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Barcelona, Spain has been on my travel list for a long, long time. At the beginning of November, Kyle sat down on the couch after the kids were tucked in bed, and said, “Would you want to go to Barcelona in a week?” Would I? YES! I booked are tickets, packed our bags, gladly accepted the Nuna Pepp Luxx travel stroller from the company for the trip, booked our long-term parking, and loaded up the car – all while Kyle worked like crazy to get things set at work so he could take a week off. His job can be so intense and stressful that when he takes time off he really tries to take the time off.  We set of for Barcelona with our walking shoes and appetites at the ready.

Our first day in Spain we decided to take in La Boqueria Market for some tapas to get us off on the right foot – from a culinary perspective. No offense to British food, but MAN were we ready for some flavor and salt! We dove right in – into glasses of sangria, plates of crackly fried artichokes and yielding croquettes. From there we just wandered. In fact, we spent most of our time in Barcelona just wandering. Kyle, our resident navigator, planned out our general paths for each day, but we veered from them often – especially for good food.

travel family kids barcelona spainPINtravel family kids barcelona spainPINtravel family kids barcelona spainPINtravel family kids barcelona spainPINtravel family kids barcelona spainPINtravel family kids barcelona spainPINTowards the end of the first day after we’d walked many, many miles, the outside of my left foot started to ache – by the time we made it back to the apartment in the evening I felt like I could barely walk. Kyle walked to the store for frozen peas to ice my foot and I sat with my foot elevated determined not to let my freakish injury spoil our adventure. The thing is, we love to walk and walk and walk all over the cities we are so fortunate to visit. I’m not a big fan of public transportation, but over the week there we utilized the metro and I literally used Roux’s new stroller as a walker/crutch. I hopped and limped and took too much ibuprofen, but was rewarded along the way with amazing but simple baguette sandwiches with serrano and tomato, churros dipped in chocolate, octopus dusted with , and plenty of jamón ibérico.

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Oh, and also with pan con tomate (which Gigi declared was the best bread in the whole world), incredibly light eggplant with molasses, and patatas bravas from Lolita Taperia (by far the best food we ate on our trip was from this place)!

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Walking and eating go so well together – even if your walking looks more like hobbling, and your eating looks more like over-indulging. We spaced out our time well in Barcelona, with one bigger activity in the morning, and less planned in the afternoon. We got a great tip in the few days before we left to book ahead for the main attractions – The Sagrada Família, Picasso Museum, and Park Guell. It had a couple great benefits: we were able to show up to each place at a set time (9:00am worked great for us); we didn’t have to wait in lines (in fact, often the places would have signs up at 9:00am that said “Next available tickets for 1:30pm”!); by getting to the places early we had more space and time there without it them being crowded; we skipped a lot of the time wasting “what do you wanna do today” conversations since a lot of our activities were planned out ahead; and finally, I felt like a real-deal grownup booking everything in advanced. I think I can speak for our whole family in highly recommending the three places I listed above – and pictured in the mix below.

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We absolutely loved exploring Barcelona, interacting with it’s friendly people, and eating the incredible food… and I can’t wait to go back – and explore more of Spain.

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It feels so cliché, and perhaps repetitive, to begin yet another post by reflecting on just how fast time is flying and apologizing for my absence. But with three busy (and always hungry) little ones underfoot, homeschool lessons to check off, and so much laundry it almost makes me dizzy it’s hard to find time to sit down and be still long enough to write. Now the weather has turned icy and I declared today a “pajama day”! We are having a much needed quiet day at home in our cozy clothes – oils and rosemary are diffusing on the stove-top, the girls are listening to the BFG audio-book (again), and I’m here compiling some photos to share from our recent adventures. We made the most of the almost summer-like weather in September, and the stunning fall crossover in October – I haven’t even included anything from November because I’m afraid my computer (and you, my readers) would have called it quits. I’m looking forward more sunny, frigid days at home in pajamas, and to more posts (and some recipes) this winter!

We spent most of September around home, with trips to our favorite parks, and the Jane Austen’s House Museum. Kyle was working like a mad-man the first three weeks of the month so we hardly saw him at all. We did alright on our own, although it’s so much better when he’s around.
fall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINSeptember was winding down and we had visitors – our first friend visit from home. We spent a week bouncing around with our friends and their two kids with a trip to The Cotswolds, and a visit to both Blenheim Palace and Stonehenge, and lunch at our favorite pub, The Beckford Arms.

fall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPIN

Just as our friends headed home, my mom and her partner arrived for a week long visit. It was decidedly quieter than with our previous guests; we spent most of our time puttering around close to home, although we did take them for a visit to the Jane Austen’s House Museum and the Chawton House Library so they could see and experience our favorite places. Their visit was lovely, and restorative after such a long-feeling month.

fall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINAs we headed well into October we took a weekend day trip to Brighton with one of the brewers Kyle works with. It was almost balmy at the beach and the light was beautiful. We didn’t get to spend much time wandering around the city itself, so we are planning another trip back soon.

fall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPINfall autumn in england traveling with kidsPIN

Our final trips of October were to Stratford-upon-Avon, and back to Stourhead Garden, which was just starting to change color – it was absolutely beautiful. Having such a lovely autumn here this year has made me so happy we’ll have another next year before moving back to the States.

