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Ali and Barclay in Barcelona, Spain | Gimme Some Oven

Happy Friday, everyone!  

I hope that today finds you warm and well, wherever in the world life may find you.  It’s still a balmy 74 degrees today here in Barcelona, which makes this summer-loving heart of mine exceedingly happy.  We have our French doors flung wide open, and are planning to picnic and go for a bike ride and take the dogs for some long walks this weekend to soak up as much warmth as we can before winter arrives.  Otherwise, just heading to a barbacoa (which actually means “barbecue” in Spanish, not the steak from Chipotle!) with some friends tonight.  Followed by the inaugural meeting of our new little “documentary club” at our place tomorrow night (watching and discussing this film).  Then on Sunday night, we’re heading back to an open mic night that Barclay discovered a few weeks ago.  Who knows, if I’m feeling brave, I may play a tune too!

Anyway, it’s been awhile since I posted an update here, so I thought I’d pop in with the latest if you’d like some weekend reading.  I also wanted to take a chance to say thank you so much for your thoughtful responses to my post from Tuesday.  I hadn’t realized until recently that I had never really fully explained that part of my story here on the blog.  But yet again — as has happened so many times — I was completely blown away by your kindness and support.  Thank you.  I’m sending all my love back your way today, and feel so lucky to have you all as part of my life.

MY LATEST VIDEOS

Wishing you each a cozy fall weekend ahead, and here’s the latest from Barcelona!

El Born | Barcelona, Spain | Gimme Some Oven

Barcelonaversary

Oh my gosh, we did it!  This week officially marked our 1st anniversary of living in Barcelona!

In some ways, this feels like it has been the longest, fullest, craziest, most exciting, most challenging year of our lives.  But mostly, it just feels like time has flown.  I can’t believe that we were landing in Barcelona at this time last year.  But frankly, we’re super-relieved to be on this side of things now.  Our transition over here a year ago was actually pretty brutal.  (Short story: We ended up having to rent a car at the last minute and drive to Chicago to catch a special flight here with our dogs.  Then once we finally landed in Barcelona, we learned that United Airlines had lost our dogs — oh, and most of our luggage — and spent most of our first day here completely panicked, hauling our bags from building to building to building trying to find them.  We finally tracked them down in a freight warehouse.  But then got our first taste of Spanish bureaucracy and had to endure more hours of a paperwork runaround, trying to get them to release the pups to us.  Thankfully we were reunited and eventually found a dog-friendly cab.  But then we learned that there was an enormous Catalan independence march happening on our street, so the cab had to drop us off a few kilometers away from our sight-unseen new apartment.  Which was a complete circus — the two of us, our two traumatized dogs (whom we couldn’t bear to return to their kennels), four large suitcases, four small carry-ons, and two extra-large-international-flight kennels — trying to make our way through the packed streets of Barcelona on foot.)

That was our life a year ago this week. 🙈

Definitely not quite the romantic, starry-eyed arrival in a brand new country that we had envisioned.  But thankfully, we all made it through.  And a year later — goodness — it’s amazing how much this place feels like home.  So many things have started to really “click” lately, especially with friends here and with Spanish.  And we no longer feel like newbies with everything.  So as cliche as it sounds, it really does feel like we’re just now getting started.

Feeling great about heading into year two, and excited to see where it will lead!

(On that note, Barclay and I totally fell off the wagon with our monthly update videos awhile ago.  Whoops, life was too busy!  But…I’ve been thinking about writing some new posts specifically about expat stuff.  So if you guys have any questions or requests about moving abroad, lemme know and I’ll get to work on those.)

Barcelona, Spain

Good Reads

This winter, I’ve set an intention of watching less and reading more, ideally with lots of hot tea and cozy blankets nearby.  So since you guys always have good recs, I thought I’d ask — what good books have you been reading lately??  Any recommendations?

