The makings of home.

Yesterday was cleaning day, which meant sweeping and mopping, doing laundry, and cleaning the kitchen and bathroom. We have a small but very comfortable space, but it amazes me how quickly these floors acquire a layer of dust (probably thanks to the fact that the windows are always open--no AC here, remember?). We've adopted a new policy: no shoes in the house except for our new house shoes. I squirm thinking about all that we step on outside when we're walking 12.5 miles (well, that's not typical of each day, but we sure do walk a lot here!), and the last thing I want is to track all of that around our home.

Living abroad in Spain means that a task that might be fairly quick back in the U.S. takes an extra step or two. I have to be more thoughtful about how and when I do the things I do. Take laundry, for example. Here's a picture of our washing machine:

Yep, our washing machine is in our kitchen! Nothing like multi-tasking.

Yep, our washing machine is in our kitchen! Nothing like multi-tasking.

Does that washer look small to you? That's because it is. However, it is more energy efficient and doesn't have the agitator in the middle which will probably extend the life of our clothes. If you're wondering where the dryer is, it's located in our living room!

A dryer of this type is very inexpensive in stores.

A dryer of this type is very inexpensive in stores.

I bet you guys are already so savvy and knowledgeable about life abroad that you knew we didn't have a real dryer! Well, I suppose this is a real dryer. It just takes half a day to use. Then again, it is probably so much better for extending the quality and life of our clothes, which counts for something, right? It means, though, that I really have to think through when I need clothes clean, because you can't do a quick cycle in the wash and then throw your clothes in the dryer. We only have one drying rack, so I have to wait until all of the first load of clothes are dry to do a second load. It's a process.

Right when we got our apartment, we bought cleaning products at the store so that we could get everything spick-and-span before moving in. And look who we found here in Spain to help us clean!

Don Límpio (Mr. Clean) is a cross-cultural man, and does a fine job cleaning up, too.

Don Límpio (Mr. Clean) is a cross-cultural man, and does a fine job cleaning up, too.

Another part of making this place our home was cooking some comfort food last night. We've been in Spain for almost 3 weeks (can you believe it?) and I was craving French toast. Breakfast isn't a big deal here, sadly; at a café, it usually consists of a baguette cut in half with butter and jelly, or a delicious tomato salsa with olive oil and salt. It's good, but it's no French toast with bacon and grits. So last night, John went out to the store to get the ingredients for French toast, which required a special trip to a place called The American Store. You see, syrup is not a commodity here, and so it is very hard to find. Amazingly enough, our small city has a specialty store that sells American goods. But these American goods come at a cost. Guess how much this American staple took out of our pockets...

Any guesses? Try $11.93.

And was it worth it? You bet. Now, to make that syrup last for the next year...