Easter eggs

Easter Eggs / Huevos de Pascua

Since I was a little girl, in my home and in the homes of many people in the US and worldwide, we dyed hard boiled eggs at Easter time. Today I still enjoy the tradition with my kids and it is really easy to do. Here are 6 simple steps to creating your own Easter eggs. Give it a try!

Step 1: Hard boil the eggs. Place the eggs in a pot, cover them with water and bring them to a boil. Lower the heat and let them simmer for about 12 minutes. Immediately remove them from the hot water and run under cold water to stop them from cooking more.

Step 2 (optional): Decorate the eggs. We decorate our eggs first using crayons (the wax doesn’t dye, so the image stays) or rubber bands to create designs. Be creative! You can draw animals, flowers, people, words, etc. Note that we put an old placemat underneath so the dye doesn’t stain our tablecloth.

Step 3: Prepare the dyes. Fill a glass with a half a cup of water (113g) and one teaspoon of white vinegar. Add at least 20 drops or more of liquid food coloring. Mix red and yellow to make orange, blue and yellow to make green and red and blue to make purple.

Step 4: Leave the eggs 5 minutes in the dye. The longer you leave them, the stronger the color will be. When they have the color you want, remove the egg with a spoon.

Step 5: Dry the eggs on an oven wrack. Remember, the dye will stain your clothes and your tablecloth, so make sure you put something underneath the wrack to catch the water and dye that drips. Once the eggs are dry, you can remove the rubber bands to see the design.

Step 6: Store the eggs in the refrigerator. Once the eggs are dry, save them in the egg carton they came in. The colors are vibrant and the eggs are 100% edible. You can hide them in the house and have kids look for them or eat them with a bit of salt. Enjoy!

Expression Sessions - Time

Expressions Sessions – Time

Expressions sessions - Time

The CAE, C1 exam is full of expressions. Here are just a few that are important, not just for the exam, but because we use them all the time!

  • play for time – delay something until you are ready
    • The actors aren’t ready yet. You’ll have to play for time with the audience for at least another 15 minutes.
  • take your time – spend the time you need to complete something OR – slow down.
    • Stop rushing! Take your time. We still have another hour before they arrive.
  • have a great time – Used to tell someone to enjoy themselves OR to express that you enjoyed yourself. It can also be used with other adjectives: bad time, good time, an ok time.
    • Have a great time at the wedding. I’m sure it will be fun!
    • We had such a good time going through the old photos.
  • do something to pass the time – To do something to keep busy while you are waiting.
    • How about we play a game to pass the time while we wait for the food to be ready?
  • make up for lost time – to enjoy something as much as possible now because you didn’t have the opportunity or didn’t want to do it before.
    • Every time I go to the US, I make up for lost time with my best friends and we talk for hours about everything that has happened since we last saw each other.
  • arrive in good time – finish a journey faster than expected.
    • Although there was some construction on the road, they made it in good time to the party.
  • be on time – to arrive somewhere at the exact time or earlier than the time that was arranged.
    • I have to leave now if I want to be on time for the theatre.
  • make time for something – to block off or organize some time to complete something or to be with someone.
    • She had a really busy morning but she made some time for us to have a coffee.
  • did something in no time – to do something in very little time or very quickly.
    • The shipment will be ready to go in no time.
    • The children finished their homework in no time and went to the patio to play.
  • did something time after time – to do the same thing over and over again, repeatedly.
    • I have to tell me children to pick up their wet towel off the floor time and time again.
  • time flies – used to say that the time spent doing something has gone by very quickly.
    • I can’t believe it’s already 7:30! It’s true that time flies when you’re having fun.
  • ran out of time – To have no more time to finish something or to get somewhere.
    • We are running out of time. The deadline for the tenner is this Friday.
Vocab Rehab: Collocations with money

Vocab Rehab – Collocations with money

Vocab Rehab: Collocations with money

#Collocations are words that go together in a certain language. All of the words above collocate with the word money. Let’s take a look at their meanings.

