SUNDAY BEST

la fotoHappy Sunday everyone! This week went by so fast! Especially this weekend. Could we please get an extra day? You read all about my busy Saturday yesterday and today has also been a fun day full of things like yoga, cooking (a delicious citrus tabbouleh is marinating in the fridge as we speak!) and some not so fun things like cleaning up the house and doing laundry. I did however come up with something today to enjoy our endless mountain sized piles of pending laundry. I’ve been listening to the amazing podcast Food for Thought by the super talented Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. Suddenly doing laundry became the excuse to listen to the podcast with no interruptions! Win win. The new blog I want to write about sustainable eating and living is becoming more and more unavoidable. If I could only come up with the perfect name for it…any thoughts? As soon as I can name it I think it will go from idea to reality.

This week I was walking in the center of Madrid and saw this beautiful flower shop called Kaloto. I loved their street display and the inside of the shop was beautiful as well. You know how I can’t resist photographing flower shops!

Moving on to our task of the day, here are my picks for this week’s Sunday Best:

For foodies, the environmentally conscious and lovers of beautifully photographed blogs, you must hang out for a bit in The First Mess. I can’t wait to try their cashew labne or their pot pies topped with crispy sweet potatoes. The writing is wonderful as well so I’m sure you will love it as much as I do.

For design and diy fans, Design Sponge has some great ideas. You might need to browse a bit because they have so many different aspects to their blog, but they have beautiful diy projects and wonderful and unique photos of beautiful spaces (looking to remodel maybe?).

My last link this week is basically meant to make you twist and turn on the floor laughing (you’ve heard that it’s the best medicine and all that right?). Here are some ridiculously funny culinary Pinterest catastrophes.

I hope you’re still laughing from that last one and that you continue having a lovely Sunday! See you next time…

A FARMERS MARKET, MOCHI AND SOUND CITY FILLED SATURDAY

veggie shoppingThat was a mouthful! That’s only because this morning has been FULL of delicious, fun and musical treats. I started the day off by my usual trip to the farmers market and then to our organic health food store where they gave me that cute box with all my goodies. I got so many great things today it was hard to choose which to photograph for you. Aren’t these beauties lovely?veggies

Then I stopped at a new bakery in town which sells the most amazing whole grain croissants and took everything home to make breakfast. They only had two croissants left so I made my favorite mochi recipe and served it with the strawberries I had just bought and a delicious coffee with rice and vanilla milk. Can you say Saturday morning YUM?!

vgetarian

After I painfully tried to make all those veggies fit in the refrigerator, my hubby, our doggie and I cuddled up in the couch to watch a documentary we had been waiting to see for months. I’m talking about Dave Grohl’s documentary “Sound City”. My oh my!

sound city movie

What can I tell you about this documentary other than please go see it! You know I talk about Dave a lot and about how I think he’s our modern day-number 1 storyteller bar none, and this movie is simply another example of this. It’s an iconic piece of history. I’m not talking musical history here, I mean history, period! So much of this movie took me to what the 70s, 80s and 90s where about, what life in rock and roll California was like, and mainly, how roads seem to unravel when you are deep into your creative process. The movie tells the story of one of L.A.’s most iconic recording studios, where Fleetwood Mac, Nine Inch Nails, Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, Rage Against the Machine, Nirvana, and countless other legends recorded some of their greatest albums. The part about Nirvana’s recording of their album Nevermind hit me hard and right through the heart. This was my first true rock and roll love affair with a record after my uncle left it at my house one day. It wasn’t my first record (this was probably a Jackson 5 album or Michael Jackson album for sure!), but it was one of those times I remember from my childhood where I got to know the eerie character,magic and pain behind the lyrics and music of a band. Listening to, and watching all about this album turned my heart upside down and I was suddenly transported to this incredible place where it all happened. It took Dave Grohl (of course!) to tell its wonderful story and to bring this place back to life after it sadly and unfortunately closed down.

I had to start thinking about my young students when I saw Trent Reznor talking about how someone in his family made him play the piano really early on, and how that made him fall in love with music. I have never taught a student who has been encouraged to study music or play an instrument as an extracurricular activity. It’s all about the sports nowadays. Don’t get me wrong, sports rule, but telling kids that music and the arts are there for them seems to always fall through the cracks. Of course this is fortunately not the case for every child, but how I wish it would be more encouraged!

I loved how this documentary showed what I’ve seen happen time and time again. Magical moments and brief encounters when you’re deep into creative process that end up changing the course of history. There’s nothing more I can say other than please join Dave, “the Neve”, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney, Stevie Nicks, Neil Young, Rick Springfield, Pat Smear, Krist Novoselic, and countless others on this amazing ride. Thanks once again Dave!

That’s it for my Saturday so far, I leave you with the trailer for Sound City, I hope you enjoy it and that you get to see this little gem!

