The Waiting Game

The waiting game before baby arrivesAs I’m nearing the end of my fairly uneventful (knock on wood!!) pregnancy we are now playing the waiting game. I’m considered full term (wooohooooo!) this weekend and so our little guy could make his appearance any time in the next days or weeks. For me the uncertainty is driving me just a tiny bit insane although of course I do feel that baby knows best and he’ll pick his birthday when he’s ready to continue growing outside of me.

This past week we’ve finally completed his nursery. After having false labor way too early back in May and worrying that our son could arrive sooner rather than later (which he hasn’t – yay!) I got really antsy to finish baby-related stuff. You can imagine how happy I was when after a manufacturer’s delay the comfy glider chair was finally ready for us to pick-up. Phew!

LIttle Castle Sera glider finally arrived!

All of baby’s clothes, bibs, blankets, burp clothes, sleep sacks, swaddle blankets, carriers, diapers, changing pad covers and whatever other random baby gear has been washed. You’re picking up on what I’m putting down here? There is a ton of baby stuff in our house now and that even with us trying to be somewhat minimalistic about the baby item explosion everywhere. I suppose that is just something we’ll have to learn to accept as we transition into parenthood: Our house will be our son’s house just as much as ours. So it won’t just be husband’s golf putter, Alfi-Dog’s tennis balls or whatever book I’m reading that create tripping hazards. From baby swing to play mat to bottles to toys, I’m just a tiny bit anxious about all that stuff and the little space we have in our home but I am making peace with it.

Moving along in the preparations, we’ve installed the car seat base in my car, packed our hospital bags (with probably way too much…), finished all our birth and parenting classes (I was only half joking when I said that birth class was one of our few hobbies these days…), had a wonderful baby shower, and finished reading almost all of the pregnancy and birth books I ever wanted to read (and then some).

So ya, we’re just waiting here for things to get started. It is super surreal to think we could have a baby in as quickly as one or two days (or 4 weeks). Probably not something that will feel real until a few days after his arrival. In any case, we’re as ready as we’ll ever be for this new adventure and are so very excited to meet our little guy!

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Free Hydrate and Fruits Printable for My New Erin Condren Planner

Free printable to keep track of water, fruit and vegetable intake as well as read, craft & exercise tracker.

Ever since quitting my day job and doing freelance work I’ve been heavily using a paper planner to keep track of important dates, appointments and my to do list. There’s something so satisfying to draw that check mark with a pen after completing something. I admit I’ve on occasion added something to my to do list after getting it done just to document it. 😀

My beloved Day Designer planner ran from July to June and it’s been getting tough for me not to write down planned visits etc after July. Previously I had mostly used my planner for business but I’m thinking with our baby boy arriving this summer I’ll want some extra space for family notes. Pediatrician appointments anyone?! Not to mention the countless prenatal appointments and nesting to dos that are just getting to be more frequent.

Keeping track of good daily habits in my Erin Condren Plannter

The solution was the Erin Condren Life Planner. I had marveled at them in the past but with an electronic work calendar I had been hesitant about getting one. This month I finally did and I love it! If you’re in the market for one, here’s a $10 off referral promo code for you and me! Yay! What fun to choose and personalize your cover and pick out your favorite inside layout! I was super excited when it arrived, not gonna lie. #dork

Love my new planner! :D

Anyhow, one of the things I really like about the Erin Condren planner is all the space it gives me to plan not only my freelance work, the day in general and my personal to do list but also a spot where I can track my daily water and fruit/veggie intake. My goal is to eat five different fruits and vegetables a day and drink at least seven 12oz glasses. I’m also trying to make more time in my days for reading, crafting and exercising before the anticipated drowning in diapers, feedings, and up all nighters (ermagerrrrrrd!). To help me reach my goals I’ve designed these little tracker stickers that I thought you may also enjoy. I simply print them on regular paper, cut them on the gray lines with scissors and glue them in but you could also print them on a sheet of sticker paper. This set of hydration, fruit and vegetable tracker printables matches the Erin Condren June color scheme. Since there was some free space with the way the weeks fall I added a little rectangular watercolor sticker that I used to decorate the first day of summer. 🙂

Free hydration, fruit, vegetable, reading, crafting and exercising tracker

Free for personal use! Yay! Click the image to download!

