The Nativity Garage

Have you read the Pope’s new book?  Since I have never understood the Spanish nativity scene fascination I might have to give it a read.  Apparently he clears up big misconceptions regarding the nativity scene.

We’ve had it all wrong about the donkey.  There were no donkeys gazing lovingly at baby Jesus during the real deal.  So if your family prefers a realistic interpretation of the nativity, put your plastic animals back in the garage.

But a shout out to my Spanish family, I was excited to hear that the three wise men came from Andalusia!  How they managed to travel from Spain to Bethlehem on camels is unclear; obviously I need to read the whole book.

In what chapter does he discuss the Vatican’s official position on Hot Wheels?


We’re on form with official donkey doctrine.  Our donkey was crowded out by a Playmobile bus.  All the parking spots near the manger were already taken.


Baby Jesus has been stuffed under the sofa since this photo was taken.  Does the Pope really understand the ramifications of new nativity scene protocol?  Because this is what happens when three wise guys from Andalusia show up at your nativity scene.

Sticking around the Christmas tree – 2012

Christmas tradition time!   Here we go,  the third annual wonky Christmas tree extravaganza at the Santos-Fraser household.

I’ll remind you of previous entries.



Low tech, efficient, portable.



Perfect for encouraging a closet clean-out.

But this year the kids are older and we have new needs to fill. Banging for example. We are always in need of appropriate opportunities to bang that begeezes out of something. Sticks are also popular. And we  mustn’t forget the perennial toddler favorite, picking garbage treasures off the beach.  So we went beach combing for Christmas tree ingredients.

Cheaper than Walmart!


There was heated debate over how many sticks we could haul home on our bikes  the attributes of various components.


But I did all this just for the boys.  I didn’t have any fun at all.


Tada!  This is what we came up with.

Pros:  no needles to vacuum.

Cons:  no evergreen fresh smell.  Whatever.  I’ll buy an air freshener.

I put it outside for a week to annoy the neighbours, so the whole complex could enjoy our work.


Then we moved it to the patio to decorate it.

How long until one of those monkeys climbs it?

Things that make you go “Hmmmmm”

I tried to publish this post with a more explicit title but WordPress wouldn’t let me.  It tripped their pornography filter.  Ha ha.

Just a Mommy blogger with a few illegal kale plants and I’m on the internet shit-list.

These were washing up all over the beach last weekend.

Last time I saw something like this it was at a battery-powered “Tupperware party” for bored housewives.  wink wink.

What is it?

Guerilla Gardeners

The idea of a community garden in our complex is batted about periodically.  Apparently Manolo the maintenance man always shuts it down.  But given our dirt deprivation, we’ve resorted to drastic measures.  We have joined the revolution.  We’re going guerilla.

It’s never too early to introduce your children to a life of crime.  For example, 8:00am is a good time.

Here we have two bad boys, creeping around the complex in their fuzzy footed PJs in the wee hours of the morning.  Their crime?  Unauthorized swiss chard.

Guerilla gardeners! Río is the look-out man. What Manolo won’t know won’t hurt him.  He never weeds in there anyway.

Something tells me we won’t keep our secret for long.  Some of the smaller members of our band are easily persuaded to talk.

Maybe blabbing it all over the internet isn’t so clever either.

So if you are wandering through Tarifa and you spot a cabbage or kale in an unlikely spot, stop and give it some love.  Or eat it.

Harvest Moon

Look what came out of the garden the other morning.

I love steamed greens for breakfast.  But today was the first day we harvested enough to fill a pot with beans and greens for a real Caldo Gallego.

It’s one of our favorite winter dishes;  warm, filling and healthy.  What else could you ask for?  That Rogelio makes it, not me!  That’s why it’s my favorite.

Yes, the kids high-grade the sausage out first.  But eventually they eat the greens too.

Did I mention that I didn’t have to cook this?  Yippee!  But I’ll hide my smile behind the greens.

