Friday, January 31, 2014

*Happies & Crappies* ... A Link Up

Happy Friday Everyone!! Since it is Friday, you know what that means... it means that today I am linking up with Amber at Brunch with Amber for another edition of Happies and Crappies.

The Vintage Modern Wife: Happies and Crappies Link Up

*I managed to finish getting together M's Valentine's Day gifts this week.  I am hoping that they all arrive on time.  Nothing too major this year, just a bunch of little things to remind him of how much I love him.

*Last weekend, despite more snow, we made it to Maryland to spend some time with some of my favorite Bucknellians at my Big's house!

*This weekend is the Super Bowl and we are gearing up to host our 3rd Annual Super Bowl party and I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!

*One of my bffs got a new job this week!  She is currently one step closer to getting out of the restaurant industry all together and I am so incredibly happy for her.

*One of my sorority sisters announced that she is pregnant again.  I am so incredibly happy for her as she had a stillborn 6 months ago, so this is so amazing that they are adding to their family once again!

*I managed to contract some sort of cold over the weekend and have spent most of this past week trying to combat it.  That means lots of tea, daytime TV and sleeping.

Glad I saved one of my PSL Via packs from my buddy Ashley for a day when I was feeling not so great
*I missed Zumba AGAIN this week... not because of the snow, but because I was sick.  I swear next week nothing is standing in my way getting to Zumba! 

*Still haven't been able to find a new job, but I am hoping that will come soon... I just have to be patient enough

*Working in the restaurant is really getting on my nerves... I think after 5 years I have hit my limit for what I am willing to deal with when it comes to certain customers.  Especially the ones who after I cut them off because I think they have had too much alcohol say, "You can't cut me off! It's your job to serve me!"

As always... today I am thankful for everyone putting up with me this week while I have been feeling a bit under the weather.  I know I am not always the easiest to deal with when I am sick and my friends have been amazing dealing with all of my whining and complaining, coughing, sneezing, and runny nosed me.  You guys are simply amazing! 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Book Review... The Buddha in the Attic

I am part of a few book clubs because as everyone knows I LOVE to read.  As part of the Beta Book Club (the Philly Chi Omega Alumae book club for those in the Western Suburbs of Philly) we read The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka for January's book.

The Buddha in the Attic was definitely not like any other books that I have ever read before, and it is actually the first book in a while that I remember really not liking.  This book came highly recommended and I was really looking forward to reading it... then I started to read it... and well it was not at all what I was expecting.  Honestly I am not sure what I was expecting, but I definitely expected it to be an enlightening read, and instead I found myself struggling to keep myself interested in it.

The story is narrated in the first person plural which was an interesting choice by the author.  I think that the author's intent was for it to make the story seem more real and more like a conversation going on between a group of women, but for me it took away from the story.  I spent more time trying to figure out who was talking, who they were talking about, and what was going on and I think sometimes what the characters were saying was lost on me.  From the beginning when the women were on the boat headed to the United States on I was never sure if it was the same person talking, if different people were having conversations, or what was going on.  For me I feel like it would have been better had the story been told from one person instead of using first person plural.

The beginning of the book was definitely the most interesting part.  I did enjoy reading about the journey to America and what life was like for these women on the ship.  It was interesting to read about their hopes, dreams, desires and what they thought life would be like in America.  I felt their pain when they got to the US and discovered that their husbands were not who they said that they were.  I felt their pain when they had to work in jobs that were just as bad as the lives they had left behind.  I truly felt for them as they struggled to adapt to their new lives which turned out to be no better than the ones they had left behind.

The middle part of the book is kind of a blur... I don't actually really remember much of what went on.  I remember reading another book because I was bored with The Buddha in the Attic.

Overall what should have been a fairly quick read took me WEEKS to finish because I just wasn't that into it.  Usually I am cool with historical fiction, but for whatever reason this one was just not written in a way that caught my attention.

Note: The opinions expressed in this book review are my own and I am sorry for anyone I may have offended if you truly enjoyed this book.  I know not everyone has the same taste in books and for whatever reason this one was just not for me.

