Pretentious Word Of The Week: Pharmacopolist (Day 126)

Today's pretentious word from Webster's Third New International Dictionary and Seven Language Dictionary, Unabridged: Volume 2, H-R is 'pharmacopolist'.

Pharmacopolist: "One who sells drugs".

Using this word will most likely land you in trouble, as if you refer to the pharmacologist as a pharmacopolist, people will think you are stupid. You will have to explain your way out of sounding dumb, but if you are trying to sound pretentious, go for it!

2012 IS HERE!

New Year Confetti images
Happy New Year Graphics

2012 is here! A new year is coming. I wish you all the best: love, healthy and happiness.

Click on this image:

Sambal Roasted Chicken

It’s the last day for 2011!  What are you doing?  How are you spending it?  Over here it is much of the same, nothing fancy in the works, although lots of little and big joys are realized and enjoyed.  C is out biking up some mountain, as he has so happily been doing these holiday mornings.  I have gloriously slept in, as I haven’t in a very long time.  I am breakfasting on a simple cheddar cheese toastie slathered with my favorite guava jam, coffee ever present of course.  Little C is playing with her stuffed carabao (water buffalo) – a sighting of a live carabao yesterday has her suddenly in love with the animal.

It will be a relatively simple eve as well.  We are spending the evening with my mum, although C’s mum will be at a party nearby and may pop in for a drink after dinner.  Mum will be roasting a chicken, steaming some green beans, and putting together her prawns and feta pasta.  She also bought a few noise makers for little C(and us as well!).  I’ll be making another one of these cakes (yes, it is truly a favorite in my family) and bringing over some nibbles: chorizo, C’s cheese and spicy sardine dip, dulong(tiny local fish) in olive oil and chili…and I’m thinking of walking over to my neighborhood delicatessen to see what interesting cheeses I might still be able to pick up.  Bottles of wines and cava will soon be a-chilling.  And after midnight it will be time for a bowl of my mum’s potent sopa seca (with bread, not rice or noodles).

I was going to spend this morning, and this blog post, reflecting on the year that was, the humble list of ambitions I set out in January, and how I’ve been able to, more or less, plow through them.  This would have also been the time to put together a new list of, I won’t say resolutions, but directions, for the coming 2012.  But the sun is shining through my window, little C is smelling extra yummy, and there is food to be cooked and enjoyed!

So let me leave you instead, for now, with another roast chicken we enjoyed.

Sambal Roasted Chicken
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1/3 cup sambal asli
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 lemon
  • 1small bunch lemongrass
  • Canola oil (or any other vegetable oil)
  • Sea salt

- Mix sambal asli, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, parsley, honey, and the juice from the lemon (keep the lemon halves) in a small bowl until thoroughly blended.  Set a couple of tablespoons of this aside for basting.
- Put a few spoonfuls of the sambal mix into the cavity of the chicken and rub throughout the cavity. Stuff the cavity with the lemongrass and the leftover lemon halves.  Rub the whole outside of the chicken with the sambal mix generously, getting some in between the skin.  Tie the drumsticks together with kitchen string.
- Place the chicken on a rack in a baking pan.  Pour some water onto the base of the pan, making sure it doesn’t touch the chicken.  Cover the whole thing with foil and place in a pre-heated 400F oven. 
- Roast the chicken for 40 minutes covered.  Remove the foil and baste the chicken with your reserved sambal mix and a little canola oil and a sprinkling of sea salt.  Roast for 40 minutes to 1 hour more, or until chicken is cooked (when the juices run clear when pierced in the meatiest part), basting with the sambal mix a few more times in between.
- When the chicken is done, let it rest about 10 minutes before carving.

This is another dish born of the lovely sambal asligifted to us by my brother-in-law.  I am quite certain there will be a few more dishes in this same theme down the road so I hope you don’t mind.  We love all things spicy in general, and this sambal asli in particular.  Keep basting the chicken to develop a fierce red-golden crust on it.  I like to sprinkle salt at this point as well because intensely flavored, salty chicken skin is really a big part of the whole point of roast chicken in the first place, in my opinion at least.

I will leave the reflections and resolutions for January.  I will share one with you now though: Enjoy the show.  Whether it be a bone-melting hot shower, a devilishly rich cake, or the sweetest smelling bundle of energy in my life…I will enjoy every moment!  Hard times come, that is for sure, but there is beauty and joy all around for those who take the time to enjoy them.  So I will sign off now to do just that!

Wishing you all the best for the New Year!  See you in 2012!

MVOTD: Month End Review (Day 126)

December was a month filled with wintery and Christmasy music. Here's the list.

IUYou & I
4 minute ft. Mario, AmenJingle Jingle
August Burns RedCarol Of The Bells
B2ST/BeastLet It Snow (teaser)
BOA & SES & ShinhwaWaiting for White
David Bisbal 24 Horas
DBSK/TVXQStep by Step
DBSK/TVXQMy Little Princess
Donghae & EunhyukOppa Oppa
Girl's GenerationThe Boys
JYP NationThis Christmas
Katie SheffersMerry Christmas
Serge and SarahHappy Feet Choreography
SESJust A Feeling
SHINeeLove Like Oxygen
Super JuniorSanta U Are The One
The MuppetsRinging of the Bells
The Piano GuysCello Wars
WhiteheartThe Little Drummer Boy
ZE:AMy Only Wish

Thanks to my many and sometimes weak excuses to include music videos as "wintery" or "Christmasy", many of the music videos for December were mediocre. Music that did rock, even though the music video didn't, included August Burns Red's Carol of the Bells and Whiteheart's The Little Drummer Boy. On the other hand, music videos that rocked were The Piano Guys' Cello Wars, Hit-5's Running (mostly thanks to my brother's comment on them, "We are here to seduce your teenage daughters"), SES's Just A Feeling (So 90's!), Donghae & Eunhyuk's Oppa Oppa, and David Bisbal's 24 Horas featuring Espinaz Paz. These music videos that were both fun to listen to and fun to watch are the finalists. The winner, thanks to my biases, is Donghae and Eunhyuk's Oppa Oppa. Go Suju!