We have to go incognito. I’m on the lam.

Stay tuned.

Little brown thumbs

I’ve never had more excuses NOT to have a garden:

  • Tarifa has wicked winds that can rip little plants right out of the dirt.
  • We don’t have any dirt.  As is common in Spain, anything possibly green and dirty in our yard has been tiled over.
  • We rent.  It’s hard to justify spending time and energy on improvements to someone else’s tiled over yard.
  • We only rent this house 10 months of the year.  We have to pack up everything we own, move out for July and August, live out a suitcase, then move it all back again in September.  Including the garden.
  • I live with two small animals who destroy everything in their path.

Yet, where there is a will, there is a garden.

Look at all that green!  Edible green!

Since we don’t actually live anywhere in prime gardening months, we are sticking to fast growing greens.  I’m an instant gratification type gardener.

It’s a multi-cultural garden.  We have the typical greens from around here, (chard, spinach, lettuce, parsley, cilantro), then some you don’t find here but you do in Galicia, (col gallega, nabizas), then I brought some seeds from Canada like kale and some yummy Asian greens,(Bok Choi and Yu Choi Sum).  Plus mustard, collard, radishes and I don’t even remember what else we dumped in there.

To protect them from the wind we came up with this low little greenhouse.  It turns out I don’t need to protect them from Río.  He’s the chief gardener.  Yago is more interested in engineering the green house structure.

It’s not much, I know.  But for a portable garden it does the trick.  And those yummy little greens taste extra good when you know they’ve been handled by dirty little hands.

A face only a mother could love

I gave up the Evel Knievel imitations.

Mom wouldn’t buy me a white jumpsuit.   Besides, flying over the stairs got old about the time my face healed up.

Time for new thrills.  I decided that rock climbing offers more potential for personal growth.  Just a man and a rock face.  Fingers and toes versus gravity.  Plus repelling looked like a blast.

But it turns out they use ropes.

Hey eggplant ass.

Peanut Butter?

Hell No.


I love my weekly local veggie box.  And only 8 euros!  Every Tuesday the kids and I dig through the greenery to plan our weekly menu.  It’s always a surprise.  It’s sometimes mind boggling.

2 kilos of eggplant?  2 kilos of mini green peppers?

Being from the backwoods of northern Canada, eggplant oversupply is not a problem I have much experience with.  I lost my virginity before I found my first eggplant.  There are plenty of eggplant recipes, but taking direction is not my strong suit either.

I tend to wing it.

But if you have an eggplant/pepper oversupply problem I recommend forgetting them on the barbie while enjoying a glass of wine with the hubby. Blend up the ugly black results with lots of garlic, some lemon and salt.  Add your favorite, slightly dodgy looking stimulant beverage and VOILA, breakfast and garlic breath.

Take that, vampires.

Looks like peanut butter, but tastes like…

Dunno.  But at least I don’t have to eat the lard.

Hey Lard Ass

What do you think this is?

Did you guess pork loins in lard, decorated with finger prints?  Then you are correct!  We call it breakfast.

Lomo en manteca is what it’s called in Spanish and you spread it on toast.  Seriously.

There are lots of different mantecas (lards), with various spices and bits of meat floating around in there.

Does it sound strange to you?  Then trying explaining the attraction of peanut butter to someone in Europe.

Don’t try this at home – take two.

“Looks like the Pooh car took some damage on your header down the stairs, Río.”

“Na, just messed up the detailing.  But I’m taking advantage of the situation to make some modifications to my turbo system.”

“Mom shut the gate and if you remember correctly our air compressor and nitrate mixer are currently having a ‘time-out’.  What’s your plan”.

“Well, by maximizing the torque/rice cake ratio I figure I’ll just jump the gate, miss the stairs all together and go for a cannonball landing in the pool.”

“Hmm, quite a trajectory.  I’d recommend extra raisons.”

“I pinched some of Mom’s chocolate covered ones.”

“I like your spunk, kid.”