It's been awhile! I got home from the farm on Friday. We had such a good time---as we usually do. The only thing missing from this trip (well, besides the internet) was good weather. One of my favorite things to do at the farm is to sit outside and read or stitch. We have happy hour out there. We managed to sit out for a bit, but mostly it was either too chilly, breezy or rainy. Next time for sure.
We've got it down pretty good for going to the farm. We each take a couple meals and have a leftover day. We share lots of new recipes. We scrapbook and share techniques too. I usually plan something extra for everybody. This time, I've got everyone started on a Christmas album. I promised them simple pages---it's about getting those memories recorded. We did two pages and the title page on this trip. When we got home, I was excited to plan another page.
When I got home on Friday, I discovered a message that I couldn't receive at the farm---that my pillow was ready to be picked up.
This canvas caught my eye every time I was in the store. I guess no one bought it because it was green and pink rather than the traditional Christmas colors. I think the pink is exactly what I liked about it. After months, it was in a huge sale. I just couldn't resist it then.
It was so much fun to stitch. I love how it turned out.
Emily---who does my finish work---told me she had a bit of trouble with this one because I picked out a slick fabric. I don't know a thing about fabrics---I just know what I like. She makes it happen for me! I decided on this fringe, because when I saw it, I was immediately reminded of the nutcracker's epaulets. If only I'd have done stitch that looks more like that on them---but I didn't think of it at the time.
I finished a little ornament that I made for my new son-in-law over the weekend. I'm just now starting on a class project that Connie and I are taking. Stephanie and Mindy are taking it too, but I am going to be their teacher since they cannot attend. It's a sampler project. I'll share when there's something to share!
Saturday night, we went to the wedding of the daughter of a family friend. The venue was outside. It was a beautiful location and luckily, the weather was incredible. We had a great time. Butch and I danced quite a bit---at least for me. I danced with a couple people I didn't know---little boy and 30-something girl---they asked me. Why not? I just have fun everywhere I go!
That brings us to Easter. The girls wanted to dye Easter eggs, so we did it first thing in the morning. Nicky made his famous "bloody Mary's"! Earlier in the week, I got a text from Morgan about the "competition." I told her it wasn't a competition. Well, apparently is was! Of course every family activity turns in to a competition of some sort. It's always good fun and lots of laughs.
We're pretty simple egg "dyers." We don't really do anything fancy. Just eggs and dye. Do the best you can!
Here are the entries. Steph calls out the rules: each person gets two votes and you cannot vote for your own.
Of course, there's lots of discussion about the merits of each egg prior to the vote.
And the winner is---Steph---with her plaid egg. I don't know how she pulled that off, but it is pretty cool!
After the contest, we went to the club for brunch. I haven't cooked Easter dinner in years. The food at the club is fabulous---and every possible variety you can think of. I always get the prime rib.
The "kids" stopped for photos with the Easter bunny. Mindy loves her fascinators and has them for every occasion!
The tables looked really cute with these bunny ear napkins. There were very colorful--wish I'd gotten a picture of the whole table. I didn't bring my phone, so relied on others photos.
Jordan and Morgan were there along with Carter. The only thing that could have made it better was if the Lapps family were with us. They are at the beach for their spring break. That's not a bad way to spend Easter either!!
Elizabeth and Victoria with their "peeps"!
You can count on Sandy to make a nice holiday for her family! Is there any other way?
...is dealing with the airports. In fact, it puts a damper on a fun trip. At least when you are on the way, you are excited and better able to handle the ups and downs of air traveling. When it's time to go home, you just want to get there.
We left Barcelona at 10:30 a.m. but didn't get home until almost 1 a.m. We'd been up for 26 hours straight! When we got to Miami, we found that our flight was delayed and then delayed again. We sat around the airport for over 6 hours!
On the trip home, I read 1 1/2 books. I ended up having to read one of the books on my phone as it would not download to my Kindle. Steph was the one to remind me of that. I was a little panicky to think of being without a book. Eventually, my battery died, but by then, we only had about another half hour before we got to Nashville.
There's just no way around it. If you want to travel international, you've got to put up with long flights, hours in airports and delays. Luckily for us, we fly business, so we have comfortable seats and great service when we're in the air. It's expensive, but, for us, it's a must. For whatever reason, flying is a major trigger for my hives. I need to be able to put my feet up and even that is not 100%. I only had a little flare up this week, so that was good.
Now I'm off to the next thing. After being home just this one day, I leave tomorrow for some scrapbooking, reading, tv watching and stitching at the farm with 5 of my friends. It will be a nice relaxing week after a busy one of sightseeing. There's no internet access at the farm and phone service is hit or miss. It's pretty hard for me to be so disconnected. I'm not sure how much longer I'll be able to do it. Butch is going to handle the "beach business" while I'm gone. It's a busy time of year for that. We'll see how it goes.
