Homemade flamenco dress!

I finally did it! Since I arrived to Spain three years ago, I’ve told myself that I’d like to try making myself a flamenco dress to wear during the spring fair (Feria de abril).

My first year I borrowed a dress from a friend which was green. I remember the night before going to my first feria, wearing the dress, I was so excited and could hardly sleep! I felt beautiful in it!

Unfortunately I couldn’t keep it, so the year after I bought a read one. I found it by coincidence on a street market and it costed me 20€. A real bargain! It was a bit too big in the waist, and a bit too short, so I had to go get some fabric to make the final ruffle… And it was hard work. I remember saying to myself that no way in h*ll I’d repeat this, so no, no dress would ever be made…

Last year I had a new dress, but this one was given to me by a friend who moved back to New Zealand. It is blue and has a different type of fabric which is lighter but not as traditional.

Which one do you prefer?

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Well, anyway, my “ganas” (will) came back this year and one day, only three weeks before the feria, I went to buy some fabric. And you need a lot! I looked up some things online to make sure more or less what I’d given myself into, and I decided to make one with “falda canastera” which uses straight lines of fabric. I never use any patterns when I sew, that’s why I could never ever make anything for anyone else. I’m practically naked while sewing just so I can try it on, make changes, try it on again etc.

Traje Flamenca

I started with making a shift dress to get something I could hinch the skirt onto. As you have seen on my previous dresses a flamenco dress is very tight on the upper body and lets loose over your legs. The different styles are infinite and so are the colors, decoration etc. Since I’m not an experienced seamstress, I chose to make a dress without sleeves. It’s usually very hot anyway during the spring fair so having bare arms is not a problem.

Then the most boring part started… Measuring, cutting the fabric and doing all the zigzag. I think this part took me most time because once I can see the result, I work on well.

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And there it was! Almost done and still some days to go… I just needed to make the straps a bit smaller, make a slip with pockets and fix the bottom of the dress.

I am very happy with my result and I know that many of my friends were impressed. Yes, I have been asked to make some for my friends next year, but instead I suggested to have a sewing-get-together. We’ll see, we’ll see… I’m sure I’ll make more though. Any suggestions of colors or style for the next one?

Feria 2015

I matched it with a flower in my hair that was the same color as the bottom fabric and with a “mantoncillo” (shawl) in beige or in black. The black one was for night visits and the beige during the day. I wanted to get a turquoise shawl but couldn’t find it. Next year maybe…

~Malena~

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It’s not every day you see your students on the news…

For the last month I’ve had a new student in the academy where I work and he’s not like any other student, this one is famous! He used to play football in Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, and also in the National team of Spain. His name is Sergi Barjuan.

He is a really cool guy, very nice and humble, but also a lot of fun. He has never really studied English, he was born and raised in Barcelona and studied Spanish, Catalan and French at school, his English is more or less self taught during his years as a footballer.

When I first met him I was surprised by his level, it seems a lot higher because he dares to try! He speaks to me in English all the time and he really tries. He doesn’t get it all right grammatically, and sometimes he lacks some words, but he gets himself understood. That’s why he needed classes and came to us at the academy.

We’ve been having classes for about a month now, I loved it, someone to talk football with! And I think that his English has improved, at least his understanding of the structure of the language, but if he remembers it, we’ll see…

Anyway, yesterday I saw on the news (sport news that is) that he just got signed for Almería as their new coach. Great! I’m really happy for him and I hope he can make Almería stay in the first division (they’re third last but with quite a lot of teams with similar points). And yes, of course this means that he won’t be able to attend his classes in Seville anymore.. Bummer, but maybe he’ll be back? In the meantime we decided to keep in contact and I’m going to keep a close eye on Almerías progress… First game tomorrow against Barcelona!

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My voice is my tool

Being a teacher can be hard during the colder months of the year, aka the months when everybody has the flu…

I daily have kids sitting on my lap, coughing in my face, smearing snot over my clothes, touching my face, sneezing right at me and every once in a while manage to get a finger into my mouth or eye. Yes, it’s called kindergarden…

I teach at a nursery four days a week and I have two groups: one with 1-2 year olds and one with 2-3 year olds. I love it, but as you can see, it has its downsides too. People usually ask me “how do you teach English to kids that young?” And English isn’t just about grammar and worksheets, it’s also about playing, imitating and above all, singing! And yes, I spend about 6 hours every week singing at a nursery. 

So if we go back to the downsides of having someone poking your eyes and coughing at you while singing, it’s not weird when I wake up with an eye that I can’t open or a terribly sore throat, and with a sore throat my singing isn’t very nice.. These are the days when I remember how much I love cd-players!



Stop saying that!

I think all of us have some expressions or words that we use a bit too often… I know I have many but usually when I realize that I say something all the time I try to stop myself.

One thing that I used to do, and that I’m really trying to stop doing, is saying “sisisisi” instead of a normal “sí” (yes is Spanish). I didn’t notice that I was doing it until a friend of mine pointed it out and always made fun of me doing it, so I decided to stop. It slips out every now and then, but it’s getting better.

Repeating something over and over again might be annoying for others, but until we’re actually told (or discover it ourselves) we won’t be able to change. I believe in a varied language, both for your own sake and for the others. Unfortunately our spoken language is very influenced by television and some of the expressions are, at least to me, very annoying, especially in English and by teenagers. I haven’t noticed any bigger difference with the Spanish language, but maybe it’s because I never watch TV and don’t know which language that is new and only spoken by teenagers (I hardly ever speak to one, only at school when they come by the reception). I know though that in Swedish we use a lot of modern expressions and words.