As always, another edition of what I am thankful for.  Today I am thankful for people who share my love of reading.  I love that I am able to be a part of a couple of different book clubs with people from various stages of my life.  I am thankful that they have helped me to read books that are outside of my comfort zone and have given me a place where we can discuss these books without worrying about what people will think of our opinions.  I am thankful that we are able to meet and have these discussions and to get to know one another through our love of reading.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"Surprise" Visit to Florida for CS's Bridal Shower & Bachelorette... The Journey to Get There

Back in October CS's sister and matron of honor contacted me to let me know when CS's bridal shower and bachelorette party would be.  She made sure to let me know with plenty of time so that if I could make it to the shower, it would be a surprise for CS.  Of course after discussing things with my soon to be hubby it was decided that we were in fact going to surprise CS for her shower and would be buying plane tickets as soon as we got back from our honeymoon.  Of course I knew I would see and talk to CS a bunch before the shower... which oh by the way was going to be in Florida... and I was super nervous I would spill the beans.  I made it through the wedding and honeymoon without mentioning a word to her about our upcoming trip to Florida.  I was doing so well.

If I was doing so well you might wonder why the title to this post has "Surprise" with the quotation marks around it.  Well it manged to be a surprise until just a few weeks before the shower.  Another friend invited me to an event on Facebook and when I declined with the comment that I would be in Florida that weekend somehow that comment showed up on CS's newsfeed.  Now CS DOESN'T EVEN KNOW the person whose event I was invited to... so I have NO IDEA how it ended up on her news feed... but it did... and the beans were spilled.  Of course I was absolutely devastated that the beans had been spilled because I had kept this a secret for MONTHS!  I mean I talk to CS just about every freaking day and tell her EVERYTHING... yet I manged to keep this a secret for MONTHS!!! How could Facebook do this to me?!?!?!?  I was so upset!  Thankfully CS was so excited that I was making the trip to Florida that I couldn't stay upset for long.

After our whirlwind of a trip to visit both our families for Christmas we made it back to West Chester for a few hours to unpack the car from Christmas, unpack our bags from Christmas, and repack carry on suitcases to head to Florida for a weekend.  I think we maybe spent a total of 2 hours in our apartment before heading off to the airport.  Getting to the airport was a breeze... getting through security not so much.  Thankfully I am a crazy person and wanted to allow for as much time as possible before our flight, so the fact that it took us over 45 minutes to get through security was really no big deal as I had allotted for disasters like this to occur.  I swear we stood in the same spot for over half an hour just waiting to go through security.  No clue why they were working so inefficiently, but needless to say it was not getting our trip off to a good start.  We make it to the gate before the plane starts boarding, so no big deal.  Trying to board the plane ended up being VERY interesting and taking FOREVER because the airline let people book seats in emergency aisles who couldn't speak English and/or had children under the age of 5.  Now anyone who flies... EVER... knows that in order to sit in an exit row you need to a) be able to speak perfect English and b) be able to operate the emergency exit which means obviously NO CHILDREN.  Obviously this means that we have to spend a while waiting to board the plane while they get this situated... which obviously means that our flight left late.  What kind of a flight leaves late because of where people are seated?!  Other than that the flight wasn't too bad minus the child a few rows in front of us who screamed the entire flight.  Man was I glad to get off that plane.

We finally make it to Florida and after getting our bags head out to meet the shuttle to take us to our rental car place.  Well after numerous phone calls and waiting about 45 minutes for the shuttle that  supposedly comes every 15 minutes we make it to the rental car agency.  When we get there we think it is a little odd that there are only 4 cars in the agency parking lot and there are 3 employees sitting inside plus our shuttle driver.  Regardless we are hoping for the best.  We get in there and it turns out that they have NO cars.  Yup, that's right, they had NO FREAKING CARS.  They said they had problems with people returning their cars on time and there were no cars.  We asked when they would have cars again and they said they didn't know.  At this point I am exhausted from all of our traveling and pretty much want to kill someone.  We ask them what they are going to do and they tell us that we can wait for the shuttle to come back and that it will take us back to the airport where hopefully we can get a car from one of the other agencies.  I ask how long it will take for the shuttle to be back because at this point it had gone back to the airport to pick up more people to bring them to the agency only for them to find out that they have no cars. While we were waiting for the shuttle to come back M and I were on our phones trying to find a car agency at the airport that had cars... but guess what... yup... you guessed it... ALL OF THE RENTAL CAR AGENCIES WERE OUT OF CARS!!!!!!!  So we go back inside and tell them that there are no cars to be found at the Tampa Airport and I am pretty sure that they guy had a mini-heart attack at hearing that news.  There was nothing that could be done at this point except head back to the airport and hope for the best.

