Monday, June 25, 2018

European Vacation - not the movie - Spain

We successfully visited and drove in four countries speaking three foreign languages well enough to get what we wanted without insulting anyone or triggering any international incidents.  I’d say that was a successful trip.  The first country we went to was Spain.  We stayed in a centrally located apartment in Barcelona that one of us found on either Air B&B or Trip Advisor.  I don’t know which.

The weather was very warm but not too hot during the day and pleasantly cool in the evenings, or otherwise perfect.  We had some rain and a downpour the day we went to Italy, but intermittent enough where it didn’t interfere with our visit.

Barcelona, from what we were told by a tour guide, has about 3 million people in Barcelona and the surrounding area.  I don’t know if that number is accurate but it was definitely a very large city and very crowded with people.  I lost track of the number of languages I heard spoken while there.

So besides the size and number of people, I noticed that Barclonans love their public art.  Wherever we went there were statues and/or art installations throughout the city.  There were also numerous art museums scattered throughout the city.  We didn’t go in any of the museums because we were more focused on seeing the city itself, its architecture, and eating as much food as we could.  🤣. I don’t drink, but my traveling companions did, and they said all the Spanish wine they had while there was very tasty and very inexpensive.  Of all the countries we went to, and all the food we had, I enjoyed the Spanish tapas the most.  I enjoyed it so much, that within a week of returning back to the States, I was craving patatas bravas and garlic aioli so much that I found an excellent recipe on-line and made some myself.

Other things I noticed about Barcelona was the graffiti.  Every available surface was tagged or outright painted with words, symbols, cartoons, or murals.  Garage doors, utility boxes, street signs, etc. were covered, but noticeably the actual stone buildings weren’t painted. I like to believe they cherished the historical value of the buildings, or maybe there were severe penalties for graffiti on historic structures. Who knows? We had a traveling companion who had some minor mobility issues, so at one point we took one of those hop on, hop off buses to go around the entire city, get a lay of the land, then go back to see places we were particularly interested in. That turned our to be really helpful for our mental maps of how the city was laid out. We visited the Gothic Quarter, the Gaudy, La Boqueria open air market, had paella, croquettes, and foods we’d never heard of before, toured the beach area, and did a tapas tour/pub crawl with a group while we were there. That night was one of our best experiences. We had people from the US, India, Australia, and Hong Kong in our group. They were great people and so much fun to hang out with. They were so much fun that we hung out together after the tapas event, got kicked out of a crowded bar (a first for me), and found a bar on the beach and hung out talking and drinking until very late. We spent a few days in Barcelona before heading on to Nice, France next. That will be my next post.
































Friday, June 15, 2018

Last full day in Europe


Ahh, all good things must come to an end.  Our European vacation is drawing to a close.  We leave Nice this morning to drive back to Barcelona, then an early flight tomorrow back to the states.  Expect vacation pix soon!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Europe on the horizon

M and her twin sister will be turning 50 this year.  They have decided to go to Spain and France for their birthday trip, Barcelona and Nice.  I’ve convinced them to add Monaco and Italy since we’ll be so close.  Other than dreading flying over there, I’m looking forward to seeing the sights and eating the food.  Brace yourselves for vacation photos when we return!



Sunday, April 29, 2018

The room to break me.



In addition to the master bath remodel, we also updated the master bedroom.  It has a tray ceiling that was covered in that plaster popcorn crap builders like to use since it’s cheaper to spray than pay someone to manually skim coat.  It was also very dark in the room.  Overall a dark bedroom is a good thing so you can sleep, but during the long, dark winters, dark rooms are just depressing.  

Then there was the honey oak trim that we’ve got throughout the house, and we’ve slowly either been painting white, or staining cherry to match the wood floors in part of the house.  

Removing all the popcorn ceiling was messy, but getting the skim coat smooth was extra hard with the angles and transition from one level of the ceiling to the next.  Then there were the multiple coats of primer and paint to get rid of the dark green.  Right now we don’t have any decorations or pictures on the walls or window dressings on, so it feels unusually bright and empty in there.  I still need to build out the master closet, but I have to take a break.  I am so burned out on home improvements right now that I need to turn my attentions elsewhere for a bit.  

