Friday, April 27, 2012

Hooray For Friday!

I just love this time of year. What can I say? Weekly trips to the Home Depot just make me smile :)
I'm hoping that we can make a little headway on our garden this weekend. It is in need of a little tending to at the moment. Some of last years herbs managed to survive the winter, as well as a bunch of weeds.
Not such a big job. Right? It's still too early to plant vegetables, but it's just the right time to get my flower beds and planters in order. You've already seen my giant geranium, so here are some pictures of what got added to the deck today.

So now when I walk out the back door this is what I see. Spring has sprung here in Louisville!
Hope you have a great weekend!
PS I left those big bags of dirt in the back of my car for Alan to deal with. I'm always thinking.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Back At It

Well, here it is, the post that I've been dreading. How do you go from sharing fantastic vacation pictures, to talking about the goings on of everyday life? To be perfectly honest with you that's all I've got for you today. Tuesday is my "get things done day". That includes weighing in at Weight Watchers, grocery shopping and hopefully fitting in a little crafting if time permits. Up first on today's agenda was a much needed trip to Costco. This helped me kill two birds with one stone (what an awful saying...) It kept me from eating until my noon weigh in and it helped restock our shelves with some much needed items.
Costco bonus was the great, giant ,bargain geranium pictured above. It was only $19.00. I think I might have to go back for another one tomorrow. I made a quick detour through Target on the way home and picked up 4 new patio chair cushions. I saw some wild colorful ones at Home Depot over the weekend, but Alan called them "hideous" so now we have boring dark green ones. At least they make up in comfort what they lack in pizazz. After that I rushed home, put everything away and then checked in at Weight Watchers. I'm trying not to turn this into Sally's weight loss Blog, but just to keep you up to date, as of today I've lost 22 pounds since January. The best part is that I didn't gain a single pound while we were on our trip for 2 weeks. I'm sure it was all of the walking, because it you've checked out what I ate you know that I did not deprive myself one little bit. Anyway, after weighing in I made a quick stop at Trader Joe's to pick up a few of my favorite things.
Check out "I love the taste of..." and you can see what I make with them.
Now that I'm home for the rest of the day, I've set up the spinning wheel and I'm trying to make a little progress with some pretty green wool fluff called "They're Not Brown They're Hazel". Love the name.
The sun was out this morning, but now it looks like it's about to pour. A perfect afternoon for spinning.

Hope you are having a great Tuesday afternoon. See you soon!


Monday, April 23, 2012


Our final stop on our European vacation was Seville. Grace said she would pick Seville over Madrid if she had to choose, so even though we had to fly out of Madrid to get back home, we spent two lovely nights in Seville. The train ride from Granada to Seville was picture perfect. I've never seen so many olive trees in my life. Without Grace to translate for us things got a little tricky. Ordering dinner was an adventure, but over all our Seville stop over was a good one. The two main places to visit on our agenda where the Seville Cathedral and the Plaza de Espana. As you have heard, we have visited a few Cathedrals on this trip and I have to say that this one probably was not my favorite. We did hike up the 35 landings to the top of the Cathedral tower. It was a tight squeeze with people going up and down, but the view from the top was something to see. I was glad that we did it, but I was even more glad when we got back down. This Cathedral is where Christopher Columbus is buried.
After leaving the Cathedral we walked along the river looking for the Plaza de Espana. This absolutely gorgeous park was the inspiration for some scene in the second Star Wars movie and parts of the movie were actually filmed there. I have to say that I was not really all that interested in walking around another plaza, but once we finally got to it I changed my mind. Not only was it huge, it was beautiful. I think Alan was pretty surprised by it too.
So there you have it. Hopefully I've shown you most of the highlights of our trip without boring you to death. We had such an amazing time and are so grateful that we had the opportunity to visit with Grace and see Spain through her eyes. Getting back to our regular lives is going to be a challenge. I could get used to sleeping in fancy hotels and eating  out every night, but nothing really beats a good home cooked meal and sleeping in your own bed.


My favorite part of the whole trip, hands down. It is so easy to see why Grace decided to pick Granada as her study abroad location. I think I was just so excited to see where she has been living and going to school that nothing about Granada could disappoint me. Of course the highlight for me was getting to meet Grace's host Mom Carmen. Hugging her and trying to thank her for taking care of my baby was a bit emotional, but totally happy emotions.
We flew into the tiny Granada airport on Easter Sunday. Our hotel was perfectly located downtown so we were able to watch the Easter passion processions right from our balconies. We could hear the drums beating long before we were able to see the actual parade. So very cool.
Once we got settled into our hotel room, Grace took us on a quick walking tour of the city. It's not a very big city and because it was Easter everyone was out and about. We stopped by the building where her classes are held and then up and down these tiny little alley streets taking in the sights.
We popped in and out of plazas and just enjoyed being outside in the sun shine and fresh air.