Cheers,
sannipanni-signature

Three Days in Barcelona (Spain Trip Part 2)

Three day itinerary for a Barcelona visitAfter our wonderful time in Madrid we headed to the airport at 5am to catch an Air Europa flight to Barcelona. We had originally planned on taking the train there just because that seams to be the European thing to do but when it came time to buy tickets they would have been over $300 for a roundtrip for two. Half-jokingly I checked flight tickets and lo-and-behold those rang up to about $200 with a shorter trip and at convenient times. No brainer. We would fly in for our long weekend in Barcelona.

Air Europa Flight at Sunrise

Day 1

We arrived in Barcelona bright and early at 8am without problems and found a bus that goes to downtown every 5 minutes. Done. Of course our hotel room wasn’t quite ready yet, which turned out to be great in hind-sight because we had no chance to relax and fall asleep waste time but instead headed out into the city. The guidebook had said to check out the Cathedral of Barcelona and it certainly was an impressive Gothic church with all the amounts of gloom and glorious chapel niches. Definitely craftsmanship! Also very interesting were the offering candles, which were electric. Ha.

Catedral Barcelona

electric offering candles at Barcelona's Cathedral

Back outside in the sun we strolled around Barri Gotic – Barcelona’s old neighborhood. You really feel a bit as if you are in a different time with all the little alleys. Well, so long as you ignore the plentiful Desigual shops that seam to be at every street corner. 😉 We found another rather old place and looked at a couple of ancient roman columns that were remains from an old Roman temple. So neat! Now hungry, we settled in for lunch at Allium restaurant and had a tasty boar burger and tagliatelle. Their food definitely hit the spot after all the traveling and sight-seeing.

Barcelona

We moved on to walk on the famous La Rambla street passing through beautiful squares on our way there. I thought La Rambla itself was quite overrated, touristy, and nothing too special; I much preferred walking the many other streets in Barca. But you obviously have to check it when you’re there. At the sea front end of La Rambla I found a kiosk that sold ice cream and Michael was excited to be able to buy a beer and drink it while walking around the city (oh American husband of mine….). Being by the sea is always amazing in my book and we walked around the pretty marina and the Barcelonetta beach. Who cares that it was chilly and the Mediterranean Sea was still freezing?! We were there! But because we got pretty cold and needed a break we sat down in a little beach front café and had a cup of coffee (translates to espresso there) con leche. So nice!! Those are seriously moments in life that I will be forever thankful for. What great memories!

A Stroll at Barcelona's Beach

We strolled back to our hotel through the Park De La Ciutadella (city park), which, though less famous than the Retiro Park in Madrid, was much prettier. We enjoyed seeing the beautiful Parliament of Catalonia and the amazing Cascada fountain built by none less than Antoni Gaudi and his teacher. At the end of the park stood a pretty Arc de Triomf (yeah we don’t have those in Germany, we seam to lose more than win. Hrrrhrrr).

Ciutadella Park Barcelona Fountain

After a little break in the hotel we were hungry again and thought about what to eat. Eating tapas in Barcelona had always been on my personal bucket list but ironically that first night I did feel like I needed a break from Spanish food even though all we had eaten had been super delicious. We found a great compromise at Mosquito Restaurant in El Born though, which served Asian tapas. And how delicious they were!

Mosquito Asian Tapas Bacelona

Day 2

For our second day we had planned to see Barcelona’s number 1 sight: Sagrada Familia. Popular as it is and it being a Saturday the lines were long. Should have bought tickets online – so if you have a chance, be better prepared than we were and buy them online. Luckily the line did move somewhat quickly and we got tickets to get onto the church premises in another hour. Ah. OK. The guide book proclaimed that the Hospital de la Santa Creu I Sant Pau, another one of Gaudi’s works, was worth a trip to and so we walked there and back in the mean time.

Gaudi designed hospital in Barcelona

The time finally came though and we got to go into the Sagrada Familia. Just the façade itself was incredibly detailed and so different than what I am used to in terms of how most European churches look (read: old and stuffy, not friendly and welcoming). We decided to get an audio guide and the cool thing about it was that we were able to share just one by using our own iPhone headphones. Savvy, or what?!

Best Way to See Sagrada Familia - Together

Inside the church was even more stunning. So bright and such beautiful lines and shapes and the way the stained windows filtered the light was just breathtaking. So worth the wait! Michael kept saying how this was the most beautiful building he had ever been in and I agree with him. I’d love to go back in a decade or two to see the progress. I can only imagine how glorious it will be.

