packing for spain

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days before we depart and I’ve conquered that anxiety I always thought was inevitable. maybe it’s experience, or perhaps the nature of the trip, but either way it’s a welcome change. I love this routine-printing out copies of everything just in case, placing satisfying checks next to each and every to-do (as I mentioned before, I love this list), notifying everyone that matters for critical matters (i.e. banks! credit cards!) and frantically “googling” last minute ideas or questions. I know it doesn’t sound fun, but it really, truly is. in fact, while organizing a few documents I yelped out I’m so excited!!! before I could hold back my words.

there is nothing in the world like the feeling of landing in another country and beginning an adventure. never mind the jet lag.

for this trip, packing is a little tricky as we’re visiting cities with vastly different climates and weather reports have fluctuated by day. I learned my lesson in Greece when I felt there no need for a jacket and was welcomed by plummeting temperatures. see, experience. nevertheless, it all goes into a carry-on or on my body.

this list just includes clothes, mind you. the rest can be found on the check-list above. as always, we’re bringing one carry-on each and I’ll have a tote bag (a simple black tote I picked up in a box labeled free in the nicest area of town. Still going strong 5 years later) too.

List, first draft (I’ll update with what I actually bring)

bottoms
black jeans*
long skirt
leggings

tops
cashmere short-sleeved top
grey sweater
cardigan*
black sheer top
tan lace top
3 tank tops*

dresses
1 black quarter-sleeved
1 green sleeveless

shoes
1 pair black boots*
1 pair sneakers
1 pair flats (on their last leg, so I might dispose of them while away)

misc.
pajamas, undergarments (incl. socks and pair tights)
bathing suit
2 scarves
black wool jacket or red quilted jacket, depending on forecast*
small leather cross-body purse

* denotes outfit for the plane

coconut oil vegetable fried rice

it’s been a while since i’ve popped a recipe up on this page and this one is just the ticket for the cold months ahead. plus, we’ve pretty much been making this weekly so I thought it fair to share it with you, too.

weeks have been busy around these parts, especially in the evenings. it’s been mostly slow-cooker soups and rapid prep one-pot meals, and that’s been just as well since they go just fine with the mission to save a little money in the process.

this recipe comes from the website A Perfect Health Diet- a blog and book written by the same name that focuses on nutrient dense foods that are low in toxicity. If you’re interested,you can read all about it here.

the best part about this is just how easy it is. a few basic ingredients (in pretty large quantities, I’ll say) create something pretty darn wonderful and a great way to use up that CSA to boot. so remember, let your ingredients be your guide

let’s start!
Coconut Oil Vegetable Fried Rice
only very slightly adapted from this recipe

fried rice

for my version, you will need:

butter (~2T)
eggs (I used 7…dinner and lunch for two and all)
olive oil (~1T)
garlic
soy sauce
turmeric (just a pinch)
peas
carrots
onions
kale
mushrooms
coconut oil (~1T)
cooked white rice (we use parboiled long grain-about 6 cups)

Directions
Heat 2T of butter over medium heat and add 6 eggs, lightly whisked. Cook until cooked then remove from pan.

Add a bit of olive oil to the pan. Add garlic and onion and cook until fragrant. then, add the rest of the vegetables until cooked through, adding soy sauce to taste towards the end (note: if you use soy sauce, you may have to wipe out the pan before continuing).

Add about 2 T coconut oil to the pan. Add in rice and toss until coated. Add the rest of the ingredients back in and toss to combine. Add turmeric to taste (and a bit of hoisin sauce if you have it!.) Enjoy!

La Colombe, Fishtown

Alternate Title: Portland meets Philly

When L first moved to the city we were tipped off by the manager of a restaurant nearby that La Colombe was the best coffee in the city and we had to visit their shop on 19th street. 6 years later and that little shop has taken over restaurants and cafes and reached locations across the country. meanwhile, the purist coffee scene in this city has reared its head and resulted is a  truly impressive selection all across the city, including several incredible roasters.

In case there was any doubt, La Colombe reclaimed its ground and then some with the opening of its newest outpost in Fishtown.

Smack-dab in the middle of Frankford Avenue activity stands the coolest spot to pop up as far as I’m concerned. The outside is sort of unassuming- its sandwiched between a (my) hair salon and another neighborhood coffee shop and true to its warehouse bones. Inside, it’s like a hipster candy shop.

A sprawling counter is dotted with made-in-house breads and pastries and all sorts of coffee-making apparatuses await your order (for a price). On the wall there is a full cafe menu ranging from sandwiches to skillet meals. The pièce de résistance is perhaps the rum distillery housed in a room of glass in the back.
You can order by the glass to accompany your meal, or else wine and beer is available as well if the mood doesn’t strike you.

The vibe is cool and relaxed. It begs you to hang out for a couple of hours in the perfectly curated leather chairs surrounded by bottle after bottle of rum or savor a meal with friends. If it wasn’t 3 miles away, I’d be visiting on a regular basis. There is no WiFi. Take a breath, close your computers and have a conversation or write or read a bit. It’s better that way.

