2017 Winter Favorites

Hey, friends!  ♡

Hope that this finds you well and warm on this wintery January day.  I had family in town this weekend and am a little behind with the new recipes this month, so I thought I’d pop in today and share a few of my seasonal faves, plus a few new things happening behind-the-scenes lately at home this winter.

By now, I’m guessing that most of you have probably heard me mention that winter is usually my least favorite season of the year.  (Don’t. Like. To. Be. Cold!)  But, one little detail I forgot to tell you about getting engaged was that my sweet fiancé intentionally planned the proposal for December 22 — the day after the winter solstice — because he knew how much I always long for the days to start growing longer and brighter again each winter.  So when he proposed, he said that he wanted me to have some extra “bright days” ahead to look forward to this winter, which was pretty darn cute and actually meant a lot.  ♡ Ah, he knows me well.

Anyway, on that note, I’m happy to report that winter does feel like it’s off to a particularly hopeful start this year.  And between starting to plan a wedding, preparing to move out of my sweet apartment this summer, updating Barclay’s house (including a kitchen remodel!) before I move in, planning an impromptu European trip, and starting to research another big dream of ours (news on that coming soon), there suddenly seems to be a lot happening this season.  But, for better or worse, we’ve been taking our time with everything, and have just really enjoyed soaking up this new reality of being engaged, and it’s all felt so good and peaceful.  The details will eventually fall into place with everything, as they always do.  So for now, we’re just trying to enjoy the ride.

Sending all of you warm hugs today, and lots of good vibes for a cozy, restorative season ahead.  And for anyone interested, here’s my seasonal update with all of the favorite things I’m wearing, planning, cooking, reading, watching, etc-ing this winter!

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Wearing

Honestly, my favorite winter wardrobe staples are pretty much the same as the favorites I shared with you last fall, since my body seems to think we’re experiencing an arctic winter blast anytime the thermometer dips below 60°.  😂  I’ve mostlu been living in comfy sweaters/tunics and leggings 90% of the time.  But here are a few new winter faves that I’ve added to last fall’s list:

  • Warm Outerwear:
    • J.Crew Gray Factory Vail Parka – I did decide to invest in a new furry warm coat this winter, and I had my eye on this one for awhile at J.Crew Factory and waited until it went on sale.  (I’m obsessed with their winter coats!)  I think this particular color is out of stock now at the outlet, but there’s a similar coat available now at the regular J.Crew.  Love it.
    • Target Fuzzy Gray Hat — Also picked this up to keep my wittle ears warm.  I’m so bad at remembering to wear hats.
  • Comfy, Comfy Clothes:
    • All Things Lou & Grey — This line of clothing — either directly from Lou & Grey, or from their line at Loft — has pretty much been my go-to style all winter.  Comfy.  Cozy.  And the best part?  Often on sale, which means I can usually wait it out until the items I want are 40-50% off.  This Comfy Cowlneck Sweater is one of my faves.
    • J.Crew Factory Boy-Fit Flannel Shirts — Mmmm, speaking of cozy and 50% off, I have been wearing this navy/green flannel that I picked up on sale constantly this winter.
    • Natori Understated T-Shirt Bra — You all always surprise me by clicking the most on bra links that I share, ha!  So I suppose it’s worth mentioning that if anyone’s looking for a comfortable new “everyday” bra, I am loving this new t-shirt bra from Natori.  I’ve been obsessed with their Feathers bras (this one, or the halter version with the pretty back) for years, but this t-shirt version is nice to have too because it’s 100% smooth under your clothing (no lace!), it’s flattering, very comfortable, and I love the super-thin straps.
  • New Earrings:
    • Sseko Brave Earrings – Barclay surprised me with these over the holidays, and I absolutely love them.  Apparently you can buy additional little charm pieces to hook on the bottom of them, but I love them just as-is.  They go with just about everything.
    • Feather Earrings – I randomly ran across these earrings while shopping for something else on Etsy, and impulsively ordered a pair (just $12.50) and totally love them!  I think most of her earrings are one-of-a-kind, but lots of similar ones are available in her shop.
  • Boots, Boots, Boots:
    • Oliberte Hiari Mocha Suede Boots — I’d had my eye on these boots for probably a year now, and randomly, a good friend wasn’t wearing hers much so she generously passed them onto me.  Such a fun surprise!  I love them, and everything about Oliberte’s story.  Barclay also recently purchased a pair of the Ngola Boots (in dark brown) and Bokoroo Sneakers from Oliberte, and I think they look so good!)
    • Nine West Counter Boots (in Dark Natural Leather) — Ok, this is random, but I randomly found out that my favorite Nine West camel riding boots are still for sale, probably 4+ years after I first purchased them.  They come in a handful of colors, and if you watch the sales, they can dip down to under $50.  I own them in two colors, and still love mine!
    • Hunter Rain Boots — I mentioned these last fall, but I feel like it’s worth mentioning that I’m wearing them even more with all of the snow and ice and rain around here this winter…and I feel like I’m sold on this brand for life.  Love my Hunter boots!
  • Skincare For My Ultra-Dry Winter Skin:
    • Avene Hydrance Optimale Riche — This is the epic moisturizer that I discovered about a year ago and use daily during the winter.  I usually use the SPF (day) version in the morning, and the classic version at night.  It’s the only moisturizer I’ve found that genuinely keeps my ultra-dry winter skin nice and hydrated all day long.  And it’s not oily or full of fragrances.  I 500% recommend it if you struggle with dry skin.
    • Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Cleansing Oil — I’ve been using the Avene cleansing oil for the past year or so, and really love it (so gentle on the skin, and works great).  But a friend recently introduced me to Juice Beauty’s version and it honestly smells better, so I’ve switched.  ;)
    • Tata Harper Moisturizing Mask — This mask is definitely a bit of a splurge, but it’s been working a few miracles for me lately in terms of hydrating my skin.  I use it twice a week, and love that it’s so long-lasting.

