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Happy August, friends!
Teo and I are comin’ to you live kiddie-poolside this morning from our back terrace, where we’ve been splish-splashing around (or as they say in Spanish, chapa chapa) multiple times a day lately to try and beat the heat.
Not gonna lie, our first summer with a toddler here in Barcelona’s beautiful-yet-severly-lacking-in-green-spaces city center has definitely had us missing the grassy backyards and modern playgrounds and easily-accessible swimming pools that we always used to take for granted back in Kansas City. But I feel like we’ve made some good headway in learning the tips and tricks of urban parenting here in Barcelona lately, especially using our new baby bike seat to adventure to more kid-friendly spaces around the city. And we’ve done what the locals do and escaped a few times to the Costa Brava with friends, which is always a welcome breath of fresh air and great chance for kiddos to run wild. There’s no doubt now that our little guy is being raised with very different kinds of summers here than we had in the Midwest growing up. But I have to say, this one overall has been incredibly sweet.
From watching Teo’s sheer delight biting into a fresh peach for the first time as the juice dribbled down his chin, to splashing through the adorable chaos that is baby swimming lessons, to putzing all around Barcelona together with his new patinete (scooter), to playing with countless new friends during our daily playground routes (in baby Spanish, extra cute), to teaching him to build his first tiny sandcastles by the sea…all of the summer toddler “firsts” this year have been even cuter than we had imagined. We’re also now card-carrying zoo members who frequent the Barcelona Zoo multiple times a week, partly because Teo is obsessed with the giraffes and Pedro the Rhinoceros, but mainly because the it’s one of the few shaded green spaces in the city center where kids can run around safely without traffic. And during this year’s record-breaking heat wave, lol, shade is everything.
Another surprise highlight of our summer has been getting to host two guests here in our home from Ukraine — a mother and her 14-year-old daughter — while they have been awaiting paperwork for their temporary protection visas here in Spain. We all knew very little about one another before they arrived. But it turns out that these two couldn’t be more wonderful, and getting to sit around the table together in the evenings and eat together and Google Translate galore and laugh and tell stories and learn more about one another’s lives has just been so special. I’ve especially loved the time we’ve spent together in the kitchen introducing each other to traditional Ukranian dishes (their buckwheat soup is a new fave) and American dishes (the 14-year-old wanted to learn how to make a layer cake, so we decorated one with alllll the sprinkles, which was the literal sweetest). Today we’re all going to have to say goodbye as they bravely take off for the next stage of their journey in Poland. But we are so grateful for this summer together and know for certain that these two will be part of our lives for many years to come.
Anyway, on the traveling note, we’re actually headed to Italy today for the month of August and couldn’t be more excited. But before we leave town, I wanted to pop in with a few updates and just say hello. ♡
Wherever in the world this may find you today, I hope that you’re doing well. And especially during these final days of summertime, I hope that you’re bringing home that extra watermelon, squeezing in a few final swims, lingering in the evening light a bit longer, and saying yes as often as possible to time together with those you love. Life just feels like it’s moving so quickly lately, and the world around us is getting so heavy, and cultivating moments of joy seems increasingly like one of the most helpful, human things we can do right now. So as Mary Oliver says, whenever that joy can be yours, “Don’t Hesitate. Give in to it.”
Wishing you all the end-of-summer joy and sunshine and peaches that you can find today. And without further ado, here’s the latest from our corner of Barcelona.
A few random things I’ve been loving this summer:
- I’ll Show Myself Out: I’m a big Jessi Klein fan, and her recent series of essays about “midlife and motherhood” hit home for me big-time. It was one of those books I simultaneously blazed through yet didn’t want to end…so I totally stalked all of her recent podcast episodes afterwards to keep her honest, hilarious and devastatingly poignant reflections going. Highly recommend especially to anyone else in this season of life parenting littles.
- The Bear: Like just about everyone we know, Barclay and I watched and loved this series recently. So incredibly well-written and acted, and I’m thrilled that it was renewed for a second season. If you love food and haven’t watched it yet, highly recommend.
