I can't even believe that we just got here this morning... We've already done so much here in Madrid! Nothing like hitting the ground running, I guess. We landed around 10:30 this morning and loaded our bus to the hotel, getting the history of everything we passed right off the bat. Got to our hotel and waited a bit to check all of us in, then had just enough time to shower and change clothes before we met in the lobby to go out and wander and get lunch before our official first tour at 3pm. We started up the street but the group split pretty quickly when part of the group headed into a buffet. We felt like we could find something we liked better. We kept going, stopping here and there and ended up in Puerte del Sol where we went into a sandwich shop where we didn't see other tourists. My university Spanish came in handy while we ordered. I'm not fluent, but I'm good enough to get by. We got everything to go and then went out and found spaces around the fountain to eat. We just sat back and enjoyed the sun, the breeze and the food. The clock struck two and the bells rang out as we ate. It was beautiful. We need big squares with fountains and good food and bells so we can sit, eat and get nothing done as we just relax. But we decided to head on before we fell asleep where we sat. We met our guide at three and walked to the royal palace for a tour. It was interesting and the rooms were incredible but it was hard on all of us to stand there and listen while we were so tired. But it was cool. Then we did a walking tour through the old city and ended up in the Plaza Mayor. At that point we split up so that some of us could go to the colegiata de S. Isador. The local lore supposedly says that single women go there on may 15th and prick their fingers and put a drop of blood in a bucket so they can meet someone. We won't be there that day, but felt a symbolic visit was in order. We posed outside after. It was kind of fun. The guys humored us. After that we went looking for tapas (what else do you do on a Friday night in madrid?) and found this Mercato that the locals recommended that was a ton of fun. We split into groups again but those of us that stayed had a great time. The croquetas and dessert were delicious. Then we walked back to the hotel. I'm just trying to wind down enough to sleep so I can get up for our trip to Toledo tomorrow. More fun on the way! Pictures below... The group in the SLC airport before leaving... Lunch in the Puerta del sol, pricking our fingers, tapas... Lots of fun to share. Enjoy!
Okay, I'm going to admit something rather shocking. Up until today, I wasn't all that excited for my trip. I know, crazy, right? But I've known it was coming for two years, known which trip I was going to be on for about 8 months, and I've been planning, preparing, shopping, making lists and piling things for my suitcase for more than a month now. It really hasn't been real. I've known all along that it's going to be awesome and I'm going to have tons of fun and I've been greatly anticipating the whole thing, but that adrenaline just hadn't kicked in yet.
But now, it has. Oh yes. And if I had needed any help getting that going, waking up to snow this morning (seriously? April 26th?) would definitely have done the trick. But wow am I ready now. Tonight I picked up one last thing at the store that I wanted to take with me and I've started packing. The rest has to wait until I do laundry and can finish up the toiletries, but it's so close I can taste it. It's a good thing I've been prepping things at work for the last two weeks or I'd be in trouble because I'm about 85% checked out right now. lol. But as it is, everything is looking perfectly on track (and I knock on wood as I say that so that some huge catastrophe doesn't come up tomorrow.)
In the meantime, I've been trying to use up stuff in my fridge since I'll be gone long enough that I need to worry about that. So what could I make with spinach, tomatoes and chicken besides a rather boring salad? I browsed on Tastespotting and found this post and I had to make something similar. I actually made it on Sunday and I've been eating leftovers, but it's really delicious.
I present to you, the tomato crostata.
Aside from the fact that this picture reveals exactly where my egg wash ended, it looks pretty yummy, yes? I kept the recipe for the crust almost identical (I was out of corn meal so I used instant polenta instead. It's almost the same, right? Worked like a charm, in any case.) For the filling, I had about 1/4C of sundried tomato pesto and I used that with a whole bunch of fresh spinach, about 4 cloves of garlic (this baby was strong. awesome.) and as little olive oil as I could manage and whipped up a puree in my food processor. Then I threw in a small handful of blanched almonds and gave it another whiz. After that, I added in the chicken and the tomatoes and mixed it up (with a spoon, not a food processor. lol).I poured it into the center of the crust, put the grated Dubliner cheese on top, and then folded it over to make the crostata.
I will make this again. Oh yes. The filling might vary, but it was really yummy.
And, because I keep forgetting to do this, I wanted to post the birthday card I made for Melody (who's birthday was last month. doh. Happy belated birthday!) I wanted to wait until I knew she'd gotten her package and then forgot. Normally I don't post cards because I kind of suck at making them, but I really liked this one (probably because I totally nabbed the idea from Erin Lincon's blog from when this stamp set came out on Papertrey.)
K. That's it for now... back to finishing up stuff on my to-do list and counting the hours until I'm off on my exotic adventure.
Last dinner before our trips, that is. Tonight we got together at a total dive in Provo that I used to go to in grad school... A central American place called El Salvador. They have yummy pupusas and tamales and really good yucca frita. We had a lot of fun despite a little initial skepticism over my choice of venue. But everyone was game and we all loved it. I know I ate more than I should have! In the first photo we have Mindy and Darren perusing what I think were the same menus they were using 12 years ago.