Monday morning, Alan and I slept in. OK, I slept in. Grace met us at the hotel around 10:00 after her early class. We walked to the Cathedral of Granada. It's pretty much all about Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. They are actually buried there along with some of their family. The whole city of Granada is tied to the king and queen somehow. The Cathedral was one of the prettiest we visited on the trip. Very ornate in an old world sort of way.  In this picture you can see how big it is compared to the rest of the buildings.
After the Cathedral, we grabbed a bite to eat and then walked the 30 minute walk to the apartment where Grace has been living. We only got one picture of Carmen, Grace's host mom, but we took many of her 3 year old granddaughter, also named Carmen. It was easy to tell that Grace is very fond of both Carmens.

Alan and I spent most of the next day visiting the Alhambra. Grace had class all day so it worked out pretty well. We bought our tickets to get into the Alhambra months in advance and it was a good thing. They only let a certain number of people in during the morning and afternoon sessions and the tickets were sold out for the coming week. We took so many pictures. I'm just going to pick a few to share with you. It is really a place that you have to see for yourself. It was built by the Moorish Sultans way back in the 1300's for the Muslims Emirs of the Nasrid Dynasty. Pretty darn old. Then it became the palace for Isabelle and Ferdinand in 1492 when they drove the Emirs back into Africa. It is the place where Christopher Columbus was granted permission set off to discover the Americas. Everything about the place feels "special". The views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the city and farms below were just magnificent. Like I said, we spent the whole afternoon touring the grounds and buildings. I wish I could show you more.
I hope that kind of gives you an idea. Just beautiful. After our Alhambra visit with met back up with Grace for some dinner, a little shopping, and then a Flamenco show. Grace was determined to have us experience the "real" Flamenco. We were able to get tickets to a show held in a small Gypsy cave. The place was packed and the show was something to see. I don't think I've ever heard or seen anything quite like it. Very serious and almost sad feeling, but when the performers were finished and the audience cheered everyone was happy. We got back to the hotel close to midnight, said our good byes to Grace. It was a little hard for me to know that our visit with her was over, but we had such a great time and she will be home the end of May.
Our final stop was Seville.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


I'm back and all ready to tell you about Barcelona. We decided to fly from Rome to Barcelona because it happened to be cheaper than taking a train. We got to Spain close to midnight, so we went straight to the hotel and bed. The next morning we got up early and headed out on our Gaudi tour.  If you don't know who he was don't feel too bad. I'd never heard of him either. Grace however is a huge fan and acted as our tour guide, easily navigating the city streets and metro.
Our first stop was Casa Batllo. Quite the unusual bit of architecture. It's supposed to look like Mardi Gras, with masks and bones. Lots of pretty tile work which is Gaudi's trademark. Grace said that we had to see the house at night, so we did that our last night there. There is another picture of it lit up at the end of this post.

We didn't go in to the Mardi Gras House, because the one Grace really wanted to visit was  La Pedrera.  All I can tell you is WOW! Gaudi must have been a tiny bit crazy if you ask me. All I could think about was what the neighbors must have thought. We waited about an hour to get into the house, but it was well worth it.  The roof top terrace was my favorite part. The view of the city was great, but the sculptures and artwork were amazing. The only rain we had on the whole trip happened while we were inside La Pedrera, so we took our time and listened to Grace translate all of the descriptions of things because everything was written in Spanish.

Next on the Gaudi tour was the Sagrada Familia
To get there we walked through lovely parks with trees in bloom and fountains everywhere. I'd show you some of those pictures, but for whatever reason this program is not letting add them in here.

Anyway, the church or basilica was magnificent. Gaudi died a very tragic death before he could finish it, so based on his plans and drawings they are trying to complete it by 2030. It's huge already, so one can only imagine how grand the finished product will be.
I was in awe of all of the stained glass work and tile. Light just bounces all over the place. Really breath taking.

Day 2 in Barcelona the weather was much improved. We took the metro out to Montjuic Park.  Home of the 1992 Summer Olympics. It's kind of up on a hill overlooking the city. What a beautiful venue for the athletes.

Next we rode in a sky lift up to the top of the mountain to the Castle Montjuic  . The view was totally picture perfect. The Mediterranean was as blue as blue could be, and we could see just about the whole city.

From the castle we rode the metro again out to the beach. We found a great place for lunch with outside seating, a view of the water and the best paella and sangria ever. I think we sat there for close to 2 hours and then headed off to our last Gaudi site. One of his most acclaimed projects was the Parc Guell.

Gaudi actually lived here while he was working on the basilica. Everyone in Barcelona seemed to be at the park that day, so once again we had a few crowd issues. Grace really wanted us to see this special place. Like I said, she is a big Gaudi fan and very keen on his work. I'm still of the opinion that the guy was a bit nuts. The park especially reminded me of something that you would imagine in a hobbit world, or some kind of fairy land. Odd shapes and very colorful.

Here is the first house I showed you all lit up. It was just magical to look at. 
While we were in Barcelona, we also visited the Picasso Museum. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that Grace is also big into his work. The first time she was in Barcelona she visited the museum, but it was one of her favorite spots and she wanted to see it again. I have to say, while I totally enjoy some of his work, he too had a pretty crazy side. While looking at some of his art I could just hear my mother in law say "well even I could do that". My thoughts exactly.
Next up - Granada.