We got back to the airport, confirmed that there were in fact no rental cars to be found and then had to figure out what to do.  We debated about getting a hotel room at the airport and then trying to get a car in the morning.  Unfortunately none of the rental car agencies could guarantee that they would even have cars in the morning, so that plan was out.  Thankfully CS is an amazing friend and bride and tired as she was drove an hour to the airport with her fiance to pick up M and I at like 11pm so we didn't get back to her house until 1am.  Now anyone who knows CS and her fiance knows that this is going above and beyond because they are normally in bed by 9pm.  We got back to CS' house at 1am the morning of what was the day of her bridal shower/bachelorette.  It was definitely a horrendous day of traveling and I am pretty sure I passed out the minute that my head hit the pillow.  I was just so glad to finally be in a bed and to be able to put a horrendous day of traveling behind us.

I think what bothered me the most about the fact that there were no cars was that they kept on shuttling people to and from the airport only for them to find out there were no cars.  Had they told us that there were no cars when we started calling them at 9pm we could have started the process of finding a new rental car sooner.... or we could have asked CS and her finance to leave to come pick us up sooner so that we weren't getting back at 1am.  I felt like this rental car company could have cared less about its customers and continued to shuttle people to their location only to have them get there and tell them that they had more cars.  I would have been so much less upset if they had sent someone to the airport with the shuttle to let us know what was going on instead of having us spend almost 2 hours in time waiting for the shuttle, being shuttled to their location, talking to a representative, waiting for a shuttle back to the airport and then being shuttled back to the airport. It was a customer service nightmare and you better believe that we will NEVER be going with this company EVER again.

As Always... Today I am thankful that I have my blog as an outlet where I can express myself.  I love that even if no one ever reads this that I have had the opportunity to put my thoughts down on paper.  I love that I have this record for myself where I can look back and see what I was feeling at any particular time.  I am hoping that 2014 is the year that my blog takes off and that I make more of an effort to keep up with it.  So far it is looking good as I think I have posted more this January than I have ever since I started this blog... in fact I think I may have had a year (or 2) where I had less posts than I have written this month.  This year is going to be the year that I continue to write down my thoughts and feelings.... so exciting!

Friday, January 24, 2014

*Happies & Crappies*... A Link Up

I don't normally participate in linkups (ok, I lie, I participated in a few when I first started blogging, then one here and there throughout the years)... but since in 2014 I am trying to make more of a commitment to my blog, I figure that perhaps posting in a linkup or two could be fun.  I think I participated in this one a long time ago... but I like the idea of looking back on the good and the bad of the week... so I think I might try to start keeping up with this one in the future.  SO... here goes... today I am linking up with Amber at Brunch with Amber for Happies and Crappies.

The Vintage Modern Wife: Happies and Crappies Link Up

* I got to spend some extra time with the hubby this week.  Due to the snowstorm we got on Tuesday I was able to spend Monday, Tuesday AND Wednesday night with the love of my life.  If any of you have been following my blog recently you know that we haven't gotten much time together recently, so it meant a lot to me to be able to spend 3 whole nights snuggling on the couch with the love of my life.

* My Erin Condren life planner FINALLY arrived this week!! Thankfully I had the snowday on Tuesday to be able to fill in all sorts of dates and stuff in it.  I am seriously OBSESSED with it.

*Drinking via text messages with some of my bffs.  Since we got so much snow it meant that I didn't get out for girl's night with some of my bffs, but don't you worry we group texted ALL night while drinking so it was like we were all together at girl's night... but not.

*All this snow meant that I got a TON of cleaning/organizing done around our place.  Almost all of our wedding gifts have officially found homes... only took like 3 months to be finally get this done!

*Hot Chocolate... lots of hot chocolate during my snow days!

*Snow storm on Tuesday meant no work on Tuesday night which meant hit to my income.  One of the downfalls of working in the service industry is that if the restaurant is closed I don't get paid.  Although this was no bueno, the upside of it was one of my happies... getting to spend time with the hubby.

*Again with the snow... I did NOT enjoy digging my car out of the snow on Wednesday when the temperature didn't get above 7 degrees here... and don't get me started on that wind chill!  It was FREEZING!

*More snow related crappies... Zumba on Wednesday night was cancelled because of Tuesday's snowstorm.  I am telling you people... this snow really screwed up my week!

