The story of how I quit my job and went to play in Madrid

Archive for the tag “food”


Oh my god. Rome was amazing. I can’t really adequately put it in words. I’ll try though.

Going to Rome was our first trip together outside of Spain. Knowing that we had the GOLD, and the permission to re-enter the country was the most relieving and exciting thing ever.

We arrived in Rome  and were immediately blown away by the Rome-ness. This is the reason we moved to Madrid. We want to be able to go anywhere, any time, for not that much money. We chose Rome only because it was the cheapest flight that weekend, not really because we had Rome at the top of our travel list. Anyway, it was amazing. I hate touristy things, but Rome’s tourist traps are well-deserved. The Colosseum was spectacular  I can’t even tell you how beautiful St. Peter’s Basilica is, and the Panteon is a feat of engineering genius  The things we saw on postcards and on wikipedia before we left were there, in real life. So much beauty, age, importance, and history that we couldn’t properly take it all in.

We had a fabulous time. Both of us will tell you that our favorite part was the food tour that we took. With my previous experience working at Buca’s and the Mac Shack, I never considered the idea that Italian food was anything better than frozen ravioli. The moment that I tasted what brushetta is supposed to be, I literally, for real, cried a little bit. We had cannoli out of a picture book, ate gorgeous pizza, and learned about all the things we were missing in our previous lives. Black truffle, pecorino, out of this world tomatoes, tiramisu, hand made pasta, cheese!, and gelato that blew my mind. If you head to Rome, we highly recommend Eating Italy Food Tour.

I am thrilled that we had the opportunity to learn, see, do and be in Rome. I can’t wait to go back.


1) Colosseum- Margaux says it would be the world’s best place to play hide-and-seek. She’s right.

2) Some huge random church we went into- I say, “I could really go for a glass of the blood of Christ right now.” Margaux looks at me in shock and says, “Babe! You can’t fuckin’ say that! We are in church!”

3) Roman Ruins- Instead of being impressed, Margaux is pissed that our camera won’t take a good picture.

4) Trevi Fountain- RAD! Way bigger in real life.

5) The Vatican Museums- 2 hours in, and we had to take a break. Too many people, too many pieces of art. The Sistine Chapel (and Rick Steves’ podcast description of it) breaks our necks to look at and really is jaw-dropping.

6) St. Peter’s Basilica- We almost skipped it because we were tired and overwhelmed by amazing things already. But now I am SO glad we went in, it was my favorite thing. Gold, marble-y, Jesus-y and we even went into the crypts below to see the Popes’ tombs.

7) Hostels/B&B – We had a roommate in our hostel, and he was a Ph.D student from South Africa who was researching elephant fossils and elephant evolution. Huh. Bet you’ve never met an elephantologist before.  At our B&B, we had a lovely time having breakfast in bed and chatting with the owner.

8) Lots of Americans. Including one woman who said to us, “Houston, Texas!” and then told us how great it was to finally hear someone speak English. Huh?  We were at the Colosseum. At least half of the tourists there were speaking English.

9) Rick Steves. I’m in love. We took our Rick Steves Italian phrasebook, which was a big hit. He told us everything we needed to know: how to get around, what time dinner should be, how to ask for the right beverages, etc.  Our waiter/new BFF loved it when we loved the food and said, “Meglio della cucina di mia mamma.” Better than my mom’s cooking. (Sorry Mom.) He cracked up when we said, “Cosi buono che mi sono leccato anche i baffi.” So good I even licked my moustache.

10) Wandering around a little neighborhood finding cute little bars and restaurants to try out. The Christmas lights were out and there was a little frost in the air. Super romantic.

Rome was amazing.


My 28th Year

As promised, here’s my personal goals for the upcoming year, my 28th.  In no particular order, these are the top 20 things I want to accomplish in the next 365ish days.  All of these things are possible! I’ve accumulated tons of bookmarks and resources to make it happen. Check out the links for more info about where I got all these crazy ideas from.

  1. Travel to at least 8 different countries, wear my adventure hat.  My man, Rick Steves, will show us the way.
  2. Budget our money to make room for travel and put $xxx/month into our savings account ($x/year).  It’s been done.
  3. Spend money on experiences more than things.
  4. Become completely debt-free, and live debt-free with the exception of my student loan by March 2013. Dave Ramsey knows how.
  5. Get on the show House Hunters International when we move to a different apartment in the spring. My mom would FLIP.
  6. Exercise regularly toward a goal weight of xxx. (Yeah right, like I’m going to tell you here.)
  7. Eat well. Appreciate good food.
  8. Enjoy time with friends and family. Use skype and gchat to stay in touch with those far away.
  9. Make 4 new real friends in Madrid. Join Meetup groups.
  10. Write in my journal weekly. Finish reading Writing Away for inspiration and guidance.
  11. Begin learning German using Rosetta Stone and local language classes at the library.
  12. Practice Spanish with Margaux every day.
  13. Read 4 adult novels in Spanish.
  14. Start an online business to generate extra income.
  15. Stay in touch with contacts by sending 3 emails a week to people I haven’t heard from in a while.
  16. Identify and get involved with a job, volunteer position or activity that is meaningful to me and build a professional network of people in Madrid.
  17. Maintain EsCrazy and get at least one article published on Bootsnall, Matador Network or as a guest post on another blog.
  18. Complete NaNoWriMo 2012.
  19. Get to know the city of Madrid. Learn about Spanish art, history, literature, culture and food.
  20. Drink wine sometimes, laugh a lot, take pictures.

