Monday, July 15, 2013

Packing for Spain: How I Pack for a Month Abroad

When we travel, we like to travel light, but since we're staying primarily at our home in Galicia, we have the luxury of carrying a bit more weight, since it will stay at the house.
Home, sweet home.

And that affords me the opportunity to take some things from home that I have not yet found in Spain, making my transition to living abroad a tad easier.

Now, this is purely fluff, because my husband and I both would be happy to pack our belongings into a backpack and travel the world sans luxuries listed here.

But for fun's sake, here are the things going into my suitcase. You can be assured that I will undoubtedly be holding my breath at Iberia's check-in with fingers crossed that I am not overweight.

  • Splenda--I just can't find it anywhere, so I'm happy to bring scores of packets . Saving calories with splenda makes the calories I spend on other delicious treats almost guilt free.
  • CoffeeMate Sugar Free French Vanilla Creamer--This is for my morning coffee at home only. Otherwise, it's café con leche all the way, baby.
  • Quest Bars--These protein bars are my go-to snacks. They are not coated, so I don't have to worry about them melting and they're chewy, so I don't have to worry about crushing them. And you can't beat the nutrition. It's a win-win.

Luckily, we have a washer at the house, so this greatly reduces the amount of clothes I need to pack to be comfortable. Every year gets easier to plan, and here's what I'm planning to bring for our month abroad this year:
  • One maxi dress
  • One cardigan
  • One pair of jeans with belt
  • One hoodie sweatshirt
  • One hooded wind-breaker jacket.
  • Two long-sleeve t-shirts
  • Three pairs of capris with accompanying tops
  • One workout outfit (depending on weight)
  • One pair of croc flip flops
  • One pair of dressy sandals
  • Bathing suit
  • One pair of pajamas
  • Seven pairs of underwear
Toiletries, blow-dryer, and vitamins.

  • Phone with wifi access only
  • iPod for facetiming with my mom and niece
  • Tablet (with downloaded books) with wifi access only
  • Nikon Coolpix L120 camera with 2 8gb SD cards
  • Chargers for all of the tech with adapters
  • 2 paperback books I've already started and one I have not
  • My Spanish workbook & textbook--depending on weight
So, as it turns out, it is quite a bit. It's a list in progress, since I still have about a week to make last minute changes. But it is what it is. And, if there are things that we find we can't live without, we just get them there.

The countdown is on!

Last month, I posted here about all I can't wait to experience when I arrive in Galicia, not the least of which is the view. Consider adding this corner of the world to your must-see list.

The view from the upstairs bedrooms at sunset.

Until then,
un besote...

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Where would your trip take you?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Kelly's Kitchen Must-Haves

I love to cook. I love food, pictures of food, recipes, cooking shows, food  name it. I love it. I'm intrigued by what others like to eat, and often try other foods based on suggestions.

But, recommendations aside, I am still a creature of habit, and I rely on certain staples to get me through the week.

Open our fridge any day and you can find most of the same foods there every week. We try to eat clean most days, but we still have our beloved pizza and wine night and we eat out probably much more than we should.

On any given week, we rotate out fruit, depending on what's in season (always apples, lemons, and bananas though and clementines and watermelon, in season) 

and we always have many, many veggies
  • always salad makings and avocado
  • sweet potatoes, which we roast
  • butternut squash, which we roast
  • white potatoes are like bread in this Latin household, non-negotiable
  • portabella caps for stuffing or grilling
  • summer squashes in season, steamed, cooked with onion or grilled.
  • asparagus, roasted or grilled
  • spaghetti squash that we toss with low fat feta and tomato
  • onions and peppers, and garlic and parsley with everything
  • corn on the cob, plain and room temperature though--no butter or salt--even cold
  • kale, for my mother-in-law's amazing guiso/stew
We also mix up meat and fish, but our go-to tends to be wild salmon, haddock and whatever meat looks good that week. My husband has an unnatural love for sardines in oil, so there's always a cache of cans stacked in the cabinet, sitting next to my bland white tuna in water.

And there's always eggs...we can't have Tortilla Española without them.

But there's also egg beaters, for me when I mix up a protein pancake and can't bear to throw away good yolks.