Overall I think this was a pretty good week... well minus the snow screwing up all sorts of things....

As always... another edition of what I am thankful for.  Today I am thankful for the fact that I live in a place that has all four seasons.  I know it may not seem like it because I spent almost this entire post complaining about the fact that we got snow... I wouldn't have it any other way.  As much as I love the warm weather and swear that I want to move somewhere that is warm all year round, we all know I wouldn't be happy with that.  I love the changing seasons.  I love the leaves in fall... I love the flowers in spring... I love the heat and hot weather in summer... and sometimes I love the snow.  I may not be a winter person, but I am thankful that I get to experience all of the seasons and the unique things they bring.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hubby Approved Dinner... Spicy Whiskey BBQ Sliders

Since Zumba was cancelled tonight because of yesterday's snow storm (have I mentioned how much I dislike the snow and how much I am over it... is it spring yet??) I had time to actually cook for the hubby since we were both home together again tonight.  I had made this recipe a while back and from what I had remembered M and I both really enjoyed it, so I decided to give it another shot.  I originally found this recipe on Pinterest and from looking back it looks like it originally came from Pioneer Woman.  I adapted the recipe a little bit since I was only cooking for two plus made it a bit spicier since M and I LOVE spicy food!  And then since I was feeling a bit like a blogger tonight I decided that I was going to document every step of the process so that I could share it with the blogging world!

So here goes....

Spicy Whiskey BBQ Sliders

1 lb. ground beef
Salt and Pepper
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 large onion, diced
1/4 cup Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey
1/2 cup BBQ Sauce (I used Rufus Tegus Blazin' Hot BBQ sauce)
Generous portion of jarred jalapeno slices (I think I used about 20 or so slices)

1. Form the meat into mini patties (I made 8) and salt and pepper them on both sides.

2. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook the patties until just about done in the middle, approximately 4-5 minutes per side.

3. Remove the patties from the skillet and set aside.
4. Throw the diced onions in the skillet and stir to cook, about 3 minutes.

5. Pour in the whiskey and stir.  Allow the whiskey to reduce by half, about 2-3 minutes.

6. Stir in the jalapenos and bbq sauce

7. Reduce the heat to low and place the patties in the bbq sauce, turning to coat.

8. Allow the patties to simmer in the sauce over medium-low heat, about 4 minutes per side
9. Place the patties on individual buns and spoon the extra sauce on top!
10. Enjoy!!

As always, another edition of what I am thankful for.  Today I am thankful that my mother passed on the ability to cook to me.  I know that some people "cook" by microwaving stuff or throwing premade stuff in the oven.  I am not knocking that doing that works for some people, but I am thankful that my mom showed me around the kitchen so that I can take the time to make homemade meals.  Cooking is something fun that relaxes me and I am thankful that I know how to do it.  I am by no means a master chef, but I can make a pretty delicious dinner when I want to.  Sure I have some dinners that turn out to be complete flops... but who doesn't??  So thanks Mom for teaching me my way around the kitchen!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

3 Months of Wedded... Bliss??

Sunday M & I celebrated 3 months of marriage... and how did we do that you may ask... by both of us working.  M worked in the morning and I worked at night so guess what, we barely saw each other.  We did manage to meet at Qdoba for a quick late lunch/early dinner before I headed off to work so we got about half an hour of quality time in together before I had to make my way to work.  That is pretty much the story of our lives since 2014 started... M finally has normal hours on day shift and well I still have my night time hours.  We see each other on Monday and Wednesday nights for a bit, but M goes to bed early and I stay up because well I need to be able to sleep in so that I can work the next night til 1am.  It is a pretty crummy thing that we have going on right now, but hey, one of these days we will both be working normal hours and will get to see each other like normal couples do.  Until then we make do with the time that we have together and it makes things like quick lunch dates to celebrate 3 months of marriage all the more special.

