Large in Charge, Santa’s Minions, and El Botin

We are invited to Skinny Swede’s husband’s 40th birthday party on Saturday night. It is hard enough buying a man a gift, let alone one from another culture, that you don’t know overly well. A bottle of wine is always nice and appreciated, but, let’s just say, muy overdone. Forty is bigger than a bottle of wine. Where to get a gag gift? And while I know Sr. Swede’s a snuss (Swedish chewing tobacco) consumer, I am not sure if he’d smoke a Montecristo. My dilemma was solved this week while at the garden center. I spotted this little gentleman:

Fuchsia, metallic, and tackier than a monkey lamp, I thought to myself, “Now there’s the perfect gift for the Swede living in Spain!”

Garden gnomes are to Spaniards what pink flamingoes are to Floridians. In explicably, there is a plethora of them. I have not seen so many garden gnomes since watching the movie “The Full Monty”. In a walk around the block this morning I spotted a total of three gardens sporting gnomes. And these were just the gnomes I could see from road. There are probably more.

Next door neighbors' gnomes

Around the Block Gnomes

gnomes as planters

Wheelbarrow Gnome, Guarding Gate with His Mate

Gnomes, trolls, and dwarves are also ubiquitous to Scandinavian culture – “uff da!” – so I am thrilled to have found such a cross cultural gift. That it is pink and sparkly, well, I am sure it will dress up Skinny Swede’s garden. And while I passed on the 159 Euro mini-Xian warrior this week (I didn’t buy one in China, for goodness’ sake) from the same garden store, you know I bought a pink gnome for myself. The orange one doesn’t go well with my garden color scheme.

Mr. Understanding was not so thrilled with my choice. So I hunted in my present closet and came up with another set of Table Topics*, a game which the Swedes played at Thanksgiving and enjoyed.

“Where’d you find that?” he asked.

“The present closet,” I replied.

“Oh, I should have gnome,” he said. “Get it?”

“Ha, ha. Very funny. Yes, I get it.” I think my sense of humor is finally wearing off on my husband.


Now, to the other subjects, in breve so I can get most of them in.

1) Rant: the Spanish hospital administration would not let Thing 1 lie down on their vacant waiting room couches when she was doubled over in abdominal pain last week. No fever, no vomiting, but American and wearing sweat pants. She had to sit up, I was told, or leave the area (but go where?). They could provide no reason for their policy; it was just the rule. I will stop here but do want to point out that I think they’d have kicked Jesus off the couch as well.

2) Madame Malbouef commented to me during our absolutely FAB visit that I was a “Large in Charge”.

“What’s a Large in Charge?” I asked.

“A big sister,” she said. She, very nicely, stopped short of saying “bossy”. (But you know she was just being diplomatic).

“Haven’t you ever heard that term before?” she said.

Madame Malbouef grew up in the Detroit area; her father has nine siblings and her mother seven. I had never heard the term before but am adopting it. Among other things, it has made me examine my speech patterns – I have the soul of a general after all – but perhaps others don’t appreciate this so much???

3) El Botin – favorite Spanish restaurant in Madrid (I did not have one before). It’s in all the guide books and according to them, Goya (famous Spanish painter) was a bus boy here. It’s also in the Guinness Book of Records for oldest operating restaurant. Next door to the Plaza Mayor, this antique, several storied restaurant serves delicious food, the waiters are friendly (!BONUS!), they are kind to children, and, the sangria is delish. They even sell sangria pitchers and plates with their name on it, reminiscent of Tio Pepe in Baltimore and my beloved plate restaurants of Brazil. Finally, it is no more expensive than any other restaurant in the area and the table linens are swish. It has made it onto the Princess’ Must See/Do in Madrid list.

4) We’ll skip the crazy neighbors and, instead, I’ll leave you with a joke for your kids:

Q: What do they call Santa’s football stadium?

A: The Gnome Dome.

*Lulu Powers‘ sister Julie came up with the idea of using them as place cards!



Filed under Birthdays, Family, Folkart, Friends, Movies, Shopping, Spanish vocabulary, Traditions

30 responses to “Large in Charge, Santa’s Minions, and El Botin

  1. maria

    This pink gnome is soooo MK!Loved that…I will probably get mine next month.
    El Butin is great ,I got the menu to my collection and it is now in my churrasqueira area near Le Procope founded 100 years before ,they say….Where is the truth?