MVOTD: Shinee (Day 125)

Today's winter theme music video is Shinee of SM Entertainment's Love Like Oxygen. It is winter themed because they dance in a white room. Here it is.

McMolberg's Magnetic Music Videos of "2011" (Day 125)

For many people, there are movies that hook them after one, two, or even three views. People can watch these compulsively. For myself, I also have movies that are like this. Movies that want to be watched repititiously. The following are the music videos that hooked me in this year, 2011, and just how many views it took to hook me.

Mazeltov -- ZE:A
Took two views. The ridiculousness, the camera shots, the funny way silver man's mouth looks when he says "oh". So good.

Paradise -- Infinite
One view or less. The 80's beats. Enough said.

Oops -- Super Junior featuring F(x)
Several views. This song requires two or more views with subs in order to understand how ridiculous the lyrics are.

Oppa Oppa -- Donghae & Eunhyuk
One view. Hooked. I like the intro, the wigs, the parts that I can sing along to, and the laughing that it induces.

Message -- MYNAME
One view. It's just so catchy. I show this one to everybody.

Say No -- B2ST/Beast
One view. This song sounds really nice and is interesting despite a large large lack of dancing.

Love Ya -- SS501
One view, about 25 seconds in. It was the jump move that got me. So stylish!

Skip Beat! Episode 2 Review (Day 124)

Episode 2

Episode 2 of Skip Beat! starts with a good start - Gong Xi coming to her senses and going straight to LME to become a celebrity. There, she insults the talent scout and is booted out for being a Dun He Lian/Tsugara Ren (Choi Siwon) fan trying to infiltrate the company in order to get access to him. Incensed, she stages a sit in knee in protest and stalks dogs the talent scout around town. Koala jokes are made. Dun He Lian’s manager endears himself to the audience. Gong Xi’s revenge angels help her annoy the talent scout into finally giving in and allowing her to audition at LME.
Gong Xi then promptly attends the audition, only to be yelled at by an unfriendly woman who reminds her of Bu Puo Shang (Lee Donghae). Revenge angels make her hair go round. Dun He Lian shows up to randomly shoot things to be interested in her progress…because he knows that she wants revenge. He talks to a mirror. The episode abruptly ends. What? There are all sorts of questions left now.
Questions like; "Does Lian have a magic mirror that he asks questions to?", "Could he be interested in Gong Xi?", "Will his manager be his cute wing-man?", and, "Will Shang show up to taunt our heroine?". Well, the fans certainly hope so on all accounts but the magic mirror one.
The one question I can answer is this, "Why does Dun He Lian have two names?". Answer: For most subbed shows, more than one person is translating. Each translator often chooses a different way to best represent the character's names for their audience. In this case, Tsugara Ren is the Japanese name from the manga/anime and Dun He Lian is the Mandarin name for the show.   

Endless and Unavailing

At some point in my education, I was introduced to the Greek myth about Sisyphus. Here's a quick summary from Wikipedia for those not familiar with this character.
Sisyphus was "a king punished by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity.The word "sisyphean" means "endless and unavailing, as labor or a task."
Never have I sympathized more with poor Sisyphus that I do now. Lately, this sums up the state of my house. Endless and unavailing. Everyday, I do dishes, I do laundry, I sweep and swifter the floor, I help the kids pick up their toys...and a few hours later, I have to do it all over again. The boulder is right back at the bottom of the hill.
For a time, Max contended that the state of the house was my fault. I let it get this way. The whole disaster was 100% preventable if I just cleaned as I went, made the kids put away each toy before playing with the next. I tried to explain to him that the water was simply entering the boat faster than I could bail, and trying to fight it was futile.
However, Max refused to believe me and continued to do very little to help me clean the house. I was getting very frustrated and resentful. Several people I knew told me to "just talk to him". Hmm...well, I've tried that several hundred times, got any other ideas? Unfortunately, the whole "communication" thing wasn't really working in this instance. So I decided to escape. When Daniela was a few months old, I took up cycling. I left him alone with all three kids for several hours while I biked and "forgot" to take my cell phone with me.
When I came back from my ride, the house looked like an episode of Hoarders. The boys were still in their pajamas and eating from an open bag of Cheetos, half of which had spilled onto the floor and been ground into the rug. Daniela was still wearing the diaper she had slept in which was so soaked that it was hanging off of her. Her face and hands were covered in chocolate pudding. When Max saw me, he immediately jumped off the couch and headed for the bathroom. Could I believe it? He couldn't even take a shower with these kids. Umm...yeah, I could believe it. Why do you think I cut off all my hair and dress like a bag lady? The kids don't leave you much time for grooming. Or anything really.
So after several bike rides, Max finally caved and admitted that the house being a disaster was not my fault. The minute one mess is cleaned, another appears, no matter what you do. And he started helping...a little.
So, I agree that communication is key. If you want a clean house, all you have to do is communicate this to a cleaning lady and go for a long bike ride. Maybe someday, I will be able to afford that cleaning lady. Until then, boulder awaits.