Brent was in top form posing, as usual... Then we have Laura, Chad and I. And of course, a shot of the yummy pupusas.
After dinner (as if we hadn't already done enough damage), we went over to the movie theater and got our tickets and then ran across the street to get ice cream at Farr's. We all ran around with little taster cups trying just about every kind of ice cream they had before we picked what we wanted. The white chocolate custard was probably my favorite. Yum. Then we went back to the theater where we saw Source Code which we all really liked. And then we all said goodbye to those going on different trips (Mindy, Darren, Brent, Sherilyn and Laura are all going to Asia and India and Chad will be on my trip.) We're looking forward to emailing during the trips and hearing all about them when we get back. I can't wait! The countdown is on.
(FYI... Blogging from my iPad to make sure I've figured out the photos and blog apps. This is fun!)
That's right. After a year of wanting an iPad of my very own, I finally caved. I had been waiting until I had saved up enough money (seeing as how the first time I saved up my computer died and I had to replace it instead), and also waiting for the 2nd generation to come out. And it did. And I had the money in savings. And I have this fantastic trip coming up where an iPad would be pretty sweet to have along. So I ordered one, patiently waited over a month, and then today it finally came.
I almost reverently took it out of the shipping package and carefully removed the plastic from that perfect little white box. It was an emotional moment. Okay, not really. But still.
I got it all set up and registered and as soon as I was done with work, I set to downloading apps. I've got all of the ones I knew I wanted as well as some cool little travel apps for the cities I'll be visiting. I downloaded a few movies that have been on my to-buy list so I'll have them for plane rides and started making a list of some that I might want to download as rentals. I was almost giddy over the fun of it all.
I *heart* my iPad. Seriously.
And since everyone always asks as soon as they find out I ordered one, I got the 64GB 3G with the black leather smart cover. I also picked up the digital camera adapter kit so that I can upload photos and blog them during my trip (because I also purchased an international data plan set to start the morning we land in Madrid. Because I'm nerdy like that.)
Anyway. I'm a happy little camper tonight. It's totally helping off-set my annoyance over having picked up a cold because I wasn't getting enough sleep (that's one of the problems with insomnia. Just sayin'.) Hopefully copious amounts of vitamin C and sleep will remedy the rest of it.
Did I mention that I love my iPad? Because I do.
Okay, moving on. Speaking of insomnia, I had a particularly bad night this last week where I just could NOT sleep and finally got up to do something productive. Nicole recently had a fun little photo shoot of Adorable-Niece-Aubrey, so I printed off a few of the photos to make a layout. This was a fun one to do. And Bree looks so much like Nicole in some of these...
Is she not seriously adorable?
Close-up of some of the scrappy stuff:
As fun as it was to do a layout, I'm hoping I've seen the last of my insomnia for a while. This has been a particularly bad and unusually long stretch and it sucks.
So now... I've got some work stuff to do at midnight (switching out some marketing banners on our homepage) and then I've got to hit the sack. So it's time to get ready for bed... and maybe play with my iPad some more. Just a little. :)
It totally freaked me out that I had free time this weekend. I kind of wandered around the house trying to figure out what to do with myself. No homework that needed to be done (I could have worked ahead, but where's the fun in that?) No big projects or major cooking plans. No shopping or classes (aside from kickboxing which ROCKED! We did jumping push kicks, learned to knee people in the stomach and kick them in the head. lol.) No errands... no one I was meeting or anything. I just slept in, watched all four sessions of Conference, exercised and ate. And slept some more (I was super exhausted - I really needed this and planned this as a free weekend just for that). And I still had free time! Finally watched The Social Network on Netflix - loved it. Made another batch of gnocchi (this time with brown butter, roquefort, walnuts, honey, black pepper and a hint of cinnamon - it was so incredibly delicious!) Bummed that Ann Burrell didn't win Chopped All Stars but c'est la vie, right? And... ta da! I did a layout.
Here's the whole thing (Sorry about the color - it's off, as usual):
So I think it was the week before last, we were talking about our upcoming school trip and I was trying to get Chad excited about going to Turkey - I was telling him about one of my favorite all-time travel memories. We were in Cappadocia standing at the edge of a cliff overlooking the valley where the city of Goreme is located. You could see the carved volcanic structures where the ancient Christians had carved out churches and monasteries. At the same time, more modern buildings and the minarets of all of the mosques wove their way around the landscape. It was just stunning. And as we stood there, the call to prayer rang out, echoing across the valley below us. It was amazing and so beautiful - one of those perfect moments that come along every once in a while. So this weekend, I decided to pull out the pictures we took while we were up there and do a layout. Now I'm even more excited to go back! (And I think Chad is actually a little excited to visit Turkey now as well. lol.)
Here are the individual pages:
I stamped along the top edge of the layout and embossed in black. And I absolutely LOVE that lattice / flower edge punch from EK Success. I used it a bunch in my travel scrapbook too. The journaling is probably too small to read, but it's pretty much the same story I told above with a few more details.
k. Off to get a good night's sleep before heading back to the grind tomorrow.