La Colombe Torrefaction
1335 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19125

FRI-SAT: 7:00 AM – 10:00 PM
SUN-THU: 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM

http://lacolombe.com/cafes

surprise in the orchards

I’m not much for tradition as the years tick on. call me a scrooge, but I rather allow myself a little bit of freedom to choose activities that suit my whimsies each year in opposed to participating just because. some years  I check off those autumn must-dos like a champ and others, I just soak in the season without a second take.

this year, autumn has been splendid. more than splendid, really. and for the first time in several years we partook in the all-american activity that is apple picking. as a child we did this yearly- the cider donuts, the wagon ride, the climbing of the trees to get the most prize piece of fruit- but as an adult the tradition faded. this year we woke bright and early on a sunday morning and drove into the winding roads of hunterdon county, new jersey, to melick’s farm.

it was the most beautiful day with bright blue skies and shining sun. we wandered through the orchards as a big group, slowly filling up our baskets and sharing ideas of what we’d be making, most of the party facing the other direction, when this happened:

before venturing into the orchards luke’s friend of almost 25 years asked me if I would hold the ring. hold the what? I asked. He looked at me quizzically likely thinking I was trying to play along, actually knowing his plan but wanting to feign ignorance. upon realizing I was certainly not playing dumb, he divulged his plan. oh I was over the moon for them!  I secured the box in my purse and  volunteered to take photos when the time came. I then wondered aloud how will I know when it’s going to happen, how will I be ready?  He responded simply well, you’ll know because I’ll ask you for the ring. Oh, right.

So! A bit of time passed and he gave me the look. I dropped the box in the basket of apples he was holding and prepared myself for the main event. moments later, he was down on one knee and she was as happy as I’ve ever seen a person be.

what a special day. oh how we love you guys.

9.26 seeking advice on the fantastic and the mundane

Spain 2012

friday doesn’t feel like a weekend kick-off now that I’ve settled back into a piece-meal professional existence, but it’s a beautiful day nevertheless. and who says that is a bad thing anyway. this is one of those times that necessitates a reminder that this time of solitude is one to be savored not feared. so there.

daily life can be separated the mundane and fantastic and I need ( and have a little) advice in both areas. let’s start. warning: there’s a little bit of ranting herein. as a reward I have a  link that will change your life (or something like that.)

mundane

our oven is broken and I need help. I’ve volunteered to get to the bottom of this little problem and I’m now regretting being so confident in my nonexistent ability.

the details: the stove-top works, the broiler works, and the baking element works but never reaches the selected temperature. I’ve decided it may very well be the oven door gasket. Does that make sense?

monolith internet companies are the bane of my existence. I believe I’ve spent hours of life on the phone negotiating my bill. we do the same song and dance every time. I do my best to keep my cool and be positive but how does one keep  there cool when asked for the 10th time if you’re sure you don’t want a cable/internet bundle?! yes, I’m sure. we don’t have a TV.

the details: someone figure out how to provide everyone with complimentary internet already and let me know.

health insurance is more screwed up than ever if you didn’t know. but I’ve learned a few things being self-insured under a high-deductible plan.

the details: tell a doctor up front that you’re paying cash for a regular office visit. if you need a prescription (turns out allergic reaction + poison ivy on your face and in your mouth requires this), ensure you’re getting generic (if your state doesn’t require it to be offered already) and ask the pharmacy how much it is before you get it filled. It was cheaper for me not to run it through my insurance.

on to the fantastic

our trip to spain is next month! all accommodations and trains are booked after much effort. but boy is it worth it. now, what should we do while there?!

the details:
I don’t want to jinx myself, but do to a little travel hacking, we received almost all of our accommodations for free. more on this later. in Granada, though, we’re staying in perhaps the most beautiful apartment I’ve ever seen.

If you’re planning on traveling by train while in spain, you’re going to have to deal with renfe.com . Oof. I must have spent hours on this site, but for me it was worth it. booking long distance (read: expensive) trains ahead of time can save you a ton of cash so of course we all want to do just that. but this website is notorious for rejecting american credit cards. over and over again. here’s what worked for me on renfe (in addition to following this great guide):
-use a debit card- a credit card never worked for me. call your bank (I used Capital One 360) and tell them that you’re going to be making an overseas purchase. If you reach a kind rep, they will likely stay on the phone with you while you try and book. Eventually, he had to get a manager to finagle something with the security on my card.
-Do not select to choose your own seat. This is what prevented my first couple of bookings i think. Once I didn’t select this, it went through.
-You will be prompted to create a “Secured by Visa or Mastercard” by renfe…basically just an additional line of security. you’ll choose a password and continue on your way. If you get kicked off/timed out, don’t be discouraged, just refresh.
-Success! But not for long…after booking my first train, feeling all smug, I attempted to book my next train. Denied. L advised I try 2x per day from then on and one evening, it worked.

Advice needed: What are the must sees? Madrid, maybe Segovia, Seville, Granada… tell me!

my esl class is going really well. I’m trying to figure out how to make a go of it in a more full-time capacity because it’s really wonderful.

the details:
so far, I’ve mostly been creating materials but I know that there are much better resources in existence. so tell me, what am I missing? we’re finishing up a unit on places in the community/directions and are moving on to time and scheduling next month.

on to the life-changing link… or at least a really interesting one. have a great weekend!

the epitome of small-space living (and freedom).