Monday Review: Love You You (Day 123)

Love You You...

Mainland film. Aka, made in China.

Well done...except for the English name.

The movie begins with the normal plot - woman goes to exotic location to spy on attractive man for unknown corporation. The woman and the man of course do not get along. Sparks (of anger) fly until they find themselves convincing another couple to get married. Then they know that they have feelings for the other person. Man lets woman sleep in sea. She sees him looking at her passport and leaves, knowing that he just found out she was a spy. He's like "WHAT???! Just explain things." They long for each other. Stuff happens.

What I left out here were the fun details. The little things that made it worth watching. The things that make you smile, laugh, or cry(if you cry in movies), because Love You You had it all.

I give Love You You a 3.5 out of 5.

Also, to explain the plot point above, let it be known that she sleepwalks and he is in charge of making sure that she doesn't sleep in the sea. Shazaam!

Nevie-Pie Cakes

I'm always on the lookout for new and interesting cake designs, but finding them isn't always so easy. Sometimes months and months will go by until I come across something that really excites me! This cake by Natasha of Nevie-Pie Cakes was just one of those cakes! It's completely hand-painted and utterly lovely. It almost looks like a really great wallpaper, but, you know, on a cake, instead of a wall. As soon as I saw it, I knew that I had to see  more of her work! After taking a quick tour of her Flickr page, I'm happy to report that Natasha's other cakes are also quite impressive. There are loads of pretty hand-painted cakes on her page, along with other fun and unique designs. I've chosen a few of my favorites above and below, but you can check out more of Natasha's work via her flickr page, blog, and website. (And, yes, those are "mushroom" cookies at the bottom!)

MVOTD: Suju (Day 124)

This Christmas, SM Entertainment gave all the E.L.F.'s (Super Junior super fans) a truly wonderful present. And no, it wasn't Santa U Are The One by Super Junior. It was Donghae and Eunhyuk's song Oppa Oppa, done for their recent concert series Super Show 4. I don't think that I can say enough good things about this song. At first, I felt like it was the 90's or something. Then Donghae came out in his sleazy red suit and started singing some sweet pop tunes. Then Eunhyuk joined in. And then... then they sported giant afro wigs and acted like goof balls.

At first, what they were up to was just a little crazy, but when the afro's came out (in opposite colours of what their current hair colour is. Nice!)  my "WHAAATTTT??"the meter went off the charts. They, Donghae and Eunhyuk, have more cheesetastic midichlorians than Master ZE:A! And they referenced ZE:A too. I couldn't take the grin off my face and I was tearing up from the shear funniness. So good. So good.
And here's their Christmas Eve performance of Oppa Oppa. I really like the way Eunhyuk does his 70's Oppa Oppa dance moves. So funny.

MVOTD: Charleston (Day 123)

If there is a dance more Christmasy/wintery than Charleston, I don't know what it is. After all, lots of Christmas songs are jazzy and Charleston is danced to jazzswing music. Connections right? Therefore, today's music video is Happy Feet Routine, which is a Charleston routine done to a nice little song about happy feet.

MVOTD: K. Scheffers (Day 122)

Christmas, other than reminding us of the birth of Jesus Christ, is most often remembered as a homey family holiday filled with cheer and pretty decorations. No music video mixes those so well as K. Scheffers and friends singing Merry Christmas. They sing happy greetings in a small brightly lit room with a well decorated Christmas tree in the background. Very homey and cheery indeed.

MVOTD: ZE:A (Day 121)

ZE:A continues to surprise me. If it's not their new Japanese single, it's that they have a Christmas song that is cute and singable. Plus they can actually pronounce English words! Yay.

Their single, My Only Wish is a "behind the scenes" music video. ZE:A seems to have a lot of these, probably because they aren't a top 10 boyband. As a fan though, I appreciate that they do have them, because it increases the total number of music videos they have. Enjoy.

Pretentious Word Of The Week: Moon Type (Day 121)

This Christmas Eve, we take our pretentious word from Webster's Third New International Dictionary and Seven Language Dictionary, Unabridged: Volume 2, H-R. Originally the word was going to be "moony", but since that just means "of or relating to the moon, shaped like the moon, resembling or ornamented with the crescent moon, etc." and does not sound like a hoity toity word, we are going with "moon type".

Moon Type: "a system of large embossed letters used in printing for the blind and especially for those blinded late in life that requires less finger sensitivity that braille, consists of nine characters derived from Roman capital letters and used in varying positions to denote the whote alphabet, and is used with full orthography, the lines being printed alternately from left to right and right to left".

Now, since our dictionary was printed in 1966, we don't know if this type is still used, but we do know that it was used. Therefore it is still a functional word. Your challenge now is to find a book printed in moon type and talk about its font.

Brown Butter Pineapple Upside-down Cake

This Christmas I decided to forgo homemade gifts and leave that to artisans more experienced than I.  Although I love turning out a homemade present, this December was just too fraught with work (and by work I mean my day job, not food or writing related at all) to do that.  It was frustrating at first, having to relinquish what you so want to do, for something you haveto do, but I soon enjoyed the extra time this gave me.

Time to get all the work I had done without losing too much sleep.  More time to get together with friends and family.  More time with little C doing anything and nothing and just being.  Time for movie dates with C. More time to connect with people.  Time to dream about what I will be making next for next Christmas :)

Sometimes, when you consciously let go, instead of thinking that something is being taken away from you, it can make all the difference.

