour, a famous site, eating churros and chocolate, you know..whatever.  Starting this week, no excuses.

[Edited to add:  I wrote this post on Wednesday, and on Thursday, my little legs carried me all the way to El Prado and I wandered around the galleries for about an hour.  At first, I thought an hour wouldn't be enough time, but after 50 minutes, my eyes began to roll back into my head and my ears started to blow smoke.  I can only handle so much "culture" in one sitting.  Poco a poco...  Anyway, I really enjoyed my time there and I only saw a very, very small fraction of the museum.  I'm excited to go back during other weeks and explore more, either alone or with people that put up with me.  A little alone time was nice, though.  And hey, it was FREE, so I can go back as often or as little as I want, and not feel obligated to spend a ton of time there.]

If you’re interested in doing the same, here is a list of free MUSEUMS to visit in Madrid.  In the future, I will post other activites/ hot-spots for you to check out.

1.  Museo of Fashion (Museo del Traje)museum

Began as an exhibition in 1925, but eventually became a permanent exhibition.

Free: Saturday after 2:30 pm and all day on Sunday

Where:  Avenida de Juam de Herrera, 2

Normal Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 9:30-7:00pm, Sunday and Holidays, 10:00-3:00

Metro:  Ciudad Universitaria

2.  Museo Arqeologico Nacionalmuseum2

4 floors of galleries from pre-historical to Renaissance time periods.  The museum also hosts classical historical theatre, informative lectures on archaelogy and ancient civilizations and monthly exhibitions.

Free:  (General admission) Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings

Where:  Calle Serrano, 13

Normal Hours:  Tuesday-Saturday, 9:30-8:00 pm and Sundays & Holidays, 9:30-3:00 pm

Metro:  Serrano or Colon

3.  Museo Naval de Madridmuseum3

Free: Every day that it is open.

Where:  Paseo del Prado, 5

Normal Hours:  Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00-7:00

Metro:  Banco de Espana

4.  Museo del Pradomuseum4

Art museum with sculptures, drawings and famous paintings.

Free:  Monday to Saturday, 6pm-8pm and Sundays and Holidays from 5pm to 7pm

Where:  Calle Ruiz de Alarcon 23

Normal Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10:00-8:00 pm and Sundays & Festivals, 10:00-7:00

Metro:  Banco de Espana

5.  Museo de Historia de Madridmuseum5

Madrid culture and history with special exhibits from prehistoric eras to Madrid’s golden age when it became the capital.  The museum has collections that illustrate life in Madrid over the centuries.

Free:  Free for anyone, anytime.

Where:  Calle Fuencarral, 78

Normal Hours:  Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 to 8:00 pm

Metro:  Tribunal

6.  Museo Thyssenmuseum6 Set inside a mansion from 1806, this museum has over 800 paintings.  It features exhibits from the 13th century to the present day.

Free:  Every Monday, free entry to the Permanent Collections between 12pm and 4pm

Where:  Paseo del Prado, 8

Normal Hours:  Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00-7:00 pm and Monday, 12:00-4:00 pm

Metro:  Banco de Espana

7. Museo del Romanticismomuseum7

Featured in the 1,400-piece collection are incredible articles such as grand pianos and wall size oil paintings from artists including Francisco de Goya, Federico de Madrazo, Leonardo Alenza & more.

Free:  Saturdays after 2 pm (but normally only 3 Euro)

Where:  Calle San Mateo, 13, 28004 Madrid

Normal Hours:  Tuesday-Saturday, 9:30-6:30 pm and Sundays & Festivals, 10;00-3:00 pm

[*All photos c/o Google Images]

[Some information taken from Citylife Madrid Blog, but all information is available via Google]

