Barcelona Travel Journal

Last May my husband and I traveled to Europe to see the beautiful city of Barcelona. It was an amazing trip, obviously, which is why I’m just now getting around to blogging about it eight months later. Whoops. Anyways, here it is, better late than never! We stayed in the same city (Barcelona) and even the same hotel the entire week we were there, which was quite a change from our previous Europe trip, where we stayed in multiple countries. By the end of our time in Barcelona, we both really felt like we knew the city, which was something I appreciated. Here are a few photos of a memorable trip:

We hurried from the airport to the Picasso museum, where admission is free on Sunday afternoons.

 

Our first full day in the city was spent exploring the famous (and rightfully so) Park Guell.

 

The mosaics Gaudi designed were even more beautiful up close.

 

See what I mean?

 

A very popular place! You had to have time tickets to enter the most famous part of the park.

 

Enormous columns.

 

The view after we walked to the very top of Park Guell (which is built on a hill.

 

We took a day trip to Montserrat, a famous monastery on the side of a mountain (about an hour and a half drive from Barcelona).

 

We had the opportunity to hike to the top of Montserrat and the views were absolutely breathtaking.

 

 

The results of our only real meal of the day (thanks to a broken down tour bus) at a nearby winery.

 

Enjoying the beautiful Oller Del Mas vineyard.

 

The view from our hotel room.

 

Visiting the most famous site in Barcelona, La Sagrada Familia (on track to be finished in 2026, after well over one hundred years of construction).

 

Photos can’t accurately show just how huge the inside is.

 

 

Looking up.

 

Casa Mila, one of the famous houses designed by Guadi. We chose not to do the tour it but we did walk by it.

 

We had the opportunity to attend an event inside Camp Nou, the home of FC Barcelona. Soccer is a huge sport over there to say the least.

 

 

Visiting the grocery store down the street. It’s hard to read the label, but they had .79 cent boxes of wine!

 

A gilded fountain in one of the many parks throughout the city.

 

Sunny skies, palm trees and traffic- classic Barcelona.

 

 

View of the Barcelona harbor from a rooftop bar. You can see the famous “W” hotel over to the left.

 

We toured a small chocolate museum and the tickets came in the form of candy bars. How cool!

 

When in Barcelona, you have to drink sangria…

 

…and eat churros, of course.

 

A colorful salad.

 

Walking through the Olympic area, where the 1992 Olympics were held.

 

Apparently there are more scooters like these than there are inhabitants of Barcelona. I believe it- they were everywhere!

 

While waiting for our plane to leave, we found we had three extra euros, so of course we spent them on something meaningful – one last cheap Spanish beer.

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The Creative Process

Today I want to talk about something that’s been on my mind ever since the new year started, and that is how to spark creativity. I find that winter, as much as I don’t like it, is typically the season when I accomplish the most crafting/sewing projects. I contribute this to the fact that there are fewer distractions than there are in the warmer months, mostly because it’s freezing outside and stays dark for longer. That being said, I still struggle to either start or finish creative endeavors even when I have ample time. I lose confidence or realize I don’t have a game plan to complete the project, and it fizzles out quickly. I have material that’s been cut out for weeks for a sweatshirt that’s been in my head for months and it still hasn’t seen my sewing machine. Why? I simply lost confidence that I could make it, even though deep down I know that I have more than enough sewing and design skills to do it. But I let myself overthink the whole process and my creativity stalled. On a side note, while typing this I realized I also have a quilt that I started in September 2013 that has yet to be completed. So there’s that as well…

This week I was able to complete not one but two projects I’d been meaning to do for quite some time, and I’m going to share some advice that I believe works for all creative projects (and will hopefully help me finish that sweatshirt!): in the words of Nike, just do it. That’s right, overthinking is just about the most harmful thing you could do to yourself while embarking on a crafting project. I’ve found that when I overthink all the steps needed to complete a project, I end up psyching myself out and everything freezes. I tried to put these words to practice this week on the second of my two projects. I wanted to fill a small frame with some sort of fun, colorful pattern, so I traced the outline and just went for it with a bunch of Prisma markers and a pencil. I didn’t have an idea of what I wanted the final product to look like, other than the fact that I wanted it to add a pop of color to our gallery wall. And guess what? It turned out horribly.

Yep. I ended up adding too many small, abstract details in the limited space I had to work with and it just looked weird. However, as I was finishing it up and realizing I didn’t like it, an exact idea of what I did want to do popped into my head. I traced a new outline and made a new pattern immediately after finishing the first failure, and in about a quarter of the time. So yes, while three quarters of my time was spent drawing something I’ll never use, I definitely do not view it as a waste of time.

Spending time creating something is sort of like therapy for me, even if I don’t end up liking the finished product. It lets me unplug from all the busyness and distractions of life and stretches my brain to think in new ways and see things differently. I can guarantee you that at all stages of my life, I’ll always have some sort of project that I’m working on, whether big or small, long or short term. And I would encourage you to do the same. You might be surprised at your abilities and the ideas you end up having. Or you might not be. Either way, it’s time well spent.

How I Stay Warm in Winter

Let me tell you, it’s not easy to stay warm throughout a Midwestern winter! I’ve lived in a climate that has winters my whole life, and I still don’t have it mastered. However, I have implemented one major change into my cold weather dressing that really has made an impact: wearing a sweater daily (or almost). While this may sound to you like I’m just wearing the same thing each day, day after day, I’m really not. There are so many sweaters out there from which to choose, not to mention that I happen to own quite a few (and wear all of them!). The long-sleeved shirts I own sit unused, for the most part, unless I’m wearing them as a layer, in my drawer for the coldest of the winter months. Why would I bother wearing something that’s not going to keep me warm even when I’m inside? Instead, I reach for a sweater, jeans or leggings, flat boots, a coat, and of course a head wrap and gloves to complete my winter look. Here are a few of my favorite sweaters:

 

 

 

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Thoughts on the New Year

Happy Friday! It’s good to be back to blogging in this new year. As much as I love and miss vacation,  I also like being in a routine (or at least I’m trying to convince myself that I do). Today’s post is brief because I wanted to share a few thoughts I’ve had on the coming of a new year, and to be honest, I don’t have a whole lot of thoughts that I think are interesting enough to write down. In fact, today I just have one: this year, I’m trying to embrace January for what it really is.

You see, January is my least favorite month of the year (February is a close second). Even with having grown up in a climate that has a winter each year, I’ve never liked it and I’ve found that winter weather negatively affects my mood as an adult more than did it as a child. This time of year usually finds me in a grumpy post-holiday, pre-spring state. I complain frequently about the weather and talk about how it’s still going to be months until it’s warm again (which is accurate). But that’s not how I want to spend this month, not this year. Time is fleeting, and I don’t want to be that type of winter person any longer. One of my new year’s resolutions was to smile more, and be more lighthearted, and what better time to begin that than in January! So I’m not going to wish this month away. I’m not going to complain about how bone-chilling cold it is outside. I’m not going to have a dark mood until spring. Instead, here’s what I’m going to do (& have already started to do!):

  • Drink lots of hot drinks

  • Wear all the thick sweaters (not surprisingly, I own several!)

  • Appreciate the bright sunshine and the way it reflects off the snow, making it look like it’s sparkling

 

  • Finish decorating my office walls while the sun’s shining on them, making them look like they’re glowing

  • Don’t substitute shoveling the driveway for a workout, but be thankful it counts as an extra one

 

  • Wear my bean boots in the snow (and be glad they’re so warm!)