Monday, April 16, 2018

Enforced weight loss


So I thought I posted about this earlier, but then I didn't see a post, so I guess maybe not. Well, I've been losing weight. Last fall I ended up in the hospital with all sorts of tests being run on me because my stomach was so bloated and I was in so much pain. They thought my gall bladder was going to rupture, but it turned out, my gall bladder was fine. Then I was scheduled for an upper GI to look inside and see what was going on. Other than really bad inflammation and a couple of benign polyps, there was no evidence of disease or organ issues. The doctor deduced my issues must stem from something I was eating daily.
Yes, I had developed ANOTHER food allergy, and apparently, this was a more intense one. So I went on an elimination diet for a few weeks. I lost 12 pounds and felt so much better. The first food I reintroduced to my stomach after three weeks clean, were steel cut oats. I was cooking oats in the crock pot overnight for breakfast every morning. I was eating oats to help my cholesterol levels, since I can no longer go on statins, you guessed it, because of allergic reactions. Remember my post about the bleeding hives three years ago? Anyway, after that one bowl of oatmeal on a Saturday morning, I got sick all over again and it lasted until Monday. Damn. I LOVE oatmeal, oatmeal cookies, oat flour bread, and I already have a severe wheat allergy. I've spent years and countless dollars trying to find gluten-free or wheat free breads, cakes, cookies, etc. that tasted like the real thing, to no avail. Now I couldn't have oats either. So rather than continue to try and find substitutes, I decided to get off all grains entirely. I never liked barley or rye, so it wasn't that hard. Then the weight started coming off easier. I felt so much better. Every once in a while I'd have a little rice with a meal, or try to have a pancake made with almond and coconut flour, but none of that sat right with my stomach either. I didn't have the pains I had when eating oats, but I still got bloated and my stomach felt queasy. So I've been grain free since last October. I'm now down 32 pounds, two and a half clothing sizes, and have lost 6 inches off my waist.
The first picture is my starting weight, and the bottom picture is when I was 25 pounds down. Needless to say, I've culled my closet of the fat clothes and have been buying new, more slender clothes. I think this weight will stay off just because I have no choice but to avoid the stuff that's made me sick. So no breads, cakes, cookies, pies, etc., just meats, fruits, veggies, and some dairy. I eat whatever I want, whenever I want, and as much as I want. I no longer have food cravings, and my blood sugar no longer goes up and down convincing me I'm hungry all the time. It's been far easier to just give up all grains than it ever was to go gluten free.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Yet another bathroom remodel


We've been doing non-stop remodeling since we moved into our house three years ago.  That's not that unusual since that's what we did for ten years at our last house.  The most recent project has been the master bathroom.  This is what it looked like before we began the project.


This is semi-finished.  We're still waiting for the glass to be installed. When I took this picture, it looked really familiar to me.  Then I realized why.


Teal, gray, and yellow were the same colors we used for the bathroom at our last house.  Oh well, we clearly know what we like.



Sunday, January 28, 2018

Oops I did it again



Getting it short in anticipation of warm weather and more jogging, it grows fast and will be long again by next winter.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Thursday, December 21, 2017

'Tis the season


We're in the midst of a frenzy of house cleaning antipcipating the arrival of family for the holidays.  All the same things still need to be attended to, work, grocery shopping, home repairs, but during the holidays, we push ourselves a little more and make room for more in our lives.  Some tasks are put aside to make room for more, more cooking, more shopping for gifts for loved ones, carve out more time to host and attend parties.  


In the end, we won't remember if the house was clean, maybe not even what we ate, or the gifts we received.  We will remember the time we spent with people who make us happy, and the memories we made together.


Merry Christmas.






European Vacation - not the movie - Spain

We successfully visited and drove in four countries speaking three foreign languages well enough to get what we wanted without insulting any...