  • to fork out money – To unwillingly pay an amount of money.
    • Fork out some money for the drinks!
  • to sink money into – to spend or invest a large amount of money on something.
    • She sank all her money into that new car.
  • to extort money – to obtain money for force or threat
    • The gang has been found guilty of extorting money from the local shops.
  • to funnel money – to send money directly and intentionally to someone or some place.
    • The Managing Director funneled money from the business to his closest friends.
  • to hoard money – to collect large amounts of money and keep it for yourself.
    • It was quite common for WWII victims to hoard money at home since a lot of their money was taken from them unwillingly during the war.
  • to squander money – to waste a large amount of money
    • Betting on games is the quickest way to squander your money, especially if you do not know how it works.
  • to shell out money – to pay money for something, especially when it is unexpected or not wanted.
    • The government shelled out money for vaccines that can not be used.
  • to siphon off – to dishonestly take money from someone or something.
    • She lost her job when they found out she was siphoning money from the community resources.
  • to pay out money – to pay a lot of money to someone
    • The company was forced to pay out money to the client because they didn’t want to go to court.
  • to withdraw money – to take money out
    • I will withdraw the money from the cash machine later this afternoon so I have cash for the dinner.

off the cuff, episode 7: The elephant in the room

off the cuff: The elephant in the room

Que quiere decir el ‘Elephant in the room’? ¿Por que tintan el río de Chicago verde este mes? ¿De donde viene St. Patrick? Todas las respuestas y más en este episodio de #offthecuff

Vocabulary

  • March Madness- the time period in March when the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) college basketball tournament takes place in the US.
  • The ides of March – March 15, best known as the day Julius Cesar was assassinated
  • The elephant in the room – an obvious problem that no one wants to talk about
  • To march – to walk through the streets, usually to protest something.
  • Lockdown – an emergency situation where people are not allowed to leave. See episode 1 of off the cuff.
  • To feel at ease – to feel relaxed or comfortable with someone or about something.
  • Amnesty Day – to not have to follow a rule or law for that day. See episode 6 of off the cuff
  • St. Patrick’s Day – a day to celebrate the Irish Patron Saint (Patrick) who brought Christianity to Ireland.
  • Parades – to walk or march somewhere, usually as part of a public celebration.
  • Dye – to change the color of something using a specific liquid
  • Punishment – to make someone do something they don’t want to do because they have done something wrong
  • Gaelic – a Celtic language spoken by some people in Ireland and an official language of the Republic of Ireland
  • Famine – A situation in which there is not enough food for a large amount of people, causing illness and death
  • To find your roots – to find your family origins, the place they came from and the customs that they held in order to feel connected to them.
  • Blow something away – to be very surprised by something
  • Rowdy – noisy and possibly violent
off the cuff: a month of Tuesdays

off the cuff: A month of Tuesdays

This month on #offthecuff we explore the similarities that many religions do to prepare for their celebrations, such as fasting, but most importantly, we discover that February is really just a month of Tuesdays. Listen to find out what we mean and check the long list of vocabulary below.

  • Nippy – when the air is cold.
  • A different ballgame – an American phrase meaning that two things are very different from one another
  • If you say so – Here this expression is being used to say that since the speaker doesn’t know the answer, they trust what the other person has said.
  • Savory- Salty or spicy, but not sweet.
  • Pancake Tuesday – A holiday in Ireland that is the day before Ash Wednesday where people eat a lot of pancakes in preparation for their fast during Lent.
  • Ash Wednesday – A Roman Catholic holy day where palm ashes from the previous year are put on the forehead in a shape of a cross to mark the beginning of Lent.
  • Lent – a six week period leading up to Easter. This usually involves fasting and giving something up in preparation for Easter.
  • Shrove Tuesday – The name given to the day before Ash Wednesday by the Christian community which is usually used for prayer or confession.
  • To fast – to not eat a certain food for a period of time  
  • Judaism – The name of the religion of Jewish people
  • Cleansing – to clean yourself emotionally or rid yourself of something unpleasant.
  • Stuff yourself – to eat too much
  • To give up something – to stop doing something
  • Amnesty – a fixed period of time where you are not punished for doing something wrong.
  • Saint Patrick’s Day – A holiday to celebrate the life of Saint Partick (March 17th) who is Ireland’s Patron Saint who was thought to have brought Christianity to Ireland.
  • To be gypped – To be cheated, to get less than you paid for.
  • Dry January – A fast where people give up alcohol for the month of January.
  • Trendy – modern and with the latest fashions
  • Fad diets – a diet that is very famous for a short period of time.
  • To impose something on someone – to force someone to do something
  • Burnout – having no energy or enthusiasm because you have been working too hard or living in a stressful situation for a long time (in a pandemic, for example)

Gluten Free Crepes

Cooking in English: Gluten Free Crepes

In Spain it’s called Carnival, in the US it’s Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, Christians refer to it as Shrove day and in Ireland it’s referred to as Pancake Tuesday. Tuesday (Feb. 16th) or the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday signifies the last day to party or eat too much before we enter into the fasting phase of lent (Cuaresma).

