TO THE MOVIES!

Fresh movie review

It’s been a while since we went to the movies together. This means I have a big bag full of movie recommendations for you and we’ll get to them in the following weeks. Today however I would like to share a very special documentary with you. I’m talking about the 2009 documentary Fresh. Although I’m always on top of any movies that come out that discuss sustainable eating, farming and the food industry, somehow I had missed this little gem. I encourage all of you to watch this film, it’s as worrying as it is heartwarming. In spite of the strong images and information they gather up in this film, watching the superb efforts of farmers like Will Allen and Joel Salatin is such a heartwarming pleasure! I love to see how kindness still shows up in rare human beings like these two rockin’ farmers.

FreshDVD-FThere are so many other films that I would like you to see. Even some not so pleasant ones that have actually changed the way I eat, buy and live, but if you’re not ready to go there yet, this is a great eye opener that instead of leaving you feeling like there’s absolutely no hope for humanity, fills you up with giddy feelings and the urge to travel and meet the wonderful characters that are making such a huge change in the food industry. If you’re feeling daring, I would then move on to others (which I will also talk about soon) like Food Inc., Forks over Knives, Food Fight and Vegucated.

I’m leaving you the trailer for this wonderful and hopeful film here, please watch it and share! You can find the movie on iTunes and Netflix as well as your local DVD store! Host a screening and help spread the word about sustainable living and eating. Now I need to start saving my pennies to travel to Will’s and Joel’s farms! Meeting them would be a dream! I can’t wait for the day I have a bit more time on my hands to create another little blog I’ve been dreaming of writing, all about food, cooking, kindness to our planet and to ourselves. Maybe some day soon! In the meantime, enjoy this post and the movie! Let me know what you think in the comments below!

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THE RED BOOKCASE

books

It’s been a while since we’ve sat together near the red bookcase. In fact, since we moved the blog over to blackboard and brush it’s possible that you’ve never heard of my beloved red bookcase. For those of you that are new, the red bookcase is the place in the blog where I share what I’m reading and any book recommendations I might have for you. It’s also a place where you can recommend great reads through the comments! The original red bookcase belonged to my best friend and uncle Aly Sujo. It was an incredible wall to wall bookcase that had hundreds of books arranged by color. The bookcase was white with red interiors and was my favorite part of his house second only to the kitchen table where we would have breakfast and chat or sit quietly looking outside. When I moved to Spain and found a red bookcase of my own, I decided that red and read (remember how to pronounce this in the past students?) were a match made in heaven and gave that name to this blog series.

You know me…I’m hardly ever reading just one book. In fact, I almost lost my iphone last night after a book tower topple incident on my night stand (the iphone was the cherry on the falling cake so to speak). Right now I’m reading the superbly written Harper Lee classic To Kill a Mockingbird (thanks Rafa for the loan!) and Alexandre Dumas The Count of Montecristo (thanks Elena for the loan!). I’ve also just finished WM Paul Young’s book The Shack which will have a whole post on its own very soon. So far all three books are highly recommended. Right now I’m particularly mesmerized by Ms. Lee’s writing, what a witty, endearing and heartbreaking book. I hope I can take it all the way through to the end because I know it’s a tough one! What are you reading right now? Care to share it in the comments?

As a special final treat and with a special shout out to our reader Verena who found this little gem, here’s my new second favorite bookcase ever!

SUNDAY BEST

Driving, music and the winterI was driving into the city today listening to Blind Melon’s Soup and feeling absolute bliss. Driving around this winter has become one of my favorite things to do, the air is thick with fog, the air is crisp and wonderful and the days are just eerie. It has also become the perfect time to just relax and listen to music. I hope you’re all having a relaxing and fun Sunday today. It’s my hubby’s birthday tomorrow so this could also be one of the reasons for my excitement and excessive smiling. I hope you’ve enjoyed the weekend and that you especially got a chance to slow down and smell the flowers (or the coffee, winter air, or whatever floats your boat). Without further ado, here are my picks for this week’s Sunday Best!