So... since M & I have barely seen each other recently I was really excited when the #wifelifelinkup prompt for last week was "Something Sweet for Your Husband".  Kaitlyn over at Wifessionals and Lauren over at WifeStyles have started this link up on Instagram called #wifelifelinkup where every week they give you a prompt and you post a picture of it.  Well, like I said, since this past week's prompt was  "Something Sweet for Your Husband" I knew exactly what I was going to do to celebrate our 3 months of being married.  While M was working on Sunday I had to do my normal grocery shopping... but while at the store I picked up a few additional supplies for my sweet surprise.  When M got home from work (or rather lunch with me) on Sunday he had a cute surprise waiting for him on the stove.  I had baked him some brownies from scratch... gotten him some of his favorite candy... gotten him a super cute card... and framed one of our wedding pictures for him for his new office at work.  While this might not seem like much, it was my way of showing M how much I love him despite the fact that we don't get to spend too much time together these days.
Front of the Card
Inside of the Card
Picture for M's Desk at Work
Happy 3 Months of Marriage to M & me!
As always, today I am thankful for the little amount of time that M & I are able to spend together.  We are lucky that although we have different work schedules we do get to see each other a few nights a week.  Some people are not that lucky.  Some people have lost the loves of their lives to war, disease, accidents, etc.  Some people do not get to see the loves of their lives because they are off fighting for our country.  Some people do not get to see the loves of their lives because work means that one or the other is always traveling.  As much as I don't like that M & I don't get to see each other all that often I am thankful for the time that we do get to spend together.  Not seeing each other often makes the memories that much more precious and I truly treasure every moment that we do get to spend together.

Monday, January 20, 2014

*Home for the Holidays... Our Holiday Journey December 2013*

As it was our first married Christmas this year we knew we were going to have a TON of traveling to do this year.  We wanted to be able to spend as much time as possible with both families... PLUS we had a trip to Florida planned at the end of the holidays, so we knew it was going to be rough trying to squeeze everything in.  We had a plan to make it all work though and we were determined to be able to spend as much time with each family as possible.

On Monday the 23rd we headed to Millerstown to start our holiday off with M's family.  It was their year to have us for Christmas Eve & Christmas, so since we were going to have to cut our Christmas day visit a bit short we headed out a day early so that we could spend a little more time with them.  We got there Monday night in time for dinner with M's mom.  After dinner we helped her decorate their family Christmas tree.

Decorating the Millerstown tree

Christmas Eve during the day was pretty uneventful.  We basically hung out and I finished writing all of our Christmas cards.  We had a traditional shrimp and homemade fries dinner (M's family has it EVERY year for Christmas Eve) before getting ready to head to church for the Christmas Eve service.  Christmas Eve service was nice... a bit different from years past... more music than ever... but it was nice.  After church we headed back to open presents.  Once again M's family completely spoiled us with gifts... but I particularly loved the quilt that M's mom knitted for us... she has been working on it for about 2 years now and it meant a lot that she made something like that for us.  I also enjoyed M's mom's face when we gave her a new cell phone as hers had definitely seen better days.  We had such a great time laughing, opening presents and spending time together that I was sad to see the night end.

Super excited about her new cell phone from us
Our 1st Married Christmas Eve
Christmas morning was very low key.  We had breakfast together before starting to get ready for Christmas lunch.  Some of M's family joined us for lunch and it was fantastic to be able to spend some time with everyone.  I feel like we don't get to see  them nearly enough and it was nice to have the quality time with them.

After lunch we were able to hang around a bit more before heading to NJ for Christmas part 2 with my family.  We tried to time it so that we would get to NJ as my family was finishing dinner, but of course it wouldn't be a holiday dinner with my family if something didn't go wrong and if dinner wasn't on time.  Christmas night at my parent's was very low key.  Had dessert with the family and just hung out by the fire until everyone was too tired to talk anymore and we all went to bed.

Thursday morning we did my family's typical Christmas celebration.  We got up, opened presents, and then had a breakfast of eggs, bacon and toast.  Opening presents at my parents is always fun... I particularly love seeing my Grammy's reaction to her presents... especially when they have cardinals on them.  (Grammy is a HUGE fan of cardinals as they were her high school mascot).  After breakfast we spent the day hanging out together before having a nice family dinner.  After dinner it was more just hanging out and catching up around the fire... and of course we had some eggnog!

Love the fireplace at Christmastime!
NJ Christmas tree
Dad loved his nutcracker ornament
Grammy's Christmas tree
Our 1st Married Christmas
We all went to bed fairly early as Friday was going to be a long day for most of us.  Mom & Dad were headed into NYC to the Botanical Gardens for the Holiday Train Show (M & my birthday present to dad) and we were headed back to West Chester to unpack, repack and head to the airport to head to Florida!