I did manage one homemade gift this year.  Made today, right before Christmas Eve, so it’s freshly baked.  Pineapple upside down cake for my dad.  It’s quite a throwback I know, always skirting the line between retro and all out kitsch, but it’s my dad’s favorite so I’ll keep making it for him for as long as he wants.

Brown Butter Pineapple Upside-down Cake
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened not melted
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 6 pineapple rings
  • 115 grams butter
  • 150 grams sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 70 grams flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Spread the softened butter on the base of an 8-inch cake pan.  Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the butter.  Arrange the 6 rings of pineapple on top of the sugar.  I usually do 5 around and one in the middle, cutting the middle one a bit if it doesn’t fit.  Set aside and get on with your batter.
- Melt the butter in a skillet until browned (not burned!), with a warm nutty aroma. You can find a fantastic tutorial on browning butter over at Simply Recipes. Strain and set aside to cool.  I do this by placing the bowl of browned butter over another bowl with ice.  I let it cool until the butter gets a little bit thick again, like a golden syrup.  In this state it smells so good you may forget about the rest of your baking – fair warning.
- Whisk the sugar with the egg. In another bowl, whisk your flour and baking powder together, then add to the egg mixture. Add the (cooled) brown butter and whisk until just combined. Pour the batter over the prepared pineapples in the pan.  Place the cake pan on a cookie sheet to catch any over enthusiastic butter sputters.
- Bake in a 180C (350F) oven for 40-50 minutes or until a pick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove the pan from the oven and loosen the sides of the cake with a small sharp knife.  Place a plate over the cake pan and, using oven mitts or a kitchen town (hot sugar beware!), quickly and confidently flipped the pan over so you cake is now on the plate.  Keep the pan on the cake for a few minutes so all the buttery, sugary juices drip down onto your cake.  Remove pan and enjoy!

This isn’t the pineapple upside down cake of my childhood.  Instead of using the mild, slightly stodgy cake I usually use, I decided to try this brown butter cake recipe (adjusted slightly).  The resulting cake is wildly rich…almost like candy.  I wanted to depart from my old “caramelly top layer + plain jane white cake” combination that I had been making and this version does just that.  This is not for the sugar and butter shy, let me just forewarn!  It does not make for the prettiest cake either.  But if achingly sweet caramelized crusts and buttery moist cakes are up your alley, then you may just be up for this.

The cake is cooling on the dining room table as I type.  C and little C are napping.  The city, for now, is quiet and peaceful.  Our Christmas tree is small but sassy and presents are strewn all over.  The mess can wait until after New Year.  I’ll be presenting my dad with his cake at Christmas dinner tonight.  Life may not be perfect, it never is, but I am so very happy where I am.  I wish the same for all of you!  A very Merry Christmas to you and yours…may you be doing what you love with those you love this Christmas weekend!!

Jam Jams: A History Explored? (Day 120)

Like many people, I like to assume that the ethnic food I eat is unique to the ethnic group I associate it with. Thus, when I discovered that pre-packaged jam jams (two soft cookies held together by red jam) were made in St. John's Newfoundland I was a little surprised. First because I thought that nobody would produce them commercially, and second because I didn't know people other than Mennonites liked them. I asked my mother, of a Scottish/Swedish heritage, which ethnic groups made jam jams. Her reply was, "I think only Mennonites in Southern Manitoba make them", to which I told her about where the pre-packaged jam jams we were eating were from. She thought about it for a little while and said, "Our family cookbook, from Regina in 1991, has a swedish recipe for jem jems which is exactly the same as for jam jams." This of course only served to make me curious. Swedish people and Mennonites have had almost no historical all, so of course I would be curious about how they have the same cookie. So...

I googled 'jam jams'. The first site listed was the one that produced the pre-packaged jam jams. I googled "jam jams cookies'. Only recipes came up. I googled "jam jams history". Jam history sites came up. I googled "jam jams cookies history". Only recipes again. I wikipedia'd "jam jams". They don't have it on their site. Same with "jam jams cookies" and "jem jems". What they do have is a minor reference to "sandwich cookies", some of which have jam inside the 'cookie sandwich'.

Clearly there is a conundrum in the jam jams history area. How are we supposed to know where jam jams originated if the internet won't tell us? How are we supposed to find out how two ethnic/cultural groups that haven't talked to each other (except for maybe in the last 100 years) have the same cookie? How? Who else makes the jam jam? I guess we won't find out without some deep research. Here's the recipe.

Jem Jems Jam Jams

Cream together: 1 cup margarine
                         1 cup brown sugar
                         6 tablespoon syrup
                         1 teaspoon vanilla
                         2 eggs

              Add:    3 cups flour
                         2 teaspoon soda
                         1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix to a soft dough. Roll into balls and press down or roll dough and cut with cookie cutters. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread jam between cookies when baked and press together.

MVOTD: Muppets (Day 120)

Christmas and The Muppets have gone together like chocolate and marshmellows since A Muppet Christmas Carol. Therefore, when I came across this one I had to post it right away. Here's The Muppets rendition of Ringing of the Bells.

"Happy Holidays"

Happy holidays, dear kids!.
Click here and listen to my greeting message.

"Merry Christmas" by Dani , 6B

Hi Kids!!
There are many Christmas traditions in the world. Some of the English traditions are: parties, dancing, christmas tree, holly, mistletoe, carols... Some people eat turkey . Many people decorate their house with a Christmas tree holly, mistletoe...
There are special songs for  Christmas, called carols. There is a legend which says that he mistletoes is a  magic plant!!I like this legend, if you stand under this plant , somebody kiss you. It´s a very interesting tradition.

