February 26, 2012


A little while ago Matt and I got a chance to visit Salamanca, Spain. It's about an hour and a half away from where we are in Avila, and everyone says its a great place to go visit. When we found out that the bus trip only cost 12 Euros round trip per person, we decided to make it happen!

The bus ride was pretty short, and once we reached Salamanca we went in a tourist shop and asked directions to the Plaza Mayor, which we had heard was the middle of the tourist area of the city. It was so beautiful!

We walked around the Plaza for awhile, it was such a beautiful day and there were so many people walking around and sitting in the sun. There were a lot of shops and restaurants, and while we were tempted just to eat at McDonalds, we took a chance on a pasta place that ended up being great! It looked like a small bar, but an upstairs nice seating area and the food was great and not too expensive. 

Matt wouldn't smile for me.

An archaic looking McDonalds.

There was small parade in the square for Carnival, which I think is about equivalent to Mardi Gras. The people in the parade were from Bolivia, and there were cars driving blaring music with dancers in costumes behind them, it was cool to see but only lasted a few minutes.

We went into a few shops and each bought a shirt, then we got some hot chocolate. As we were leaving we saw a church door that was open and got to go inside. The city had a lot of beautiful churches, but some were closed. It has one main older cathedral that looked beautiful, we didn't get to see it, but as we left on the bus we realized we were closer to it than we thought. Here are some of the churches and buildings we saw:

It was a great day, and we definitely plan to go back again!

P.S. Today I posted over HERE at the Gleim Blog about my first week of studying for the CPA exam. 

February 16, 2012

CPA Exam

I'm so excited about an opportunity that I stumbled upon a few weeks ago! I had to purchase new study materials for the next section of the CPA exam (Audit) that I will take in May. I decided to purchase Gleim again, first because they are the cheapest, second because I have passed two tests in a row using Gleim. As I was on their website, I saw they had started a blog and needed writers, compensation included. So...after some correspondence, I will be writing about my study process for the Gleim Blog once a week, and in return I receive a section of study materials FREE! I am so excited, and if you know how much study materials cost, then you will be excited for me too!

All that to say that my first introductory post went up today, and HERE is the link if you would like to read it. Now I actually have to study so I can have something to write about....

February 11, 2012

Hot Chocolate...and other food

Spain has the best hot chocolate I've ever had...it is thick and very chocolatey, almost like drinking a melted hershey's bar. It's delicious! At cafes here, if you order tea, or a cappuccino, or most any other hot drink, it comes in the tiniest cup you've ever seen! It is smaller than an old fashioned tea cup. I see the reason for this though, after my first cappuccino over here I was up all night, so that tiny cup must have a lot of expresso/caffeine! However, the hot chocolate comes in a normal size cup, which is another perk.

On Wednesdays I have one lesson at 10:30 am, then three English lessons in a row, 4:30-5:30, 6-7, and 7:30-8:30. This makes for a long afternoon, because I have 30 minutes in between each lesson which is not enough time to walk home, and it only takes 5-10 minutes to get from one lesson to another. When it looks like this outside...

...its not really fun to just wonder around the street, so a few weeks ago I found this great bakery/cafe right beside my 2nd lesson. I stopped in for some hot chocolate, and not only was it the best I've had yet, but they gave me some free little cookies too! They were so cute that I took a picture:

The girls who work there are so nice too. So now every week I look forward to my Wednesday hot chocolate break. :)

As far as other food goes, I have actually kept a New Year's Resolution this year! My resolution was to eat better and more. This sounds funny and is opposite of the typical resolution to eat less, but I did a terrible job in the fall of feeding myself. All of Matt's food is provided as part of his contract (which is great!), but as a result, I never want to cook or make a good meal for just myself. Last fall, I ate a lot of cereal, and every week I would make a big pot of spaghetti and eat it for about 5 days in a row. Needless to say, I'm really tired of spaghetti.

My biggest hurdle to get over is that I don't want to make a big mess by cooking for just me. So in January, I just decided I was going to cook and make a mess every day, and I needed to just get over it. I haven't cooked every day, but I've done much better eating "real" food (aka not cereal and chips) and not being hungry. I've found some new recipes that I can make over here and they mostly require all fresh foods which makes me feel healthy. Speaking of healthy, the other day I finally spent some time at the store locating some baking necessities, and I made chocolate chip cookies! I surprised Matt with them when he came home from practice, and he was really excited. I'm so glad I finally got flour, sugar, baking soda, etc. because now I've come across so many things I can make! I don't really enjoy cooking (as in dinner, etc) but I love to bake! Also, at the store I found some American pancake mix, so the last two weekends we've made a great breakfast with eggs and pancakes, and that's been really fun.

I've been spending more time at the grocery store when I go, to just wonder around and find new things I didn't know they had. I've also been taking the time to Google Translate ingredients before I go, and that has helped a lot! I'm finding a lot more things, and realizing that every store here carries different things. I was trying to make chili last month, and could not find kidney beans at the most American friendly store here. Last week I was at the small market store, and I saw kidney beans. So I just have to remember who has what. I think the stores probably have more than I realize, but the packaging and the language make it difficult for me to find! For example, last week my friend showed me sour cream - it is non-refrigerated (as is milk - yuck!) and comes in a cardboard, tall skinny box. Never would have looked for that!

My friend Jackie, who's husband also plays basketball over here, sent me a lot of recipes all containing basic things you can find. I tried one the other night, the Lemon Chicken with Mushroom sauce, and it was delicious! I can't wait to try the rest of her recipes. If anyone has suggestions please leave a comment with a recipe!