The Magic Man: Getting Robbed in Madrid

Before coming to Spain, people will warn you over and over to “watch your things” because petty crime and theft is common here, especially in areas with a lot of tourists.  We heard it over and over again, and yet, it’s easy to think “I’m on top of things and that won’t happen to me”.  When I walk, I keep my purse/ bag zipped and in front of me, with my hand on it.  I avoid texting in public or being distracted by my phone.  I hug my bag tight on the metro and I’m aware of people trying to get my attention.  My friend here does all of these things too.  It can’t happen to us, we said.  And then it did.  Like magic, the phone was on the table… But then it wasn’t.  robbed
My friend and I were at my favorite cafe in Lavapies, booking a trip to Belgium.  Our computers were out, along with our phones and wallets to pay for the flight ticket.  My friend was using her iPhone while her Spanish Samsung was on the table.  A man came in with a piece of paper and some sort of note written on it.  He put the piece of paper on the table (over her phone, apparently) and incoherently grunted and asked for money. She told him to get the hell out and to leave, but he was persistent.  Eventually, he picked up his piece of paper and was immediately chased out by an employee.  And twenty minutes later, we realized the phone… Was gone.  HOW did this man take the phone, right before our eyes? We were both watching him, along with our computers and wallets, which we moved out of reach of him.  But that phone, that had been on the table and was under he paper, we did not notice.  And therefore, we did not notice that he took it for a good 20 minutes, when he was long gone.  We went to the police to report it and when asked for a description, it was amazing how little both of us could recall.  Someone that impacts your day in such a large way can leave such a small mark in your mind.  He was white…short hair…white shirt and tan jacket? Or tan hat? Tattoos on his neck.  The police took a report and there were a number of other people at the station, some crying, some chatting.  The police told us this happens all the time.  Phones, wallets, purses… And the paper on the table thing is an old trick.  Actually, after it happened, this woman sitting nearby at the cafe says “oh yeah, I have heard of that before.  I thought he might be doing something when he put the paper down”.  You b****…. Why didn’t you say anything?! Who sits back and watches?? And the cafe still asked my friend to pay for her coffee…they have since lost two customers.
I am going to tell you some common tricks that might leave you looking for your things, ways to protect yourself, and what to do if it happens to you.
Common Tricks
1. Child Thieves- Be aware of children approaching you.  They will look cute and usually stop to ask you for something.  For example, they might ask you to “sponsor them” at school and will show you a form with signatures on it.  While you are distracted, the other child will take your phone/ wallet/ camera/ etc. off the table.
2.  Pushy Children- A group of children may surround you or push you and while you are distracted by them, one of them has their grimy little greaseball hands in your bag.  Alternatively, when you get pushed, you are focused on the shock/ pain of being pushed and do not realize that in a split second, someone grabbed your phone or wallet out of your pocket.  I have tried this with friends, KNOWING that they are going to take something from my pocket, and I still did not feel it.
3.  Something Spilled- Someone may “bump into you” and then accidentally spill something on you.  While you (or, more likely, someone else) is helping you clean your clothes, one of their accomplices is robbing you.
4. The Metro/ Hotel Lobby/ Busy Streets- It is so, so, so common to be robbed in these places.  It’s busy and crowded and loud and you have people surrounding you.  You can feel people in all directions so you don’t feel someone unzipping your bag and taking your things.
5.  Looking at Your Phone-  It’s easy and common to walk along the street staring at your phone, whether it be to text, use the maps, or look something up.  This is a good opportunity for someone to take things out of your bag, since you’re distracted.  Alternatively, this is a good time for thieves to go “apple picking”, meaning, they will literally snatch your phone out of your hand and run…much faster than you.
6.  Putting Paper on the Table-  This is what happened to my friend.  Keep in mind that we were INSIDE the cafe, a very nice cafe.  The man came in, put a piece of paper on the table (over the phone) and muttered things about wanting money.  When he picked up the paper, he also picked up the phone.
  • These criminals rob people as a living.  Therefore, they know exactly who to target, when and how they should do it.  And they know they will get away with it.
  • Many of them are foreigners are come from places like Romania, Africa, Cuba, Arabia, and South America.  Of course, anyone can rob you, but certain groups are raised doing this.
  • You WILL NOT feel yourself being robbed.  It’s literally like magic right before your eyes, but if you’re vigilant, you can pick out scenarios when you are more of a target.
  • Be vigilant.  Always.  Don’t get too comfortable on the street, or anywhere in public and don’t trust anyone.  The cutest kid or the kindest old lady might be taking all of your bank cards.  Be aware.

If it does happen to you:

  • Go to the police and file a report (called a denuncia).  While there is little they can do, there is a small chance that they will recover your belongings.  On the other hand, it is important for crime statistics to be up-to-date and accurate.  It doesn’t take long to make the report, so go do it.
  • They will take your information and information about the incident.
  • Cancel your bank cards immediately (if it’s your wallet) or phone service (if it’s a phone).  You can also activate Find iPhone, which makes it easier to track your iPhone and make it close to impossible for someone else to use it.  It also allows you to remotely add a message in case the phone is found, or completely clear the phone, if needed.

If you see it happening to someone else:

  • SAY SOMETHING.  I have a friend that was using her phone on the street.  Meanwhile, a man was unzipping her bag and going for her wallet.  A kind woman said “WATCH YOUR BAG” and she looked down and saw his hand.  He ran off and she is a lucky girl.

Tips for Keeping Yourself Safe:

  • Never leave your bag or cell phone on a chair or table – keep it in front of you or on your lap.
  • Choose the right type of bag or purse that shuts with a zipper or flaps to deter would be pickpockets from easy access to your wallet or phone.
  • Consider taking out insurance for electronics.  If you pay a few euros a month, you may be able to get a replacement by presenting your denuncia to your insurance provider.
  • Lock your bike or scooter with quality locks, as the cheaper coils are easily cut. Better yet, get two.
  • Walk confidently and try to avoid calling attention to yourself.
  • Keep a copy of your passport, all bank cards, your ID, health cards, and other important cards in your e-mail and at home.  Also keep a couple hundred Euro cash at home in the case that you are left with no wallet, you are NOT left with no money.  You will have some money available to you until you can have money sent or you figure out something else.