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  • Allison - Beautiful pictures!!! This motivates me to get our nice camera out……all I ever do is iphone pics these days.ReplyCancel

    • kacieblogs@gmail.com - Thank you! Yes, I always have my “real” camera on hand and try and prioritize it over my phone… though the phone is sure a convenient way to capture all those day to day moments.ReplyCancel

As often as we can, which ends up being about every other week, I load the kids up with a picnic and we head to the Jane Austen’s House Museum in Alton and the Chawton House Library in Chawton (they’re really just down the road from each other). It’s a little bit of a drive to get there so we really make a day of it. I’ve had some requests to share our photos from these wonderful places, and I thought I’d start with the Jane Austen’s House Museum and save the Chawton House Library photos for another post since I’ve taken so many! These are, without a doubt, our two favorite places in England.

We first visited the Jane Austen’s House Museum in early spring and fell completely in love with it. The house, where Jane spent the last eight years of her life, is lovingly curated. It’s small, beautiful, welcoming, and charming. They have small scavenger hunts for the kids which they love, and them having an activity allows me a chance to really read and enjoy things in the museum. Once you go and pay for your ticket (only £8 for adults) your ticket is good for an entire year. Often we find that we spend all of our time in the well-tended garden, eating a picnic, popping into the media center to watch the mini-documentary on Jane’s life, playing lawn games or “board” games that they have set up, doing a bird hunt, or reading a chapter from the provided Jane Austen novels.

On our last visit a couple weeks ago we stumbled upon copies of Jane’s novels left about by a Book Fairy, and we were so delighted that we have since signed up to be book fairies too. Book Fairies or not, this museum has (at least for me) an air of magic and simple pleasure that I can’t get enough of… in fact I think it’s time for another trip…

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I’m closing out on eight days of solo-parenting, and I’m so proud of myself and of the kids for getting through it so well. It’s an odd thing when Kyle goes back to America for work and we’re here in England on our own. If you recall last fall when he went back to the States things didn’t go so well. He’s been back a few times since that first trip last September, and things have gone fine, but never great. This trip was particularly strange because Kyle spent the week back “home” in the Pacific Northwest. He stayed with our family and friends, ate at favorite restaurants, sipped familiar beer, got those far away longed for hugs. Unlike the times he’s been away before, the times where it just felt like surviving and counting down the days until he came back, this time we had a wonderful time and that is no small thing.

Kyle’s plane is set to be touching down at Heathrow any minute, and we’re buzzing and excited to see him again. We’re spending our last hour on our own tidying up, making cookies, and I’m trying to figure out what’s for dinner. Because, while we did get out of the house for some lovely little adventures to the Jane Austen’s House Museum, the lake, the church park, and the farm shop, one place I did not brave with the kids was the grocery store. Somehow all of the places we went seemed inviting and easy in ways the grocery store does not.

farm shop living in englandPINYesterday at the farm shop we picked autumn raspberries from the bushes and pulled muddy carrots from the ground, and bought broccoli, cauliflower, corn, romancesco, and zucchini. You might have thought that I was done writing about Roasted Cauliflower, and perhaps so did I, but apparently I’m not. When we got back from the farm shop I cut up a head of the cauliflower, along with a head of broccoli, and after tossing it in a mustard vinaigrette, got it roasting in the oven.

farm shop living in englandPINfarm shop living in englandPINfarm shop living in englandPINfarm shop living in englandPINfarm shop living in englandPINI’d gotten the idea from one of my favorite cookbooks, It’s All Good, in which there’s a recipe for roasted cauliflower and chickpeas. I love roasted broccoli so I added that too, and made some other additions and adaptions and I’m head over heels for my version. I whipped up the vinaigrette and tossed the vegetables with it before popping them into a hot oven to roast and caramelize. The chickpeas were added towards the end, just long enough to become crunchy and toasted, finally – and I personally think this is where things got amazing – I sautéed up some halloumi and tossed the lot together with some fresh Italian parsley, lemon zest, toasted pine nuts and a tiny bit of reserved dressing. The whole plateful is varied, salty, rich – and yet somehow light – and completely comforting and satisfying. Come to think of it I think I just figured put what we will have for dinner tonight, with Kyle.

