Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January sol

Maybe it's because it rained last week and when it rains in Andalucia, it feels like the most unnatural thing, you think it will never stop, you will never leave the casa, and never see the sun again...but I have really been loving the weather the last couple of days.

65 degrees (Fahrenheit, since I still can't get the hang of Celsius) in January, driving with the windows open, springtime flowers already in bloom, walking on the beach, sun on my face, bare feet in the sand.

It's days like these that even though I'm an American girl at heart, I feel like I might not care if I ever go back. 

And then I get a craving for blue crabs...or I miss hanging out with that cute little niece of mine.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Oh, Porto!

Last weekend, we traveled to Porto (sometimes called Oporto). Portugal's second largest city after Lisbon, Porto is situated in the north of the country. Even though we knew it was going to be a long trip, it sounded like the perfect driving vacation for the holiday weekend. So the whole family, Chloe and Cora included of course, loaded up in the Mini. And despite raining most of the time (including some really epic weather Saturday morning) it was a fantastic weekend!

If you like your European cities large, clean, modern, and sophisticated...Porto is not for you. But if you want a small city, an old port town, full of character, winding streets, and brightly tiled buildings that tumble down steeply towards a river that is lined with restaurants and port tasting cellars, where the noise is a mix of car horns and sea will fall in love with Porto.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


 One of my resolutions was to learn to make a tortilla. A tortilla española - the thick, potato-laden omelette that has just a few ingredients (eggs, potatoes, olive oil, maybe some onions) and defies reason with its simple deliciousness.

Tortilla can be found everywhere here, in casual ventas and traditional restaurants, I've even had it at fancy events cut into small squares and served as hors d'oeuvres. If you're on the go, you can grab a slice of tortilla stuffed into a small baguette. Yes, potatoes and bread all in one meal. Side note: Carb-phobic diets have not taken hold in southern Spain. And the people here are gorgeous. 

There is a venta nearby (El Nene, for any Porteños or Roteños) that makes an amazing tortilla. A phone call, 20 minutes, and €6 ($8) is all it takes for us to get our hands on a giant, deep dish, pie-sized tortilla that will feed us for days. But I started thinking about how one day in the future, when we have to leave España (nooooooooo!) there probably won't be anywhere to get a tortilla. Unless I make one, one of my resolutions was born. And it was the first one crossed off of my list, because let's be honest, food is a great motivator for me.

My amiga, Pia, is Spanish, and when I mentioned recently that I wanted to learn how to make tortilla, she said she could teach me. Although, like every Spanish woman I've talked to about cooking, she said "but my mother is a much better cook". 

On Saturday, Graham and I went over to her and her husband's casa for a little cooking and eating party. And I made a tortilla ! watched Pia intently as she cooked a perfect little tortilla, while I sipped wine and snapped some photos. She is so sweet that she even wrapped it up for us to take home and eat, along with some roasted red peppers and garlic, then made another tortilla for her family.

Either her mama is a ridiculously good cook or Pia is lying, because the tortilla was amazing, and the peppers went along with it fantastically.

Now I have no excuse but to try to make one on my own. When I do (as long as it doesn't turn out to be a hot mess), I'll be back with some step-by-step photos and a recipe. 

Any certain food you want to learn to cook? My next challenge will be paella!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

$4 at the frutería

In keeping up with posting more about daily life...

Last night Graham and I stopped by our neighborhood frutería to pick up some produce. A frutería is like a corner store that specializes in fresh fruits and vegetables. They often have eggs, loaves of bread, olive oil, and other essentials. Ours even has a little freezer of meat and some canned goods. Almost every neighborhood has its own frutería, there was one close to our last casa too, so there's always one within walking or biking distance.

The selection of produce changes with the seasons and normally reflects what is currently being harvested locally, so you have to stay flexible with your shopping list. Here's what we picked up:

Almost a kilo of tomatoes (2 pounds).
For salads and homemade pizza. I like that they're a little dirty, seems more natural.

2 large squash, a half kilo, called "tapines".
I'm planning to add them to a veggie soup later in the week. 

And a "kaki" or persimmon.
They are in season and it makes a good snack or healthy dessert.
A typical impulse buy at the frutería.

The total cost was €2.80 (pocket change here, where 2 coins can equal €4). That's about $3.75 at the current exchange rate. Seems pretty good...I don't think I could pick up this much fresh, local produce in the States for the same price.

I find markets and how people shop for food in different countries pretty fascinating, and I wanted to share, in case you do too. Or on the off chance that you were wondering how far $4 will get you in Españ can buy all of this. Or a couple of cervezas instead, if that's more your thing.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A change for 2013...

from Meghann:

Because it's a new year, and it's the time for resolutions and starting fresh, I figured this was the best time to make a little change to the blog...

From now on, it will just be me, Meghann, blogging from my point of view. And here's a little secret, it's been mostly my project the whole time, although Graham does help with proofing each post. You might have noticed the "from Meghann" in the top left that shows up in many recent posts (including this one). That will disappear, but just know that it's my writing that you are reading.

When we started this blog it was simply a way to keep in touch and share pictures while living in España. As time went on, I started to really enjoy taking photos and writing posts (it's the only type of journaling I've ever been able to keep up with, and there are plenty of empty or barely written-in fancy notebooks around the casa to attest to this). But I started to feel limited by using "we" all of the time (not to mention "she" makes me feel totally third-person creepy) and trying to stay universal in describing experiences.