The food has been amazing! And so cheap! Usually when you travel, food is expensive. Heck, food is expensive at home. I've been saying lately that Nashville thinks it's New York when it comes to restaurant prices. Well, not in Barcelona. We have been so surprised. It's also helped that the Euro to the dollar is almost even now---a dollar is worth .90 Euro which means it's a $1.10.
Anyway, here's my take on some food related issues.
This is our private tour guide Jordie. He's been with us all week. In this photo, he was showing us an orange leaf. Remember I said that it was illegal for the locals to take the oranges? Well, because many ignored that law, Jodie said that the government started planting "sour" oranges. You can tell the difference by the leaves. He is showing the leaf here of a sour orange--it has a littler leaf at the edge.
We went though the largest fresh market in Spain. It was so fascinating. Butch even bought a coconut juice for 1 euro. Actually, Stephanie had bought it first. Butch thought she was crazy---that it would be coconut milk---from the inside of the coconut. We don't know what this is, but it was sooo good!! We're going back to the market on Friday and I'm getting another. Steph is going to try something different. That's not my style when I know I'm only going to have it once more. I'll stick with what I know I already like and will not be able to get again!
As we were strolling through the narrow, old byways, we came upon this shop. Jordie treated us to "chocolate and churros." You cannot drink the chocolate---it's so thick. You dip the churros in it. He said that's a common breakfast here. We saw it advertised everywhere. He said his mother made it all the time for him and his siblings. This is a little twist by adding the whipped cream. What's not to love---fried dough and chocolate! Not exactly the healthiest of breakfasts, but certainly a treat. All five of us could not finish one chocolate---it was so rich.
After our tour with Jordie ended, he suggested this place for lunch. I was all over it! I love a restaurant with a tablecloth and fresh flowers. This one was on one of the squares. It's called 15 Nits and was a French restaurant. There was music from the street entertainers too. Anyway, there are many places like this. They offer a fixed menu for basically $11.00 per person. You get an appetizer (I got some sort of noodle with squid and other fish---so delicious---enough to be my entire lunch), an entree---I got veal in some sort of sauce:
This would have been good, but it was far too rare for my taste. I think I had two bites. The bread was enough anyway.
Butch got the trout which he said was delicious. He offered to trade with me---he's so good like that. But I was already satisfied.
There was a choice of desserts but we all picked the cream filled crepes. In addition, the $11.00 included wine and bottled water. We're not talking "run of the mill" food either---as you can see! There was another place next to this one with a seafood menu. We're going to try that one tomorrow.
Today, we went to another place on a little plaza where the fixed menu was $12.00 a person---same servings. Pretty unbelievable. AND---if you eat inside, it's even cheaper---$9.00 per person. We wanted to be outside on this beautiful day, so we opted to spend the extra. Totally worth it.
After lunch, we strolled back through the market. I was fascinated by this fruit. I've never seen anything like it. It's such a beautiful pink. I'm thinking I might have to try it---or at least the juice.
There were so many unusual things in the market---fish of every type and shape. The meat---OMGosh! I've never seen anything like it. Jordi told us that they eat every part of the animal---and it's for sale here. I can't even post the pictures because they are so gross looking. When he says they eat everything---that's exactly what you see for sale---EVERYTHING!! I'm in no way a picky eater---and I consider myself pretty adventuresome when it comes to eating. The only way I could eat some of these things is if I had no idea what it was. Some things look exactly like what they are. In that case, it would have to be covered up in some sort of sauce thus to make it unrecognizable. This is not in any way a criticism, just a little freaked out.
The bread! I could live on it and be perfectly happy. The prices are incredible too! A yard long baguette is about 70 cents! All shapes and sizes. We picked up meat, cheese and bread to have a picnic for dinner after our big lunch. We love to do that when we travel. We were supposed to also have olives and grapes, but somehow didn't get those.
That brings us to yesterday. We took our guide's advice and headed to the "non-touristy" part of the city. We just browsed around all the little shops and plazas. I stopped and bought some olives at one of the smaller markets. I should have asked for another bag. I felt a little foolish walking around like this. Nicky helped me eat them---so good!
Okay, enough about the food. I'm just sayin' I could come back here just to eat! Butch is being a really good sport too---considering one big meal can last him 3 days. I think it's because the restaurants are so reasonable. In fact, the entire trip has been very reasonable---we highly recommend it.
Today we head out-of-town to a winery and monastery. We won't be back until 6 p.m. Our vacation is going by way too fast! Only one day left.
I'm not going to bore you with photos of the historical sights we're seeing. If you're not here, it's just not the same. Instead, I'm going to bore you with the unusual things I've come across on this most wonderful trip to Barcelona, Spain. But first, a few shots of us:
A good shot overlooking the city.