Ladybugs, by Dani , 6B

Hello friends,
Ladybugs are my favourite insect. I think there´re more interesting than beetles.There are about 5,000 different species of ladybugs in the world. .In many cultures, ladybugs are considered good luck. Most people like them because they are pretty, graceful, and harmless to humans. But farmers love them because they eat aphids and other plant-eating pests. One ladybug can eat up to 5,000 insects in its lifetime!. Most ladybugs have oval, dome-shaped bodies with six short legs. Depending on the species, they can have spots, stripes, or no markings at all. Seven-spotted ladybugs are red or orange with three spots on each side and one in the middle. They have a black head with white patches on either side.
Do you like ladybirds?. What´s your favourite insect? Why?.

"XMAS IS HERE" by Dani, 6C

Merry christmas guys¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡
Christmas start on the 25 of December and finish on the 7 of January but school Christmas holidays start on the 22 of December and finish on the 9 of January. Xmas is very funny because at christmas we decorate house with: mistletoe, holly,etc. At christmas we go to parties, we sing carols and we dance too. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OF YOU!.

Under the mistletoe

Hi kids!
Read again the legend of the mistletoe.
The mystical power of mistletoe, and the tradition of kissing under this plant, owes its origin to the legend of Goddess Frigga and her son Balder. Frigga was the Goddess of Love and her son, Balder, was the God of the Summer Sun. Once, Balder dreamt of his death. He was obviously worried and told his mother about the strange dream. Frigga was worried not only for the life of her son but also for the life on Earth because she knew that without Balder, all life on Earth would come to an end. Thus, she did her utmost to avoid such a mishap by going everywhere and appealing to every being in air, water, fire and earth, to promise her that they would never harm her son. She was promised the safety of her son by every animal and plant under and above the Earth.

However, Loki, the God of Evil, who was an enemy of Balder and always had evil designs in his mind, was aware that there was one plant that Frigga had overlooked. It grew on apple and oak trees and was known as Mistletoe. Thus, Loki made an arrow and placed a sprig of this plant at its tip. He then beguiled Hoder, the blind brother of Balder and the God of Winter, and made him shoot this arrow at Balder. Balder immediately died and everybody was worried as the Earth turned cold and life became dreary. For the next three days, every creature tried to bring Balder back to life but he was revived only by Frigga and with the help of mistletoe. Her tears on the plant became pearly white berries and she blessed it such that anyone who stands under the mistletoe would never be harmed and would be entitled to a kiss as a token of love.

"Christmas in Spain" by Alejandra , 6B

Hello bloggers:
Christmas is a religius holiday in Spain. The country's Patron Saint is the Virgin Mary and the Christmas holiday begins on December the 8th because it´s  the day of  the Immaculate Conception.
The streets, gardens and trees  are decorated with the typical motifs and Christmas lihts. The shop windows are decorated with toys and gifts. At home the people put the Christmas tree and the nativity which consists of a mini representation of the birth of Jesus.
Another date very important is the Christmas Lottery day on the 22nd of December. The day that coincides with the start of the students holidays.
 We celebrated Christmas Eve the day before Christmas. It's know as Nochebuena or "The Good Night". It's a time for family members to enjoy this together. There are a lot of typical foods. The menu varies depending on the area of Spain, like suckling pig and lamb in Castile and Leon or seafood and fish on the coast. The dessert is normally turron and marzipan.
The date of the 28th December is the day of the Innocent saints. This day is for playing tricks with friends and family.
The day of New Year's Eve is the 31st of December. At night when the clock strikes twelve, spanish people eat one grape for each sounding of the bell, that according to the tradition guarantes twelve months of prosperity. Some people celebrated out with friends to celebrate in the street until the early hours of the morning.
Festivities end on the 6th January with the day of the Three Wise Kings, called Melchoir, Gaspar and Balthasar. It´s the best important date for children, because they bring presents for them. The night before, children leave their shoes on the windows or under the Christmas tree and fill them with food for the camels and water. The three Wise Kings, leave toys and presents and fill the shoes with sweets.
Bye Bye friends, I hope you enjoy!!!

Christmas traditions by Tania, 6A

Spanish people don´t have holly,mistletoe...but they have got X-mas trees,X-mas lights ,the three Wise Men,Father Christmas...
In New year´s Eve people drink champange and eat twelve grapes.
People decorate their houses with a X-mas tree,a nativity scene and a stocking.
Father christmas leaves the presents under the X-mas tree when children are sleeping in their bedrooms.
Children make a snowman when it snows but in A Coruña rarely snows.
In England The Three wise men don´t exist.Father Christmas brings the presents in his sleigh.
Merry Christmas!