Sagrada Familia Altar

Inside Sagrada Familie March 2015

Afterwards we were a bit hungry and did not want to eat in one of the tourist-trap-like spots around Sagrada Familia so we took the Metro to Paral·lel and ate at Quimet & Quimet, a tapas bar the guide book had recommended. Yeah, I was ready for my Spanish tapas in Barcelona bucket list box to be checked off. Turned out to be our favorite food spot in Barcelona! The place was packed but we were able to swoop in for a little standing table at the end of the small room. A tasty white wine and Spanish beer kept us company while we picked out Montaditos to try. They were all pieces of bread piled high with deliciousness. I’m drooling right now just writing about it! Once back home I was actually watching Cooking Channel and they featured Quimet & Quimet on one of their shows. Yeah, it’s that good! Nom!

Best Tapas Bar in Barcelona Montaditos Tapas from Quimet i Quimet in Barcelona

Though we didn’t really want to leave Quimet & Quimet we eventually took the funicular and the gondola up Mont Juic to enjoy the view of the city. We walked back down from the Castel Mont Juic to the National Art Museum of Catalunya with a pit stop to look into the Olympic Stadium (and use their restrooms). A long walk for sure!! I was pretty beat by then and so we took the subway back to our hotel, rested for a bit, and reserved tickets online for the next day at Park Guell. We had learned from today. Yay us!

Museum of Art Catalonia Barcelona

For our last night in Barcelona we had wanted to enjoy some more Spanish food and we wandered around old town until we found a spot on the little square at Basilica Santa Maria del Mar. Someone was playing music, people were out and about and the church was lit up. So beautiful! I was super pleased with my Padron Peppers and garlic scampi but surprised about the Patatas Bravas: they were French Fries! Good French Fries but still, I felt kind of cheated. Not sure why I had roasted potato cubes in my mind… Oh the high expectations of something sounding different. Haha. We strolled around the quarter for a bit longer after dinner. So beautiful! I am totally in love with this town and was so glad to be able to share it with my Love. A shared experience is double the fun indeed.

Traditional Spanish Tapas near Basilica Santa Maria del Mar

Day 3

We had another tasty breakfast at the El Nostre Pa bakery around the corner from our hotel. Si, they remembered the terribly Spanish speaking tourists from yesterday. Thank heavens the staff was sooo nice and patient with our broken Spanish. Well nourished we took the Metro up to Park Guell and wandered around its free grounds until we finally found the entrance to the spectacular architectural area. #MapFail It was a beautiful day, finally much warmer than earlier in the week, and we enjoyed being outside and admired all the decorative tile mosaics. It was quite crowded, especially at the famous lizard sculpture, so we didn’t linger too terribly long though.

Park Guell Barcelona

All set and done though we were getting close to lunch time and so we checked out Mercado de la Boqueria, a subway ride away in downtown. We had hoped it would have been similar to the tapas market in Madrid and the guide had highly recommended it but we didn’t really find much to eat there or if there was prepared food it was impossible to find a spot to eat. So we enjoyed a delicious fresh fruit juice and marveled at the fish and vegetables on display and then headed out to find a real lunch place.

Fresh Fruit Juice in Barcelona

Another one that the guide had recommended around that area was closed for good so we stumbled into the Bianco Noir bistro/bar that was run by a friendly Spanish woman and her Italian husband, who thankfully spoke excellent English. While we enjoyed good pork sandwiches and some cava (oh bliss), a group of young Italians came in to watch 2nd league Italian soccer on TV. Ah yes, we had stumbled into the local fan bar of Pescara Calcio. How ironic. We had a great time cheering for their team with them though and in return they let us in on where the best gelato was to be had in Barcelona. When in Europe…

Off we went, a quick stroll down La Rambla, through Placa Sant Jaume and we had found Gelaaati di Marco. Fantastic place! I could lay down in that ice cream and eat it all. So so good! So hard to find good gelato back home in North Carolina.

Gelaaati di Marco - Best gelato in Barcelona

Sadly then it was time for us to get our bags from the hotel and fly back to Madrid where we caught our flights home the next morning. What a wonderful, wonderful trip we had had! Honestly, if I had to choose between Madrid and Barcelona I would probably choose Barcelona but only because of the Sagrada Familia and the beach. We had unforgettable food in both cities and they both offer way too many cool cultural sights to see. Tough tough call though! Just visit them both! 😉

Madrid in Two Days (Spain Trip Part 1)

Last month I was lucky enough to have the chance to combine a business trip to Spain with a few days off to explore. Zee husband flew in as well and we got a great taste of Madrid and Barcelona. Amazing sights and delicious food! Loved it!

