friday favorites, Spain

Friday Favoritos: 2021 Edition

The universe has issued its official welcome to 2021 to around half of Spain with a gigantic, record-breaking snowfall thanks to the winter storm Filomena! What a beautiful surprise!

Of course, many of the people I’ve spoken with this week are saying that just 15 days into the new year, we’ve already experienced more than enough. So true. A near-coup and a record snowfall all in the first 10 days of the year, plus a sharp increase in coronavirus cases!

In my world, though, things are still relatively calm, minus the internet-induced outrage of last week’s Capitol storming. Let’s talk about what I’ve been reading.

I’m so proud of having been able to read 60 books in 2020. It helped boost my mental state, let me travel in my mind, and gave me new insights into people and the world. Weirdly, though I live in Spain, I read a LOT of books about France and French culture. 8 in total this year! I like reading about people who move to France and learn how to navigate the culture – buying and renovating houses, winding their way through the Paris streets, and experiencing that joie de vivre. Amazon now knows to recommend those books: I’m a total sucker for them. They get me every time. (And they usually cost less than $5.)

Another underlying theme of my reading this year was inspiration, living a better life, and tweaking finances. To list just a few: Michelle Obama’s autobiography, Financial Freedom, Permanent Record, Your Money Or Your Life, Work Optional, Stillness Is The Key, The Beautiful Struggle, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Your Erroneous Zones,  How Not to Die, Wabi Sabi, and A Life Less Throwaway. Oh, and the YNAB book!

The fiction I read this year was awesome too. I had forgotten how amazing it is to get lost in a good story! My favorites were One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Across the Winding River, The Sisterhood, The Great Alone, and The Murmur of Bees.

Now 15 days into 2021, The Mental Toughness Handbook was my first book finished. So good.  I’m now in the middle of another foreign-culture one: The Nordic Way, comparing Finland and the US. I’m also ingesting a dense tome in the form of an audiobook, which is called Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire. (WOW. This is the book I feel  like I’ve been looking for to understand the US.) I plan to keep reading as much as possible this year!

Plant-Based Eating

How about food? No, I didn’t completely fall off the train with plant-based eating. I’m still doing it, though I did loosen up for the holidays as I was having Christmas dinner with people who adore all types of seafood. I had percebes, buey de mar, gambas, and plenty more. You know what I’m discovering though? I don’t actually love Spanish ham like I used to. Now that I’m eating more plants, I feel like jamón is way too salty for me. Even the expensive jamón that’s always on hand at these local family dinners! Also, I don’t really like the amount of chewing that’s involved.

Anyway, now that the holidays are over and I’m back to a routine, I’m stuffing myself less and eating a lot more plants once again. A few favorite recipes:

Black bean tacos made with the vegetarian chili I mention here, plus homemade corn tortillas. Throw in a little avocado and cilantro. Add cheese if you want. (No need to buy tortillas at Mercadona: just mix harina de maiz with salt and warm water, roll bits of the dough into balls, flatten them and then cook for around 3 minutes. Way cheaper and fresher!)

Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad from Budget Bytes

Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Crispy Tofu by Minimalist Baker (with the peanut sauce I mentioned in my blog post above)

Don’t have rice paper? Wrap ’em in lettuce.


Well, I personally haven’t done any impeaching but I certainly have been keeping up with the news after last week’s craziness. Trump, way to be the first president ever to be impeached twice. Really racking up those records. In the words of my favorite parrot Jacinto: “Claro. Adiooooos.” In other news, I’ve decided I’m going to take down my political posts, as I don’t think they really fit with my overall values. They’re mainly rants from moments when I needed to process my thoughts and feelings, and a journal will suffice for that!

Having my eyelids operated

Wait, what? Yes, I had an operation done in the Spanish healthcare system! I developed some annoying bumps on both eyelids around a year ago, and had to have them surgically removed. After a lot of waiting, the day finally came this week. The operation only took maybe 15 minutes, but the surgeon and the nurses were so kind. One nurse’s entire job was to hold my hand. Afterward it must have been a funny sight being guided by Ms. S. down a snowy sidewalk with two big bandages on my eyes, and I know for a fact I freaked out one of my neighbors. 🙂 Afterward I couldn’t really see or read, so I asked friends for podcast recommendations (The Guilty Feminist is a great one!) and started downloading audiobooks. I can see again, thankfully, so it’s business as usual with teaching and YNABing. And now in 2021, I work from an exercise ball.

My day-to-day at YNAB involves unicorns

What an eventful start to 2021!