- Skin Cycling: A friend turned me onto Dr. Whitney Bowe and her skin cycling concept recently, and I’ve learned so much from her podcasts and Instagram and have really noticed a difference in how this approach has helped my skin. I tend to feel overwhelmed by all of the (very loud, very contradictory, very expensive) voices in the skincare space nowadays, but her advice feels like it makes sense to me.
- Refrigerator Pickles: We’ve been making this recipe nonstop this summer ever since we returned from our trip to the States in May, where we ate a million Grillo’s pickles and remembered how much we missed them. Refrigerator pickles are a breeze to prepare and this recipe is my absolute fave.
- Trusted Housesitters: Everyone always asks what we do for dog care when we’re traveling and our answer these past 2 years has been TrustedHousesitters.com. We’ve had amazing experiences every single time we’ve used this service, and can’t recommend it enough to people with pets who travel regularly or those who love pets and are looking for more affordable ways to travel.
- AirTags: Ever since we had a kid, we’ve had to abandon our proud carry-on-only habit and start checking bags. And ever since we’ve been checking bags, airlines have lost an astonishing number of our bags. (Like, our streak is getting a bit ridiculous.) A friend gave us the tip of stashing AirTags in checked luggage, though, and I have to say that they have been lifesavers. They’ve already saved the day many a time for us here at home when we lose our keys. But it turns out that they’re also great for tracking your bags in real time, which allows us to save time waiting on baggage claims or in lines at lost baggage counters. Highly recommend.
This year, we’re finally doing what the locals here do and heading out of town for the entire month of August…to Italy!
We’re been wanting to spend some extended time in Rome ever since we visited and fell in love with the city in 2018. Then Stanley Tucci’s episode in Rome recently sealed the deal. So even though it’s going to be blazing hot in August (even more so with this crazy heat wave), we’re flying into Rome’s city center later today where we will be basing ourselves for the month. We have a handful of side trips planned. But we’re mostly interested in just living our usual life there — working, hanging with a toddler, cooking, adventuring around the city, going out on little dates — just doing it all as the Romans do!
I’ve been having so much fun reading up on the city and its food culture in preparation for our trip. And I have to say that my Google Map of places to eat has been carefully curated and it’s looking insanely delicious. We also have a handful of friends and family coming to visit while we’re there, which has turned into a fun bonus surprise. And I’ve signed up for a handful of cooking classes that I’m very much looking forward to. I’ll be sure to report back about our adventures when we return!
I stepped back from posting on my @gimmesomeoven and @gimmesomali Instagram channels this year. And after many of you have kindly messaged to check on me, I just wanted to say thank you and all is well. ♡
I don’t have any profound things to say other than that I realized around the start of the year that the noise and pressures of social media (specifically Instagram) had reached a point where they were having a net negative effect on my life. So rather than push through or hire things out, I decided to just take a total break from posting for awhile and…it’s honestly been so nice.
I don’t really have a plan for the future and still may dive back in again at some point. But at least for now, it has felt like a relief to be offline more and just enjoy this season of life and work without always having to figure out what to post about it. So just wanted to say thanks for your understanding, and anytime you’re looking for recipes or the occasional updates on life behind the blog-scenes, you can always find them here. 🙂
Finally, since so many of you have followed along with me and my little sidekick over the years, I wanted to share our sad news that we had to say goodbye to our dear Henry earlier this summer. He came to live with me 13.5 years ago, right around the time that I began this blog, and it still feels surreal to go about our days now without his constant snuggles and mischief. We miss him so much. ♡ But remembering and telling stories about him continues to be such a comfort. So while I know this is a little long, I just wanted to share a little tribute I wrote about our time together for anyone interested in reading. Te echo de menos, Henrito. xoxo
For the first half of Henry’s life, it was just the two of us. He came home with me when he was just a tiny little fluffball and quickly became my best buddy. And together, we went on a million walks around Loose Park, moved from Brookside to Prairie Village to the River Market, started a food blog (Henry found his calling as chief crumb catcher), navigated multiple career changes, and snuggled together after countless first dates and more than a few heartbreaks.
