Friday, November 30, 2012

Geneva, Switzerland

from Meghann:

It took a little while to blog about our Veterans Day weekend trip to Geneva - maybe because we are procrastinators, maybe because it wasn't our favorite city ever. There I said it. And it's okay. We're not sad that we went, neither of us had ever been to Switzerland and now we have (and we have heard that other places in the country are fantastic.) We would never know which places are our favorites unless we traveled and experienced as many as possible. Just because it wasn't a Paris or a DC or a Marrakech, doesn't mean that we didn't have a good time.

Geneva is a city known for international business, luxury brands, and wealth. Yes, it is expensive. But it did have some Swiss charm - sidewalk cafes, buildings covered in shutters and flower boxes, fountains, old stone architecture.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My little sister's big dia!

from Meghann:

 Today is my little sister and her husband's 1 month anniversary! I can't believe a month has passed since we were in Maryland to celebrate Catherine and Doug's wedding day. Like our other trips back to the States, we had a lot going on - spending time in DC, another friend's fabulous wedding, holing up for Superstorm Sandy with Dark and Stormies, getting stuck in the States because flights were delayed and cancelled. But this was the main event!

I took some photos while it was just us girls getting ready, before the photographer* arrived. This is such a special part of any wedding day and I think something that every soon-to-be-married lady looks forward to. The private girl time, hiding out from the boys, the mimosas, playing fun music, getting beautified, the moments before the dresses go on and the momentum of the day takes off. 

A little taste of España in Chestertown, Maryland. Cava - yum!

My pretty sister!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Playa + Italian-Style Veggie Soup

from Meghann:

Hope you all had a wonderful, family, friend, and food-filled Thanksgiving! And that your football (Americano) team won - both of ours did!

We were invited to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner (plus plenty of Spanish cava) at our friends' casa on Thursday. We were so grateful to spend the holiday with friends - and no dishes! Our families were definitely missed, but we were able to call and talk to them. One thing that wasn't missed - Black Friday. Neither of us were into it when we lived in the States and it seems even sillier now. There's really nothing similar in España and it seems difficult to explain that we follow a beautiful holiday dedicated to giving thanks by immediately going out, fighting crowds, and spending money. 

The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing and enjoying the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We don't deck the halls until December, so this time is perfect for catching up on things at the casa and enjoying our little familia. 

On Saturday, we took the dogs down to the beach. This time of year, it's pretty empty at the playa, besides a handful of surfers and a few other people walking. That meant we were able to let Chloe and Cora off their leashes so they could run around. After a busy few weeks traveling and the start of the holiday season, we all needed some exercise. And the beach is so peaceful during the fall.

The hillside was so green! No rain in the summer makes for great weather, but everything turns brown. After a few days of rain in the fall, all that brown comes back to life. 


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Friendsgiving + Sweet Potato Casserole

from Meghann:

We hosted Friendsgiving at our casa on Friday night. A bit early, but we knew many of our amigos would be traveling during the holiday and for some of us, this would be the only opportunity to stuff our faces full of turkey and all the sides for a traditional meal.

No fancy tablescape (Does anyone else think that is one of the weirdest words? Makes your table sound like the surface of the moon.) just some apples, candles, and the lace runner from our trip to Bruges last winter, over a textured tan tablecloth. Textured = it wasn't ironed. Also, no elaborate place settings, because dinner was buffet style. Settle down over there, Martha. 

Kept the mantle simple with some votives, dried corn, and a glass pumpkin that I found on sale a million years ago that is now my go-to decoration from October to December. 

We picked up some real pumpkins at the commissary (grocery store on base) a while ago, but never carved them since Halloween got lost somewhere between our time in DC, my sister's wedding, and getting stranded by Superstorm Sandy. So, we turned them into non-Halloween themed pumpkin luminaries instead. 

To me, Thanksgiving is a Fall celebration and is about being thankful for bounty - from the fields and in our lives. So, no tree trimming here and certainly no Christmas decorations yet. Thanksgiving is special in its own way - there's no gift giving, just giving thanks for food, friendship, and family. And no matter where you are (I've celebrated in Italy, England, and Spain) it's an American holiday. 

And nothing says America like deep-frying a 12-pound turkey fresh from the Spanish butcher shop. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Chloe is Ocho!

On Thursday our eldest child dog child celebrated her birthday. Can't believe that our crazy and sweet little Chloe is 8 years old! She is still so feisty and full of energy.

She's also trying her best to be a good big sister to Cora. 

Last year, we took Chloe to the beach for her birthday, since it's her favorite place. This year the weather was not so great, so we stayed home and gave her some extra love and snuggles. 

We also always do a birthday "treat". Normally, it's something like a small piece of steak or a mini-turkey-burger patty (we may have ventured into crazy dog parent territory here). This year, we just combined some ingredients that we had on hand that are Chloe's favorites.

The result:  Rawhide with peanut butter and then dipped in frozen peas. Seriously, Chloe loves frozen peas, or any frozen vegetable really, so they were like the sprinkles to her cupcake.

We made one for each dog and they were a hit. Birthday girl approved!