BEYOND THE LINE OF TREES

Beautiful natureI’ve lived in my neighborhood  for three years now, a lovely town outside the city where you can still hear the birds sing and have actual forests nearby (I’m talking bunnies here!). We recently discovered this beautiful park only 5 minutes away from our house and had only caught a glimpse of it. It’s on a hill and has a beautiful quiet feel to it.When you’re at the bottom all you can see is the rising hill and a line of trees.

SceneryToday I finished my lesson planning early and Nala and I went back to the park and ventured up the hill. I wasn’t prepared for what lied behind the line of trees, and unfortunately my photos didn’t capture what we were looking at. Suddenly we were in front of this giant meadow and this vast expanse. Hills and valleys intertwined in front of us and suddenly in the middle of these two highways I’m always driving on, there was this giant piece of untouched nature, we both stood still for a moment taking it in. The photos simply don’t do it justice! Do you see that area in the background that seems to have a grayish hue? Well, between that and the foreground there was a giant valley and beautiful rolling hills. I need to take my actual camera there this weekend!

Spanish landscape

Nature and its wondersI realized I’ve always been a fan of forests that seem to cover you and hide little trails and creeks. But vast and wide open spaces like this one seem to make you breathe a bit deeper and make you quiet down. Similar to the feeling of grandness you get when you visit the grand canyon and you just feel completely surrounded by its natural beauty. This was no grand canyon (I’m painfully aware of that don’t worry..), but I’ll take what I can get! The feeling was just as wonderful.

Dog loversWe sat in the meadow in the middle of these yellow flowers and just looked at these flowing fields and listened to the sound of the highway far away. The only thing that was missing, although it was playing in my head, was Joe Purdy’s amazing song “Wash Away”.  I leave you with some photos and some of the lyrics to the song. I hope you find your little meadow behind the line of trees, whether it’s a coffee shop, your favorite beach or your backyard. Or maybe the Grand Canyon! If you’re lucky to live close by.

NatureIn the words of Mr. Purdy …

“I got troubles oh, but not today

Cause they’re gonna wash away

They’re gonna wash away”

Listen to this beautiful song here or on Spotify if you’re a member. If you like it please purchase it through itunes and help support the artist! This song ALWAYS makes me smile. Tomorrow I’ll take it to my “vast expanse” and listen to it as I’m staring out into the fields.What do you think of this place?! Do you have your version of this? Do you feel like sharing it in the comments? We’d love to hear from you!

PENNY LANE – A LESSON PLAN

Using Beatles song in your lessosIt’s been a few weeks since I posted a lesson plan (remember I also share tons of resources for teaching in the Creative Teaching section of the blog). In today’s plan I incorporate music, grammar, listening, and reading comprehension into a really fun lesson  for kids. You can even make it an arts and crafts project at the end of the lesson and practice speaking skills while you’re creating a classroom poster.

The whole lesson usually takes me about 1 hour (an hour and a half to 2 hours if you’re doing the project at the end) but you can of course adapt it. So far the kids have loved this activity, especially making the project at the end of the lesson, it’s like the cherry on the cake! What song am I talking about? None other than the beautiful Penny Lane by The Beatles. I will outline the different activities you can do in class and in the order I usually do them, but feel free to cut, paste and change things if needed. I’m also adding a paragraph at the end with optional add ons in case you want to do some follow up activities or make this lesson a little bit longer.

Lesson name: Grammar from a song: Penny Lane

Use: Suitable for children of all ages and adaptable to different levels (Elementary + … ).

Language systems and skills practiced in this lesson: Grammar, Vocabulary, Listening, Speaking and Reading.

Timetable fit: This is a great practice lesson after you have taught the present simple tense and the present continuous tense and wish to practice when it is appropriate to use one over the other (present simple vs. continuous).

Part 1: Speaking/ Grammar/ Listening

1. I like to begin this lesson by talking about music and musical styles. Practice speaking with the students by having them talk to each other about their favorite bands and artists and then get everyone together and elicit some examples. If you’re teaching a private lesson simply do this with your student and have a conversation about their musical preferences. Another option is to elicit musical styles and write them on the board (e.g. rock, classical, jazz, opera, country, dance, folk… you’ll be surprised with all the musical styles they come up with!).

2. I’m a Beatles fan so I like to say that now I want to tell them about one of my favorite bands. I don’t tell them the name but I briefly play an excerpt of the song “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (which has such an iconic start to the song). If they can’t guess it, I then show them any of the hundreds of videos of the band playing the song that you can find on youtube. If they didn’t guess before they will imediately recognize the four figures in black and white tilting their heads sideways. Once they’ve guessed the name of the band I elicit from some of the students if they’ve heard their music before. They get very excited talking about how their parents love this music and even the very young ones will want to tell you the story of John Lennon’s death (this always shocks me!).