Adventure awaits!

I am so excited to get going on these! Let the adventures begin!

Happy Birthday to Me

One year ago, I told Margaux that my goal was to be living in a foreign country by my 28th birthday. Here I am, in California, so so close to meeting my goal!

I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions, but I do make Birthday Resolutions, which is where my original goal of living abroad came from.

Here’s my list of 2011 Goals and Priorities I created on my golden birthday last year. These are the things I have spent the year working on, paying attention to, and prioritizing in my life.  In green, the short version of my self-eval.

  1. Be mindful of the food I eat.   Good. I was mindful of all the jamón I ate in early spring, that’s for sure. And of all the burritos I ate when I got back.  Oh and I sure got my mind-full of the delicious items on various bbqs this summer.  A work in progress. 
  2. Work together toward saving $xx dollars  Goal achieved, February 2012. Luckily, moving to Spain cost the same $xx and we get the chance to start saving all over again. 
  3. Move abroad by my 28th birthday   Oooo. Missed it by 4 weeks. But I technically already moved abroad, so I say, goal achieved. 
  4. Focus attention on relationships with family and friends.  Family? Friends? I hope I have treated you kinder and with more attention this year. There is always more love to go around, though, so I say, this one will be on my list forever. It was a real joy to spend so much time with family this summer. And terribly difficult to skype without internet from Spain. 
  5. Get a different job.  My new job is Professional Hobbyist, College Consultant, Entreprenuer, Freelance Library Visitor. And I am good at it!  While I loved my previous position, it was time for me to leave it so I could complete the other items on this list. See #6
  6. Care for my mental and emotional health  Good work! I feel much better than I did one year ago about myself. It took time and work, and the support of my Margaux and my friends. 
  7. Start a blog  Check. You are reading this now, aren’t you?
  8. Take steps to improve Spanish language skills  Completed 120 hour advanced Spanish course in Spain, plus ordered a lot of jamón in español.
  9. Organize objects in my life to make it simpler to manage life.  Selling everything you own is a good way to get organized. Try it! You’d be surprised how much crap you don’t need. 
  10. Be more physically active.  Joined a gym in Spain, did nothing over the summer (see #1), but I joined a gym for the next month before I go back to Spain. Took a part time job doing campaign work door-to-door (see #5), walking for five hour shifts. Needs improvement! 
  11. Read more books, watch less TV.  I did read a lot of books this year (Hunger Games Trilogy! 3 Books!). Check out my goodreads profile, it’s buff. The part about less TV is not so good. Margaux and I had an affair with our Roku and our Netflix account during the winter, Mentes Criminales (Criminal Minds) in the spring, and I’ve watched a little too much Honey Boo Boo this summer than I’m proud of. 

Next week, I’ll post up my goals for my 28th year. What goals do you have? What should I include?

My goals are very loosely based on Chris Guillebeau’s Annual Self Review.

VISA UPDATE:  Last week, I bought a ticket to return to Madrid, with or without a resident visa on October 22. Regardless of whether I get the damn visa or not, I will be reuniting with my Margaux in 4 weeks on tourist visa #2. If my birthday wish comes true, I will get my real visa by that date, fly to Madrid, and never come back. If not, I’ll be in Madrid for the fall and return in early December to (hopefully) pick up my completed visa.

My tiny breakfast. 

Food groups

I present the food groups in Spain. 

Pork products: Mostly in the form of jamon, but also in other charcuterie forms. Also, pork in all forms, including pork chops, roast suckling pig, bacon (beicon), cured, smoked, aged, processed, natural, braised, and grilled. 

Bread products: Mostly baguettes and/or in the form of bocadillos, which are long sandwiches, usually with a slice of tomato and a few slices of jamon (see above).

Olive products: Olive oil is generally used on, well, just about everything. Put it on bread, or jamon, or cook with it, or put olives in it. It’s our most-loved condiment at the moment. Also, olives accompany almost every beer you order.

Cheese: Just cheese, all kinds of cheese. Mostly eaten with a side of bread and a few slices of jamon.

Carbs in general: The Spanish Tortilla is a potato and egg dish, sometimes served as a sandwich. That’s right potato/bread sandwich. Margaux’s favorite thing is croquetas which are fried potato and jamon dumplings. I am a fan of empanadas, which are almost like potato pies with flaky crust. 


My cholesterol needs a breather….. You can see that vegetables don’t make the top 5. So delicious. But I don’t understand, why aren’t there any fat people?

Ham Ham Ham Ham Ham

Ok, so the jamon obsession is going to take some getting used to. Yes, it’s delicious. Should we eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?  Everyone seems to think so. 

Vegetables don’t seem to be a priority. If you are vegetarian, good luck. Bring some granola bars. 

I would like to thank Anthony Bourdain for the heads up about the different types of ham. We had some delicious bites that come from wild pigs who only eat acorns. There are some that come on a hard roll, sometimes it comes just a plateful of ham slices with bread on the side. For those of you who are uninitiated, I am not talking about your Easter ham, or the kind that comes on eggs benedict. This is jamon straight from the leg hanging above the rows of vermouth at the bar. This jamon, dangling there from the ceiling, has been aging for some two years or more before it gets to be hand sliced and served to you. It’s delicious. It’s complex. It’s everywhere. 


Check out this link to learn more.

A little taste… Look at all that ham! 

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