Thursday, November 28, 2013

{life} what i'm thankful for

After teaching my kids all week what it means to be thankful, it is finally time for me to sit down and write about the MANY things I'm thankful for this year! Although I'm not able to be home with my family this year, stuffing my face with turkey and corn pudding, 2013 has been absolutely incredible so far.

I'm thankful for my wonderful parents. Thank you for teaching me about good wine and food, and the beauty of appreciating other cultures. Thank you for your wisdom and advice. Thank you for visiting me in Madrid! (Can't wait for our next round of gin & tonics!) And most of all, thank you for all of your unwavering support throughout the years.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

{fashion} wardrobe wishlist

I haven't bought a single article of clothing, makeup, nail polish, or any other beauty item in almost three entire months. This is probably a record for the (not so subtle) shopaholic in me!

I'm not going to lie... I'm starting to have withdrawals. I just simply don't have the room for any more clothes in my living abroad closet, as everything I own must fit into two large suitcases and one small one when I eventually move back to the US. I'm not complaining though... the extra money I've saved not shopping has gone towards trips to Amsterdam, Salamanca, and Prague!

But.. a girl can dream of new pretty things, right?!

So without further ado, here is my totally unnecessary online shopping wishlist. Enjoy!

Practical Outerwear:

[1] Canvas Military-Style Anorak, $54.94 - This style coat is alllll the rage in Madrid right now. I know I'll start seeing them disappear as it gets colder, but that isn't stopping me from lusting after one!
[2] Quilted Tweed Puffa Vest, $39.00 - It is totally the southern girl inside of this city girl transplant (hey, I went to college in the south!) that is in love with this adorable vest. Nothing is cozier than a good vest over a comfy sweater.
[3] Leopard-Print Blanket Coat, $49.00 - Europeans loooooove wearing black in the winter. I am usually a fan of pretty statement-making coats, because let's be real... it is all you ever see in the cold, dreary months, but you tend to stick out like a sore thumb if you are wearing a coat with a little personality. This coat is the perfect in-between, with its neutral colors and fun print. Plus, leopard is everything... ammmiright?!

Pretty Sweaters:

[1] Monogram Pop Color Crew-Neck Sweater, $29.94: Once again, the southern college girl is coming out in me! I love this adorable initial sweater! I'm imagining it layered over a chambray button up with a statement necklace. Yep. Done.
[2] Embellished-Raglan Sweatshirt, $19.97: What could be better than waking up late on a cold morning and throwing on a sweatshirt that looks like this? Comfortable but put-together - my perfect combination.
[3] Printed Crew-Neck Sweater, $27.00: On this list simply because the print is really pretty! I think it is the perfect sweater to dress up or dress down.
[4] Graphic Crew-Neck Sweater, $10.97: Yep, I'm jumping on the cute printed animal sweater trend! Plus, how adorable is this pup wearing a bow tie? Layered over a flannel button up with boots, skinny jeans, and a beanie? Hi new favorite outfit!
[5] Fair Isle Cardi Coat, $44.00: I looove oversized sweaters so much! I have to wear a thousand layers during the winter in Madrid because I'm constantly going in and out of freezing and sweating when walking around and then getting on the metro. SO, this style sweater is perfect for me to take off and throw back on when needed. Easy peasy.
[6] Zip-Front Boyfriend Cardi, $39.94: I am a total girly girl. I like to curl my hair and wear lipstick and pretty dresses, and just don't pull off the "sporty" look well. However, I realllly like this sweater. I think it is just fitted enough to still fit my style, but looks totally comfortable as well.

Perfect Layers:

[1] Plaid Flannel Shirt, $26.94: I have to get my hands on a flannel shirt while I'm home! It is the perfect pop of color under a neutral sweater during the winter months. I hope this one is soft and warm!
[2] Scoop-Neck Dolman-Sleeve Top, $12.00: I love dolman-sleeve tops because they are so darn comfortable, and can be dressed up or down. I'm thinking of this one tucked into a skirt with tights, ankle boots, and a leather jacket.
[3] Classic Chambray, $15.00: Classic. Comfortable. Versatile. No more words needed.

Warm Dresses:

[1] Crew-Neck Sweater Dress, $42.94: It has polka dots on it. Need I say more?
[2] Fair Isle Sweater Dress, $46.94: I'm not sure if I would want to spend almost $50 on a white dress, because I'm the clumsiest, messiest person everrrrrr but it is so cute I couldn't resist adding it to the list.
[3] Button-Sleeve Ponte Knit Dress, $29.94: It's a proven fact that ponte knit looks good on EVERYONE! I love the neutral color-blocking on this dress, which leaves room for a fun scarf or colorful coat.

