Monday, June 30, 2014

Welcome! And thank you!

To my new friends who are new followers, welcome. 

To my current friends and followers, welcome back. 

I am so grateful for you. 

You read, you share, you comment and you give feedback. 

You are all appreciated. 

Your stories and your thoughts inspire me. 

I am so grateful for you. 

Thank you. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Want to Learn Another Language? Try this

It's a no-brainer. Knowing another language opens your world. 

I see it with my own husband. His first language is Spanish, but he is also fluent in English and speaks it better than many native speakers. He understands and can function in Portuguese, Italian, and French, as well as Spanish dialects and regional languages, such as Gallego (Galician) and Euskara (Basque).

I, on the other hand, struggle with languages. So, I have searched long and hard for ways to learn another language. For many people, Rosetta Stone is a good option, and writer Tim Ferris, of The Four Hour Workweek alleges that you an learn any language in three monthsbut there are other options as well, many that mirror Rosetta Stone's approach. 

1. Go to school. 
I went to the Boston Language Institute and took an intensive full-time Spanish immersion class before I went to Spain for the first time. It's expensive, but it works. Being immersed in a language is a matter of survival. If you have to communicate, you learn. 

But, there are often classes at local adult continuing education programs. They may be offered through a community college or a local high school. It's a great way to get started. 

2. Meet-Up
Look online for local Meet-Ups. In many places around the country (and around the world, for that matter) are conversational events, where speakers at all levels can interact and learn. 

Even novices have much opportunity to learn. The first stage of language acquisition is known as the silent period, where students listen and absorb everything, decoding what they can before they feel comfortable experimenting with oral language production. Sometimes, simply listening to another language is helpful, as you become familiar with cadence, accents and cognates. 

3. Apps
Today, there are scores of language learning apps, but the one I use most frequently is DuoLingo. DuoLingo is a free app that offers language learning in Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese and English. It incorporates the four language domains: reading, writing, speaking and listening. And it's all free. 

4. Online language learning
Sometimes, you can find online programs. For example, the BBC offers a program called Mi Vida Loca, a Spanish learning program set in Madrid. 

It's a mystery series featuring 22 episodes of real action video lasting ten minutes each. It's fun and engaging and there's emphasis on conversational and functional language. And it's free. 

5. Live Mocha
Live Mocha is an online language community (bought by Rosetta Stone in 2013) that offers opportunities to engage in 38 languages in the four domains. There is a free component and an option to pay for additional benefits. 

There is no doubt that learning a second language opens your world. Experts stay that it stimulates your brain and can help with memory and protecting against dementia. 

With so many options available at so many price points (and many free options), learning a second language is a win-win. 

Where will you go?

Have you ever learned a second language? What tools did you use?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Best WHITE sangría ever

I am known for my sangría

In fact, I would put my sangría up against any sangría from any Spanish restaurant anywhere. It's fabulous!

Some people prefer white wine, and it made sense to come up with a white sangria recipe to please the white wine lovers in my life. 

If that's you, or if you simply want to mix it up, enjoy!

From Kelly's Kitchen...Sangría de la gringa...white wine edition

2 bottles of chilled white wine (if you want a Spanish wine, try albariño...I used Moscato, but be warned--this is a sweet wine; you may want to adjust your sugar)
1 cup of orange juice
1/4 cup of superfine sugar
1/2 cup peach schnapps
1/4 cup of peach brandy (optional)
2 cups club soda (added at the last minute)  Optional...I don't always use it.
2 peaches
2 pluots or plums
2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
Sliced strawberries
Maraschino cherries

*The fruit that I suggested is simply what I use...if you have your own favorites, use them. 

That's it. After you mix it up, give it a little privacy in the corner of your fridge and let the magic happen. You can mix it up before work and let it be. It will be fabulous when you get home. 


Come back and let me know what you think. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Weekend via Instagram

If it is true that a picture is worth a thousand words, then this post is worth millions. It was to us, for sure. 

We were blessed to spend the weekend with cousins visiting from Spain. They arrived on Thursday to pick up the couple's teenage son, who has been living with a family in New York for this past school year, learning English. 

Because the boy is in school until Friday...we have LONG winters here in the Northeast...our cousins arrived early to spend time with us here in the Boston area before heading to New York to pick up their son.

It was a spectacular weekend, of firsts, fumbling for the right words in Spanish (for me) and English (for them), and, most importantly, fun. 

Here's a recap, as seen through Instagram.  

When the Euro is stronger than the dollar, and it's a rainy day, there's only a few things you can do. At the mall, we shopped until we dropped, and then, we said, "¡Salud!"

Españoles run on Dunkins. My cousins enjoy their first Dunkin Donut's 
drive through iced coffee experience. ¡Que rico!

Spain lost their first World Cup match and we consoled ourselves 
with amazing pizza from the Flatbread Company.

The sun finally came out and we ventured out to Boston.

Look what we saw on the way...

Yup...he even has his own Facebook check-in location...not. kidding.

Still running on Dunks. 

Uruguay lost their first Word Cup match as well. Antonio was not happy. 

At least the cappuccinos and cannolis were good.

And so were the flowers. 