For foodies and cooking aficionados, Verses from My Kitchen has some beautiful and delicious recipes, top notch photos and a “come hang out and stay as long as you like” vibe. I can’t wait to try their wintery corn chowder!

Drizzle and Dip is another favorite of mine this week, they have so many great ideas and scrumptious flavor combinations!

For teachers and parents I found an incredible “has it all” online store. If I’m not careful I could spend an entire day browsing the endless sections of School Supply Giant. Think of it as the online superstore for teaching resources. Parents can find tons of great things for their kids here too, so don’t think it’s all about white boards and star stickers.

I’m so excited to share this newly discovered (at least by me!) Etsy Shop. Paper Statement has incredible jewelry and beautiful patterns and objects made entirely out of paper. Their colors and gorgeous simplistic design made me an instant fan! I have my eye on an incredible turquoise necklace that goes from dark to light…just imagining what their creative process must be like makes me giddy!

Last but certainly not least, if you feel like having a serious laugh or two, are a packaging and design enthusiast and simply love to oohh and aaahh after little genius bursts of creativity, visit this link from Topito.com (it’s in French but reading is the last thing you’ll be doing). Please don’t miss it!

That’s all I have for you today and I hope you have some fun browsing around! I haven’t written this little disclaimer in a while but just in case you’re new to this series, I’m not affiliated to or sponsored by any of these sites, I’m simply a fan and wish to share the love!

Happy Sunday!

FARMER’S MARKET

farmer's market standHappy Saturday everyone! For some reason I woke up bright and early in spite of the foggy winter morning we had today so I decided to jump out of bed put on some jeans and go to the farmer’s market for some goodies. Here are some photos of my little morning expedition.
farmer's market in Madrid

The thick fog made this even more fun, and the cute doggie below was doing his veggie shopping as well.

dog at farmer's market

There’s nothing like the bright colors nature provides right? Isn’t this amazing?

Shopping for veggiesOur local farmer’s market is particularly special. The farmers are extremely friendly and they kept giving me presents and free tastings! I tried some fresh tomatoes and cherries on the spot, and they gave me a huge bunch of fresh parsley as a gift at the end. Lucky me!

Madrid farmer's marketI’m a huge vegetable fan and can’t keep away from them. My hubby and I have been trying to reduce our meat consumption lately so today I got to go crazy buying all my goodies since we’ve been saving so much money on our regular groceries. The great thing about the farmer’s market is that it’s an easy way to see what’s in season and buy as local as possible. Too bad we only have it on Saturdays!

Farmer's market

I have this little habit of trying to buy from all the different vendors. They each have their own specialty and I get to chat with all the funny and quirky  characters. After I finished buying all my goodies, I bought some whole grain bread, some organic noodles for later, and went back home where I had a hungry doggie and hubby waiting for me. We had some fresh cut strawberries on the side just because they looked so incredible! We couldn’t wait. Here’s a picture of all the delicious treats I bought today.

VegetablesThe apples, peppers and eggplants aren’t in the picture but they were just as colorful and delicious as the rest of these beauties. I hope you have a great Saturday and I’ll see you tomorrow for Sunday Best!

 

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!       HAPPY HOLIDAYS!       HAPPY NEW YEAR!

WINTER BEAUTIES

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

autumn

winter sunset

sunset in Madrid

 

SUNDAY BEST

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!

BURSTS OF COURAGE

be braveI was watching a very silly movie the other night about butter carvers in small town America. A funny and silly satire about a town that is famous for its butter sculptures. This post isn’t about the movie, but it is about something that occurred to me while I watched it. In the film a father tries to give his daughter a little courage boost after she is scared over something she has to do. You know what I’m talking about, those moments we all have where we feel we need someone to push us through the door of that job interview, or a difficult phone call. Those moments in which our feet just won’t budge and we’re  super glued to our chair? Well, in the movie, this character tells his little girl “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”. He doesn’t stop there though, he moves on to list a bunch of incredibly crazy scenarios, and his daughter then joins in with some crazy ideas of her own. Imagine having a job interview, being scared stiff, and suddenly imagining these unlikely and mostly impossible situations in your head, 5 minutes before heading in:

– You walk through the door and there’s a miniature hurricane.