In my opinion, Madrid feels like a generally safe place.  I feel safer walking alone here than I do in certain places in the United States.  The people are friendly and welcoming, the city is vibrant, and it has a lot to offer.  This incident has made me more aware of the fact that we are not, in fact, invincible, but I won’t allow it to change my perception of the city.  The only thing I can do is be as smart as possible, because unfortunately, I cannot change the fact that I am a tourist (as much as I would like to…)

Hope this helps and safe travels!

Cocinando II

Hey, hey!

How was your weekend?  Mine was a good one!  Relaxing, too productive, and fun.  I have a small cold, so I have been laying low, trying to get better.  Friday, I went with my roommate to do this voice recording this for an hour (hey 30 Euro) and then went to Retiro with Annie for a workout and an adventure.IMG_1052 - Copy IMG_1072 - Copy IMG_1073 - Copy Saturday, I was up bright and early like the Energizer Bunny and ran all around getting things done.  I cooked, cleaned, went for a solo run, did my nails, and booked a trip to Belgium.IMG_1098 IMG_1102 IMG_1099 IMG_1109 IMG_1126Productive day, I will say.  I am sick though, so working out 2/3 days probably didn’t help.  Nor did staying up until sunrise last night.  Hmmmm, well today I am relaxing.  Haven’t changed out of PJs yet (although I am going a bit stir-crazy and I want to get out of the house!!!)

This week, I did my weekly shopping on Friday afternoon, since the supermarket is so much less crowded than on Sundays.  I was still ready to elbow people in the ribs, but the urge wasn’t quite as strong as it is on the busy weekends.  Friday night, I washed and chopped all of the veggies, and then I spent the majority of Saturday morning cocinando.  This week, I made lasagna and meatballs.  See the recipes below.IMG_1089

Shopping list 10/24/ 2015


  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms
  • Cucumber
  • Broccoli
  • Eggplant
  • Parsley
  • Onions (2)
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Frozen spinach
  • Clementines

Refrigerated Products

  • Milk
  • Ground turkey
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Parmesan cheese

Dry Products:

  • Oatmeal
  • Euro crackers
  • Beer
  • Lasagna Noodles
  • Tomato Sauce

Total: 30 Euro

Easy-Peasy Lemon-Squeezy Lasagna (4 servings)IMG_1093

I made this lasagna in our brand-spankin’ new toaster oven that the landlord just bought.  It’s super easy since I bought small lasagna noodles, store bought tomato sauce (next time I will make my own), and made an easy ricotta mixture.


  • 1 cup of ricotta
  • 1/4 chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • A pinch of some spice.  I used cumin, but nutmeg is preferred.  We don’t have nutmeg.
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Lasagna noodlesIMG_1078 - Copy
  • You favorite tomato sauce


  • Mix the ricotta, parsley, S&P, spice and egg in a bowl.IMG_1081
  • Cook your lasagna noodles.  They don’t have to be cooked all the way since they will partially cook in the oven.  If you can’t find small noodles, use regular noodles and just cut them.
  • In a flat pan, put a layer of tomato sauce
  • Put a layer of noodles (cooked or mostly cooked)
  • Put a layer of the ricotta mixture
  • Put a layer of mozz cheese
  • Put a layer of sauce
  • Repeat until the pan is full
  • Bake in your oven at a high temperature (mine was 200…C*?) until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  In the toaster, mine took 30 minutes, uncovered.

Meatballz (Makes about 15)IMG_1084

I made these meatballs with the intention of having spaghetti and meatballs this week, but I have been enjoying them on their own for the last 24 hours and they’re almost gone.  Good thing I froze half of them..

IngredientsIMG_1076 - Copy

  • 1 pound ground turkey or beef (I have only found turkey at the store (and pork, SO MUCH pork), so these are turkey)
  • 1/4 chopped parsley
  • 1/2 finely chopped onion
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup crushed breadcrumbs (Kitchen hack:  If you don’t want to buy breadcrumbs like I didn’t, purchase your favorite bread (or crackers, in my case) and then smash those babies up in a plastic bag.  It works the same way and you can eat the crackers/ bread)IMG_1077 - Copy


  • Put it all in a bowl, mix it all up.
  • Form into balls
  • Place them on a foil-lined baking sheet or directly on the toaster oven rack (which is what I did, with another pan underneath to catch the drips).IMG_1079 - Copy
  • Bake for about 30 minutes, until cooked through the center.  Not sure what temperature…just make it hot hot hot.

That’s it!  I have been freezing part of each dish I make, so right now I have a little stash of lasagna, meatballs, and chili.  Next week, I’m thinking I will make another lasagna, but layer some zucchini in, as well.  Any other ideas out there? (*Echoooooo*)