Wedding Planning

First off, I just wanted to say many thanks again to all of you for your incredibly sweet and encouraging words about our engagement.  Barclay and I have both read every word you’ve written, and your support means so much to us.  So much.  ♡

Also, many thanks to those of you who have been checking in on wedding plans!  To be honest, I had assumed that once we got engaged, we would spring into action and make All The Pinterest Boards and book All The Things and go try on All The Wedding Dresses and get this wedding planned.  But I’ve been surprised to find that I just feel so overwhelmed by the sheer goodness that I get to spend the rest of my life with this man (such a wild, amazing thought)…that the idea of spending time planning the wedding itself feels kind of secondary to the joy of just soaking up this time being engaged.  It’s already been such a sweet and peaceful few weeks together.  So rather than jumping ahead immediately to the next season of all things wedding/marriage, we’re trying to just soak up this special in-betweenness of being engaged as much as possible.

That said, though, we do still want to get married as soon as possible…as soon as it warms up outside.  (Lame concern of mine — my nose turns bright red when I’m cold, and I don’t want to be Rudolf-y in all of our wedding photos, so we’re waiting for warmer weather! 😂☀️😎)  So we know that we need to get on the ball with planning this event asap.  We thought for a hot minute about just doing a small family wedding or eloping to keep things simple.  But our community of amazing friends and family are so incredibly important to us that we knew that we couldn’t imagine this day without them.  So I think we’re going to — ha — basically go the exact opposite direction of eloping and have a really big wedding instead, but try and keep the details as simple as possible.  It turns out that finding a venue for a large crowd is challenging in KC, but we’re hoping to finalize things with a (dreamy!) venue that we love this week, probably in late May or early June.  We don’t have too many of the other details finalized yet, but I can say that…

…there will be nachos.  😍

Anyway, I don’t know how much you all like to read about wedding planning.  But if you’re interested, I’ll pop back in here more in the next few months and share some details about what we have in the works.  We’re excited to plan something that feels incredibly personal and meaningful, and despite how crazy out-of-hand the wedding industry seems to be, we want to believe that we can do that simply and affordably and as-stress-free-as-possible.  We feel like that has to be possible, right?!  Hoping so.