As Clare is from Ireland, she has prepared her version of Pancake Tuesday with this delicious recipe for Gluten-Free Crepes, which are very similar to pancakes.

  • Self rising flour – flour containing a substance that makes cakes swell when they are cooked
  • Raising agent – something added to cause the flour to be lifted up or become higher
  • Trials and errors – a way of achieving an aim of solving a problem by trying a number of different methods and learning from the mistakes that you make
  • Pseudo-cereal – a fake cereal
  • Binds – to make a mixture stick together in a solid mass
  • Sieve –  /sɪv/ to put a liquid or powder through a sieve
  • Pinch of … – a small amount of something that a person can hold between their first finger and thumb
  • Free range eggs – eggs that come from chickens that were not kept in cages
  • Spongy – soft and able to absorb or having already absorbed a lot of liquid, like a sponge
  • Lumpy – containing little balls of flour or mixture
  • To set – to leave a mixture to become hard or solid
  • At least – the minimum
  • A squeeze of… – to press something firmly 
  • To wilt (down) – to soften from the heat, to cook leaves
Como mejorar tu inglés

¿Por qué no hablo bien inglés?

La mayoría de nuestros estudiantes identifican la habilidad para  hablar inglés,  “speaking“, como su punto débil y también el que más les gustaría mejorar.  La capacidad para hablar en inglés muchas veces va ligada al carácter más o menos tímido del alumnado. Una gran parte se siente acomplejado al hablar en inglés por creer que no lo hacen todo lo bien que debieran.  Mejorar esta confianza es un aspecto clave en nuestra metodología. Este puede ser tema para otro “post“.  

En este artículo quiero hablar sobre algunas cualidades necesarias para “hablar bien inglés”. Todos estamos de acuerdo que el conocimiento de vocabulario, cuanto más amplio más potencial para expresarnos tendremos,  y de la gramática, que nos indica cómo estas palabras se ordenan, son fundamentales. Pero hablar bien requiere de otros elementos. Algunos de ellos son:

  • pronunciación: conocer la fonética inglesa, es decir los diferentes sonidos que componen este idioma, e intentar reproducirlos de la mejor manera posible es un buen inicio. Mis alumnos saben que soy un fan de la fonética y recurro a ella constantemente. Sólo así podremos saber cómo pronunciar palabras como “coro” en inglés, “choir”  /kwaɪər/ . Los diccionarios tienen sus transcripciones fonéticas, es nuestra tarea conocer los distintos fonemas para que éstas nos sean útiles.
  • entonación: hablar bien inglés no consiste en pronunciar bien todas las palabras individualmente. Las palabras se conectan “link” unas con otras , nuevos sonidos aparecen o desaparecen y al igual que tenemos acentos “stress” en las palabras, también están las palabras que se acentúan en las frases. Normalmente se acentúan las palabras que son más importantes para transmitir el significado de la frase, pero no siempre. No es lo mismo la entonación de una pregunta que la de una frase positiva o una negativa.
  • fluidez: es importante no dormir al que te escucha con silencios interminables en los que uno intenta encontrar la palabra o expresión correcta.  Es fundamental aquí liberarse y no preocuparse demasiado por cometer errores. Algo que me ha sorprendido recientemente es hablar con gente dotada de una fluidez total y un nivel de inglés bajo. Esto puede ocurrir cuando llevas viviendo en un país de habla inglesa durante 20 años y has aprendido a comunicarte pero no has aprendido nunca inglés.
  • habilidades comunicativas: este es un punto que normalmente pasa desapercibido pero es fundamental y viene a poner el foco no tanto en la cantidad de inglés que uno lleve dentro sino en la habilidad para interactuar y  transmitir, como sea, lo que uno quiere decir. Si entendemos que lo fundamental es comunicarse, o sea, hacerse entender, quizás habría que trabajar este punto tanto o más que los anteriores. Aquí la creatividad que tenga el comunicador será fundamental al igual que su falta de timidez o ganas de comunicarse. 

Espero este artículo os haya ayudado a reflexionar sobre lo que significa “hablar bien en inglés” y sobre todo os de alguna pista para mejorar vuestro “speaking“.  – Javier Palomo, Profesor en la Cámara de Comercio de Álava

Pronunciation - linking words

Linking words

This is a great explanation of how we join words in English. This was created by #hancockmcdonald and I often use his work to teach pronunciation. Can you tell what they are really saying and why it is written the way it is?