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI WITH HALLOUMI, PINE NUTS AND A MUSTARD VINAIGRETTEPINROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI WITH HALLOUMI, PINE NUTS AND A MUSTARD VINAIGRETTEPINROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI WITH HALLOUMI, PINE NUTS AND A MUSTARD VINAIGRETTEPINROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI WITH HALLOUMI, PINE NUTS AND A MUSTARD VINAIGRETTEPINROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI WITH HALLOUMI, PINE NUTS AND A MUSTARD VINAIGRETTEPINROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI WITH HALLOUMI, PINE NUTS AND A MUSTARD VINAIGRETTEPIN

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI WITH HALLOUMI, PINE NUTS AND A MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE

Ingredients.
1 medium head of cauliflower cut or broken into small pieces, about 3/4 lb.
1 medium head of broccoli cut or broken into small pieces, about 3/4lb.
1/2 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoon seedy mustard
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
flat leaf Itlalian parsley, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
8oz (250grams) halloumi, cubed
lemon zest (optional)
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and mustards, season with a small pinch of kosher salt and a few turns of black pepper. Whisking continuously, pour the olive oil in in a steady stream. Reserve 1/3 cup of the dressing.

Add in all of the cut up broccoli and cauliflower to a large roasting pan, drizzle with all but 1/3 cup of the dressing and tossing until the vegetables are well coated. Roast for 25 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Add the chickpeas to the roasting pan with the vegetables, drizzle with one tablespoon of the reserved dressing, toss together and return to the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the chickpeas and the vegetables are crispy and caramelized.

Transfer the vegetables to a serving plate.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat, sear the halloumi, browning it on (almost) all sides before adding it to the vegetables. Top with some fresh parsley, toasted pine nuts, the last of the dressing, and a bit of lemon zest if you have it! Enjoy immediately.

PRINTABLE RECIPE.
ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI WITH HALLOUMI, PINE NUTS AND A MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE

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Even though this is my third time starting solid foods with one of my babes, I still felt overwhelmed going into it. It’s a big change going from having a free, convenient, works-every-time supply on your person to feeding your baby solids. We put it off until Roux was almost 7 months old because we were traveling… and because it felt a little overwhelming. The sweet folks at Nuna UK sent us a high chair for Roux and, I know it’s silly, but that made me really excited to get him eating. I don’t work with many companies reviewing or promoting products, but I really love Nuna. I’ll put it out there right away that Kyle and I both agreed the Nuna Zaaz is the best high chair we’ve ever used, and between my first two kids and all my years of nannying, I’ve tried quite a few.

starting solids nuna zaazPINstarting solids nuna zaazPINNuna sent us our stroller and our travel cot (that Roux still sleeps in every night) just before he was due. They’d reached out at a time when I was feeling so unsettled – not sure what to do with all that nesting anxiety because we didn’t have anything for Roux. Those packages arriving on our doorstep, giving me something to assemble, brightened our experience here so much. So when they offered to send a high chair, I said, “Yes, please!” It’s so odd, this living abroad while have a baby thing. There are these amazing moments where it feels like we’re on a great adventure – and then there are these other moments where I feel sad that he’s not having his baby days in our “real” home and sleeping in the same crib or eating in the same high chair his sisters did. So having his own, very nice, very special stroller, cot, or high chair means so much to a sensitive, sentimental mama like me.

starting solids nuna zaazPINstarting solids nuna zaazPINstarting solids nuna zaazPINIntroducing Roux to solid foods has been really fun. When the girls were his age they hardly showed any interest in food at all, preferring to nurse the days away. But this boy is so into his food that for a couple (rather unpleasant) weeks there he would sit in his high chair and shriek at us while we rushed to make him food… now he seems to understand that, if he’s in his chair, we are going to feed him and he can relax. That, or the fact that once he’s in his chair he has two big sisters who rush to grab him a handful of Cheerios.

starting solid foods nuna zaazPINstarting solid foods nuna zaazPINstarting solid foods nuna zaazPINWe started off trying a bit of Baby Led Weaning, but his choking and gagging freaked us out too much so we went back to our trusted French Kids Eat Everything approach. I bought an inexpensive immersion blender on Amazon and started making him some purees. We skipped the rice cereal and went straight for carrots, peas, apples, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, bananas, etc. After the first couple weeks of him devouring the fine purees, I started purposely leaving some texture in his food. Now he loves to feed himself rice cakes, small vegetables, finely diced chicken, bread crusts, smashed black beans… and usually ends the meal inhaling a bowl of oatmeal amped up with formula.

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  • Katie Sordahl - I’m going through this process for the 1st time with my little bug. The transition from puree to more solids is giving me a little anxiety as well. My little bug loves and wants to eat everything, but is still waiting for his first teeth. I was wondering how many teeth Roux has, or had when you started feeding solids? Love the pictures! Such a handsome boy!ReplyCancel

    • kacieblogs@gmail.com - Hi Katie! Babies can gum quite a bit of soft things without teeth – read a bit on the baby led weaning site I linked to and then decide what you’re comfortable with. Roux has eight teeth, but mostly uses his back gums to break up food. He’s quickly moved from only purees to soft solid, and now I feel like I can give him a large variety of things because he’s figuring it out, too!ReplyCancel