Updating Barclay’s House

So, the other big project that we’re just starting to research is updating a few rooms in Barclay’s 110-year-old house.  I’m planning to move in there for the first few months after we get married, and then we are probably going to list it as a furnished rental before moving onto our next place.  But before I move in (and, as Barclay likes to say, move the “world headquarters” of Gimme Some Oven moves into his tiny kitchen), we both agree that we would like to update a few things around the house.

Namely, the kitchen.  It’s cute, but could definitely use some updating.

Since we probably won’t be living there long, we genuinely hope to make this remodel as simple and as affordable as possible.  (<– Ha, two things that are easy to say and hard to do, we know.)  That said, it’s a pretty small space, so there won’t be room to go crazy anyway.  😉  We would love to make it feel a bit more brighter and more open, which we’re hoping to accomplish with some white cabinets and wall paint and countertops, and maybe some open shelving.  And I’m particularly excited about investing in some (affordable!) new appliances that actually work.  Because his currently non-functioning oven might prove a little difficult for running a site called Gimme Some Oven.  😂

Anyway, I’ll report back with some before-and-afters once we get to work on it.  But in the meantime, if any of you have recommendations for affordable and beautiful:

  • appliances (ideally stainless steel or white)
  • cabinets (white/modern)
  • countertops (white)
  • lighting (probably schoolhouse, to go with his 110-yr-old-bungalow)
  • or anything else…

…we’d love your recommendations!  We’re officially at Square One right now with the project, but hope to have it finished in the next 3-4 months, so it’s time to get crackin’.

Cooking / Drinking

I’m definitely more of a warm-weather-loving girl when it comes to cooking, mostly because I love all of the fresher and lighter produce that’s in season during the spring, summer, and fall.  But my consolation with winter is that it is an easy excuse to make and eat All The Soups…which I literally do at least one meal a day during the winter.  So many soups!  I’ve also been slowly experimenting with my new Instant Pot this season, and have some new pressure cooker recipes comin’ atcha soon.  (Lemme know if you have any requests!) Other winter favorites?

  • Breakfast Tacos — I’ve been on a major breakfast taco streak the past few months, mostly because I’ve realized that I almost always have eggs and tortillas and salsa on hand, and I love any excuse to start the day with Mexican food.  I’ll also toss in whatever other good ingredients I have on hand — usually fresh cilantro and chopped onion, some kind of beans, and maybe some leftover cooked veggies or protein that are in the fridge.  Or I’ll mix up my famous zesty black beans to go in them — recipe coming soon!
  • Detox Salad — I’ve been making this salad (or a version of it) at least once a week this winter, and totally love it.  Especially that magical carrot-ginger dressing.  I’ve been making triple batches and putting it on everything lately.  Yum.
  • Field Roast — I also recently introduced Barclay to Field Roast’s Italian Sausages, and was amused to see how much he absolutely loved them.  He’s a vegetarian for more ethical reasons, and sometimes really misses the taste of meat.  So these were a happy surprise substitute for them.  I cut the sausages into little rounds and make Field Roast veggie stir-frys for us often, and we both love them.  (I also subbed Field Roast into a big quiche that we served our families on Christmas morning, and everyone was asking what kind of sausage I used b/c they loved it.  Success!)
  • Smoky Cocktails — I definitely love me some peaty cocktails, so we’ve been experimenting with doing more mixing (instead of just sipping) scotches and mezcals this season.  The Oaxacan Old Fashioned is a new favorite — recipe coming soon!

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Reading / Watching

One of my main goals for 2017 is to try and spend more time reading and less time looking at screens this year.  I really love tv and movies, but man, I just seem to feel better (and my mental clarity seems better) when I spend more time reading words on a page rather than staring at a screen.  Barclay’s not a big tv-watcher at all, so we’ve been having lots and lots of “reading dates” snuggled up on the couch side by side, which I totally love.  ♡  Still, here are my overall faves this winter:

  • Nourished Planner: Oh my goodness, I’m so in love with this beautiful new planner for 2017, which happens to be designed by my talented friend Heidi from FoodieCrush.  In addition to being absolutely beautiful (love the clean white-on-gold design), it is a fantastic tool for meal planning, a daily/weekly/monthly calendar, a to-do list, and a goal-setting guide all in one.  If you’re looking for a new planner this year, I can’t recommend it enough.
  • Reading: The current books on my bedside table include:
    • Chasing Slow (by Erin Loechner) — I’ve loved Erin’s writing for a decade, and have been looking forward to her first book for years.  And gosh, this one does not disappoint.  ♡ For anyone who has ever felt the pressure or struggled with the chase for more-more-more, Erin’s story is a refreshing reminder it really is possible — and so good — to opt for less.  For a slower, more life-giving pace.  I feel like I’ve read a handful of books on this topic over the past few years, but Erin’s story has hit the closest to home for me specifically, I think in large part because she’s such a kindred spirit in my own odd, niched little industry whose experience I feel like I can relate to in some super-direct ways.  But that said, I think anyone would love the timeless message in this book.  I wholeheartedly recommend checking it out if you’re interested.
    • Tools Of Titans (by Tim Ferris) — A cool book to get you dreaming bigger, featuring hundreds of short interviews exploring the “tactics, routines and habits of billionaires, icons and world-class performers”.  The book is divided into 3 categories — healthy, wealthy and wise.  And Tim encourages you to skip over what doesn’t interest you (I’ve glossed over some of the specific body-building stuff) and focus on what does.  The book is kind of all-over-the-place, but there are some great gems in there and it’s a fast read.
    • Between The World And Me (by TaNehisi Coates) — This book is up next on my list, and I can’t wait to dive in.  I’ve followed his writing with The Atlantic awhile now, and Barclay and I both loved his recent interview on The Ezra Klein Show, and I’ve been meaning to read this book for a year.  Now seems like an important time to do so.
    • The Divine Dance (by Richard Rohr) — I recently picked this one up at the recommendation of a friend as well.  Love, love, love Richard Rohr, and have heard great things about this in-depth dive into the Trinity.
  • Watching: Again, not watching much tv right now, but here are a few faves:
    • The Bachelor — I know, I know.  But I couldn’t resist watching Nick come back on this season!  (Does anyone else also think that The Bach has taken a few cues from Unreal this season?)
    • This Is Us — So happy that it’s back on again after that long holiday break!
    • The Crown — This has been my work-out show this season.  I watch it on my elliptical workout days each week, and totally love it.  Congrats to Claire on her Golden Globe!
    • The Daily Show + The West Wing — These are still Barclay’s and my two shows that we watch together.  Maybe someday we’ll finally finish The West Wing…although we both kind of don’t want it to end.

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Barcelona-ing

Finally, the rest of my time lately has been spent preparing for our upcoming trip to Barcelona at the end of the month with Barclay!  We found some crazy-cheap tickets to Spain at the end of January, so decided to go stay for a week and soak up the somewhat-warmer weather there this winter.  I was there just three years ago, and can’t wait to go back and show Barclay a few of my favorite spots.  But if you have any Barcelona recommendations for places to visit, would love to hear them!  Also, a few of my favorite trip-planning resources this trip have included:

  • Google Flights — Have you all used Google Flights yet?  We’ve been obsessed with the service, and recommending it to all of our friends for a few months now.  It’s a really simple way to search for flights (minus Southwest).  And if you have any flexibility, I especially recommend:
    • Typing in your departure city and some dates, and then clicking the “Explore Destinations” map.  Then, literally every destination in the world will show up with a price tag for those dates!  So if you want to find a $200 flight, you might be surprised to find that Costa Rica (or someplace random and fun) costs the same price as a flight to L.A. during those dates.  (Or, say, Barcelona. 😉)  Great for adventuring!
    • Or, you can do the reverse, and type in your destination with no dates.  Then you can search and see what dates are the most affordable days to travel to wherever you’d like to go.  Most travel sites have this feature now, but Google’s is especially clean-cut.
  • Journy — This is my new favorite resource for trip-planning!  For $15/day, a “personal travel concierge” will plan out an ultra-personalized, ultra-detailed itinerary for you in the city of your choice.  (Like, it’s super personalized, down to asking the exact styles of diets/pricing/vibe/neighborhood of restaurants you prefer, to how fast you tend to walk through museums, and more.)  All of your recs are then compiled into a daily itinerary with a map for getting around, which is easy to access on their app.  My friend, Sarah, and I tested out the service while we were in Tokyo for two days last November, and agreed that it saved us sooooo much time on trip planning (and, um, getting lost around the city).  Plus, they gave us awesome recommendations for local places off the beaten path, and made reservations for us when/wherever we wanted.  Anyway, I really loved it.  So Barclay and I decided to pay for Journy to plan four daily itineraries for us in Barcelona, and can’t wait to see what they send back. (Update: Since I posted this, it looks like they have raised their rates to $25.  Still worth it, I’d say.)
  • DuoLingo — I’m also back on the DuoLingo train, trying to refresh my Spanish a bit for the trip.  Love this free app.