    • Do you need me to bring you one to Rome??? I am going to order some Dona Benta lime cake mixes from you so I can make that yummy cake from that cute store in SP. And Jody got a menu too! Seriously, a restaurant in China also claims the same thing but if it’s in the Guinness Book, girl, it’s the real deal.

  2. MCV was Here

    I HEART the gnome. Orange would be great for my yard! And I have a pair of shoes to match . . . in the event I want to take the gnome on a walk w/ me.

    MCV was Here

  3. 425Heidi

    Are you sure she didn’t mean “Large and in Charge?” I would have been offended.

    My mother’s cabin has a large loft upstairs and the whole thing is painted with gnomes as portrayed by the Dutch artist Rien Poortvliet (I highly recommend his book about gnomes. It is beautiful). She keeps asking Rob if she can paint them at our cabin. Can you believe he keeps rejecting her offer? Maybe I can satisfy both with a cute statue.

    • 425H: you would not have been offended because you are small. Are you saying I am large? Yes, I am. But I was not offended. She even said “oldest sibling” – it can apply to men too! Will investigate book on gnomes. Do I need to buy a dozen gnomes for this summer? What color would you like?

      • 425Heidi

        I am not saying you are large! It is just that I have never heard “Large in Charge.” I am the oldest sibling of my family, so I guess that makes me Large in Charge too.

        The brighter the gnome the better. It needs to stand out amongst the green of the forest.

  4. Mood Ring Mama

    I forgot to tell you when we talked this a.m. that this blog made me laugh so hard – the photos and their captions are fabulous. I have never wanted a gnome until today. You really belong in sales. Thank you so much for the laugh and stroll through you neighborhood!!! LOVE YOU!
    p.s. – Heidi – once again, a stellar follow-up story.

  5. Mood Ring Mama

    P.P.S – Any one who has ever met you knows you are a General. Precisely why so many of us adore you. You can be my Large in Charge anytime.

  6. Baby, you ARE the large in charge. I do not think you gave the health care your best shot. Try again and include the part about the proscription. Mom

  7. Mood Ring Mama

    P.P.P.S. – Is the green gnome cute? A lime green?

  8. Getting to know you…
    ¿mandona, la jefa?;)

  9. Princess Ai Lin

    Large in Charge – I LOVE it! Wish Mrs. Abramsonward was a reader (perhaps she is…) as I think she has a Large in Charge in her family of 5 as well. Looking forward to our chat – don’t forget to call!

    • PAL: send it to Mrs. Abramsonward – I do not believe she is a reader. As I pointed out in my comments, a LIC can be male, but somehow I think LICs are more effective if female. Won’t forget to call! Will do so in the a.m. Hope you are enjoying HK despite the hospital stay. As I recall, the cafeteria food was GRIM.


  10. Jody

    I loved this one! You are so clever. I love that you are a true LIC and love to watch you in action. You are so special, and I am so happy we got to see you and your family, all in your lovely home. You are doing a wonderful job LIC in your home, proof is in the way your children behave, love those kids!! Keep it up, and by the way, love the gnomes! Need one or two!

    • Jody: What colors? Are garish gnomes permitted in French gardens? Thanks for making the trek – it was such a treat and your children are super bien tambien!

      • Jody

        Hi! Would love a grey or white or any other color gnome! Maybe next time come I can load my bag with some!! Bye my friend, boa noite! beijos

  11. maria

    You will get your Dona Benta,relax about the gnomes…I still visit the shop in sao paulo sometimes but it´s not the same without you…

  12. Winnie

    Do Gnomes trump Flarp? (I rather hope so.)

  13. They don’t make any noise, that’s for sure. But they are not nearly as entertaining for traveling children.

  14. raftbuddy

    I am just enjoying my vision of you with luggage filled with rainbow-colored gnomes coming through customs! THAT is funny!

  15. gamamãe

    Hello dona MK!
    Can I place a gnome order tambem? Pink or Orange por favor! SO great.
    ps- so true about lime cake mix…

    • Gammy: The store is Entreposto – love that cake especially since you can make it in a blender! Don’t you wish you had put dozens of mixes in your sea shipment? The orange is actually classified as yellow – I have made one gnome run. Could someone tally the gnomes orders for me, please?

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