Don't worry, there will still be a good amount of "we" because we do so much together. Graham will be around in plenty of photos (especially since I'm the photographer of the familia) and stories. He may even stop in to do a post of his own at random times.

Some things may change though...

I will be trying to blog more and would like to include some of the smaller details of our daily life, as well as some things that are unique to España. Personal opinions, thoughts, emotions...there will probably be more of those since I'll be writing from my own point of view and not for both of us. The content of the blog may change a little as I am freed up to write about whatever strikes my fancy, without having to worry about "speaking" for Graham. (Which is also a perfect example of something Graham would never say - "strikes my fancy".) 

Also, I want to try to increase the readership. I love each and every one of you for taking the time to read, comment, give a thumbs up on facebook, or mention the blog in person. For a long time, I was pretty convinced it was just our Moms clicking over and over again (hola Moms, love you too!). But I think this little blog might be ready to get out into the world more (not like move out and get its own apartment, but just big enough to go to kindergarten and finger-paint for a few hours). Maybe I'll even do a little giveaway now and then...

What won't change...

Overall, the blog will continue to have a positive tone. I will do my best to keep it real (not loving a particular city, for example), but I won't be sharing every single crappy thing that happens, and believe me, they do. Overall, I am just so grateful to have this overseas opportunity and wouldn't want to give the impression that I am not. 

I won't be negative, use potty language, or heap on the sarcasm (although I do plenty of those things in "real" life). I won't get political or talk too much about the military. One reason is because I want to respect Graham's professional life, the other is because it's just not in my comfort zone. Plus, there are already plenty of other great blogs that cover those issues.  

Also, it may be a strange thing for someone who has a blog to say, but I'm a bit of an introvert, and just can't imagine putting everything out there. This isn't an anonymous or secret blog (although I don't use our last names) and the initial audience was our family and friends. Anyone and everyone (ha!) can read it if they choose, so I will be maintaining a certain level of privacy. If you have any specific or nitty gritty questions about life in España, living and traveling overseas, or being a Navy wife (or just want to commiserate), feel free to email or message me privately. 

This blog began as a way to share our newlywed life in España - travel, food, culture, and pictures of tiny dogs. It's a lifestyle blog, a journal of sorts, and that's the way we I intend to keep it. 

So, any thoughts? What would you like to see more/less of? And did anyone notice that I completely avoided using the phrase "big news!" or "big announcement!"? It's dangerous...

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Abbi is uno!

from Meghann:
To Abbigail...

I can't believe it's been a year since we made the phone call from our hotel in Bruges and found out that you had just been born! Seems like not that long ago that we became a tia and tio. But looking back at pictures, you have really grown and changed so much.

We first met you in February, when you were only 3 weeks old, but already so alert and you just couldn't keep your arms and legs still. It made a photo shoot a little challenging...

Uncle Graham holding his niece for the first time and looking terrified.

By April you were rolling over and checking out the world from belly-level. 

This summer you had become a little person - so much personality! And already a beach baby!

When we went home for the wedding in October, you were taking your first steps! 

We are so sad that we can't be there for your first birthday, we know it's a big one, and we hope you can forgive us for missing it. We wish we could see you more often, but want you to know how much we love you and miss you! Have a wonderful day and we'll be thinking about you from across the ocean. And tell your mom to book some tickets to España!

¡Feliz cumpleaños, Abbi! 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Flashback Friday: First Anniversary

from Meghann:

One last 2012 flashback, which was really a celebration of a big event that happened in 2011...

We were back in the States during our first anniversary this summer. After talking about it, we figured the best way to celebrate would be to spend the day in the town where we met and (7 years later) had our wedding - Annapolis!

Lunch at McGarvey's, the place where we met many moons ago in 2004. So many memories here - getting engaged, our wedding after-party, first married Valentine's Day lunch, pre and post Navy football game beers, and many other times of just dropping in together or with friends. We even came here the day after our wedding before going to see 4th of July fireworks (we were married on the 3rd - hello/hola built in holiday!). 

There was crab dip, of course, and a couple of Aviators (their signature brew).

Annapolis is a gorgeous town any time of year, but she was looking extra lovely in the summer sunshine and decked out for the 4th of July.

After lunch, we wandered over to Pusser's to sit on the water, watch the boats go by, and sip on Dark & Stormies. 

That night we went out for sushi at Joss (one of our favorite restaurants, cannot get sushi like that in our little Spanish town), then rooftop cocktails, and what is a first anniversary without champagne and cake? I had been thinking about that red velvet deliciousness since the day after our wedding last year. The bakery provided us with a freshly made cake topper, if you were wondering how our cake held up, so it was perfect. 

We also exchanged gifts and opened cards from friends and family before going out.

The reason that we don't have more snapshots, is because we treated ourselves to an anniversary photo shoot with the lovely and talented Krista of Krista Jones Photography. It seemed perfect for our "paper anniversary", photographs to commemorate our first year of marriage taken in the town where we met.

Oh yes, I definitely put the dress back on!

The photo shoot, and the entire day, was so much fun. We loved our wedding, but honestly it was a bit overwhelming, while our anniversary was such a relaxing day filled with things that we love.

Also if you're a married lady, highly recommend an anniversary shoot...or just frolicking in your wedding dress while eating cake and drinking champagne. It feels pretty amazing. If you're not married, don't let that stop you from putting on a fancy dress and doing the same thing!

Oh, and if you want to watch our wedding film sneak peek (like we did about a thousand times on our anniversary) here it is:

Can't believe it's been a year and a half...still gives me chills!