¡Feliz cumple, Chloe!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

DC love {Where We Stayed/Ate}

from Meghann:

Just got back home late last night from a long weekend in Geneva, Switzerland with my favorite veteran! Before I get to that trip though, I want to finish up with our time in DC by sharing some details of where we stayed and more most importantly, what/where we ate. You'll notice that this post is a mix of DSLR (big camera) pics and iPhone snaps. During the day, when I was playing tourist while Graham was in training, I used my Nikon, but I tried to not drive Graham crazy tone it down when we were out to eat or just didn't want to dedicate my focus to shooting pictures. (As much as I love taking photographs, sometimes it's better to just stop and smell the roses. Or the mac and cheese.) So, please forgive some of the less than perfect photos - I didn't even use any instagram magic.

First things first, I want to talk about food trucks. I know that I am way behind the times, especially in blog land, but cut me a little slack. It's not that I didn't know they existed (I keep up with food fashion as much as the next chica) it's just that I haven't had any access to them. When we left Norfolk over a year ago, I was starting to hear about them, but the only food truck in that area was for cupcakes and I already had "my" cupcake place in the neighborhood (Carolina Cupcakery, for any Ghentites). And if there are any food trucks in España, they certainly aren't here in our little corner of the country. 

So, imagine my excitement when Graham told me that there were a bunch of food trucks parked outside of the building where he was doing his professional training every day during lunch. I met him a couple times during his break and each time we walked by all the trucks, just to check out what was up for grabs.

There were so many options! And some trucks had super long lines. We went for whatever looked good and didn't require waiting for a half hour.

Really tasty sandwiches - pulled pork for Graham, roasted eggplant and red pepper for me.

A truck dedicated to mac and cheese?! I had the mushroom marsala mac. I can't stop thinking about it and want to try to re-create it.

And another pulled pork sandwich for Graham. You can take the boy out of North Carolina...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thirsty Jueves: Dark & Stormy edition

One of Graham's favorite drinks (and one of the only rum cocktails that Meghann likes) is the Dark & Stormy. There are only a few ingredients - black rum, ginger beer, and a lime wedge. But the most traditional rum, Gosling's, and the star ingredient, ginger beer, are impossible to find aqui. 

We drank "a few" of these sailor drinks when we were holed up during Superstorm Sandy in DC with friends (the area was so lucky and we didn't even lose power where we were staying). And the rainy weather that is typical in Spain during the Fall has us thinking about them again. Unfortunately, there is only a little bit of our stash left. So, if you can get your hands on the ingredients, make some and think of us.

Dark & Stormy

In a tumbler with ice, add
-2 ounces of black rum (more or less)
-fill with ginger beer (not to be confused with ginger ale)
-lime wedge (not just for looks)

A Dark & Stormy is a great way to brighten up a day when you're stuck indoors and is just as good on a sunny deck or beach. Something we are really missing right now... 

Not-so-Dark & Stormy at Pusser's in sunny Annapolis, MD in July.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

DC love

from Meghann:

Alternate titles:
Something about DC that's not political!
  Watch me piss off all the Parisians that don't read this blog.

Graham and I have both spent a lot of time in DC, have friends that live there, etc. But we haven't been "on vacation" in DC since either of us were little kids. Graham's professional training in the city was an opportunity to stay in downtown and treat the time like a vacation (well, except for the time that he was working). I decided that since I live in España now and am technically a tourist whenever I go elsewhere, there was no shame in my game in visiting some of my favorite monuments and museums (and some new additions) and taking pics with the big camera the whole time. Just what I would normally do in Europe, but here in the good ol' US of A. 

My first stop was the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden. The garden was looking extra lovely in early fall. It also made me realize that I hadn't seen a real fall, with changing leaves and sunny but brisk days in 2 years. I'm definitely a summer girl, but autumn does have its charms. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Meghann is back!

from Meghann:

Hola! I can say that now because I am no longer stuck in the States. After an epic Space A adventure, I finally got back to Puerto last noche. I have been going through all the photos that I took in DC and Maryland and will share those with you soon. Right now I'm just enjoying being back at the casa, settling in, ignoring two suitcases of dirty laundry, and trying to beat jet giant cargo plane lag.

I got a seat on a C-5, a grande cargo plane! Snapped this photo as I was getting off the plane. I don't have any other pictures because I was so delirious/deliriously happy when I realized I was actually headed back to España. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

New casa tour

Hola! It's Meghann again. Or maybe I should say "hi" instead because I'm stuck in the States, trying to get a Space A flight back to Rota. It's been kind of stressful (Sandy certainly wasn't any help) and I'm just ready to get home to Graham, our sweet perritas Chloe and Cora, and our casa. 

Which made me realize - we never shared nuevo house pics with you all! Well, at least not the pictures of the casa before it turned into a heaping pile of crazy. So here they are, courtesy of all the free tiempo and Wifi (have to pronounce it "WeeFee") I have in the Dover air terminal.

Front door

There is so much lovely tile, starting with the front steps.

Side yard

We absolutely love the garden - the landscaping is gorgeous and shows how much love the homeowners have put into it. Check out our pequeño olivo tree!