Valencia, Spain (2012)

Valencia is the third largest city in Spain.  It is about an hour and a half train ride from Barcelona and I heard it had a nice beach.  What I didn't realize was how amazing the modern architecture is.  The boys and I spent a couple of days exploring the many public gardens, parks and buildings.  We had a great time at the beach which was populated with more locals, than tourists.  Several people struck up conversations with me and the monkeys and it was an overall friendly and nice place to visit.

Parc Gulliver, based on the story of Gulliver's Travels was one of the coolest playgrounds I've ever seen.  The enormous replica of Gulliver laying on the ground was connected with seemingly hundreds of slides.  The signs for the bathrooms above made us laugh.

 See how his hair is slides
 and climbing ropes
 The large slide that was part of his shirt was a favorite place for my monkeys to practice 'snowboarding' you can see that guy in yellow is mine. 

 In the arts center there were several buildings including a botanical garden, aquarium, performing arts and music center.  Each was unique, yet they all complimented each other, connecting among beautiful gardens, fountains, grass and reflecting pools. 

The beach was a highlight.  For starters it was awesome to swim in the Mediterranean Sea (the boys did go into the water in Barcelona but it was so crowded it wasn't relaxing.) This beach was beautiful, well maintained and the weather was perfect.

 Here Monkey 2 made a replica of the mosaic lizard that he fell in love with in Parc Guell.  He took home a souvenir of the lizard. 

 Does this count as a Spanish lesson? Monkey 1 writing in the sand. 
 There were some unfortunate fish stuck in this tide pool. 

 Some of them were caught and saved.

 We didn't see any flamenco dancing but it is popular in the southern regions of Spain. 

Valencia is the type of city I would love to rent a little flat by the beach for a summer.  Very chill vibe. 


Barcelona, Spain (2012)

Barcelona is one of my favorite cities in Europe.  Dr. J and I were there a few years ago and it was a visually stimulating experience as well as a culinary high-light.  Taking the boys to Barcelona gave me a totally difference perspective from the romantic images I shared with my husband.  For starters it was not a culinary delight as the boys preferred eating various croissants, panini’s and baguette sandwiches to the salted fish, marinated olives and various cured meats.  It was also harder to appreciate the architecture when I was constantly looking out for the boys instead of enjoying an extraordinary facade. 
However, seeing a city that I love through new eyes (namely from my monkeys perspective) made for a thoroughly enjoyable experience. 

Some fun things we did included visiting the Modern Art Museum. 


Seeing outdoor markets which sold coins and various antiques

 Playing in the amphitheater 
 Climbing Montju├»c
 The monkeys enjoyed Parc Guell.  We studied Gaudi and learned about the history of his work before going to Barcelona.  The tiles and colorful creations throughout the park were able to keep their interest as did the organic shapes they could touch, walk through and in some cases climb.  

 We enjoyed a trip to La Boqueria one of my favorite markets where we bought pixios, fruit drinks and dried fruit.  (Photos from my last trip to La Boqueria).  
We even enjoyed some beach time. 


Homeschool And Travel

In September we started our second year of homeschooling.  We also started a new program.  My boys work online and use textbooks, books, art supplies and manipulative’s.  The main reason we use an online program is to not worry about what the state standards are and whether we are meeting them.  

 Besides the organized program we supplement their learning with reading books, plays and poetry, our flag book project, art projects, daily field trips (playground, hike, museum), working around the house and extracurriculars (like sports and music). 

As always the main reason we homeschool is to travel.  Since we started homeschooling the boys have been to Central America, Europe and Africa. 
Six months ago we went to Guatemala and just recently returned from a trip which started in Barcelona and had us travel our way down (cars, buses, train and ferry) to Morocco where we spent three weeks in this exotic African country.  
We also do a lot of traveling within the United States and Canada. 

I’m looking forward to sharing some photos and posts about our latest trip.
If you want a sneak peak you can check out my Instagram profile: Lady Of The Arts
Are we friends on Instagram? 


Things I Make In Bulk And Freeze

We have reached the phase that I always knew was coming.  My boys eat, a lot.  Gone are the days where we can order a child size meal at a restaurant.  They now both eat more than I do in a sitting.  
I love to cook and I love to cook a lot at one time and freeze foods to use later.  
I usually bake my No-Knead Bread twice a week, three to four loaves at a time.  
I give a loaf away to friends and neighbors and freeze one for the weeks I don't have time to make it. 
I also make pizza crust which freezes well and dinner rolls. 

Stock is another staple in my house.  I bake a chicken, turkey or duck once a week.
Then I make stock using the carcass and whatever vegetables I have in the house.  
The stock I use for various meals, freeze or use it to make soup. 

 I buy and we eat a lot of bananas.  In fact, I tell the monkeys that the 'kitchen is closed' between meals and that the only 'snack' they can have is fruit.  A banana is a sure bet to fill them up.  
We freeze the brown bananas and make either ice cream (just blend over rip bananas and freeze) or banana bread which we eat as 'picnic' meals or for breakfast.  I make four at a time and then slice three of them up and freeze in easy to defrost slices. 

 Below are meat balls.  I try to always have meatballs in my freezer.  Easy to make in bulk easy to take out for a meal.  I use the ends of my No-Knead Bread to add extra moisture and generally only  use turkey meat.  Below is also a burrito dish- rice, ground turkey and salsa- easy to make, easy to freeze.

What are some of the staples in your home you make in bulk?

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