Day In The Life

A photo journal of my day yesterday here in Barcelona. ♡  (This post includes affiliate links.)

Early alarm clock

6:45am: Too early!  Try as I may, I’ve never succeeded in turning into a natural morning person…

Pour over iced coffee

6:55am: …but this definitely helps. ♡  Iced pour-over, my absolute fave.

Verbling Spanish class

7:00am: Still at it with my early (online) Spanish tutoring each Tuesday and Thursday.  A certain pup slept through the entire lesson, though.

Kefir pancakes

8:00am: Found this handsome man in the kitchen making his signature kefir pancakes.

Kefir pancakes with maple syrup

8:10am: Desayuno time!  As they say here in Catalan, nyam nyam. 

Sun-dried tomato photos

8:25am: Getting an early jump on recipe photography today since these guys will need to “sun dry” in the oven for 4-5 hours.

Blogging

9:00am: Alright, onto a few hours of post-vacay inbox catching up while the tomatoes do their thing.

Yoga time

11:00am: Morning workout break.  It feels so good to be getting back into this routine after a summer with lots of travel.

Also, yep, Henry’s now in diapers.  He had been having increasingly more accidents ever since he went blind two years ago.  So we pulled the trigger on diapers a few months ago.  And holy cow — game changer.  He doesn’t seem to mind them at all, and Barclay and I are much happier.  Win-win.

Post Workout

11:30am: Whew, good one.  Time for a quick shower!

Snack lunch with hummus and peanut butter

Noon: And…lunchtime.  Lol, well for us at least.  Most people in Spain don’t eat until about 2pm.  But when we’re working from home and have the option, I’m an early bird and still much prefer to eat on an American schedule.

We were out of leftovers in the fridge and didn’t want to cook, so we resorted our favorite “snack lunch” — hummus (with everything bagel seasoning) and veggies, plus apples and homemade PB (which Barclay’s obsessed with making in bulk).

Nut Thins

12:05pm: I also bid a fond farewell to the last of the smoky Nut Thins that I brought back in my suitcase from Kansas City.  They are my absolute favorite crackers (well, let’s be honest, next to Cheez-its) and I’ve been trying hard to ration them out slowly over the past few weeks.  Super sad to see this box end.  So for those of you in the States — please enjoy a few for me this week!

Food photography

12:30pm: Back to work.  My “sun” dried tomatoes are ready to photograph…and so tasty!  I’ve never really been a big fan of eating raw tomatoes just on their own, but I can pop these little guys like candy.  The perfect way to use up an end-of-the-summer tomato surplus.

Also, yes, laurel (bay leaf) is sold in large bags everywhere here in Spain, which I love because it prevents the leaves from breaking.

Barclay and Ali

2:40pm: Headed out for a quick bike ride uptown to see another potential new apartment.  We’re still on the house-hunting search here in Barcelona — either to buy or to rent — before our current lease expires this fall.  But the market here is crazy expensive and we haven’t found anything yet that we love.  Maybe better luck today.

Barcelona Bus

2:45pm: Lol, scratch that on the bike ride, it’s nearly 90 degrees out and an uphill trek to this neighborhood.  Air-conditioned bus FTW!

House hunting in Barcelona

3;00pm: I had really high hopes for this place after seeing the plans for it online.  But the sneaky rendering artist failed to disclose the fact that the windows in the back of the house were completely blocked by a huge cement wall.  Ugh, can’t do it.  This girl needs sunlight.

The search continues.

Asian Grocery Store Barcelona

3:45pm: Anytime we’re up in this part of town, it’s a given that we make a quick pass through the Asian market to grab whatever is on our list.  (We keep ongoing grocery lists on our phones for the Asian market, Latin American market, and the American import store here in Barcelona in case either of us happen to be passing by.  That is, of course, in addition to our usual ALDI, fruit and veggie stand, and neighborhood supermarcat circuit.)

Grocery shopping date

3:55pm: Asian markets are pretty much the only place in Barcelona where you can buy good green onions, sweet potato noodles (and rice noodles), sesame oil, and other southeast Asian ingredients.  I also snagged a new bottle of tamarind concentrate to make a batch of pad Thai this week.

As always, we ended buying a few more groceries than expected (with no trunk space to stash everything).  Lol, so Barclay headed home to drop off this batch of groceries, and I headed on to our neighborhood supermarket to pick up some ricotta and kale to test out a new gnocchi recipe for dinner.

