HAPPY HOLIDAYS from blackboard and brush!Blackboard and Brush wishes all of our readers, students, family and friends the happiest of holidays! May the season bring you great joy, health and lots of time with loved ones. We will see you again very soon with new posts, and we wish you a wonderful new year ahead!




talking to childrenI didn’t want to do business as usual today after what happened in Connecticut this weekend. Words cannot describe what I felt when I heard the news, especially because this has happened too many times. In my adult life I’ve seen so many news stories like this one, and every time, I think it will be the last because a solution must be in the making. Then I find myself on the same couch listening to the same horrors all over again several months later. The fact that this would happen in a school and to fellow teachers and especially to students like the ones I work with every week crushes my heart. If there is a place where you should be able to feel safe it’s in a classroom with your friends and teachers. I’ve been especially saddened by the way the media has been including the children that survived in their news coverage. I keep thinking of two things when I hear or think about what happened: When are they going to take measures to prevent this from happening again? (this is one time too many), and how should this be explained to the children that survived and to all the others that have found out about this tragedy? For this reason, I’ve gone to the wonderful wise words of Brené Brown. As you may have heard me mention before in this blog, Brené is a research professor from the University of Houston who has written and specialized on the topics of vulnerability, courage and shame, among others. Her TED talk on listening to shame is one of the most special I have seen so far. For today’s Sunday Best I’m sharing a link to her post with incredible resources on how to talk to children after tragedy occurs and approaching the subject of violence against children with them.

Every week I witness the wonderful wisdom of children, and nowadays they seem so grown up that I always have to keep reminding myself that they still need so much protection and guidance to be able to hold on to their childhood and those wonderful years of innocence that should never be taken away. This is why I loved Brené´s post and all the resources she shares with us.

The photo you see above is of a small playground in a nearby park. It’s my favorite part of the park because it reminds me so much of when I lived in New York as a child and went to the playground every afternoon. The bright colors and fun swings behind this beautiful tree always remind me of how childhood should be. Today this picture makes me very sad and feels eerie when I think about what happened and how it needs to never happen again. I hope you can get some guidance on how to talk about this with the little ones in your family and classroom with Brené´s link above, and I send the most heartfelt condolences to those affected by this tragedy. I hope I can get another one of these photos soon with lots of children playing and laughing in the swings as a reminder of how precious their lives are and how there is always hope ahead.


Winter photosHi everyone. I’m just popping in for a few seconds today to share some of the winter beauties I’ve been photographing lately. When I take our dog to the park in the mornings I find that it’s a little bit different with every passing day. The leaves have almost left the trees entirely, little berries are making an appearance, and the few leaves that are left have this very rich color, just as they are about to fall. The sunsets are also surprising me these days. Very different from the summer sunsets we can see from our terrace which always seem to be on steroids. In the Winter, they are light and soft, but just as beautiful. I hope you enjoy them!

fall leaves


winter sunset

sunset in Madrid



ChristmasFor some very strange reason, my students (especially the young ones) seem to be extremely curious about what my life is like. They are constantly asking me about my hobbies, my favorite bands, how old I am (this little guessing game gets hilarious with the young ones), what my husband is like, whether he plays play station games or football. My life is pretty simple nowadays which is what I’ve worked my entire life to finally be able to have, but to my students, these little bits of information are like little special treats. Perhaps it’s because we spend the entire class talking about what they’ve been doing, what their favorite movies are, the sports they play, and they love turning these back at me. The idea is to get them talking as much as possible, so I’m the least important person in the room while I’m teaching. However, it is slightly unfair that I get to ask all the questions and get all the scoop. So for my dear students who are always reading the blog (thanks! you guys rock!) and to any others that might be stopping by, here’s what my day looked like today.

At around 7 I made breakfast for my doggie and hubby and we all sat down to eat together (doggie on the floor but still…). A couple of hours of lesson planning followed, and then an early morning yoga class in what seemed to be the coldest day out ever! Then I ran some errands and continued with my lesson planning, and then after still having some of my yoga buzz left over I went into the kitchen to make a yummy vegetarian lunch. Roasted sweet potatoes, quinoa with almonds and goyi berries and my favorite ginger carrot sauce on the side, not to mention my new favorite side dish zucchini and leek “pasta-less pasta” with a rich tomato sauce. Amazing is all I have to say! Not because of any particular cooking skill of mine but because of the incredible and delicious food nature gives us! Then I had an afternoon of teaching, drove back home listening the the great Gary Jules and had dinner with hubby and doggie again. We’re about to curl up on the couch for some tv time, one of my favorite parts of the day!

Hope you had a great one too! Be sure to tell us about it in the comments!

PS: Another typical question is what our home is like, and whether I’ve put up my Christmas tree yet, so that’s what the photo above is about. Nala decided to model it for you. What do you think?!


Autumn leavesIt’s been a long weekend for me and further proof that three days is exactly what a weekend should entail. It’s the perfect amount of sleeping time, reading time, dog and hubby time, movie time and friend time. Two days just isn’t enough am I right? Tomorrow a big day of lessons awaits me and now I’m completely ready for it.

This week the mountains of lesson plans, activities, worksheets and projects seem to have gotten out of hand so I’ve been searching for a good system to keep everything organized and handy at all times. For that reason I’ve been researching some great inventory and teaching apps and I’ve come across some pretty great things, so soon we’ll have a Sunday Best Special Apps Edition! Don’t worry, it won’t be all for teachers, we’ll have a little something for everyone! I’m excited to start researching this for you. If you have any suggestions or favorites please share them in the comments below and I’ll be sure to include them!

Now on to this week’s Sunday Best…

For designers, photographers and lovers of all things pretty, Jessica Comingore is an LA based photographer and designer that collects her sources of inspiration in this beautiful blog.

For foodies and DIY fanatics, My Little Fabric is one of those adorable/cute/girly/perfectly crafted websites that have a little bit of everything. You’ll mostly love browsing their beautiful website for inspiration and I’m sure you’ll end up making a thing or two.

For parents who want to buy cool stuff for their kids that seems less like the neon pink plastic they sell in toy stores nowadays and more like the awesome FAO Schwartz/our generation goodies visit Bungalow Kids. Really special toys, arts and crafts supplies, beautiful furniture and decor. Great for parents, aunts, uncles and loving gift givers who want ‘old school’ to be back in business!

Last but not least, something that I rarely post here but I just had to this week, A Thread has beautiful clothes and accessories if you’re looking to buy a special gift this season. Another reason why I love it? With every purchase you make, A Thread donates 5% of the money you spend to a charity of your choice. Gift giving all around which is what Christmas should be right?

That’s all for this week’s Sunday Best! I hope you enjoyed it! Our photo today is yet another one of the beautiful Spanish fall colors. Have a great Sunday everyone!