– You walk through the door and there’s an angry mob of people with torches and pitchforks.

– You walk through the door and get robbed.

– You walk through the door and your entire family is watching you answer your future boss’ questions.

– You walk through the door and all your third grade bullies are there waiting.

– You walk through the door and get the sudden urge to take your clothes off (after which you’ll never get the job).

– You walk through the door and your future boss is your bitter ex-girlfriend or boyfriend seeking revenge.

Now start getting creative:

– You walk through the door and there’s a giant paper shredder that has destroyed your resume (and your tie).

– You walk through the door and are greeted by little green men asking you to board their mother ship.

– You walk through the door and realize you have to speak to 50 telemarketers before you get to the actual interview.

– You walk through the door and the zombie cast from the Walking Dead is happily waiting for you.

Now imagine my favorites from the movie:

– You walk through the door and there’s a zero gravity environment and your head hits the roof leaving you incapacitated.

– You walk through the door and there’s a Justin Bieber concert.

I can assure you one thing, if you spend 5 minutes in this imaginary crazy world of possibilities of what might go wrong, the actual fears will get right into perspective for you and soon you’ll be laughing and realizing that the worst case scenario isn’t really the worst case scenario after all. No matter how brave we all are, we all have these knee trembling moments every now and then, and to me this is a true antidote that will get us past the threshold.

Today’s photo is of my favorite part of the Christmas season: Twinkle lights. Christmas came early last night as we were decorating our tree (photos coming soon). I bought these a couple of days ago because they looked like the beautiful glass lights I had growing up  as opposed to today’s very artificial led lights. They were big, round and red, perfect for Christmas.

ON AN ISLAND IN THE SUN

Weezer said it best, “on an island in the sun we’ll be playing and having fun”. That’s precisely where and what I was doing during my days of absence in the blog. Yes, for a whole week I was in the beautiful Dominican Republic for a much needed vacation. However, this wasn’t the main reason for our trip. I was going to the wedding of two of my dearest and closest friends who made the awesome decision of getting married in a tropical island paradise and giving everyone an amazing week in the process.

I have the very strange habit of waking up really early when I’m on vacation. I try and I try but my internal alarm clock usually goes off before 6 am. This time however I made lemonade out of lemons and while everyone was asleep I went for a run on the beach and watched the sunrise. The top photo is of the first sunrise and my first glimpse of the beach during our holiday. I felt so free running next to the ocean while I listened to some music and felt the waves splashing on the shore. This was one of the highlights of my week, next to some precious time with my hubby and our friends and family, not to mention the incredible and emotional wedding. One of the most wonderful events I’ve ever been to. The photo below says it all right? It was a magical day, an incredible ceremony at sunset and an amazing party at the beach. It was so wonderful and emotional for me. Same goes for my hubby,  you can see him smiling in the background in the photo below after completing his best man duties.

Did I mention the fantastic food and how kind and wonderful the Dominican people are? Top this with warm weather all day long and a beautiful warm blue ocean… if you hadn’t noticed already, I was in heaven. Of course I brought some photos and stories to share with you so enjoy some today with lots more to come. Thanks to my dear students for giving me the week off to go running on the shore and spend an unbelievably special day with friends! And thanks to two very special friends who are starting their life together for giving us these incredible memories. It couldn’t have been better!

Enjoy the slideshow below!