Spain August vacations

4:15pm: Bahhh, Spain.  Pretty much everyone here takes the entire month of August off.  And, as I discovered today, the one store in our neighborhood that always carries ricotta has apparently decided to close for the month too.  Thus, the day’s ingredient scavenger hunt commences.  #storyofourbarcelonalives

ALDI El Born Barcelona

4:20pm: I couldn’t remember if our new neighborhood ALDI carries ricotta.  But they usually carry kale.  So I stopped by for a quick check…

ALDI shopping

4:30pm: Double negative.  Turns out — no ricotta or kale (boo).  I did take the opportunity while I was there, though, to stock-up on diced tomatoes since they are strangely not available at any other stores near our house.  (I can easily find cans of whole and crushed tomatoes, but diced tomatoes are much more rare.)  Also picked up some fresh tomates to make a batch of sun-dried tomatoes for some friends.  Plus some heavy cream for the ricotta recipe tonight, which is sold shelf-stable instead of refrigerated here in Spain.

Simply Basic Barcelona

4:45pm: The kale and ricotta search continues.  Struck out again here.

Fruiteria Barcelona

4:50pm: Also here, which was surprising.  This fruitería isn’t my favorite one to begin with (our usual fruit/veggie stand is a 10-minute walk in the opposite direction), but they usually at least carry the basics.  Nope, no kale today.

Red onions Barcelona

4:55pm: That said, while I was already at the fruitería, I went ahead and stocked up on some red onions since pretty much every other store in the neighborhood only carries “pink” onions (which are much more popular in Spain).

If you’re sensing a trend here, you’re right.  Grocery shopping for us in Barcelona is basically an unending game of “welp, while we’re here, we might as well pick up that one thing that particular store carries that we can’t find anywhere else.”  It can be super time-consuming and frustrating at times, especially when we’re crunched for time, since it’s basically the polar opposite of the large grocery store (much less, Instacart) efficiency that we were accustomed to back in the States.  But at the same time, these smaller markets are part of the charm of Spain, and they have forced me to slow down and be more patient and actually experience what it’s like to support small local markets on a daily basis.  Plus, I love the fact that grocery shopping practically counts as its own workout here, since we do so much walking between stores and have to carry everything home by hand, which all feels really healthy and good.

Definitely different than the States…but we are constantly reminding ourselves that different is exactly why we moved here.  :)

De Tot Al Born Barcelona

5:00pm: Ah ha!  Finally tracked down some ricotta at this little supermarket!  Still no kale, so I gave up and just brought home some spinach.

Fiona Bear

5:15pm: “You’re home, you’re home, you’re home!  Now belly rub, please.”  ♡

Back to computer work for one more hour before dinner.

Cooking with Hulu

6:15pm: Finally, wrapping up the workday with some recipe testing, which will also double as our dinner tonight.  I’ve had so many of you make (and love, yay!) my new recipe for ricotta gnocchi.  So I’ve been wanting to develop another good sauce that you can make to serve with it.  Tonight’s experiment — a creamy, dreamy, tomato sauce with sausage and kale spinach.  With a side of Handmaid’s Tale while I cook.  (Love this show so much, but whew, sometimes I need to multitask it with an activity that’s a bit lighter.)

Creamy Tomato Gnocchi with Sausage and Spinach

6:40pm: Note the sausage sprinkled on top for my serving, not my vegetarian husband’s. ;)

Holy cow, this was GOOD.  Recipe will def be coming on the blog soon.

Everyday Italian Salad Recipe from Gimme Some Oven

6:45pm: Also put some of those sun-dried tomatoes to use in our everyday salad tonight.  (After all of my grocery shopping lamenting today, I feel like I should note that pine nuts are refreshingly cheap here in Spain.  So we use them often!)

Dog Walking In Barcelona

7:45pm: Finally, a nice long walk around our barrio to end the day now that it has cooled off a bit.

El Born Barcelona

Ciutadella Park Barcelona

Passeig de Picasso Barcelona

8:30pm: Love our neighborhood so much. ♡♡♡

The Ordinary AHA 30% Mask

10:00pm: Skincare time before bed.  I’ve really been loving this mask lately from The Ordinary!  It costs less than $8 and makes my skin feel amazingly smooth.  It goes on red, though, and looks super creepy on.  So haha, sorry no photo. ;)

Kindle

10:15pm: I impulse-bought myself the “All-New” Kindle (formerly the Paperwhite) on Prime Day this past month, and I have to say that I am loving it.  Ever since my last Kindle Fire died a few years ago, I’ve just been using the Kindle app on my iPad to read books.  And while that totally works, I was getting increasingly tired of staring at a glowing screen each night while trying to unwind with a book (esp after staring at a computer screen for so much of my workday).  So a friend talked me into taking the Paperwhite plunge, and now I totally wish I had made the switch it years ago.  This little guy is crazy lightweight and fits perfectly in my purse.  And most importantly, it doesn’t feel like I’m ending each day with screentime.