And the kisses too. 

On Sunday, we were off to Maine. 

And found a moose.

Starting in Cape Elizabeth, we visited Portland Head lighthouse...

What a day!

And then we set off to explore Portland...

having lunch and their first lobsters (and sangria and beer)...

and dancing off lunch in the street...

finally, ending the weekend at our beloved Nubble Light in York Beach, Maine.

The only thing missing was spending the day with this amazing guy here...

Happy Father's Day to my Dad, with love. 

I hope your weekend was grand.  Cheers!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Getting the Most from Your CSA or Farmers' Market

I don't know about you, but here in the northeast, we waited a long time for spring to arrive. And after the final frost comes the promise of a long, productive growing season and a bountiful harvest. 

As more people become educated about the journey of their food from seed to plate, many people are opting to stay local. Some plant home gardens. Others choose community supported agriculture, or CSA, available at local farms. Some support farmers' markets. And some do some combination of the three.

According to Local Harvest, ( a CSA is a seasonal subscription program in which community members make financial (and at times, labor) investments in a local farm's growing season in exchange for a share of the harvest. 

These shares are divided among the shareholders and most often include whatever produce is harvested that week, but may include other items, such as eggs, milk, cheese, bread, honey, flowers, meat, or whatever else the farm may offer.

This program can be a win-win because the farmers have the initial investment for any costs associated with the growing season, and the community benefits from the local, consciously grown, and at times, organic produce.

For some folks, the farmers' market is a better option due to scheduling or the upfront and, perhaps risky, fairly substantial monetary investment associated a CSA. Also, the farmers' market is a great way to supplement a CSA box, in case of a meager season, or to supplement a family that eats more produce than what the farm share may provide. 

If you chose a CSA for your family's produce needs, here are a few things you can do to maximize the return on your investment. 

1. Prep and Store
Wash and store your harvest as soon as you return home. Wash and dry your greens. Separate what needs to be refrigerated, and prep anything that needs to be trimmed or cleaned to be ready to eat. Educate yourself about the best way to store tender produce. If you planning to can or freeze anything, prep for what you need. Seal in flavor at its peak ripeness.

2. Get creative. 
Often, the first harvest of a spring CSA box or farmers' market relies heavy on greens. Get creative. You can add greens to salads or soups. Toss with pasta, some white beans, garlic and olive oil. Try roasting them or adding them to a smoothie with some fruit. Can you use some of the bigger leaves for Asian-style wraps? Try making a pesto...add some garlic, Parmesan cheese, olive oil and pine nuts or walnuts. And when in doubt, ask. 

3. Build around it. 
In many European cities, people go to the market in search of what is fresh, and then, they build their meal. Start with your CSA box or what's fresh at the market and go from there. Search your favorite recipe websites for ways to prepare produce with which you may not be familiar. Increase your side dish or Meatless Monday repertoire. Talk to the farmer, and ask questions. 

Maybe there is newsletter that offers recipes or cooking tips. Start with what is fresh and go from there. 

Whether you have a CSA share or you venture out to your local farmers' market, you have the benefit of eating the best of what the local land has to offer. And if you have your own garden, you have the added benefit of taking your food from seed to plate. 

And, if you're on a road trip and want to support a local farm or farmers' market, this app by Foodlander (iOS and Android) allows you to search for farms by location, including their hours, their website and their offerings. You can also check the Local Harvest website to find one near you. 

Eating local simply makes good sense. 

It's seasonal. 

It's full of flavor. 

It is more environmentally sound because  it has a smaller carbon footprint: it's natural, unprocessed, and close by. 

You can meet people involved in growing your food and ask questions. 

You can support the local economy and support the idea that we care about what we eat and how it is grown.

It's a win-win.

Do you belong to a CSA or frequent farmers' markets? What are your tips for making the most of your share or navigating the market?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Galicia: The Hidden Gem that Stole My Heart

NOTE: This post first appeared last June, but the same is true today, and I have updated it with some links to related posts. Enjoy!

Galicia, in the northwest corner of Spain, is a lush, green coastal gem that is not the first thought among travelers to Spain. 

It's a hidden, unspoiled oasis that I have come to call my second home.

Here are 5 reasons why I can't wait to return to Galicia this summer:

1. The food...
 Queso de tetilla y rosca (pan de huevo)

 Amazing, fresh seafood

 Pulpo (octopus) gallego...not a personal favorite, but a Galician must-have


And a vast array of the freshest vegetables and fruits, grown with love.

2. You never know who you will meet...

Like John Lennon...

 Or a wandering musician

Or even this guy...

3. There's interesting architecture to see

Like hórreos

 And castles on the side of the road.

4. And then there's the churches...

 Like this one covered in scallop shells in La Toja

And the big ones, like the Cathedral in Santiago de Compestela

Or this one inside the Roman Wall in Lugo.

5. And last, but not least, the spectacular landscapes...

Rias Baixas...Pontevedra

I'm queen of the world at Finisterre!

If you have the opportunity to visit Spain, consider Galicia. The people are so kind and there is so much to explore. You will soon see why this seemingly quiet corner of Spain has stolen my heart.

Have you ever been to Galicia?