Alright, that’s a peek into winter around here.  Would love to hear about any of your winter faves in the comments below! ♡  

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Comments

  1. Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog — January 16, 2017 @ 10:14 am (#)

    I am looking forward to your renovation process – please do a few posts on it!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  2. Monica — January 16, 2017 @ 10:28 am (#)

    Ooh, can’t wait to hear your trip report on Barcelona! It’s one of my favorite cities on earth! Have so much fun!!!

  3. Lee - FitFoodieFinds — January 16, 2017 @ 11:15 am (#)

    It’s like a dream of mine to redo a house! I am so happy for you and Barclay. Can’t wait to see where you guys move the OFFICIAL location of GSO HQ!

  4. Taylor — January 16, 2017 @ 11:46 am (#)

    Love all of these recommendations and things to look in to! Chasing Slow sounds right up my alley.  I couldn’t be more in love with This Is Us and never miss a season of the Bachelor (even though Nick drives me nuts). 

  5. Amanda Peterson — January 16, 2017 @ 12:47 pm (#)

    So excited to see the recipe for the Oaxacan Old Fashioned?! And, yes, to all the wedding details! :)

  6. Simone — January 16, 2017 @ 2:22 pm (#)

    My husband and I are currently watching The West Wing and really like it! We are towards the end of Season 4. And lets just say we HAVE NOT been going through this slowly. It is just so much more “wholesome” than some things currently on TV (compared to other political focused TV shows at least).

  7. Christine — January 16, 2017 @ 2:47 pm (#)

    Keep sharing your bra recommendations! I bought the feathers bra after your last post, and wear it all the time. It’s a great one!! I’m ordering your moisturizer right now too. I need all the dry skin help I can get in the winter…

  8. Cat — January 16, 2017 @ 3:47 pm (#)

    Congratulations on your engagement! I am so incredibly happy for you.

    As someone who has worked on three houses so far, here are a few suggestions.

    Kitchen Cabinets – if you or any friends or family are handy and want to tackle redoing cabinets yourselves, Kitchen Cabinet Depot online has amazingly well built cabinets that are flat packed and shipped to you. All you do is put them together and hang! But to make it easier, look for ones with cam locks and all you need to is a flat head screw driver to put them together. They also offer cabinet doors with glass so it provides an open feeling without getting everything dusty!

    Cabinet Handles – buy the contractor packs at lowes or home depot. Much cheaper than individual handles.

    Counter tops: Granite is nice but pricey and hard to take care of. If you are going to turn it into a rental, maybe whatever laminate is in stock at lowes or home depot is the way to go. I’ve been rocking it for a few years until I get around to replacing it with a solid surface like hi macs or something.

    Flooring: If you feel the need to try out a cork floor – I can save you the trouble. Don’t bother. It looks fantastic when it goes in and it is super nice to stand on when you are cooking. But it has not held up. It dents easily and it is start to peel at some of the joints within a year of having it and taking reasonably good care of it. I will be replacing mine with the pergo outlast this spring.