Love it.  And currently loving Eleanor Oliphant too.

Buenas noches, everyone, and thanks for reading!  I hope that your Tuesday was a good one. 

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42 comments on “Day In The Life”

  1. Love this! Can Barclay please share his kefir pancake recipe? 🙏🏻

  2. I love this! I would love to hear more about expat life if you don’t mind – the nitty gritty stuff like if you had to apply for a Visa, how tax stuff works, do you need to carry health insurance for abroad as well as back home when you visit, etc.!

  3. Love the sneak peak at Spanish summer life! So many differences to life here in Australia. Looking forward to your “sun-dried” tomatoes on the blog (soon, hopefully :)?)! I’ve been putting pine nuts and sun-dried tomatoes in everything lately :)

  4. I loved this post/day in the life! I live in Boston (came from Florida) and I feel the same way about shopping. The stores are so small here I can never get everything in one place 😂 I’m considering a move to England and that’s one of my considerations 😂

  5. Looks like such a fun trip!

    Paige

  6. Kale saison is from October to March im Europe… so yes, no Kale in the middle of summer ;-) and you surely don’t want an imported kale (I hope)

  7. Yes, please post your recipe for “sun dried” tomatoes. Our garden has an abundance that I would like to preserve and my attempts at dehydrating them have been unsatisfactory.

  8. Buying a house? How exciting! What does that do for your long term plans? Also, I cannot wait to try Barc’s pancakes and your gnocchi!

  9. Loved reading about your day. We visited Barcelona last year and really enjoyed it. And I just read Eleanor Oliphant – still not sure what Reese Witherspoon found incredibly funny about this book. To me it was an exquisite statement about the impacts of childhood trauma. (Hope that wasn’t a spoiler alert for you!) Headed back to your blog to look for the how-to on sun dried tomatoes. Intrigued!

  10. I’m a huge fan of that facemask, and all the other Ordinary products!

  11. I love your shopping stories. They so remind me of shopping in Turkey – if someone goes into the greengrocers and they have cilantro/savoy cabbage or other amazingly exotic(!) things, telephone calls are made to all friends, and we descend on them like locusts. Equally, things that we are used to being able to get (tonic water, soy sauce, coconut milk to name a few) suddenly disappear from the shelves of every supermarket for weeks on end. And, yes, shops suddenly close because the family is having a party/going to their August house up the hill or just because it’s Tuesday. Spending time here in the UK is just SO predictable!

    That salad looks absolutely gorgeous – we will be trying that this weekend when we have family over.

  12. Love to see your life ! So interesting ! Was surprised to see your “table” or chair, or bench made of “Cane” material. I am a Caner and repair all this stuff ! Enjoy your recipes, and they are some of my favorites ! Thank you very much !

  13. Are the nut thins the smokehouse flavor? Also, I’d love to see more traditional Spanish recipes! That would hopefully take the struggle out of tracking down American ingredients :)

  14. I love these peeks into your expat life!

  15. Aw what a great day! Thank you for sharing a little of Barcelona/Spain life with us!

  16. I loved reading your latest Day in the Life blog post. They’re always really interesting. I feel your pain about grocery shopping, and I live in the US! But my five year old son has lots of different food allergies, I’m a vegetarian, and we love ethnic food. So we have about seven stores that we go to on a regular basis. But yes, Instacart helps a lot! I want to try your smoky Nut Thins sometime. I hope you have good luck soon with your house hunt.

  17. Nice little round-up. Miss you :)

  18. Thank you for a most enjoyable journey through Barcelona. I lived there during the 1970s (a romantic era of the past). My most recent visit there was three years. Things have changed, but certain things – like the heart and soul of the city – will never change. I love seeing the little markets and the fresh produce!

  19. I relate a lot to this post! I live in Doha, Qatar and have to go to 3-5 grocery stores/markets to get everything. I also have the diced tomato problem. It’s frustrating when things that were there last week aren’t there the next week and you have to change your whole meal plan. But you’re right it’s all about the experience!