As always... today I am thankful that we are lucky enough to live close enough to both our families to be able to spend so much time with them.  So many of our friends do not have family members close by and we are so incredibly blessed that we get to see our families as much as we do.  Of course we definitely don't get to see them as often as we would like due to crazy schedules, but it is always nice to know that they are only are car ride away should we need them (or should they need us).  

Monday, January 13, 2014

Remembering a Great Man

Me, LC, Mike, JG & KT back in the summer of 2008
This past Tuesday, January 7, 2014 marked the three year anniversary of the death of a truly remarkable man... Mr. Michael Wunner.  Mike was my General Manager at T.G.I. Friday's from basically when I started in October of 2007 until he died in 2011.  And he was more than just our GM... he was like a father figure to us all.

Mike tragically passed away on January 7, 2011 while pulling into his parking space at work.  He supposedly had a heart attack which caused him to flip his car and die.

I still remember getting the phone call that he had passed away and thinking that it was a cruel joke.  But when the text messages started pouring in from co-workers I knew that it wasn't a cruel joke and that the world had lost a wonderful man.

I remember calling my parents to tell them what happened but being unable to get any words out.  I remember my dad answered the phone and in between sobs he said "Hold on... I'll go get your mother."  (Dad can't handle it when I am upset, let alone when I am sobbing hysterically into the phone and can't get any words out).  

I remember not knowing what to do because I truly loved this man like a father.

I remember the last conversation I had with Mike being about how he hoped that MD would propose to me some day because I was a remarkable woman and that he hoped his sons could find someone like me one day.

I remember how he always used to walk around Friday's on his toes with a cup of coffee in his hands.

I remember how he was ALWAYS willing to give someone a 2nd chance... and a 3rd... and a 4th... and a 5th... and a 6th....

Mike had one of the biggest hearts of anyone I have ever known and was always there for his employees.  He made us feel like a family.  He was always there to give us advice, to lend a hand, to just listen if that was what we needed.

He is a man who will never be forgotten and who I still miss at work all the time.  Things will never be the same without him around.

On Tuesday I went out with some of my co-workers... past and present... to celebrate his life.  We had so much fun reminiscing about the good old days with Mike.  Mike is a man that none of us will ever forget and I am so glad that he was able to be a part of my life.

As always... today I am thankful for the fact that I was lucky enough to be able to know Mike Wunner.  Through Mike's guidance and leadership at Friday's I have become the woman that I am today.  I was blessed to have known him and without him law school would have been a lot harder.  I am so lucky to have been able to solicit his advice, to talk to him about life, and to have him there as I was trying to figure out who I was.  Mike is a man who will never be forgotten because all who knew him loved him.  R.I.P. Michael Wunner... hope you are living it up, up there in heaven and that you are looking down on all of us and are proud of the people we have become.  We love and miss you!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Honeymoon Part 2: Barcelona, Spain

After spending 3 days in Paris (which you can read about here) we were off to Barcelona, Spain for the second half of our honeymoon.  As most of you know, my mother-in-law had spilled the beans to me about the first part of our honeymoon trip, but I had no idea where the second part of the trip would bring us.  MD decided to reveal this to me at my bridal shower in NJ in September... about a month before our wedding.  So before heading out to lunch with my dad and AV, Mark handed me a little card which had one of those boxes that you scan with your phone on it... when I scanned the box it brought up a map with all our honeymoon destinations on it.

I can't even begin to explain how excited I was that we were going to Spain.  Those of you who know me KNOW that I am pretty much obsessed with any and everything having to do with Spain.  I did a study abroad in Granada, Spain back in the Spring of 2006 and have been pretty much obsessed ever since.  Although a part of my heart will always be in Granada as it was my FAVORITE city in Spain... Barcelona was definitely a close second.  Finding out we were going to Barcelona was amazing because I was so excited to be able to share a place that meant so much to me with MD.

We got to Barcelona fairly late as our flight was delayed due to bad weather in London so we didn't really do anything when we got there because we were tired from a long day of traveling.  We were super excited with our hotel room because it was bigger than the closet that we had for a room in fact I think our bathroom was almost bigger than our hotel room in Paris.  We headed to bed early so that we could get an early start the next morning.

Our first morning in Barcelona we had breakfast in the hotel before heading out to explore the city.  Our first stop was heading towards Las Ramblas to check out the stalls, street artists and head towards the Mirador de Colon which is right at the port.  I was excited for this because I just remember Las Ramblas being a mess of people selling all sorts of different things... plus the street performer statutes were just incredible!  We made it to the Mirador and decided to take a cruise on Las Golondrinas of the port and beaches of Barcelona.