Some of my faves from this past summer and fall have included (affiliate links):

  • Educated (Tara Westover): I couldn’t put this one down.  Then as soon as I finished, couldn’t stop reading through the interviews from her press tour.  What a fascinating, heartbreaking, brave story.
  • At Home In The World (Tsh Oxenreider): I’ve never closely followed Tsh’s blog or podcast, but we had lots of you recommend her latest book after our move abroad.  And sure enough, this read felt like one big “I relate.”  Proud of her family for setting out on this big adventure, and for sharing the full range of thrills and challenges that can come with cross-cultural living.
  • The Great Alone (Kristin Hannah): Well, I mostly liked this one.  Some of the characters felt a bit cliché and flat.  But the story was engrossing and I really loved learning about Alaska in the 60’s.  Wow.
  • Between The World And Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates): After having read so many of his writings in The Atlantic over the years, this was actually my first time reading one of Coates’ books.  It was a shorter read, but just as powerful and important as I anticipated.
  • Braving The Wilderness (Brené Brown): Love Brené.  And finally made my way through this one, just in time for her new book release this week, ha!  Very much looking forward to it too.
  • The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen (Lisa Gungor): I’ve followed Lisa’s story from afar for at least the past decade (and even walked down the aisle to her song), so I was really interested to hear her perspective put into words.
  • Crazy Rich Asians (Kevin Kwan): After hearing all of the buzz about this one, I read the book on vacation this summer before the movie came out.  But…the movie still hasn’t made it to Barcelona yet!  Bah!  Looks like we may have to wait til it’s available to rent on iTunes.
  • Bread and Wine (Shauna Niequist): I re-read this old favorite during our trip to Greece, and loved it just as much as I did the first time around.  If you have a heart for gathering people around the table, this one’s for you.
  • The Jane Austen Project (Kathleen Flynn): Total impulsive fan fiction download on vacation…that was actually really fun!  If you love Austen, it’s an enjoyable light read.

Also, I really really wanted to love Little Fires Everywhere (Celeste Ng) and The Signature of All Things (Elizabeth Gilbert), but I wasn’t sold on either.  Did you guys love them?  Thoughts?

Turkey Cheeseburger Soup from Skinnytaste One and Done

Cookbook-ing!

Speaking of good books, there are also so many good cookbooks coming out this season!  I’m slowly starting to make my way through a few of them.  So far, I’ve really enjoyed:

Currently | Gimme Some Oven

Seasonal Anxiety

I know that fall is sooo many people’s favorite season.  But it’s always been a super bittersweet one for me, because it means that (1) my favorite season — summer — is officially coming to an end, and (2) my least favorite season — winter — is just around the corner.  Oof.  I actually really enjoy the weather and the colors so many of the cozy traditions that come with fall.  But as someone who’s seasonally affected, I have to be extra-intentional about staying present this time of year, and not get spend my time dreading the short days and freezing forecasts to come. 😂

That said, I’ve learned over the years that one of the things that actually helps me most with seasonal anxiety is to make plans.  You know, have things to look forward to!  So I spent some time last week during my seasonal retreat making some plans for the months ahead, and I’m feeling better about this season and the next one to come.  Some priorities on my agenda?