3. I then tell them that we are going to practice the grammar we’ve been seeing in class with one of the band’s most famous songs.

4. Give students the following handout of the lyrics of Penny Lane with a gapfill (download it by clicking here) (page 1). Tell them that they have to write the correct form of the verb in brackets in either the present simple tense or the present continuous tense and to be aware of the change of the verb in the third person singular. This will take them some time, it’s a song, so as we know the grammar isn’t always the way they’ve seen it in class, but they learn so much from this exercise that it’s completely worth the effort.

5. Walk around and help students that might be having problems with the exercise. Have students check the answers with a partner.

6. Feedback: The great thing about this exercise is that feedback or answer check is done by the student’s themselves through a listening practice. They get to listen to the song and correct their lyrics themselves! You will also have to play this several times especially for lower level students. Have them check with their partner again (if you’re working with a group). You can purchase the song on it’s own for practically nothing on iTunes and also find it on Spotify or your favorite music subscription app. Please don’t download illegally! It will cost you next to nothing and you’ll have it forever.

7. Give them the second page of the handout with the complete lyrics for them to check their final answers.

8. By this time, students will be begging to sing the song, and of course they deserve it after such hard work! I like to use this video Karaoke style but simply listening to the song with their complete lyrics is just fine and the quality of the music will be even better (the Karaoke version keeps their eyes up and engaged which is why I like to use this video sometimes). Sing the song two or three times with them. This will also help with connected speech and children love to sing it!

Part 2: Reading / Comprehension of the song/ Vocabulary

1. Now it’s time to help students understand what this song is about and go over new vocabulary in context.

Option 1 for lower level students: I use a beautiful illustration you can find in the following book: The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics, edited by Alan Aldridge (sorry I can’t share the illustration for Copyright reasons, but the book is truly wonderful if you want to look for it). You can also do a Google image search by typing: illustration of the song Penny Lane. Divide the class into smaller groups and give each of them a copy of the illustration and have them identify the different verses of the song with the images you see in the picture. For example, have them point to the picture and say this is the barber showing photographs, this is the pretty nurse selling poppies from a tray. Get the class to come back together and elicit what each of the things are by pointing at the picture. Here you will practice vocabulary, speaking and reading comprehension.

Option 2 for higher level students: This requires a bit more prep time by the teacher. Find magazine cutouts of the vocabulary used in the song and have the students make a collage to show the meaning of the song. Google images or google clipart will help you as well.

Part 3: Project-Arts and Crafts/ Speaking

1. You will need scissors, a glue stick, poster board, markers, your illustration of the song (or collage if you did option 2) and the lyrics to the song (I like to use the version they did themselves). Get students into small groups and have them place their collage or illustration in the center. Have them cut up the lyrics and place each piece next to the appropriate pictures in the center. They can do crazy looking arrows to show you what each part of the song refers to. Have them write things they know about the Beatles, the name of the band members and the song (you can even have some pictures or cutouts of the band that students can choose from and add to their poster). Encourage creativity and freedom to add what they want to in this part of the lesson. Encourage speaking in English while they do the activity and help them with language used in arts and crafts and making a project as a team. In classes where it is appropriate, I like to play soft Beatles music in the background. They love this!

2. Display their artwork proudly! You can even make a little art show and invite other teachers or students to come see their work.

3. If you have an extra couple of minutes, sing the song again. I can’t tell you how much students love this final singing of Penny Lane and how loud and excited they will sing it after they used all their creativity to work on the song.

Possible follow up lessons or add ons:

– Find a picture of the actual Penny Lane street in Liverpool (through Google images) and give them a text with facts about this street and the inspiration behind the song with some comprehension or True and False questions. Have a brief speaking practice at the end asking them if this was the way they imagined this street to be. Ask them if anyone has ever been to the UK or seen it in person.

– Add additional readings or listenings about The Beatles, always accompanied with a task to guide them through the activity.

– Add this song to your class music repertoire and sing it from time to time. Students will learn it by heart very quickly and this will be incredibly motivating for them.

– There are many illustrations of the lyrics of this song, find the book I recommended above or have some fun browsing Google Images and choose your favorite (you can also make your own if you like to draw!). You can use it time and time again.

– Enjoy this fun and musical lesson!

Please ask me any questions you might have about this lesson and don’t forget to share if you’ve enjoyed this post! Let me know how the lesson went in the comments below, ask me any questions or add some suggestions or ideas. Have fun!

SUNDAY BEST

SnowIf you read yesterday´s post you know that we had our first snow of the season this week which made me (and a furry friend of mine) extremely happy. This weekend was all about the farmer’s market, doing some yoga, cooking up a veggie storm in the kitchen and spending time with friends. Watching Django was also a very special treat this week…Tarantino did it again! But that’s no surprise is it? What was your weekend like?