Okay, one historical thing: Sagrada Familia (Sacred Family)---by Gaudi. It's been under construction for 130 years. It's due for completion in just ten more! Amazing. 60 Minutes had a piece on it recently. It was very interesting right before our trip. I had never heard of it.
The day we arrived, it was Sunday. There was a marathon going on. Nicky decided to get in on the act! You can see some of the runners in the background!
I love the lampposts in Europe. The are all so old and decorative.
I love all the lacy wrought ironwork around the city.
Each house in this row of houses is done in a different style. The one on the end was done by Gaudi (a famous architect). I have to admit, that I do not know a whole lot about art. I've never really been all that interested in it. I don't love art museums. I just like what I like. I don't believe I'd ever even heard of Gaudi before coming here.
This is the end house that Gaudi designed. It is based on St. George---the parton saint of Barcelona. He's the saint that slayed the dragon. The top represents the dragon---notice the scales? The balconies are skeletons. The "poles" are femur bones. I already can't remember everything---every bit of it is "rich with symbolism" (wow, how do you like that for a phrase)! You also need to think "ceramic" as it's all shiny. You can't get that in this picture.
I've only taken this picture of one of the sidewalks. They are all unique and unusual. Very pretty and artistic.
This is a garden and community that Gaudi was to develop. It was meant to contain 50 houses that he designed. Only 3 were built. It is now a public garden.
One of the 3 houses is Gaudi's. He lived here while he was building Sagrada Familia. Eventually, he moved to the sight of the church and remained there for over 20 years. He felt that the artist needed to be closer to his project.
View from the garden overlooking the city. Again, shiny ceramic buildings---looks like a gingerbread village.
We saw this gorgeous old building on the way home. Look closely. Can you see the pair of legs sticking out with the red high heels? Apparently, this building houses a burlesque show these days.
Like I mentioned---I am not a museum lover. This is more my style. I'm a people watcher. So, while everyone else was visiting the Picaso museum---where Picaso never actually set foot---I was watching these darling little children. All I could think of was "why would teachers take little kids to an art museum?" I guess introducing them at a young age could foster an appreciation for art. To me it would be nothing but BORING at that age. But, Steph told me they had little activity sheets and were on the hunt to find certain things in the Picaso paintings. Now that shines a whole different light on things. If someone had given me something like that when we walked in, I'd have been all over it. Perhaps I would have absorbed a little artistic culture after all. I've been saying it for a long time: teachers today make learning so fun!! Everything's a game. I could totally learn like that!
The crosswalk signs are different than any I've seen anywhere. You don't have to know how to read to understand them. This one shows a guy walking and a bike going.
Although you can't tell from this picture, this guy is totally red and standing still. The most amazing part is that people actually stand and wait---even when there's no traffic whatsoever. Steph was nearly plowed down by walking in the bike lane. We're not used to that in Nashville!
The Barcelonians take the "hand"le---literally!
This "hand"le was on the door to this Italian restaurant. Even though we didn't eat here, Stephanie and Nicky wanted this photo with his name.
And another "hand"le.
One of my most favorite things to do is to visit these little plazas and observe the people that live here. We love to sit at one of the sidewalk cafes with a bottle of wine--in this case, it was a pitcher of sangria---and just watch people. There were school kids at recess playing some sort of made up game. The all seemed to know the rules. It involved two teams and two people in the middle holding a headband. Goes to show, kids don't need a bunch of toys to be entertained! These were most likely 7th & 8th graders. We saw high schoolers too. Stephanie made the observation that not a single one of them was on a phone. So that means, either they are not allowed to take phones to school, or they don't have phones. American kids---probably from 6th grade on are glued to their phones. As soon as they get out of school, the phones come out.
There is graffiti everywhere here. One of our tour guides told us that a lot of businesses hire professional graffiti artists to prevent the amateurs from defacing their walls and doors. The unwritten rule is that the amateurs will not deface the work of the professionals.
I saw this tiny garage and couldn't get over how neat it was. Plus it had a nice clean tile floor. The doors must barely be able to close.
At first, I was certain this store sold suitcases. Turns out it's a home decor store. And this is what I've observed so far while I've been observing. Oh and I'm getting over 10,000 steps a day. Not bad considering I probably haven't had over 1000 a day since my surgery last fall! My "new" feet are holding up just great!
I taught organizational classes for scrapbooking around the country---from organizing your space and supplies to your pictures, planning pages and getting ready for a scrapbook retreat.
A few years ago, I developed an in-depth photo organization workshop called "Making the Most of My Memories." Once the pictures were organized in a way that made it easy to access any photo at a moment's notice, "A Year of Memories" was the next natural step.
Each month, I assign a topic and provide a kit of materials. The next month each person shares their layout with the group. It's so much fun to see how everyone interprets the theme and uses the same materials---yet each layout is completely different. At the end of the year, we each have a completed album. We're on year 8 now.