    Paint – oh my!
    Primer: If you need to paint anything – start with a primer (kilz or bullseyes. If you REALLY need to block color or stains, go straight for Kilz Bin. It is like primering with water but it does a phenomenal job of sealing the wall and not letting anything come through)

    Flotrol – it is a paint stabilizer you can find at home depot. A 2 or 3 second pour into a gallon of paint and it slows the drying process a bit, making the paint flash out properly and you don’t get the roller or paint brush marks.

    Paint – We’ve gone through just about every brand of paint. Behr i300 series is the favorite. It doesn’t have a primer in it, which is bonus. When we’ve painted with paint + primer and it dries too quickly to get a good solid coat on a wall without streaks.

    Paint Mixer: Get yourself a little drill and this paint stirrer and you will be thrilled – easiest way to mix paint, ever! http://www.homedepot.com/p/Workforce-1-Gallon-Helix-Paint-Mixer-HM1HD/202251542

    Rollers: Invest in some good purdy white dove rollers and shop vac them off before using them. This will remove any stray lint pieces and you won’t have to pick them out of the freshly painted wall.

    Good luck! We’re looking forward to progress pictures and posts!

  9. Kristin Barthlow — January 16, 2017 @ 3:58 pm (#)

    Use white shaker cabinets.  Granite sells in GA. Use white subway tile. Dark floors and gray paint. This is what sells in Ga.  Good luck.  

  10. Katy — January 16, 2017 @ 4:47 pm (#)

    Always love reading your blog and am so excited to follow your wedding and renovation planning journey! (also looking forward to the breakfast taco recipe!)

  11. Meg — January 16, 2017 @ 5:00 pm (#)

    Barcelona is the first stop on our honeymoon this June and I can’t wait to see your recommendations when you get back!

  12. Susan — January 16, 2017 @ 5:23 pm (#)

    When what you are looking forward to is being married, a small, impromptu wedding like what my husband and I had works well.  One can always do a reception for the friends/family.  I would think twice about spending a fortune on the dress and the ceremony, because it’s what happens afterward that is important.

    Barcelona:  The aquarium is very nice, a walk along La Rambla is a must do, and I would recommend seeing anything Gaudi that you can – La Sagrada Familia Catedral (definitely go inside), Park Guell, La Pedrera (an amazing building).  We will be in Barcelona on the Mediterranean cruise we’re doing in March/April, and will be going to the amazing market on La Rambla, and possibly also a revisit to the aquarium.  The oldest part of the city is very nice, too – it has a gorgeous cathedral.  Whatever you choose to do, I hope you enjoy it, and that Barclay is also smitten by that wonderful city.

  13. dana — January 16, 2017 @ 6:19 pm (#)

    Lovely catching up on life with you, friend! I’m SO happy so many good things are happening in your world right now. You deserve every amount of happiness and success! Love you friend!

  14. Erica — January 16, 2017 @ 7:38 pm (#)

    So excited for you and Barclay! Congrats on the engagement–I’m so thrilled for you both. One tip on wedding planning–to keep the cost down, look for community/art/city centers to rent out. They are MUCH cheaper than restaurants/traditional wedding venues, are often just as beautiful, and you can do catering from a local restaurant (we just did take out from our favorite restaurants and hired a few people to handle the logistics, act as waiters/bar tenders, etc.). Buying your own alcohol will also save on cost. Oh and one other tip–pretend you’re the wedding planner, not the bride. It’s a lot easier to haggle prices on behalf of someone else (e.g. “I’d love to take that offer but I’m afraid the bride has a very strict budget…”). Good luck, and please do give us updates on the process–would love to hear how you plan/what you end up choosing! No matter what I’m sure it will be the most amazing day–as long as you and Barclay are there, it can’t go wrong :)

  15. SandyToes — January 16, 2017 @ 8:42 pm (#)

    Hi Ali,

    I’ll happily grab any Instant Pot recipes you publish, but cooking for 2 people most of the time, would love to see more recipes scaled for a small family. We find a 3-4 pound pork butt or chuck roast is generally overkill, you know? 