Family portraits: the good, the bad, the out of control

Lately, I've gotten several holiday cards from family and friends. It got me to thinking about our experiences with family photos. The title of this post pretty much sums it up. In our years of being a family, we've only attempted trying to get all of us in the same photo three times. Here are the stories.
The Bad: Family Portrait of 2007
It was November, Nico was 2 months old and Mateo had just turned 2 years old. I was exhausted and hovering around 235 lbs. I was still "adjusting" to having two kids. In other words, I was barely maintaining my sanity on a day to day basis. I scheduled our photo session for a Sunday morning since the boys were usually the least cranky in the morning. I figured this early time was probably our best bet. The night before, Max went to a party. He called me later to inform me that he was going to stay at his friend's house that night since he had "had a few drinks". Max is really not a drinker, so I figured he was just being responsible and didn't want to drive. I reminded him about our 10 am appointment and hung up. The next day he came home around 8:45am. And he really didn't look good.
"Do I have to be in this photo?" was the first thing he asked me.
"Not if you don't want to, I guess." was the tearful response I gave.
"No, no. Nevermind. I'll go." he said quickly, "Just let me take a shower."
While Max took a shower I changed both boys diapers and tried on seven different shirts, concluding that I looked fat in all of them. Not much of a mood lifter.
Max got out of the shower, and from the depths of his closet pulled out the ugliest shirt I had ever seen and put it on. I opened my mouth to protest, but realized that 1. it was almost 9:30 and 2. Max looked like he was going to throw up. So instead, we all got in the car and started driving to the studio. I glanced over at Max and realized that although he had showered, he hadn't shaved. And despite the cool November air, his face was covered in sweat.
When we entered the studio we were hit with a blast of hot air. Even though it was in the 60s outside and most of the other families there were dressed in Christmas sweaters, the studio thought it was a good idea to crank up the heat. Max held Nico and fanned himself with a nearby magazine while I tried to change Mateo into the holiday outfit I had packed in his diaper bag. Mateo screamed and refused to wear the pants or sweater. We walked into our session with Mateo wearing a beat up pair of red summer shorts. Max looked awful and I didn't look much better. Nico slept through the whole thing. Mateo screamed and squirmed. As the photographer snapped several photos, I looked over at the next family waiting for their turn in the studio. The kids played quietly. The mom was slim with perfect hair and make-up. The dad was clean shaved and smiling. No one seemed exhausted. No one seemed hung over. No one seemed overwhlemed by it all. I tried not to cry until we got to the car.
The Good: Family portrait of 2008
A year later, things were looking up. Nico was 15 months old and Mateo was three years old. I had been religiously doing Weight Watchers for a year and was at a weight I hadn't seen since high school. After last year's bad experience, I had decided to play my cards differently. First off, I pick out all our outfits well in advance to avoid another ugly shirt fiansco. Then, I scheduled our photo session for a weekday evening, for obvious reasons. Max was shaved and showered. I had on makeup. And the kids were marvelously behaved. We got compliments from the photographer. For a few fleeting moments, we were that family! We had it figured out. It was the Halley's comet of family portraits for the Bisbal family. We most likely will never see something like this happen again in our lifetime.
The-out-of-control: Family portrait of 2010
Two years later, Daniela had joined our family, and we had come to accept the chaos we lived in as normal. We attempted this photo session in the summer with the idea that the no one else would be in the studio. We were right, and it was a good thing. Believe me we needed the room. It probably would have been easier to get a bunch of squirrels to perform a synchronized swim routine than get a great shot of the Bisbals. Both Nico and Daniela refused to cooperate. Nico did jumps and somersaults all over the studio, but refused to sit still or even look at the camera. Daniela arched her back and screamed in protest when I tried to sit her in my lap. Max and I expected it, though, since they hadn't been much different on the car ride to the studio. The photographer was not so patient. After a few shots she declared that "this probably isn't going to work". Yeah, it probably wasn't. I could have told her that on the phone when I made the appointment. Most things we attempted that year, like grocery shopping for instance, we knew "proabably weren't going to work" with all three kids. We realized that getting a family portrait that year was like asking the ocean not to move. An impossible task, but we attempted it anyways because you never know. Lightening has been know to strike twice.
After writing this, I found all these photos to post. The 2010 and 2008 photos were on my facebook page, but I had to go looking for the 2007 one. As I took a picture of it with my digital camera, I thought to myself, hey this is actually a really good picture of us.

My school by Tania, 6A

My schoolHi!.I´m Tania.I´m 11

My classroom isn´t very big.We are12 boys and 11 girls.My clasroom is yellow.
My best friends are Paula,Marta,Rosalia..
My teacher´s name is Carmen Santos
My favourite subjects are Maths,Music,Physical Education and English.
The playground is very big.It has two football piches and a covered patio
My school is orange and very,very big.



" Our traditions" by Marta, 6A

At Xmas people eat lambs, shellfish, chicken,
nougat and in New Year's Eve people eat grapes.
People decorate their houses
with a Xmas tree and  aNativity scene.
We sing songs called carols
Our special days are
Xmas Eve, Christmas Day,New Year's Eve,New Year´s  Day,
The three Kings Day.

MVOTD: Reliving the Early 2000's (Day 119)

Once upon a time SM Town was invented. I don't know when, but at one point BoA, SES, and Shinwha did a lovely little Christmas number called Waiting For White. The song brings me back to when pop was cool in North America. You know, the late 80's and the mid-90's. The cheerfulness. The beats. The haircuts and outfits. So nostalgic, kind of like Christmas (the remembering...the new memory making...the candle light...the eating...the hot chocolate). Hopefully it makes you as cheerful as it makes me.

The Perks of Not Being Able to Hear, a Personal Tale (Day 119)

Fact: I have narrow ear canals. Because of this, my ears get plugged up sometimes. When it happens I can't hear very well, if at all. While it made napping easier (which is a plus), it makes the rest of life a little more complicated. It also made life a little more disconnected.