As for grains, we go for whole wheat pasta, and I have tried those tofu "Shiritaki" noodles...SO not the real thing. I like quinoa, but my husband does not. Occasionally, we have rice, but it's usually to use up the leftover caldo/broth from the guiso. And if there's leftover rice...another tortilla.

For the most part, I tend to be brand loyal and have my favorites, for sure.

In addition, because I live in a Latin household, bread is non-negotiable, but we always go for 100% whole wheat. Occasionally, I throw in a low-carb wrap that I spread with hummus. But I also am a snacker, much to my dismay, so in addition to the nuts and fruit and cheese, I like a little Go-Lean Crunch, usually with my Greek yogurt.

Missing from the collage, but always a staple in our house, is a low-carb, low-sugar protein powder, Simply Smart skim milk or unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and a few Torani or Da Vinci sugar free syrups for mixing in variety with the protein shakes.

Of course, a girl has to splurge as well, so some of the things I consider an indulgence are of the sweet variety like:

Quest Cravings Peanut Butter Cups...not really a sweet indulgence, but a beloved indulgence for me in my quest to eat clean. They are divine!


Talenti Salted Caramel Gelato, just because.
PB2--Here's a tip. Slice a banana and throw the pieces in a ziplock bag. Add 1-2 tablespoons of PB2 and shake it up. So. Good!!!
And sangria.
Maybe someday I will muster the courage to blog about what I cook, but in the meantime, a post about the food that makes me smile will have to do.
What's in your fridge? What are your go-to items? Inspire me.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A New England Gem: Pickity Place

New England is filled with gems: quaint towns, main streets and landmarks that are the stuff of Norman Rockwell paintings.

One such gem, Pickity Place, is located in the tiny town of Mason, New Hampshire, nestled in the southwestern corner of the state that borders north central Massachusetts.

Pickity Place is a 225 year old cottage, turned destination restaurant, that served as the inspiration for illustrator, Elizabeth Orton Jones, who used the cottage as a model for her work on Little Red Riding Hood (Little Golden Books, 1948). Today, visitors can peek into Grandmother's room, complete with the wolf, in Grandma's clothing, peering over the blanket's edge.

Dining at Pickity Place is an event. The five-course gourmet luncheon is offered in three seatings. The seasonal menu changes monthly and offers a vegetarian option. The herbs used by the chefs are grown on-site in the gardens, through which visitors can stroll. And there is a gift shop, where foodies can peruse the herbs, seasonings and home stuffs with which they simply cannot part.

For the crafty types (and those who are fairly local) Pickity Place offers crafting workshops such as Fairy House DIY and seasonal swag and wreath making.

If you're lucky enough that your travels take you to New England, it's worth the trip through the woods to Pickity Place. Step back in time, bask in the simplicity of the natural world and treat yourself to a dining experience you'll not soon forget.

Pickity Place is a New England gem, for sure.


Travel Money: Save $2500 per year

If you want to travel, but think it's too expensive, consider where you're spending your money.

If you want to save up to $2500 a year, and if you work outside the home, this one change could pay for part, if not most, of a reasonably* priced vacation.

Bag your lunch.

In her book, What Are You Doing for Lunch? writer, Mona Meighan, reported that a recent survey found that 60% of those who eat lunch out at least once a week spend $7 to $13 each time. But many of those eat out at least three times a week, and at the $10 midpoint spend $1,500 a year. And those who eat out every day spend an average of $2,500 a year. Of course, this varies by location, but Meighan maintains that you could cut your weekly lunch cost by 80% by brown-bagging it.

Not a sandwich lover? No worries. Build a bento box of your favorite snacks.
Use this calculator to estimate your own savings and check out Pinterest for some quick and easy lunch-on-the-go ideas.

Eating out is convenient, but it's often overpriced and less healthy than what you can conjure in your own kitchen.

And if the extra money for travel is not your thing, what would you do with your extra $2500 a year?

*reasonable, of course, is in the eye of the beholder.





Thursday, July 4, 2013

Boston, You're My Home!

Happy Independence Day, America! No one does the 4th of July like Boston. Cheers!