  16. Julia @ HappyFoods Tube — January 17, 2017 @ 3:16 am (#)

    Congratulations on your engagement! Omg you will be like extra super busy this year! Can’t wait for the Barcelona trip update! We are 600km down south-ish and the weather is crazy here now (jumping from warm, to cold, then rainy). Hopefully you’ll have nice weather in Barcelona! Fingers crossed!

  17. Ursula — January 17, 2017 @ 6:31 am (#)

    What an exciting 2017! I would so strongly recommend hiring bikes when you go to Barcelona! Barcelona is a city designed for cyclists. We went with this rental company who were fab: http://www.greenbikesbarcelona.com There’s something so special about cycling on holiday with the sun shining and the salty breeze in your hair! Have an AMAZING time! x

  18. jaymo — January 17, 2017 @ 7:30 am (#)

    For sure go to La Boqueria, the food market, perfect for you, so many cool foods we don’t see here and a freshness it’s hard to get. And eat there too, lots of food stalls and such. Take a bus out to Park Guell and hike around it, spectacular. Go up to the top of the hill there with a bottle of wine, loaf of bread, and some sliced jamon iberica (acorn fed dry-cured ham) for a picnic with a splendid view. And of course the cathedral now that it’s open and you can tour it…it’s stupendous. Take a long nap in the afternoon and then go out for tapas and wine at 9 or so with all the other folks in the neighborhood living the sweet life. Enjoy!

  19. Missy Ackmann — January 17, 2017 @ 8:58 am (#)

    Hi Ali, My name is Missy and I’m relatively new to your blog. Congratulations on your engagement to Barclay, everyone should try marriage once! I’ve never known anyone marrying a bank! ;-D
    I’m from Pittsburgh PA and just crossed over to age 60! That doesn’t bother me one little bit. AND I decided to retire and find a new way to use my time.
    ANYWAY – to your request for suggestions of appliances. Last year I did a kitchen redo to the studs to my 1935 townhouse. I started to look for european style appliances. I’m a single (I tried marriage once) so I don’t need or have room for a HUGE (word or the year) refrigerator or stove for that matter. I came upon Summit Appliances (https://www.summitappliance.com/). Made in Bronx, NY! Well priced and just what I was looking for. Evidently they started with institutional appliances but evolved to offer units for home use as well. I purchased a 24″ bottom freezer unit and love it. They come in white as well.
    Nice to meet you…best wishes for continued bright days. My favorite day of the year is Dec. 21st also…looking forward to later sunsets and a brighter outlook altogether.
    Your new fan,
    Missy (I’m a Steeler fan, last Sunday’s game was epic. Condolences if you’re a Chiefs fan)

  20. Leslie — January 17, 2017 @ 11:33 am (#)

    Hello. I wanted to let you know I love your blog. I discovered it when one of my youtubers linked a recipe during Christmas. I was pleasantly surprised to find out you live in my area. I live in Overland Park. You have so many wonderful recipes I am anxious to try. We loved your white chicken chili–kudos for not using cream of chicken soup. I am trying to avoid canned soups in my cooking. I am eager to try the lentil tacos next. It looks like I discovered your site at a great time. It will be fun to follow the renovations and your wedding plans. Take care and enjoy this time.

  21. Emily — January 17, 2017 @ 12:46 pm (#)

    Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading this update! (and your blog in general)

  22. Karen Peterson — January 17, 2017 @ 1:24 pm (#)

    I would love to read about wedding planning and house remodeling. You have alot on your plate -haha- in the next six months. I’ve heard Ikea has really good quality cabinets and they’re having a sale now. My very best wishes to you both.

  23. Melissa — January 17, 2017 @ 3:06 pm (#)

    Holy cow! You have SO much going on! It’s so great that you are taking time to enjoy it all and not get swept up in all the crazy! I would also like to join you in the “I hate cold” club. I live in Denver, so avoiding the cold is not really possible :) I am just so grateful for heating and sweaters!

  24. Laura M — January 17, 2017 @ 3:53 pm (#)

    We had a perfect for us reasonably priced wedding by having a lunch instead of a dinner. There was wine on the tables and an open bar. Table decorations were a beautiful potted flowering plant with a ribbon and keepsake tag in front of every ladies place. My best advice is to not look at a wedding magazine and just ask yourself how you, your family and friends celebrate important life events. Our invitations said No Gifts Please which simplified things for our guests, and for us. No thank you notes and no trying to find space for everything when we already had double everything.