Sometimes it might be good having a repetitive language. Since I’m a teacher, and mainly teach kids, they suck up every word I say, and when I say something many times, they eventually learn it and start using it too. When I was teaching my two year olds the other day, just after a song, one boy asked me “very good?” when I didn’t say it immediately. And yes, “very good” is another word/expression I use a lot, but this one I don’t mind. One of my one year olds has also several times tried to say “very good” or “good”, but he saying it because of me wasn’t as obvious as with the child the other day.

It’s funny how you can do and say different things without noticing it. It doesn’t have to be anything bad, but just something that is your thing.

Which one is yours?

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Is it just a fraud?

Do you know what Valentine’s Day is about? Generally in Spain, people don’t like this day and they say it’s just a holiday made up by El Corte Inglés (a big department store in Spain). Many of my English and American friends asked their Spanish partners what they were going to do on February 14, like going out eating, travel somewhere, or just hanging out showing their love. What they’ve been getting as a response has just been weird looks or phrases like “why should we celebrate our love on a made up day?”
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I ran into an old friend the other day and he was devastated that his girlfriend despised Valentine’s Day, and she said it was just a silly day made up by the stores in order to gain more money. He got a bit angry and wanted to look it up, was it just a commercial day and nothing about true love?

The stories about Valentine’s day’s origin are many, but the one that is most told is that Valentine was a priest in Rome during the third century. The emperor Claudius II had recently prohibited young men to marry because he thought that they made better soldiers without having wife and family. Valentine did not agree though and defied his emperor by continuing to perform marriages between young lovers in secret. His actions were discovered and the Claudius II sent him to death. Before the martyr, Valentine wrote a letter to his loved one and he finished the letter with the words “from your Valentine”, and this was on February 14.

Since then this phrase has been used in loving moments to express love between two individuals, but it wasn’t until the end of the fifth century that February 14 was announced to be called St. Valentine’s Day.

Celebrations of this day are dated back to the Middle Ages and the oldest, and still existent, love poem sent as a Valentine’s gift is from 1415 and was written by Charles, Duke of Orleans.

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Back to school

This break hasn’t been long enough. Or well, it has, but as my PT says “the worst thing about having holidays is the day when you have to go back to work”. And so true, are you ever prepared? It was really hard to get up this morning knowing that I’d have to be 110% active during several hours and won’t be able to have a siesta midday. I’m so tired but it will be fun to see all my students and colleagues and hear about their holidays.

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How to accomplish your New Year’s resolutions

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Last day of the year, so let’s do like almost everyone else and write about New Year’s resolutions. Like I mentioned in an earlier post I’ve never really believed in having a certain date to start doing something new (or stop doing something) because I think it’s better to start when you’re ambition is high and your goal occupies your mind. But, then again, the idea is nice to start a new year with new goals, so I don’t despise doing it.

I looked up some common New Year’s resolutions and found a study from University of Scranton, USA, where they’ve listed top-10 in America for 2014 and also shows statistics of how many Americans that make resolutions, how long they last for and age success rate. You can find the link here.

So, the most common resolution is … *drumroll* … Losing weight! I think this is the most common one in the whole Western civilization because we get feeded with pictures of how the ideal body should be, all the time. The problem when saying that “this year I’ll lose weight” is that it isn’t specific enough. How will you lose weight? How much? During how long time? Make a plan and make sure you’ll stick to it, and it will be easier to not go off it and surely it’ll be more motivating!

When I studied marketing and leadership in Sport Science they taught us a technique called the SMART model. It’s used to make goals clearer and more achievable and works for every area; at work, gym, New Year etc. The SMART model stands for:
S – specific (target a specific area of improvement)
M – measurable (quantify or suggest an indicator of progress)
A – assignable (specify who will do it)
R – realistic (what results can be achieved,  given available resources)
T – time-related (when will the results be achieved)

So now we have our most common goal, lose weight, and if we use the SMART model it could look like this:
S – Lose 10kg during 2015 by going to the gym and eating less and healthier food
M – I will learn 1 new healthy dinner recipe every week, I will go to the gym twice a week, and by July I will have lost 6kg
A – I will do it by help from a personal trainer and my family
R – I will probably lose more weight before summer when the bikini season gives me more motivation and hopefully I’ll reach my goal before given time, but over Christmas I might gain some kilos again…
T – Goal will be completed after 1 year, but my sub targets will be completed by July 1st and goals with recipes and gym every week.

I could make it even more detailed depending on what my goal is. And no, this is not my goal, I used it as an example since it was the most common New Year’s resolution last year in USA.

I like this model because it gives you the chance to think about subgoals. I don’t believe in stopping doing something from one day to another without easen the way before. It might work for some people, but if you can stop in one day, you most probably can start in one day too.new-year-resolution

Here’s the complete list of New Year’s resolutions in USA 2014:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Getting organized
  3. Spend less, save more
  4. Enjoy life to the fullest
  5. Staying fit and healthy
  6. Learn something exciting
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Help others in their dreams
  9. Fall in love
  10. Spend more time with family

Number 9 made me raise my eyebrows. Fall in love – doesn’t it just happen? How could it be a resolution for a year? Maybe more like a wish? And how do you apply this goal to the SMART model?

And, if you wondered, only 46% maintain their New Year’s resolution after 6 months, but what’s more shocking is that only 75% complete the first week! I really think they need some help with creating a plan for their resolutions…