Favorites in Madrid:

  1. Tapas at Mercado de San Miguel
  2. The almost obnoxious grandeur of Palacio Real
  3. Chocolate and churros at Chocolateria de San Gines
  4. Watching the flamenco dancers at Villa Rosa

My trade show went very smooth, we reached our goals and the dinner event I had planned was a great success. Nothing like seeing a big project come together after you’ve worked hard on it for months. So with that load off my shoulders and all our equipment packed up, the fun began. 😀 We had stayed in a very convenient and nice hotel near Principe Pio train station and enjoyed the wealth of restaurant options there. The jamon iberico – amazing! The area was a great spot to explore the sights on the western part of Madrid’s center – although all of Madrid’s center was smaller and much more manageable by foot than I had anticipated. Huzzah!

Palacio Real Ceiling, MadridDay 1 in Madrid we started with obligatory breakfast of café con leche and then walked to the Palacio Real. As a German I’ve seen my fair share of castles but this one really stood out in all its splendor. Definitely worth a visit. We loved seeing the extravagant rooms with their beautiful furniture and accent pieces, the armory and the original Stradivarius instruments of the former queen.

Tapas Market in Madrid, SpainHungry from that we headed over to the San Miguel food market and indulged in all sorts of tapas. When in Rome… We shared some black paella, bocadillos (sandwiches) with roasted peppers, caramelized onion and goat cheese, roast beef with brie, tortilla, pickled herring, olives and what seemed like two of Spain’s national drinks: Vermuth and Sangria. Everything was amazingly flavorful!

Fueled by our awesome lunch we then walked around downtown’s bustling streets including Placa Mayor and took the obligatory photo with the bear and strawberry tree statue at Puerta del Sol; one of the main places in downtown Madrid. Commercialization has taken its toll on that square, it’s now called Vodafone Sol. I suppose that’s similar to Time’s Square but just imagine we’d have the “Palmolive Golden Gate Bridge” or “Monsanto National Mall”. Just a little sad and odd.

Churrus and Hot Chocolate, St. Gines, MadridFrom there we moved our bags to our new hotel, which was more towards the east part of downtown, less conducive to trade showing but better for sight seeing. It has to be noted that we had the weirdest bathroom door ever. It was frosted glass and didn’t shut properly. Even as a married couple… not sure what the purpose of that door was. As a reward for hauling our stuff across town we sat down at St. Gines Chocolate for hot chocolate and churros. I would say this was the Madrid equivalent of New Orleans’s Café du Monde’s beignets. The stuff was gooood! The churrors not too greasy and the hot chocolate rich but not overly sweet. Perfect for the cold weather. I was so full that for dinner we just sat down at a bistro next to our hotel with a salad and a few tapas for Michael. When in Rome…

Day 2 started with a good breakfast at the hotel (thank you half price deal for Expedia+ members). Café con leche of course was part of it but also good cold cuts (oh how I miss those in the US) and the usual shabang that you get at hotel breakfasts. Thank heavens we had a lot because we spent quite some time exploring the Reina Sofia Art Museum that morning. Always amazes me how something like Salvador Dali’s amazing, ambiguous pieces can hang next to a black square on canvas. Oh modern art! Definitely neat to see Guernica after having heard so much about it and the sad part of Spain’s history.

Best Calamari Sandwiches in Madrid - El BrillianteOur guide book had recommended a little pub, El Brilliante, next to the museum for their calamari sandwiches and they were indeed pretty darn tasty. After that a stroll through the Retiro Park to admire the pretty Crystal Palace with its little waterfall grotto and the free art exhibit we stumbled upon in one of the other buildings of the park. I love exploring!

Flamenco show at Villa Rosa in the center of Madrid

We rested a bit and then headed out to a flamenco show in downtown Madrid at Villa Rosa. I had been somewhat worried that it would be just a tourist trap with a cheesy show but the performers were exceptional. The amount of speed with which their feet flew over the stage was incredible and I love listening to their rhythms. Definitely a highlight of the trip and a great way to spend our last day in town before heading to Barcelona.

If you stumbled on this while searching for a two day itinerary for Madrid consider pinning this image or save it to your smartphone for when you go.

Two Day Madrid Itinerary