You know how you feel like people can't see you when you are wearing really big sunglasses? That's how I feel when my head is plugged up, aka, when my ears are plugged up. I also feel like my head is doing it's own thing. It's just bobbing along and my body is following along, kind of like in a video game. I suppose that kind of feeling, that life isn't actually happening in front of you, is kind of nice once in awhile, but not when you are trying to work. Staying on task is just that little bit more difficult when life feels like a video game, plus the whole having to listen really hard to understand what people are saying thing. It's easier to say what's on your mind though, because it's easier to ignore consequences. Kind of like a false freedom. I guess that's not a perk. I just wanted to talk about it, because I wonder if I'm not alone in feeling all bobbly headed/video gamey/invisible when my head is stuffed up. I sure hope not.


On these days we sing, dance, colour and... we have fun! I took these photos in 5 years old classroom with Marian. Look!
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Becca´s Talk

Hi guys,
Here you´ve got the photos I promised.I hope you like them.
Becca's Talk on PhotoPeach

Bye Bye Bottle

Hello. My name is Jackie and my 2 year old still takes a bottle. What can I say, the recovering Catholic in me feels the need to confess her motherly shortcomings. Believe me, they are numerous, so I'll just stick with this one for today. Daniela turned two last August and, up until a couple days ago, still took a bottle. "Isn't she your third baby?" you must be asking, "Don't you know how to do this by now?" Well, if your asking if I have my act together the answer is still no, but taking the bottles away from the boys was a breeze. Both of my boys were done with bottles shortly after their first birthdays. But there was a big difference. The boys were addicted to pacifiers, know to them as "binkies". The binky was the essential item needed to get them to sleep. I didn't dare take those away. I let them keep those binkies until they were almost three. Daniela, however, made it clear when she was a little baby that she did not share her brothers' love of binkies. So, out of desperation, I have let her keep her bottle so as not to mess with her bedtime routine. She actually goes to sleep at 7:30pm on the dot. No fussing. No waking up at night. Nothing but peaceful sleep.Who in their right mind would mess with that?
But, I know she's been playing me. Big time. She goes down for a nap, without a bottle, no problem for her babysitter and has done so for months. She is very capable of sleeping without a bottle, but she knows I'll give it to her. So like any smart kid, she takes advantage when she sees an opportunity.
Daniela's speech therapist has been subtly suggesting I get rid of the bottle since he started with her a few months ago. I've been bending the truth a bit and saying that she only takes ONE bottle at night to go to bed. The truth is that if she asks for it, I give it to her. Just doesn't seem worth the fight. But on his most recent visit, Daniela totally outed me.
She signed for milk, so we went to the kitchen and I began to pour some milk into a sippy cup.
"Nooooo!" she protested.
"What's wrong? Do you want your princess cup instead?" I tried, knowing damn well what it was she wanted.
"Uhh-uh." Daniela said shaking her head and giving me a puzzled look. She then ran to the dishwasher, opened it, pulled out a bottle and nipple, and handed it to me.
"You know, you've got a long winter break. It's a great time to work on getting rid of the bottle." her speech therapist said. Busted. Ok, I still let her have a bottle. And you've been telling me for months to get rid of it. I'm officially a non-compliant parent. I'm not doing my part. I will change. I promise. We will get rid of it. Today. For real.
So after he left. I tried to discuss the bottle with Daniela, well as much as a two year old with a speech delay can discuss such things.
"Daniela, are you a big girl or a baby?" I asked.
"Babeeee!" she said.
"No. You're a big girl." I tried.
"Yeah!" she screamed and started clapping.
"Big girls don't use bottles, so I'm going to take your bottles and give them to a little baby, ok?"
"Yeah! Babeeee!" Daniela cheered.
Hmm... I wasn't really sure if she understood any of that, but it was time to take the plunge. So I gathered her bottles and put them in the garbage bin outside. No turning back now.
Surprisingly, Daniela has never asked about her bottle since. She has signed for milk and been fine with a sippy cup. However, that 7:30pm bedtime seemed to have gotten thrown out with the bottles as well. Last night, she fell asleep with Max around 10pm and tonight, she finally went down in her own bed at 11pm. Both nights, her slumber was preceeded by several failed attempts that involved screaming fits. Hopefully, she is not forever changed.

MVOTD: JYP Nation (Day 118)

Today's Christmas music video is JYP Nation's (Aka, all the JYP Entertainment groups) This Christmas. Groups in JYP Nation include 2AM, 2PM, Wondergirls, J.Y.Park and other people. This particular Christmas music video is well done because the song is an original song (you haven't heard it over and over again), there are lots of food shots (they are trying to fatten up the camera man), and they make use of a public bath toque (Princess Leah bun toque. Yay.).

Skip-Beat! Episode 1 Review (Day 118)

Episode 1
The television event of the season has finally kicked off. That’s right. Skip-Beat!, the Taiwanese show that you didn’t know you wanted to watch is finally airing.

Skip-Beat! is based on a Japanese manga about a girl who goes to the big city to help her lifelong crush with his music career, or rather, it is about how after he betrays her she tries to get revenge by becoming more famous than him. The Taiwanese live-action show stars two South Korean actors/popstars (from Super Junior!) who acted entirely in Korean. The question of how a show where two languages, Korean and Mandarin, were being spoken simultaniously was problematic, but the mystery has been revealed. Mandarin dubbing over Korean acting! It’s really subtle, and since 80% of the characters are speaking real Mandarin, it’s barely noticeable and quite believable.
The first episode is there to introduce and develop the main characters. Thus, first thing we find out just how much the lead character, Gong Xi (Ivy Chen), likes Bu Po Shang (Donghae of Super Junior) when she bikes faster than Superman in order to get a poster of him... and then endangeres her life to get him strawberry pudding. Dun Helien (Siwon of Super Junior) shows up briefly to prove that he is the most popular guy in Taipei and then is mean to an important media executive, because he needs to prove that he is the beautiful iceman character. Shortly after, Gong Xi finds out that Bu Po Shang is cheating on her and the locks on the revenge box in her heart break (seriously) releasing small Ivy Chen revenge angels (also seriously). Gong Xi goes home, rips down ALL her Bu Po Shang stuff, buys expensive shoes, gets a haircut and moves in with her employers. She then attempts to lure talent scouts while weaing an amazingly bad red/gold combo outfit. She will get her revenge!