  25. Christine — January 17, 2017 @ 5:35 pm (#)

    Congratulations! What about just painting the cabinets a bright white and putting on new hardware? Good luck!!

  26. erica — January 18, 2017 @ 8:33 am (#)

    thanks so much for posting the trip planning tips! as a recently engaged lady myself, i can relate to all the craziness that is “hidden costs” and “i didn’t expect it to cost that much”. we like to call it the “W Tax” – attach Wedding to anything and the price sky rockets! best of luck!

  27. Eileen Thomas — January 18, 2017 @ 2:55 pm (#)

    My favorite neighborhood in Barcelona was Gracia (lived there for four months while studying abroad last spring!). Felice has the best tapas as well as Gasterea, which has more pinhcos than tapas. Bosque Palermo has very underrated (and cheap!) paella as well as bottles of wine. Xurreria Trebol has great nutella filled churros but get there early in the day because they sell out! I did a great bike tour here http://biketoursbarcelona.com/. Also Cerveceria Catalana has great tapas – go for lunch because it gets crowded for dinner. It’s close to both Guadi houses so is nice to go after touring them! If I had to pick thing though..it’s go to Felice!

  28. Lesley — January 20, 2017 @ 3:08 pm (#)

    As a big dreamer, I always love your travel posts! Can’t wait to hear about Barcelona and SO curious about the Journy app!

  29. Christy — January 25, 2017 @ 11:05 pm (#)

    I am a longtime reader and so so happy for you! So much great stuff on the horizon! I have wedding planning advice, as I was able to keep my wedding on budget and reasonably low stress and was so happy with how it turned out. For each element, ask two questions: Do we like it? And is it within budget? If the answer to both questions is yes, make the selection official, check that box, and move on. It sounds simple, but there are sooooo many options for everything, you could literally browse, shop, and search forever, and it’s easy to keep torturing yourself with the prospect of other options and wondering if there is something even better. I realized when I kept ordering invitation samples (so fun) that I could keep looking forever, but I didn’t want to. I picked two things that were priorities for me (cake and place cards) and obsessed (and spent) slightly more on those, but for everything else, two questions. If we liked and it was on budget we picked it and moved to the next thing.

  30. Megan — January 26, 2017 @ 8:27 am (#)

    I am really excited for all your upcoming adventures! I’ve been to Barcelona twice and it was amazing both times! Thanks for the info about google flights…I have the urge to travel!

    I’m trying to find a good quality elliptical so I can better myself and all the reviews are so mixed! You said you watch The Crown (AHHHMAZING) while on the elliptical…do you own one? Can you recommend a brand?

  31. Cristina — January 30, 2017 @ 7:05 am (#)

    I am very excited to read your blog for each and every time with such an amazing articles. Congrats on your engagement. I like your cooking recipes!!.

  32. Debbe S — February 1, 2017 @ 5:29 pm (#)

    Ali,

    I read you’re going to update Barclay’s kitchen. I have used Julie Baker with Shaping Your Space. She is awesome, listens to your ideas and sticks to your budget. I highly recommend her. Check her out at Shapingyourspace.com.

  33. Kathleen — April 1, 2017 @ 11:13 am (#)

    congrats to you and Barclay. You two really make a cute couple. i read your post about when you started dating and your frustration being single into your 30s. I married the wrong guy at 23, was divorced at 30 so waiting is really better if you haven’t found “the one”. I expect that now you are glad you waited. I met my soul-mate at 34, married him at 38, had triplets at 42 and we are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary this month (and our kids just turned 21). It’s been a wonderful life full of adventure, love and happiness (and of course lots of good food). I wish you both the same!!!

  34. Katrina — April 3, 2017 @ 2:47 am (#)

    I am very excited to read your blog for each and every time with such an amazing articles. Congrats on your engagement. I’ve heard Ikea has really good quality cabinets and they’re having a sale now. My very best wishes to you both.