When Barclay came into the picture, Henry earned his nickname “the chaperone” by firmly planting himself belly-up on the couch between us anytime we got a little too close (a habit he never gave up). But he quickly welcomed Barclay and sweet Fiona into the family, and loved running wind sprints around their backyard and coaxing Barc into a good wrestle each day after work.
The week of our wedding, Henry unexpectedly lost his vision within the span of about 24 hours, leaving all of us stunned as he sat there frozen on the couch afraid to move. But after a few days, he somersaulted down, decidedly done with playing it safe. And from then on, he fearlessly pinballed his way around the world, bonking his little nose a million times a day (refusing a doggie halo) in order to go anywhere he pleased.
In 2017, Henry and Fiona survived a truly horrible trip overseas to Barcelona (for which I still haven’t forgiven United). And during those early months when everything in Spain felt unfamiliar and new to us, it was *such* a comfort to come home to their sweet, familiar, wagging tails each day. Barclay and I always say that Henry and Fiona were the first ones who made Barcelona feel like home. And even though Henry waved the white flag right off the bat with the four flights of stairs in our building (can’t say that I blame him), he quickly adapted to European city life and loved walking all around El Born, picnicking at Ciutadella, visiting our neighbors Sandra y Martí, and tucking himself into bed each night at 10pm (quite the party trick, nosing his way under the covers and poking his head out on the pillow).
Our first Barcelona apartment with its famously rickety pantry door also kicked Henry’s life of crime into high gear. ANYtime that damn door came unlatched, you could count on Henry to break in and gorge himself with whatever food happened to be available for the stealing. (An entire jug of olive oil, a whole head of raw cauliflower, an entire package of corn tortillas, cartons of fishy paella stock, and full bags of chips were some of the most impressive crimes for his 14-lb frame.) He also cleverly figured out that the coffee table would go unattended anytime the doorbell rang and we had to get up to buzz someone in, so many an extra snack (once, an entire pizza) was enjoyed there too.
That said, we’ve always said that Henry was half mischief, half snuggles. And the older he got, he wanted nothing more than to be close by our side. He spent each workday curled up tightly in our laps as we typed away. (Our little .) And when my pregnant belly began to grow, he snuggled in close enough to get kicked by his little brother’s tiny feet day by day.
We weren’t really sure how Henry was going to respond to sharing his two humans with a tiny new one. But the afternoon we finally brought Teo home, Henry came over and gave him a brief sniff…then, eh, went right back to doing his own thing. Teo, by contrast, was absolutely smitten with Henry from the get-go. Nothing could make him smile and giggle more than this real live “peluche,” and he followed Henry around the room — first with his eyes, then later crawling — all day long. Thankfully, Henry was extremely patient with the squeals, pokes and grabs. And while he may have not exactly loved being stalked all day by a toddler, he was a MAJOR fan of the advent of baby-led weaning, and happily staked out his spot under the high chair each day to catch any food that rained down.
After surviving countless close calls over the years, his health sadly took a turn for the worse this year. And this past month, after 13.5 years together, we had to say our heartbreaking goodbyes. We miss him so very, very much.
But whew, what a gift to get to love and be loved by these furry friends. ♡
I’ll forever be thankful for the many (so many) different seasons of life that we were able to share together, the infamous true canine crime stories we’ll have to recount, and the snuggles that made everything better. And I’m especially thankful that Teo got to fall in love with him too, even if their time together was brief. His memory will always live on as part of our little fam.
So “siesta” in peace, Henrito. I sincerely hope you’re getting into all sorts of delicious trouble in that big pantry in the sky.
Alright, we’re off to Rome! Sending big hugs from Barcelona and wishing you all a lovely, delicious, sunshine-filled week ahead. Thank you for being here. xoxo