Without further ado, I give you my picks for this week’s Sunday Best…

For foodies and photography fans, you should immediately visit Kiss My Spatula. It’s a feast to the eyes, offers some great edible inspiration, not to mention a recipe or two! The photos alone…my oh my!

One of my favorite and most recent discoveries is Unruly Things, a blog done to perfection simply to inspire. Stop by their about page to meet the blog’s Oregon based creator and the idea behind this site. It has everything from beautiful products to wonderful links, passing thoughts and magical moments. It’s one of those places where you’ll want to stay for a while.

For parents, teachers and diy fans, here’s a link to my favorite diy project this week. We all played with them, tormented our parents with them, drove our dogs crazy with them…yup! Bouncy Balls! Here’s a recipe to make your own with very simple ingredients. How fun is that?!

Enjoy the links this week and have a wonderful Sunday! I’m off to the movies to watch Silver Linings Playbook. I’m hearing amazing reviews about the two lead performances (with two of my favorite actors might I add…). I’ll tell you all about it later! What are your Sunday evening plans?

A RESOLUTION IN ACTION

Being presentA couple of weeks ago I told you all about my wish for the New Year: being present, enjoying the moment, slowing down (you can read that post here if you missed it). Something I think many of us set aside in the midst of our busy schedules and everyday stress. This week, a chance to put my resolution into action fell from the sky. I´m saying this literally! We got our first snow of the year, and it quickly became one of the most memorable days I´ve spent in Spain so far. Our dog, native to the tropics, who travelled all the way from Venezuela to Spain with us, loves.. and I mean LOVES snow. As soon as she realized that the snowflakes were falling she was glued to the window waiting for them to set. She was having what seemed like an exhiliaraiting freak out moment as soon as she saw the snowflakes getting exponentially bigger. My heart was melting!winter

As soon as there was enough snow on the ground, I bundled up (while still in my PJs I must admit!) and took an overly excited dog to the woods.

What happened when we got there was a wonderful little present. I had taken my camera and so I started taking photos of the snow covered branches, pine cones and of course of this crazy dog that seemed to have transformed into a bunny (or frog). Every year I forget how much she loves this.

the little things in life

winterI was laughing so hard while I was trying to get shots of her jumping up in the air. After I took the ones I´m sharing with you today, I put my camera down and ran around with her. Just looking at her loving every moment and doing these crazy tricks all around me. I was right there. The feeling that came during and after that moment was beyond wonderful. Another reminder that this little resolution (for me) and wish (for you) is ridiculously important. I will tell you this, once you start, you´ll be hooked! Suddenly, putting down the camera/phone/laptop/loop of none stop thinking (or whatever it is that keeps you off the ground you’re standing on) will be as easy as pie. You’ll get back more than you can count, that I can assure you…

new years resolutions

SUNDAY BEST

Golden retriever Happy Sunday! It’s here yet again! This week flew by really fast for me since I was teaching non stop! I have a lovely new group of students at my dear CEPI center. I don’t know what is going on there but the people that have joined our little community are simply the best! I’m always so happy to be a part of it. It’s like a wonderful, fun, loving, multicultural family. Lots of yoga this week as well, not to mention trying to breathe through some of the more stressful moments (they’re unavoidable aren’t they!). I took the photo above as I was leaving my yoga class the other day. This gorgeous furry retriever was doing just that, leaping to catch a stick his human dad was throwing into to the woods for him. I’m so glad I caught him in action!

Ok, on to some Sunday Best goodies….

Since we’ve been talking a lot about healthy eating, cooking, sustainable shopping and all these wonderful Earth loving practices, I need to recommend The Kind Life website. Guess who is behind this site? Non other than Clueless star Alicia Silverstone! Her website, which is meant to also support her amazing book The Kind Diet is all about sustainable living. I’ll talk about her book soon in The Red Bookcase, but in the meantime enjoy some of her great links, tips and recipes.

For designers, fans of beautiful simple things, photography enthusiasts and more, don’t miss Simple Song. It’s a beautifully created site that will make you an instant fan. It celebrates life’s simple beauties and creations in the sweetest way!

It’s hard to describe who to recommend this site to since it has just about everything from crafts, photography tips, beauty and decor, organization ideas, even recipes! If any of these ring a bell for you, please visit A Beautiful Mess. I love this very simple (not at all messy!) website. Some truly inspirational ideas that you can make yourself. If you’re a Pinterest enthusiast (a.k.a Pinterest obsessed like me!), there’s tons to pick from here and share!

For foodies, mammas and veggie lovers, Yummy Mummy Kitchen has some wonderful ideas for your next meals, lunchbox prep, you name it. She has a wonderful vegetarian section with delcious treats like veggie shepard’s pie. Yum!

I hope you like them! As I’ve told you before I’m not affiliated with any of these sites, I’m simply a fan wishing to share the love! Have a great week everybody!

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!

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!