Cozy Accessories:

[1] Honeycomb Stitch Infinity Scarf, $19.94: I actually love every single color offered on Old Navy's website for this scarf. They all look so cozy and inviting. Scarves make suuuuch a difference in my life in the winter months.

[2] Sparkle Knit Hat, $14.94: I've never been interested in wearing cold weather hats before. But that's because I had never needed them before this year! Florida girls wearing beanies? Yeah... not so much. I finally broke down and bought one while in Prague last weekend for like 6 euros. It is just a plain grey one, and gets the job done, but this one is so much cuter!
[3] Monogram Graphic Mittens, $12.94: Just another dose of monogram lovin'!

More Shoes Please:

[1] Glittery Textured Ballet Flats, $26.95: Even though ballet flats typically killlll my feet, I still wear them because... they're pretty. Fashion is pain people! No, but really.. these probably would be super uncomfortable and have no support whatsoever, but they are sparkly. So. There you have it.
[2] Textured Animal Print Flats, $15.00: I love how popular this style of shoe has become. They look great with everything - ankle pants, jeans, skirts, and dresses!
[3] Faux-Leather Ankle Booties, $36.94: As much as I adooore my Frye riding boots, and my black ankle boot heels from Bershka, they just don't go with everything. I want an in-between shoe. Something I can wear out without having to worry about breaking an ankle on the cobblestone.
[4] Laced Short Boots, $38.00: Even though I do not need these shoes in the slightest bit, they are still cute for a casual but put together outfit.

So, there you have it! 24 items that I'm eyeing on Old Navy's website all the way from Madrid. What's on your fashion wishlist these days?

All items are from Old Navy because I always adore their affordable autumn and winter collections and miss that store terribly, not because this post is sponsored (although I wish I were that cool)!

xx, Jen

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

{life} ten things i've learned while living in madrid

1. The social rules for personal space are veddddy different. You will often be the freaked out American constantly taking a few steps back from the person talking to you, because they will be allll up in your grill. Truth.

2. Also. If you are on the metro or bus, you will probably be smashed into a corner because Spaniards love to stand right in front of you. I suppose this goes with the personal space thing. Give me room to breatheeeee.

3. Learning Spanish is really hard (for me). There’s a reason why I hated my Spanish classes in high school and college. I thought that moving here meant I would magically be able to speak it by being surrounded by it at all times. Ha. Wrong! It doesn’t help that I’m lazy and would rather choose my bed than meeting for an intercambio every night. Oops.

4. Anytime you ask for a tapa or dish “sin carne” (without meat), you will more than likely get tuna and eggs. A “vegetarian” sandwich or salad? So boring. To be fair, tuna and eggs are typical vegetarian fare, but in general, Spaniards just do not understand vegetarians.

5. If you are living in Madrid for more than a month, chances are that you will be directly affected by a protest or a strike. Metro strikes are terrible, but street cleaning strikes are the worst. Spanish government, get your crap together and help out your citizens a bit more!

6. Spaniards love to mix Fanta limon into their drinks, and now so do I. Sangria? Totally a touristy thing. Sometimes you’ll see Spaniards order it if they are feeling fancy, but more than likely they will order “tinto de verano,” red table wine mixed with Fanta limon and poured over ice. They also really love shandy. Most tables will have a mix of normal cerveza and claritas (half beer, half Fanta limon).

7. Spanish bread is ADDICTING. I could easily go through an entire loaf in one day, but I have learned how to practice self-control. AKA… avoid the bakeries at all costs.

8. While we all know that waiter service in restaurants is very different in Spain than it is in the States, there is something else worth noting about the differences between the two cultures.  When a restaurant says that lunch hours close at 4, it means that they close at like… 3:45. I have been heartbroken so many times upon getting to a restaurant at 3:45 and being all excited for FOODZOMG like, “Somos tres,” and then being looked at blankly and being told that the kitchen is closed until dinner. I guess it is the American way to want to squeeze every last penny out of as many customers as they can, but I know you can walk into a restaurant AT CLOSING and you will still be served. Lesigh.

9. On the other hand, I actually quite enjoy the nonchalant serving attitude here. You need another drink? You want the bill? Flag down the waiter when necessary, and enjoy your uninterrupted conversation. The first “reverse culture shock” I had was at a restaurant over the summer while I was home. It seemed like the waiter came up to our table every 10 minutes! Sheesh

10. Riding the train is the best thing everrrr. If you catch the RENFE (Spanish national train service) on a good day, you can get first class and business class tickets for just a little bit more money than the general seats. Not only is there a crazy amount of leg room, a normal sized bathroom to use, and the ability to get up and walk around as much as you want, but you also get free, unlimited wine, beer, liquor, and other beverages, as well as a meal! Like a bo$$.

Do you live in Spain? Have you experienced any of these? 

xx, Jen

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

{travel} salamanca, spain

Walking through the empty streets was so relaxing.