It was at this point that the episode ended and they showed 'making-of' clips to remind us that Donghae is not a mean dirty scumbag man. Good job to them. Even I was forgetting due to his convincing acting.



"Are you going to be an old lady someday?" Mateo asked me.
"Yeah, some day." I replied.
"When you're an old lady, will you be like 200 years old?" he giggled.
"No. No one lives that long." I said without really think about what I just implied. Too late.
"Wait a minute. Are you going to die?" he asked suddenly sounding quite alarmed.
"Well..." I hestiated. "Yes, but not for a really, really long time."
"But I don't want you to die! Wait! Am I going to get old and die too!?!"
There's no getting around this one. I guess I could lie...but
"Yes. But not for a really, really long time." I tried to sound reassuring.
Now Mateo is crying.
"I don't want to die! I don't want you to die! WAIT! What about Bubba!?! (his name for Max).
OK, I had to get this situation under control fast.
"It's ok, Mateo. When we die, we will all go to heaven and live there together forever."
"But I don't want to move to heaven! I like living in Las Vegas!"
Ok, that was funny. But Mateo is still pretty upset, so I force myself not to laugh.
"No, Mateo. When we die, our hearts go up to heaven and live there forever."
"Is there a Wii in heaven?"
Hey, gotta ask about the important stuff right?
"Yes." quickly reply. I mean, why not? Heaven is supposed to be eternal happiness and isn't that the definition of eternal happiness for a six year old boy.
Mateo considered this for a while and went back to watching TV. But a few minutes later, he was crying again.
"I'm still worried about you and Bubba dying." he said a single tear streaming down his face.
I went over to Mateo and hugged him tightly. My own father died when I was about his age. But, Mateo doesn't even know that I had a father, other than my stepdad who is his Grandpa. I haven't told him. Mostly because it is sad and because I'm not quite sure how my father fits into Mateo's life. I decided we've had enough hard truth for today. Thankfully, I could lie about being certain about this next one.
"Listen. Mommy and Bubba are not going to die for a long, long time." I finally reply.
"But I'll be all alone when you do die." he said.
"No. You'll have Nico and Daniela. And you'll probably be all grown up and have your own family." I add because hopefully it's the truth. The odds are very, very good that next week I will turn 32, an age my father never lived to see, and that I will live to annoy and embarass Mateo throughout his entire childhood and well into adulthood.
"And, remember, when we do die, that you will see us again in heaven, ok?"
"OK." Mateo said seeming satisfied.
A few minutes later, Mateo called, "Hey, Mommy, am I going to be married?"
"Maybe someday...but not for a long time." I replied with a smile.

MVOTD: Jinglemazing (Day 117)

Today's Christmas song is Jingle Jingle. It's sung by 4minute, Mario, and Amen. Enough said. Anymore comments and I would have to make fun of their names.
Today's wonderful fun video is Just a Feeling by SES of SM Entertainment (C.2000?). It reminds me of what would happen if you mixed Billy Piper with the Spice Girls and then made them Korean. So basically, fantastic right? And the only style faux pauxs are the silver metallic man crop top (1:20), the pink suede underpants, and the bottoms that are somewhere between a tiny skirt and a pair of shorts. Enjoy! 

Monday Review: The Metal Show (Day 117)

This weekend I attended the local metal show. It was a cultural experience. I felt quite cultured by being there.

The evening started off with a dub-stepping group. They had lights which turned on and off with the music, which for simplicity's sake we shall just call techno (technically, dub step is the use of two beats to make music). It was danceable, and there were quite a few teenagers dancing to it. Tough guy dancing that is.
Then there was a 20 minute recess and the next band came on. They were metal, and, pretty good. Once again there was tough guy dancing.
Another 20 minute recess. The third band was not very interesting. There was tough guy dancing anyway. This time, some guys decided to use their shirts as frisbies.
After the twenty minute recess, the fourth band came on. They were okay. They inspired wild and crazy tough guy dancing. Heads were accidentally bashed. More male shirts went flying.
Another 20 minute recess. There were more people. The band was a little older. The band was a little more epic. There was tough guy dancing. Shirts flew into the air once again.
When that ended I left. There was still one more band to go, and they sounded like they would have been really cool, but five groups in 3 1/2 hours is enough.

Some notes: 1) I don't think I've ever been to a metal show where God was praised so much. It was really nice. 2) All the flying shirts were the same guys throwing their shirts, putting them back on, and throwing off again. 3) The age mix was really quite good. There were teenagers, parents, people in their 30's, and some people from when I was in high school. 4) I started to ask myself, "Do people have to growl when they 'sing' metal songs? I know some groups don't. Why do all of these ones do it?"

Overall it was really good quality for a local show, and there were enough people to fill the space which made standing around listening to music more confortable. I give the show a 3 out of 5, mostly because I don't like metal to the extent that I want to listen to it for over 3 consecutive hours.