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February 27, 2015

IMG_5209Last month, my husband and I met in Barcelona for a 5 day trip. This was pretty special as:

1. We haven’t been away together for more than 2 nights since 2009

2. We were ALONE!

3. We celebrated our 15th anniversary even though we’ve been friends since 4th grade.

4. We were in Barcelona!

In case you are Barcelona bound, I thought I would share some of our favorite things. First, I am a small hotel kind-of-girl. After many hours of research, I chose the Mercer Hotel In the Gothic Quarter. After reading so many positive reviews, I decided to add a breakfast to our reservation each day and print out directions from their site to help any taxis find it. Thank goodness because both times we used a taxi, they needed my map!  It was an awesome location and hidden down a narrow alleyway- here is what really made me excited- “The hotel occupies a collection of buildings with great architectural significance on Calle Lledó, built on top of a section of the walls of Barcino, the ancient Roman city. It retains features from a variety of historical periods stretching from the 1st century AD up to the 19th century, all of which have been restored not only to display but also to encourage a genuine feel for the history of Barcelona. ”  We stayed in a Superior Room that was in the old clock tower. The breakfast was divine- and I don’t throw that word around often. It was like a pastry shop with an a la carte menu to order from as well. We loved it.

Some of our favorite things that we did- The bar at Boca Chica is a must!  Barcelona is known for their tonics and you really should have a gin and tonic here. My husband is not a G & T fan, but he changed his tune when we were there. The decor is indescribable. (For all the Chicagoans who read this- one of my favorite interiors is the upstairs bar at Le Colonial– so imagine that times 5.) When I read the reviews about Boca Chica, everyone kept going on and on about the bathrooms. Well, they were right. They are straight out of a Quentin Tarantino film.

In addition to eating, we did a ton of walking. We laughed how far we walked without kids in tow- the first day, Tom’s iPhone health app said we walked over 25,000 steps- equivalent to 11 miles. We continued this type of touring everyday and saw everything we hoped.

We also loved the Boqueria. It’s not to be missed. How I wish we could shop this way here. All the colors and choices of meat, eggs, fruit, dried fruit, juices… wow. We went back more than once. Our favorite restaurant inside was Bar Pinotxo– we really couldn’t stop eating Iberican ham, pan tomate and tortilla espanola. We also took a cooking class together at Barcelona Cooking. A couple of friends raved about their classes there before and we chose a day that was raining and enjoyed it so much. One of the big upsides of traveling in the low season is that you can stay for less at nice hotels and get a private cooking class as no one else was enrolled! My mom and dad treated us to this class as a Christmas present- love experience gifts like this- something Tom and I will always remember.

As for other places, we had wonderful meals and saw so much of the city. I am not adding them as they weren’t unmissable in the future- and there are so many places to discover!

february things

February 20, 2015

ayalaFirst off, my wake clock is STILL WORKING. What a game changer to have… sleep!!

I keep thinking I need to tell you all about the gloves I bought in January. Frankly, I only wore them on a trip in January as it’s been warm here- but this weekend the forecast calls for LOTS OF SNOW! My Echo Touch Gloves will be worn again!

Also, as many of you know I like to cook. But I also do cheat a couple times of week by supplementing our meals with something I can pick up quickly to shorten my prep. For instance, guacamole from Chipotle (often cheaper than me buying avos and making myself) and Chicken Noodle Soup (I buy a group soup for my kids) from Panera. My latest like is the Raisin Swirl loaf at Panera for weekend french toast. They do have a recipe card but I don’t add all that stuff. It’s great bread on it’s own and we just throw it in an egg and fry it up. This was a nice way to have something different for breakfast.

Our cousins from NYC sent our kids Hotel Tycoon and then came here to play it!! Our boys have really liked it and can play with no adult- pretty cool! I guess it’s just like Monopoly but only 40 minutes- I love the sound of that.  I am guessing we will be playing lots of it this weekend when it’s cold out.

One of my favorite stores in FC-  The Satin Camisole– sells Ayala Bar earrings. I love them! So unique and cool- I find myself starting my outfits around them first.

PS. I received our first ebates giftcard for over $80 to Target. It’s legit.

ok to wake

February 12, 2015

onarooOur three year old has been coming out of her bed for so long, we were losing our minds. She wasn’t necessarily interested in climbing in our bed, but she thought she was done sleeping and it was time to get up.  We tried everything, sticker charts, rewards, being tough on her- etc. I finally remembered this little clock I blogged about many years ago- of course this is the latest version- but it’s the Onaroo- Ok to Wake clock. With so many positive reviews, we ordered it and have been singing it’s praises this week. She totally gets it and loves to see the green light come on to tell her it’s okay to leave her room. They also have a nap setting, but sadly— no need for that anymore!

the girl on the train

February 11, 2015

girlonthetrainRead this book in 5 hours. Loved it! Very reminiscent of Gone Girl but I liked it more. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

love! a little jiggle

February 3, 2015

january hits

January 9, 2015

pjsCan I still say Happy New Year? We are all getting back into a routine these days! Thought I would share new favorites and some of the biggest “hits” from the holidays.

My hairstylist Paul Chet carries Mason Pearson hair brushes and I am forever changed! It is so much gentler on my hair and I can see why it has high ratings everywhere from pros! I chose the Junior size and I hear the detangler is a game changer as well.

Our local store Rain sells PJ Salvage flannels pj’s and they are so comfy!  I just bought the pants and am living in them. They wash great and miraculously don’t shrink.

Holiday favorites-

My 7 year old and my husband loved this gift! The Snap Circuit 300 is COOL. They spent so much time doing the experiments together over the break.  It seemed like all ages loved it whenever they were around. Great gift for kids!

Don’t laugh. Don’t be scared. But Mindfreak is delighting my boys and their friends! The box is absolutely a turn off but don’t let that sway you!! Just place the top on it’s side so you don’t see it!! Ha. All the trinkets are a kids dream! Plus. the tricks are easy enough for kids to grasp and pretty quality.

Puzzles were a hit this year. My daughter got a cute one of 35 pieces while my family was given a 500 piece puzzle. It has been great on these snowy weekends to have one going on our dining room table.

One of the gifts that my daughter is playing with all the time is Melissa and Dougs Fold N Go Horse Stable– well made and great to tote around.

Other favorites for my boys were football gloves, art supplies and anything Under Armour.

On another note, I am back in meal planning mode and just made Morning Glory muffins- a great go to for an afternoon snack or breakfast (if they last that long).  Other recents are Migas, Comfort pasta, and Kates Egg and Sausage casserole.




January 6, 2015

EbatesSo, for years I have seen ebates advertised but didn’t buy into how it could be legitimate. Well, similar to when I finally signed up for a Target debit card…. I was in the dark!!  My future sister-in-law told me to look into it as she shops through ebates and makes money back on her purchases. I am a MAJOR online shopper and have been just giving up free money I guess. In three days, my husband and I have gotten almost $100 back in ebate money which you can apply towards a gift card to your choice of some online retailers or have it deposited directly into your paypal account. I chose Target but there are other options. It takes about one minute to sign up and then you can stay logged in for future clicks. Hello!!?? Show me the $$$!

Here’s a review of Is ebates a scam?


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