The cruise was so much fun... we enjoyed the sun while drinking some Spanish beer and touring the port of Barcelona.  We saw so much from the boat and I enjoyed pointing out to MD some of the sights that I remembered from the last time I was in Barcelona!
Waiting for our boat tour to start
Beer... on a boat... before noon... yay Barcelona!!
View from the cruise

After our cruise we headed back to Las Ramblas so that we could find a place for a typical Spanish lunch... and of course some sangria! We found a nice cafe and sat down to enjoy some paella and sangria!

MD's first Sangria experience

After lunch we headed up Las Ramblas because I was determined to find the flower stalls and if they still had them the bird stalls from when I had last visited.  Plus Las Ramblas goes from the port to Plaza Cataluyna so I knew there would be plenty to do up that way.  
One of the street performer statutes 
So many pretty flowers!
While on our way up Las Ramblas we took a slight detour to check out the Cathedral of Barcelona.  I hadn't gone to see the Cathedral last time I was there because at that point I think I was "Cathedral'ed" out. When traveling with Bucknell en Espana I think we saw EVERY Cathedral in EVERY city we visited, so when I only had 2 days in Barcelona, the Cathedral wasn't high on our list of priorities. The Cathedral in Barcelona is actually quite breathtaking and I was so happy that we had taken the time to walk over and see it. 

After visiting the Cathedral we continued our walk up Las Ramblas to Plaza Catalunya.  After checking out the Plaza we decided to head to Casa Batllo which was one of Gaudi's projects in Barcelona.  I was looking forward to MD getting to see some of Gaudi's architecture because I figured that as an engineer MD would appreciate the attention to detail that Gaudi paid in all of his buildings.  Sure enough, Casa Batllo did not disappoint and we had a great time on the audio tour that we went on.  I think my favorite part of the tour was going up on the roof and getting to see the mosaics up there up close and personal! 

Plaza Cataluyna
Outside of Casa Batllo

Casa Batllo at night
After Casa Batllo we decided to have dinner and call it a night because we had to be up early on Tuesday morning to go to see the most anticipated sight of the entire honeymoon.... La Sagrada Familia!!!!  I went to see La Sagrada Familia in the Spring of 2006 and I was so excited to have the opportunity to revisit  the work in progress.  What is really cool about La Sagrada Familia is that it is a Gaudi work that is still a work in progress.  The work on the church is funded by donations from the public as well as the entrance fees from people visiting the church.  I have to say... it was completely amazing to see how much had been accomplished in the 7 years since I had been there... where there was once scaffolding there was an altar... it was seriously so incredible to see the difference. 
La Sagrada Familia in 2006

Hubby & I at La Sagrada Familia
I wish we had more time at La Sagrada Familia because I would have LOVED to take the elevator up to the other levels, but unfortunately we did not have enough time to do that.  After La Sagrada Familia we headed to lunch and then off to explore La Pedrera another famous Gaudi building.  Unfortunately the best part of the building, the roof, was closed because of the weather, but we still had a good time checking out the rest of the building... plus you could get a glimpse of the roof from the windows in the attic.  

Commemorative Picture from La Pedrera
After La Pedrera the weather had cleared up a bit so we thought we would take the cable cars up to Mont Juic, but unfortunately by the time we made it to the cable car stand they were closing up for the day, even though the guide books all said that they didn't close for another few hours.  We were kind of bummed that we were unable to to make it to Mont Juic, but at least we were able to get a nice walk down to the Port in and then we took a long walk back to the hotel to kill some time.  We had a fairly early dinner on our last night because it was going to be an early morning to get to the airport to catch our flight back home to the states.  

I was so sad to have to head back to the US after an amazing honeymoon vacation in Europe.  Our time was way too short... we needed at least another week to be able to continue to explore both countries more.  All that means is that we are going to have to go back again some day!!

As always... today I am thankful for the fact that I have a wonderful hubby who was able to plan such an amazing honeymoon vacation for us.  I am thankful that we had the ability to take off from work to spend so much quality time together.  I know there are many couples who do not have the means or the time to do something like this, but thankfully we were able to.  It was so nice to be able to relax and unwind after the stress of planning our own wedding and we are so lucky we had that time to relax and have some fun after it all!