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Hey friends ♡
I hope that this finds you well and warm today, wherever life may have you this January. We have been snuggled up inside here in Barcelona this past week, while Storm Gloria has slowly been making its way across the country. And while the weather outside has been downright wild — I’ve never seen wind and thunderstorms this strong here! — I have to say that the Kansas girl in me has been loving it. I’ve sooo missed the cozy comfort of a good stormy day living here, and love nothing more than going to sleep and waking up to the sounds of rain and thunder. So I have been soaking it up this week, and enjoying the excuse to stay in and snuggle up with my pups, endless cups of hot tea, a few good books, binged seasons of “Cheer” and “Project Runway” — and it’s been great.
Anyway, I’m overdue for a life update on here. So today I thought I would take a break from recipes and share a few of the things happening behind the scenes around here in the new year — some highs, some lows, some fun new adventures, plus a new little section at the bottom listing out some random things I’m loving right now.
As always, thank you for reading. And I’m sending you big hugs and the warmest wishes for a good new year ahead!
An excerpt from a post I shared on my personal Instagram last week. All my love to those of you who have been down this road before, or are currently making your way through a season of infertility too.
Translation: (still) not pregnant. ♡
Barclay and I had really hoped that 2019 might be the year that a little one would finally join our family. But instead, it ended up being the year when the fun and excitement of “trying” transitioned into the complicated medical world of infertility. When our calendars became filled with doctors’ appointments and tracking apps galore. When we had to learn a whole new set of Spanish vocab words about infertilidad, and got used to discussing the most intimate details of our lives in stark clinical settings. When I went on a strict fertility/candida diet and faced my needle fears to do regular acupuncture and got poked/prodded/wanded/analyzed by doctors on the reg. When the roller coaster of cautiously getting our hopes up every 28 days ended with a negative pregnancy test every. single. time.
That said, 2019 was also the year when our friends and family said, “hey, we’re right here with you”— with long hugs and loving check-ins and fun distractions and ongoing prayers and lots and lots of chips and salsa. It was the year we learned that we had unknowingly moved to one of the top cities in the world for fertility clinics, where tests and treatments and medications all stunningly cost just a small fraction (even smaller with our insurance) of the price that they would for us in the States. It was the year when I came to realize just how deeply I hope to be a mom someday…and also saw more clearly than ever what an incredible father Barclay will be.
2019 was many things — deeply good at times, hard and exhausting at others. But while I had originally decided awhile back not to mention anything about this side of our lives online, I have to say it has felt increasingly odd to be posting about every other random thing when this is really what’s been at the forefront of our minds and hearts.
So for what it’s worth, I just wanted to take a moment today to say hey…this is us right now. 👋🏻
We don’t have any big news to share. Just currently figuring our next treatment steps, which has us feeling all the feels about the year ahead. But today is one of those days when I’m feeling hopeful about it all. So…I’ll take it.
On a lighter note, Barclay and I both got inspired last year while rereading The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss’ idea of “mini-retirements” — basically, traveling somewhere to intensively study a new skill (versus spending the majority of your time sightseeing). We had already been craving a deeper dive into some of the places we travel, and of course, loved the idea of a focused window of time to study a new skill. So we did some dreaming together about what might sound fun (and nearby!) in this season of life, and each came up with a mini-retirement of our own to try in 2020.
Barclay has really been wanting to study French so that he can better communicate with his work partners in Mali, so he’s currently kicking the year off with a trip to Montpellier to stay with a host family and do a 2-week language intensive this month. (I’ve been posting a few updates from his trip on Instagram stories if you want to follow along — he’s absolutely loving it, and bonus, his sweet host mom is teaching him all of her favorite French recipes! I’m going to go visit him there this weekend and can’t wait to have him show me around.)
Then in either February or March, I am planning to head down to Valencia for a few weeks to study all things rice (since it’s the home of paella!) and do an advanced Spanish intensive while I’m there too. We’ve already been to Valencia twice before — it’s just a 3-hour train ride from Barcelona — and I completely fell in love with the city while we were there. So I’m excited to head back to spend some extended time there. And of course, share everything I learn about Spanish rice dishes with you guys!
So anyway, we’ll see how it all goes. It’s definitely a different style of travel than we’re used to, but we’re both really excited about our plans. And grateful, as always, for this season of life with flexible jobs and schedules that make travel possible.
This January, we also adopted an elephant!! ♡♡♡
After having watched, oh, a thousand elephant vids together over the years, Barclay and I agreed that we wanted to research new ways to better support our favorite animals in 2020. We ended up stumbling across a cool project in Kenya that invites people to “adopt” (sponsor) elephant orphans as they are being rehabilitated. So for our Christmas/Reyes gift to one another this year, Barclay and I sponsored Kuishi!
She’s 3-yrs-old and as cute as could be, and she’s currently being reintegrated into the wild after being rescued as an orphan when her mother passed away. (You can learn a bit about her story here — just have Kleenex ready.) We think she’s extraordinary, and are excited to be able to support and cheer her on for many years to come.