  • Pool time.  As much as I love to work out at home, I caved and (shocker) decided to join a gym. Specifically, one with a steam room and a nice big warm-ish pool.  It’s not fancy, but it’s the closest I can come to taking a bath (my favorite thing ever in the winter).  Plus, my good friend Rachel has agreed to be my gym buddy, so I now have some extra accountability to get outta bed come December mornings.
  • Baking.  I’ve always considered myself far more of a cook than a baker.  But I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I’m actually a very happy winter baker.  Warm ovens, warm cookies, warm loves of bread are totally my jam when it’s chilly out!  So this week, I stocked my pantry with a bunch of baking essentials (some of which are hard to track down here in Spain), and I’ve decided to try and have at least one good baking night a week while it’s cold out.  Added bonus?  Most of my favorite American cookies and desserts aren’t common here in Spain, and our friends here go nuts for them.  So it’s really fun to be able to share them with people here too!
  • Candles.  A lesson that I’ve learned in adulthood — burn the good candles.  Don’t save them for special occasions.  Don’t skimp on cheap ones that you only sorta love.  If you’re a candle person — and I very much am — invest in candles you love and burn them happily and often.  Barclay and I went to the store this week and each picked out a few of our faves so that we’re stocked for the next few months.  And I’m convinced they’re the best thing we’ve purchased all season.  I love them.
  • Visitors.  More friends and family are headed our way soon, and we can’t wait.  It’s looking right now like we’re going to have about one set of visitors here each month this November-May, which will be a slower pace than the full calendar we had our first year here.  But it feels just right for year two.  (Also, if any of you or your friends are planning a trip to Barcelona, don’t forget to check out our travel guide full of all of our best recs!)
  • New Zealand + Korea.  Other main thing I’m looking forward to?  A trip down under — where it will conveniently be summertime while we’re there in February!  I’ve mentioned before that Barclay’s dad and all of his relatives on that side of the family are from New Zealand, and they’re having a big family reunion there in February.  So we’re saving up for plane tickets to head that way.  And then I’m going to slip out a few days early to head up to visit my friends, Kerry and Nathan, who live in Korea and snuggle their soon-to-arrive little baby boy!  Can’t. Wait.

Anyway, it feels great to have some things on the calendar to look forward to.  ♡  How about you guys?  Whether you love or dread winter, are you doing anything to get ready for it?

(Also, for anyone else in the seasonally-affected camp, my friend Jessica shared an article the other day that I loved and instantly bookmarked in my toolbar to consult when needed this winter.  It’s called Everything Is Awful And I’m Not Okay, and it’s fantastic.  Highly recommend.)

Portugal

In our effort to carpe Ryanair (seize the cheap European plane tickets!), we’ve also decided to squeeze in one more quick trip before winter hits and head next door to Portugal at the end of this month.  It’s next at the top of our travel list, and should still be pretty warm this time of year.  So if any of you have recommendations, we would love to hear ’em!  We’ve heard amazing things about the country and can’t wait to see it for ourselves.

Henry Savasana | Gimme Some Oven

¡Feliz Fin De Semana!

Alright, that’s the latest!  Wishing you a relaxing weekend ahead, hopefully including at least one good sleep-in or siesta.  You know, Spanish-style. ;)

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36 comments on “Currently”

  1. Thank you for the book recs! I just read “Virgil Wander” by Leif Enger and think you might really enjoy it.

  2. I too, can’t believe you have been there for a year. Thru your blog I feel like I have been on this journey too. And saying that I’m old enough to be your Mother, I worried and watched as a Mom. Good job, you two.
    You said you were looking for books. My recommendation is for a book my friend wrote “My tears were for her. By Janet M Little ( available on amazon) It is a true story of surviving child abuse but what is more important is how she dealt with it. Her journey would help so many dealing with lots of troubles ( not just abuse) Maybe because I know her, I’m bias but the book is a great read.

  3. Loved this update! Curious… did you go in with a timeline of how long you plan to live in Spain? Has it changed? Are you just taking it a month at a time?

  4. I love Portugal – hope you can get to Sintra, loved the Moorish ruins & the Pena Palace (and Fatima was quite an experience also) – the people were lovely, and the views incredible.

    Also if you get a chance, try the Licor Beirao (I wished I brought more home!) they drink it over ice and/or use it in sangria

    Have a great trip

  5. Oh girl…right there with ya on the seasonal stuff. It’s already snowy here in our neck of the woods. Bring on the sweaters and sun lamps!