  20. This was so much fun to read. I would love to experience a whole summer abroad.

  21. Living in a very small town in the middle of nowhere in South Africa, I feel your pain with shopping! I have had to learn to ‘make my own, substitute, grow my own, or leave it out’! It’s really easy to make your own Ricotta btw! Try it!
    When I (rarely) go to Cape Town, I’m like a kid in a candy store, (read supermarket), & I go crazy buying all the things I can’t buy in my village!
    Love your Day in the life stories!

  22. Ah! I love this! I’m visiting Barca in September and I am so excited! Even with all the grocery shop frustrations you described, I still am trying to move there (I’m also not a food blogger though ha!). I cannot wait! I really appreciate you giving us a little peek into your life.

  23. When we lived in Provence I never got used to the UHT milk., no not ever. I loved the Boulangeries but did all my other shopping in the hypermarche, fabulous selection. Haven’t the patience to wander around looking for ingredients. We did have a vehicle however which makes a big difference.

  24. This was such fun to read!! Loved seeing the whole family during the everyday adventures.

  25. I love all your grocery shopping experience in my country! I have an American friend here in Madrid he hates not finding things in supermarket xDDD But here everything is cheaper and more local I think. As a “local” advice, Corte Inglés Supermarket usually has almost everything, I always go there if I need something important.

  26. Ever since reading your blogs on Barcelona, it has been on my bucket list! I especially loved the Christmas traditions one. Looks amazing! Where on earth do you find white boards that big? You have such beautiful light as well!

  27. Loved this post and the neighborhood streets are beautiful! I’d fail miserably parallel parking there—so close together, I’d never get out of the spot! Going to try the gnocchi soon.

  28. Loved reading this!! I always end up buying something or the other at the supermarket inspite of needing something else!! cant wait for the amazing gnocchi recipe :D

  29. We visited Barcelona two years ago and can’t wait to return. Thank you for your blogs and recipes, but most of all, thank you for letting us into your private life. I feel that you are a long-lost friend!!!

  30. We are flying into Barcelona September 2 and training out to France that day later in the afternoon. Should I bring you some crackers?

  31. I’m just so proud of you guys for doing the Spain thing! Thanks for showing us the real ups and downs of your life there. Your neighborhood is beautiful. 💘

  32. Hi, Ali
    Thank you for your wonderful blog! All the photos and little extras.
    RE face washing – I like exfolliating am and bedtime using my homemade sugar scrub.
    Mixing almond oil with sugar and about 20 drops of lemon essential oil. Rub about a tsp
    with my fingertips all over my face and neck, then rinse. I keep it in a pretty jar on my
    countertop. Lisa in Indianapolis (Delaware native).

  33. Love this! I’m doing the expat life in Beijing (and Seoul before that) but I lived in Spain for awhile and your posts make me so nostalgic! I also work from home, so I love to see how other WFH-ers structure their day, especially abroad with all those extra little challenges. Keep it up!

  34. I love this post, thank you! If you haven’t tried making ricotta yet, it is SO simple and quick (and cheap!). I have your ricotta gnocci on my list of recipes to try asap.

  35. I just finished that book as well! It was a great read! Loved this kind of post and a glimpse into your day!

  36. I love your blog and these posts. Getting a look at a day in your life is really inspiring (makes me want to take more walks and move to Spain) and it’s also so nice to get a glimpse of Barcelona. Although it’s a challenge to find ingredients there, how lovely that you get to experience living in a part of the world where life moves at a different pace than at home ( i.e. The U.S.). Maybe Kale is seasonal and ricotta is made fresh at a cheese shop?

    P.S. Nut thins and cheez-its are on sale at my local market this week, should I send you a few boxes?

  37. Where did you find your tutor? Did you find them through some sort of website that you use?

  38. I just read comment about kale season in Spain, but I was thinking it was God’s way of telling you “Don’t eat that stuff!” Honestly feel it is a hoax perpetrated on an innocent public. Plus it gets stuck in your teeth! Love reading about your adventures.

  39. Hi guys!
    I used to live there and the best place to buy ricotta, and all the other things (vegetable, cheese, fresh everything) is Santa Caterina Market! I highly recommend you.

    I hope you find it next time and I wait for a post about the market ;)

    Gràcies i una abraçada!

  40. Fascinating! We considered Spain before moving to Ecuador, so it’s fun to learn about the differences. I do wish I had access to some of the food choices available to you and definitely appreciate it when you say something is NOT available and provide directions to create a substitute!