One of the obvious goals I really want to accomplish during my year abroad is to travel as much as possible. Visiting new countries is such a thrill. I love stepping into new cultures, learning the history of each city and famous monument, trying local cuisines cooked by the people who know how best, and hearing all of the beautiful languages and accents. This goal has only been partially met during my first 10 months living in Europe, but that doesn't mean I haven't been traveling. While I know I need to step up my EU game and visit more countries than just England, Holland, and Spain in my last 7 months or so (although I'll be checking the Czech Republic off of my list soon - see ya this weekend, Prague!!), I feel totally at peace. ¿Por que?

Because I have been traveling the heck out of beaaautiful Spain. Salamanca is the 13th Spanish city I have visited this year. Something that continues to surprise me is how different each city is. While there is, of course, a constant theme of Spanish culture with all of the jamon, tapas & pinchos, siestas, and a million and one cathedrals, each city has its own unique flair unlike anywhere else in Spain. It is a country that I am so proud to call my other home.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

{travel} tapas in barrio conde duque, madrid

You know it is going to be a GREAT weekend when the only plans you have involve eating lots and lots of tapas and drinking lots and lots of wine. Amen.

We followed una Ruta de Tapas called Exquisitapas in the barrio Conde Duque. Conde Duque is right next to our neighborhood, but my roommate and I had never really explored the area at all. I'm so sad that we explored it so late into the year. We found some really awesome places that I definitely have to tell yall about, for your... you know... eventual trip out to visit me?! :)

Oh. Did I mention that each tapa cost 2 euros and each glass of wine or glass of beer cost 1 euro on the route? Um. Yes. Magical.

We got stamps at all of the restaurants we went to so that we could be entered into a drawing for a "gastronomical trip for two." That sounds like the perfect trip. I hope we win! Also - that beer is one of the craft beers brewed here in Madrid. Craft beer for a euro.... Conde Duque does it right!

The dish above is from a super awesome place called Gabriel  on Calle del Conde Duque, 10 that we absolutely loved. I mean... look at that presentation. It's not too common in Madrid for a dish to come out that pretty, unless you're spending some big bucks on lunch or dinner. Gabriel does a 14 euro menu del dia for lunch Monday - Friday, which includes a starter, a main dish, dessert, and wine or beer. Rooms and I will definitely be back for that some day soon.

Friday, November 1, 2013

{life} goodbye October

How is this year flying by so quickly?!!! I can't believe it is already November, which means that I've been living in Spain for 10 months already! Wowza.

October is probably my favorite month of the entire year. I absolutely love seeing the leaves change, feeling the weather cool down, watching football, and starting the holiday season celebrations. Even though I'm far, far away from home, I have still been enjoying most of my favorite fall things (except for pumpkin flavored everythinggggg... so sad). From starting work at my new secondary school, to watching FSU football games at 2:30 AM (number 3 in the nation babyyy), to spending as much time tapas crawling and drinking outdoors as possible during this perfect weather, roasting butternut squash, and dressing up for Halloween, I've been taking advantage of everything this wonderful season has to offer.

Here's a little recap of my October!

Tapas crawling in Malasana & Chueca.

Enjoying the rooftop terraces while they are still open.

Day tripping in San Lorenzo de El Escorial on a beautiful Autumn day.

The gardens of the Monastery.

Weekend necessities: good friends, tapas, cervezas, and prime patio tables.

Sharing tapas with new friends!

Geocaching: treasure hunting around Madrid.

Found a Geocache in our favorite "secret" garden in La Latina!

Beautiful Madrid.

Roomz found a Geocache!

Our favorite food in Spain.

The best season.

So happy we spent a day in Retiro before all the leaves fell!


El Palacio de Cristal right in the middle of Retiro Park!

Wednesday Addams in the house y'all!

Can we take a moment to let that #2 BCS spot sink in please?

Little teaching highlights from my month:
  • Getting to know my new adorable estudiantes. I especially love my Primero ESO classes this year (first years, 12-13 year olds), one of my Segundo ESO classes (second years, 13-14 year olds), and my Ampliacion classes (optional English class focusing on speaking skills with the oldest students, 16-18 year olds).
  • Giving a creative writing assignment to my Ampliacion class for our Halloween themed lesson and watching them work past the bell. And then, reading the completed stories and being blown away!
  • Giving a gap-fill assignment to my Segundos with the lyrics to Monster Mash on them, and listening to the kids sing it together in the hallway after class.
  • Watching my Primeros trying so hard in class, even though their English levels are really low. Feeding off of their excitement during our little "Who Am I" Halloween activity. "Are you a mummy Profe??"

Here's to hoping November will be as wonderful as October! 
PS. GO NOLES, and thank goodness for Jameis Winston.

xx, Jen