  6. I wrote all about my trip to Lisbon!
    Here’s the link to Day 1- but there’s four days worth of ideas :) such a beautiful, fun place!
    https://www.peanutbutterismyboyfriend.com/peanutbutterismyboyfriend/lisbonday1?rq=Lisbon

  7. My family and I moved from the US to Ireland about four months ago. It’s so good to follow your adventures as fellow expats. I finally feel like we’re starting our lives here as (most of) the paperwork is finished, my kids are settled into schools and I’m starting to make friends. It’s a great adventure. And we are “carpe-ing” RyanAir for a Barcelona visit next week. Your travel guide is coming in handy!

  8. I JUST finished Little Fires Everywhere and while I found it to be a page turner and enjoyable to read, the ending left me unsatisfied. It felt like I didn’t get the closure I wanted, maybe?

    Ps – we have a potential opportunity to move abroad to Paris (from Atlanta) in a year or two for my husband’s job. I love reading about your experience – it gives me courage!

  9. I always enjoy your blog!
    Just wondering what happens w/your pups when you travel?

  10. Love following your story! Barcelona is one of my favorite places on the planet too! It’s wonderful to read your posts and enjoy seeing your smiles!!
    Book to recommend… Summer before the war … set in a time of innocence before the beginning of World War 1. Very descriptive and colorful! I think you might enjoy!

  11. Good books to read, What Truth Sounds Like, and Tears We Cannot Stop, both by Michael Eric Dyson (not easy reading but very good). And I’m currently reading Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin, also excellent.

    Reading about your issues with United Airlines and luggage, I am reminded of a woman who went on a world cruise with us several years ago, who had her luggage lost and had to survive on a cruise ship until Tahiti to finally get her luggage (about a month). That is one reason why I would not choose to fly United, and you’ve given me reinforcement on that.

    I’m glad that Barcelona is working out well for you. It is a wonderful city.

  12. I highly recommend The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It’s super long but super good. And All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Beautifully written and just an amazing story. Both won the Pulitzer for fiction a few years ago.

  13. Thank you for the book recommendations! And, you will love Portugal – one of my favorite countries! Highly recommend Lisbon. :) Happy Fall, Ali!

  14. Me again! We honeymooned in Portugal and I HIGHLY recommend the Duoro Valley (Casa do Rio is one of the most magical places to stay ever) and Porto is a dream.

  15. I wasn’t sold on Little Fires Everywhere either! I really love listening to audiobooks when I’m communting, running/walking and cleaning around the house.

    Since I’ve read and listened to some stellar ones lately, I thought I’d share in case you haven’t done them yet:
    ~ The Girl with Seven Names
    ~ Born a Crime (LOVED on audio)
    ~ Love, Loss & What We Ate (I listened on audio, but I think this one would be good in OG book form, too.)
    ~ The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (I’m behind the times on this one! And I read it first before the Netflix adaptation came out)
    ~ The Help (Also behind the times, but I loved on audio!)
    ~ The Hate U Give (YA, but I loved on audio… now it’s a movie.
    ~ And I’m currently listening to Flight Behavior

    A few tried and true faves of mine that I keep recommending:
    ~ A Man Called Ove
    ~ Kitchens of the Great Midwest (I love this one on audio so much, I listened to it again on a trip with my husband in the car! But I’m from the Midwest, so haha.)
    ~ A Dog’s Way Home (I read the Dog’s Purpose novels before the movie came out and I adore these books because they are from a dog’s point of view! This is my favorite one though and is not part of the original series.)
    ~ Behind Closed Doors – not usually my type of book, but kind of a thriller that I just couldn’t put down because I had to know what happened!

  16. Thanks for the update! Where are you heading in New Zealand? We were just there in April and it is amazing how beautiful it is! Enjoy!

  17. Hi Ali! I simply love following your adventures and your terrific recipes!

    My husband and I traveled to Portugal a few years ago (as well as Barcelona), and I’ve written a blog post on it and everything we did in three short days. The paella AND everything was just fabulous, and we loved traveling up the coast with a driver for a day. DREAMY!