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SUNDAY BEST

quinoa and lentilsWe’re changing into our little chef costumes today (hey! it’s almost Halloween so it’s allowed right?)! That’s right, today’s edition of Sunday Best is all about those yummy rich fall flavors, and of course some great cooking websites and links to share with all of you.   Not only that, but I’m sharing a delicious recipe I made two days ago that I think you might love. We’ve been having the leftovers since then and I’m sad to say it’s all gone now. I’m talking about my lentil and quinoa stuffed peppers (stick around for the recipe and photos). I’ve been in a big cooking mood these days trying out some new dishes and combinations. Today I made some yummy seared turkey with scallions and mushroom sauce, some of the delicious filling that was left over from the peppers, some grilled veggies, and some of my magical green juice. This may sound crazy but today it had kale, lettuce, parsley, radishes, celery, ginger, kiwi and apple. Sounds disgusting but trust me when I tell you it’s delicious! Tonight I’m planning on making another veggie meal with a pumpkin and ricotta casserole and some eggplant parmesan. I told you I was in crazy cooking mode!

Speaking of delicious recipes, I’d love to share a couple of sites with you today. Trotski and Ash have a beautiful blog about cooking with yummy recipes like apple and ricotta torte, and lavender almond cake, not to mention savory all time favorites like fish tacos and macaroni and cheese. Their website is so simple and yet it feels like home which is why I love it. They are just a couple of amateur cooks with a love for cooking.

I’ve also been visiting The Jewels of New York quite a bit recently. Their flavor combinations are so creative and special, and their photographs make you want to put your chef hat on. I’m dying to make their brussels sprouts and chestnut risotto.

Ok, on to my little experiment of this week…drumroll please… here are my lentil and quinoa stuffed peppers. Enjoy!

Lentil and quinoa stuffed peppers

quinoa and lentilsYou’ll need…

Medium sized bell peppers cut lengthwise in half (I love getting colorful so I chose green, red and yellow peppers).

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 bunch of fresh herbs chopped (I used cilantro and parsley)

1 ripe tomato chopped

Half and eggplant (with skin), chopped

1 cup of cooked quinoa (If you’ve never made quinoa before, it’s super simple, I’ll explain at the end).

Half a cup of cooked lentils (I used organic lentils that came pre cooked in a jar. If using jarred or canned, just wash and rinse before cooking).

Some grated mozzarella or cheddar cheese

Mexican salsa or sriracha sauce for garnish if you want an extra punch of flavor

I usually make my stuffed peppers by baking at the last stage of the cooking process when the peppers are already filled, but this time I pre roasted them a little bit with some olive oil, salt and pepper in the oven to speed things along and it was a huge time saver! Just take them out before they start to lose their shape so you can actually fill them.

The first step is to put the halved peppers in the oven with some salt, pepper and olive oil and let them roast for a bit while you prepare the filling. For the filling, heat a bit of olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the onion and carrot and cook for a bit, then add the rest of the vegetables and herbs and cook until tender. Add the lentils and some salt and pepper and a little more olive oil if you wish to add a bit more flavor. Then add the cooked quinoa, mix together and remove from the heat. Check the seasoning and add the cheese, mix the filling so that all of the ingredients are mixed together. Finally, take the peppers out of the oven, fill them up with your quinoa/lentil/veggie mix, sprinkle a bit more cheese on top and bake for a few more minutes until the cheese melts.

I love to serve it with some mexican salsa on the side or sprinkled with some sriracha sauce to add an extra kick to it. A green salad with avocados and cilantro goes great with this dish as well. I hope you love it! Ask me as many questions as you’d like in the comments below. I love sharing my little kitchen adventures with you!

Is it your first time cooking quinoa?

Grab a small saucepan and add 1 cup of water, some salt and garlic powder and heat to a boil. In the meantime wash half a cup of quinoa and rinse. As soon as the water boils, add the quinoa and stir. Bring to a boil again and then cover and lower the heat. Cook on low for 15 to 20 minutes. If there’s still water when the time is up just continue to cook for a few more minutes, uncovered and raise the heat a bit if needed. I have never ever overcooked or undercooked quinoa, that’s how simple it is! It’s basically like cooking couscous, it just needs a little bit more time. After you’ve tried it, you’ll never want to make another grain again! It has a delicious nutty flavor, goes great as a side dish or as the main part of a vegetarian dish, not to mention on salads and even for breakfast! It’s one of those wonderfully healthy ‘super foods’ so you can eat to your heart’s content. How great is that?!