Anyway, if you need an extra smile this weekend, just click on the #elephant hashtag on Instagram. It’s our favorite rabbit (er, elephant) hole. ;)
My 2020 Resolution
I’m one of those people who typically loves to make NY’s resolutions and thrives on the adrenaline of starting a fresh year with a bang. But with an unusual number of Big Life Questions looming that could take our year in any number of extremely different directions — especially with regards to our family, work, health, where we live, etc. — I’ve been feeling zero desire to hustle and make lots of big goals the new year. Which, any of my friends will tell you, is a bit unusual for me (especially as an Enneagram 3). Instead, I have been journaling and reflecting these past few weeks about this year ahead, I’ve found myself returning to the same word again and again:
More than anything this year, I want to take better care of myself and those around me. I want to prioritize better care of my body and the food and exercise and sleep that go into it. I want to take more gentle care of my heart and spirit, especially in the moments right now that feel particularly vulnerable and hard. I want to take good care of my mind, and feed it things that are good and expansive and fascinating. And I want to create more margin in my life to have the time to better care for dear friends and family around me.
Nearly one month in, this word has already been re-shaping my life in some profound ways. And it feels like the right place for me to be dwelling right now, and I’m curious to see how it unfolds over the next eleven months too.
All that said though — I couldn’t resist starting the year without at least ONE official resolution. So on a lighter note, I’ve decided to make 2020 the year that I finally learn how to make (really really good) homemade kimchi! Like, you know those friends who always have an extra batch of cookies, or bread, or kombucha on hand to share? I have this little dream of becoming “that friend” who’s always giving away kimchi. ♡♡♡ So if any of you have experience in this specific world of fermentation, pretty please, I would love for you to send any good tips or recipes my way! I’m a few batches in at this point, and learning a lot about what flavors/processes I like along the way, and for sure promise to share more once I get more confident and actually feel like I know what I’m doing. But so far, I’m really enjoying it.
Things I’m Loving Right Now
Finally, I thought I would add a new section to these posts with all of the random stuff I’m loving right now (that doesn’t particularly fit into other categories!). The first half are things I brought home from our trip to the States this Christmas
- USB lighter: I ordered one of these for us on Black Friday from Anthropologie (along with, ahem, a few too many candles). And it’s so cool! As a family that burns multiple candles a day, I’m thrilled to no longer have to buy new lighters constantly. All you do is plug this puppy in anytime it needs a recharge, and it holds 130 lights per charge. (It looks like there are also some cheaper ones for sale on Amazon if you are interested.)
- Blueberry acai face scrub: So this was a total impulse buy while I was at Trader Joe’s over Christmas, and may not be the most natural skincare product in the world. But you guys — it smells exactly like blueberry muffin batter — and I am loving it so much. Not sure if it was just a holiday item or whether it’s available year-round. But if you happen to see it at TJ’s, I highly recommend picking some up. (Btw, it’s considerably cheaper in the store, but I included the Amazon link in case you don’t have a TJ’s where you live.)
- New yoga mat: For Christmas this year, my mom and dad gifted us some new yoga mats that we had been wanting from Lululemon. And good grief, I cannot believe the difference that a good-quality mat can make! Barclay and I do YogaGlo or Barre3 at home pretty much everyday, and have always just used those typical $15 yoga mats that you can buy wherever. But I’ve always been frustrated with those mats because my feet slip around on them constantly. Anyway, I happened to mention this to some yoga teacher friends a few months back, and they were like — “Girl, you need a better mat!” So we brought these ones home from the States (Barclay got the extra-long mat, which is huge), and they have been game changers. 100% worth the investment — we love them so much!
- New duvet cover: I also Black Friday-ed a new duvet cover from West Elm to pick up while we were back in the States and am so happy with it. The pattern is just lovely IRL and has really brightened up our bedroom (we had a navy duvet cover before), and looks great with these chambray sheets that I also picked up at Target.
- Waterproof boots: I’ve logged literally hundreds of miles walking around Barcelona this winter in these boots (I bought the mushroom color) and they have held up impressively well. Love how comfortable and waterproof they are. Also, cute!
- Cute donut cards: My talented sister just added these adorable (blank) donut greeting cards to her Etsy store, and I think they are the cutest! If you need to stock up on cards and want to support a local artist, check ’em out. I ordered all four donut designs, and now want to buy extras to frame too.
- AirPods: I accidentally left my old earbuds on the plane coming back to Barcelona (womp), so I decided to take the opportunity to finally try out some AirPods…and now I see why everyone loves them so much. They’re so much more comfortable than always having to fumble with a cord hanging around my neck (my hair was always getting snagged in that cord!) and the little charging case that comes with them is so slick. I’m a fan.
- “By The Book” podcast: Ok, where has this podcast been all my life?! If you are someone who’s also into business-y/self-help books, I highly recommend giving it a listen. The two hosts basically live their lives according to a popular book for two weeks and then come back to report on it, and their insights are gold. I binged nearly all of their episodes this month and found it to be such a fun listen.
- Seed cycling: Finally, are any of you women on the seed-cycling train? I just heard about it for the first time about a year ago, and have been experimenting for awhile with adding the correct weekly seeds to my favorite energy bites recipe. And while the jury’s still out for me on exactly how well the seeds are performing, I feel like it’s a “can’t hurt” kind of thing and have been enjoying the super-seedy energy bites. If you’re interested in the recipe, let me know. And if you’ve also tried seed cycling, I would be curious to hear how it’s been!