In English we often link a word that ends in a vowel sound with the following word that starts with a consonant. For example: tooth ache sounds like two theik.

We also link words that end in a vowel with the following work that starts with a vowel. For example: sore eyes sounds like sore rise.

This is why it can be so difficult sometimes to understand people when they are speaking.

Amanda Gordan reading poem

#Amandagorman – The hill we climb

#Amandagorman became famous over night after reading her poem #thehillweclimb at the #Biden #inauguration. She makes reference to the turmoil at the #capital uprising but also looks toward a positive future with #Kamalaharris as the first multi-racial female vice president.


When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade
We’ve braved the belly of the beast
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow we do it
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished
We the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one
And yes we are far from polished
far from pristine
but that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect
We are striving to forge a union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another
We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid
If we’re to live up to our own time
Then victory won’t lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made
That is the promised glade
The hill we climb
If only we dare
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
it can never be permanently defeated
In this truth
in this faith we trust
For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation
Our blunders become their burdens
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,
we will rise from the windswept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked south
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
and every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it

off the cuff: episode 5

off the cuff: Merry Covid Christmas

In this fifth episode, we discuss what Covid Christmas is like and how immigrants often have to be away from their families. We also discuss what we want the new year to look like. Don’t forget to check out the vocabulary listed below and Enjoy!

  • Shadenfreude- pleasure derived by someone from someone else’s misfortune
  • Pleasure- enjoyment, happiness, satisfaction
  • Pain- a physical or emotional discomfort
  • I must admit- I have to say  
  • Taken aback- surprised  
  • Been there, done that- this is not new to me
  • Life goes on- life continues
  • Rearrange- to change the order, position or time of something already arranged.
  • To go down in history – to be recorded or remembered in history
  • D, all of the above- reference to multiple choice tests when you want all the options offered to you
  • Running after your tail – to be busy doing a lot of things and not accomplishing much
    Burnout – extreme tiredness or a feeling of not being able to work anymore, caused by working too hard
  • Have a laugh – have a good time
Video about First and Second Conditional

Grammar by Bloglish: First and Second Conditional

The First and Second Conditionals are used to express a hypothetical situation.

We don’t know what is going to happen, so we make a guess.

The First Conditional talks about a likely or possible outcome that occurs if a condition is met.

If I STUDY for the test (condition) I WILL GET a good grade (outcome)
If it doesn’t RAIN (condition), we WILL GO to the beach (outcome).

Note: In the ‘if clause’ – use present simple


If I GO, I WILL ENJOY the party.

If he ISN’T feeling well, we WON’T GO to the game.

If she SINGS, she WILL WIN the contest.


Note: In the main clause, use WILL + the BASE FORM of the verb.


If they COME, there WILL BE 10 of us at dinner.

If we WORK together, we WILL FINISH faster.

If she GETS her driver’s license, she WILL BUY a car.


Note: you can also reverse the order of the sentence

He WILL BE late for work (outcome) if he STAYS for another drink (condition)

They WILL STAY at home (outcome) if it’S too cold outside (conditional).

Now let’s take a look at the Second Conditional

The Second Conditional talks about an unlikely or impossible outcome that wouldn’t happen in most cases (unless a very specific condition were met)

If I WERE the boss (condition), I WOULD GIVE everyone a raise (outcome).

If we HAD WINGS (condition), We WOULD TRAVEL more often (outcome).

Note: In the ‘if clause’ – use PAST SIMPLE

Always use WERE for the verb ‘to be’ in conditionals

If I WON the lottery, I WOULD BUY a home.

If he WERE taller, he WOULD REACH the book.

If they could SKI, they WOULD BUY season tickets.

Note: In the main clause, use WOULD + the BASE FORM of the verb.


If they HAD a pool, they WOULD SWIM every day.

If I ATE more veggies, I WOULD BE healthier.

If she LOST her keys, she WOULD BE locked out.

Note: You can also use COULD + the BASE FORM of the verb to show possibility.


If they HAD a pool, they COULD SWIM every day.

If I ATE more veggies, I COULD BE healthier.

If she LOST her keys, she COULD BE locked out.

Note: you can also reverse the order of the sentence

We COULD PLAY all day (outcome) if we WERE children (condition).
I WOULD BE happier (outcome) if I LIVED by the sea (condition).

Remember! If you PRACTICE English a bit every day, you WILL IMPROVE and if you SUBSCRIBE to Bloglish, you WILL ENJOY yourself while you learn.