  18. I loved reading this update. Happy one year Barcelona anniversary! I’m excited that you get to visit Portugal, New Zealand, and South Korea. We used to live in Korea (nine years ago, ack, time flies!). I love the country and people there.

    I was really into reading last winter, and want to get back to it. Bread and Wine is on my list, thanks to your recommendation. I absolutely LOVED At Home In The World, and am glad that you enjoyed it. Three other travel memoirs that I really loved were All Over the Place by Geraldine DeRuiter, No Such Thing As Bad Weather by Linda Akeson McGurk, and Global Mom by Melissa Dalton-Bradford. They were all so good, and I would love to find more books in the same genre.

  19. What a handsome couple you are. So enjoy your posts. You are one talented lady.

  20. Always enjoy reading your posts! Enjoy your second ano (imagine the little wiggly line over the “n”)!

  21. My daughter and I just finished reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. The whimsical story was impossible to put down. It’s unique characters and unusual genre captivated out imaginations and the love story touched our hearts. We were delighted by its unusual ambiance and highly recommend it for a good winter read.

  22. Loved this post so much! I love your tips on making cold weather and winter a bit more enjoyable, especially the baking and candles. I am RIGHT there with you on both of those. I remember last winter I embraced the concept of hygge to the FULLEST and just embraced the coziness and sweetness of the cold seasons. Made it so so much better :) Highly recommend The Little Book of Hygge.

  23. I love the book recommendations!
    I didn’t care for Little Fires Everywhere, and I had Only heard positive things about it.

  24. Great update, Japan and NZ are high on my wish list as well. Out of curiosity, what American cookies and desserts are popular with your Spanish friends? :)

  25. Thanks for the great update – and all your great ideas for enjoying fall – looking into several of those recommended cookbooks – Fall is a great to spend time thinking about comfort foods in a more healthy way! Also, I didn’t like Little Fires Everywhere either. Same thing – so many good recs, but fell flat. Enjoy these two awesome trips coming up!

  26. I’m definitely going to check out your book recommendations. Thank you! Have you read any of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series? Oh my, it is a lovely, delightful series. It’s about a little lady in Botswana that opens a detective agency – but it’s so much more about her life than solving mysteries. I ADORE the author – Alexander McCall- Smith. Love him.

  27. Great update. I could talk about books all day. I am an avid reader – around 70 books a year and the book I would recommend absolutely that I have read this year is Ragged Company by Richard Wagameese. It will break and open your heart at the same time. My all time favourite book is Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. He can draw you into his world like no other author I have ever read. On Portugal – My husband and I honeymooned in Portugal 32 years ago on the island of Madeira. If you get a chance to go there, I would grab it. It is out of this world. Thanks for another lovely post!

  28. I’ve come to your blog for recipes for awhile now (love your enchiladas), but this is the first time I have read one of your blog posts and… it just made me so happy! I used to live in Barcelona and can totally relate to dragging obscene amounts of luggage through the street not exactly sure where I was headed. Also, absolutely loved the book Educated and can totally relate to your sentiments on both seasonal anxiety and candles. One of your making-it-through-winter plans should be to eat pho and drink ginger beer at Mosquito: http://www.mosquitotapas.com. It was a favorite of mine while I was there and will definitely warm you up on dreary days. :)

  29. Thanks for the great recommendations! I’m reading Atomic Habits by James Clear and it is incredibly thought provoking, as well as inspiring:)

  30. I’m portuguese, living in Lisbon and your follower. When are you coming? For how long? What kind of tips are you looking for?

    Adriana

  31. I spent two weeks in Portugal this summer and every day wish I was back there! If you have a chance go to Lagos or any of the southern towns. Amazing views, people and whole fish!

  32. I’m from Porto, Portugal and I’m sure you will love it here! Lots of history and lots of great food :)

  33. IRELAND!!!
    You guys need to visit Ireland before you pack up on this side of the Atlantic. County Kerry is a must as is Connemara. Hashtag just saying!!!!!
    Love following the blog.