Friday, January 29, 2016


Well, we got a week or two of chillin', but now it's time to get crackin' on our third and final wedding in just over a year -- Austin's and Areej's Texas Hill Country wedding! When we got back from Sudan pretty much the only thing that was nailed down for the next go-round was a date and a venue, and with only 14 weeks to take care of everything else, we had to get our rears in gear! So, last Sunday we got together with the kids and hammered out our to-do list, then on Tuesday we met up with Lex and Areej on the outskirts of Dripping Springs, to check out the wedding venue and chat with the owner.

Is it any wonder they named it The Lookout?

Bocce Ball anyone?

My favorite part is this little greenhouse which the owner built herself, from salvaged materials.

It's gonna be fun, y'all!

Thursday, January 28, 2016


I present to you the latest addition to my Sudanese travel journal, mostly collage. 

Now that was FUN! (both the party and the project)

Now I can't wait to try making some gelli prints on sheer deli paper, and using that in some collage projects!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


We arrived in Barcelona just as the sun was coming up, and took a cab to our hotel, which was much closer than we were expecting. Of course, our room was still occupied, so we had some time to kill. After so many airplane meals, finding something decent to eat was a top priority. Fortunately, the little street our hotel was on, Carrer Santa Anna, offered many options. We stopped in one called El Cafeto. I held the table while John went to fetch hot chocolate and something to eat. He came back with this.

It was sort of like a pizza, but made on a thin piece of crusty bread, topped with Iberian ham and some kind of bacon, and the tiniest little egg you ever saw. Not a chicken egg, but "something like chicken." It was dee-lish! When it came to hot chocolate, there were several options to choose from, none of which we understood for, as it turns out, there were a lot more people in Sudan who spoke English than there are in Barcelona, and the little bit of Spanish we picked up just from living in Texas our whole lives was less than useless, as most people here speak Catalan. John chose the "Suisse" option, which came with lots of whipped cream -- so much, in fact, that every time I tried to take a sip I ended up with a snout full of cream! The hot chocolate itself was much thicker and darker than ours, almost soup-like. I later noticed that some people actually used a spoon to consume theirs, which would have helped with the cream-up-the-nose issue.

One thing we noticed right away was that, to find the best shops and eateries, you had to get off the main avenues and head down the little alleyways, where most cars can't even go. The first window to stop me in my tracks was filled with the most precious baby clothes, all hand-knit or -sewn, and made from natural fibers. Unfortunately, we didn't yet know whether our grandbaby was to be a boy or a girl, so I resisted the temptation to go in.

We wandered around until we were dead on our feet, but it still wasn't check-in time, so we stopped at another cafe for tea, to study some brochures and maps the hotel manager had given us and to think about dinner. (Yes, we are those people, the ones who sit at one meal, while planning the next!) Then, finally, we were able to go back to the hotel for a much needed siesta, having been awake on the plane most of the night.

After freshening up, we headed to a tapas place called Set de Gotic, near Placa de L'angel, on Carrer Montsio.

My spidey senses started tingling when we had to pass through something like a butcher shop to get to the restaurant, since the best meal of my life was at a similar place in Marseilles.

My spidey senses did not lie!

Pa Amb Tomàquet (Grilled Bread Rubbed with Garlic and Fresh Tomato) and Assorted Olives
Patatas Bravas
In addition to the plates above, there were also plates of sauteed wild mushrooms with garlic and coarse sea salt, thinly shaved Iberian ham, and Manchego cheese. For most Spaniards, tapas or "small plates" are an after work snack, shared over a drink with friends -- a precursor to their main meal, which wouldn't be eaten until sometime after 9:00PM. For us, it was dinner! We didn't think we could eat another bite. However, after wandering around Placa de Catalunya (more about that later) we discovered we had just enough room to share one tiny thing. Dessert!

We headed back to our hotel up Carrer de L'angel, another main thoroughfare that runs parallel to Las Ramblas, and discovered a most amazing tree, which became our landmark, leading us right to the street our hotel was on each evening.

At first we thought it was growing there, but then we realized it had been cut down and hauled in. It would have been amazing for it's mass alone, but what made it phenomenal were the hundreds, if not thousands, of crystal snowflakes adorning it...

thanks to the owners of the Swarovski shop just behind it!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Monday, January 25, 2016


I have a color-mad work-in-progress on my table right now, that's taking much longer than I expected. It's just one small page in my travel journal, so I thought I'd whip it out in a single day. However, instead of just slapping some paint on, as I usually do, it involved sorting through stacks of paper to choose just the right pieces in just the right colors...

then tearing all those papers into itty bitty scraps...

sorting them by color...

and fitting them together like a jigsaw puzzle, before gluing them down.

Here's a sneak preview.

I've never done much collage, so it's been a learning process. I started with craft store paper, having the most color choices there, but it was so thick and stiff that I hated the way the edges jutted up when they overlapped. However, I tried using a paper napkin and bits of tissue paper down in the lower left corner, and absolutely loved the way they layered and fused. Happy dance! Well, except for the fact that I will now feel compelled to collect more kinds of paper, which means finding places to store them in my wee little bedroodio. Sigh.

For your second sneak preview, how about a peek at the wonderful little hotel we stayed at in Barcelona? Definitely a keeper!

We much prefer staying at little privately-owned hotels with a bit of history and character, rather than big fancy chains that look much the same in every country. What you lack in spaciousness, you make up for in charm!

Unlike our earlier Europe-On-$10-A-Day travels, however, I do now insist upon an elevator, a private bath, and a bed that doesn't have such a huge dip in the center that we both roll towards the middle and end up crashing into each other all night long.

A Most Beautiful Elevator

You just couldn't beat the location of this one -- just a half block off of Las Ramblas, the wide pedestrian thoroughfare leading down to the harbor, and a five minute walk to Placa Catalunya, the main hub from which all tours and adventures seem to begin! The only thing we will do differently, if we ever go back, is that we will not opt for the hotel breakfast inclusion, as the streets around us were positively teeming with much better options!