Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sydney {Month 1}

Brian thought I took a lot of photos last year on all our Europe trips.  That was before we had a baby.  Let's just say, Sydney's first month is very well documented.  She is just so cute, I can't resist.  I'm sure all new parents can relate.  Oh, she's asleep, let's take a photo.  She is awake, photo! Her first bath, photo. First car trip, photo.  First time wearing a new outfit, photo!

We have so many photos, I completely overlooked this one that should have been in my last post.  I love it.  It's all Sydney's Aunt's and Uncles on Brian's side and her 3 cousins, visiting us at the hospital!

The first month with Sydney flew by.  I say that now, but there were definitely moments that it didn't seem like it was flying by at the time.  It's crazy to look back at the photos from the hospital and compare them to her at 1 month - what a difference.  She weighed 8 pounds on her 1 month birthday, which is 2 pounds more than when we brought her home from the hospital.

Now that she is a little bit bigger, I'm not as nervous about breaking her.  I've learned how to tote her around 1 handed and have stopped (well, almost stopped) worrying about every little grunt, snort or new thing she does.

Sydney experienced a lot of new things in her first month.  She went on her first road trip, attended her first BBQ, celebrated her first holiday, had her first bath, read her first book and started to smile.

As her parents, we obviously think she is the cutest baby ever.  Here are some of my favorite photos, and photos of her firsts during month 1.
meeting Aunt Lauren
Chilling with Daddy
First Bath
She loves the after bath towel
Big stretches and yawns
sleepy baby
We can't get over how cute she is
Bama with Sydney, who is really hungry, and cousin Billy
Story time

Cousin Billy holding (or eating) Sydney's hand

Chats with Papa
Dressed for the 4th of July
Family photo
First BBQ on the 4th of July
another attempt at a family photo
1 month old
1 month old - this was the outfit I wanted to bring her home from the hospital in
It was waaaay to big then, and still a little big here
The slippers were a handmade gift from Grandma Marla
1 month
outfit change

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A New Life {We're back in California}

If you're reading this, I'm pretty sure you know we left Ireland and are back stateside these days.

We moved home to the Bay Area in February, and just 4 short months later, everything was new.  Literally.  New city, new house, all new furniture, new baby.
Just under 1 month before she arrived
In short, after being in a 1 bedroom furnished apartment in San Francisco for almost 4 months, we bought a house in the suburbs, and moved over Memorial Day weekend - just 2 weeks before our new little peanut arrived.
Our house - 1 week before Sydney's arrival!
I won't go into all the details, but what I can tell you is that I have one amazing husband.  He did an incredible job of moving us (packing and unpacking all our stuff), getting us settled (furnishing an entire house, down to the mattresses - and building a lot of that furniture), and doing all the things around that house that come with new home ownership.  Oh, and let's not forget about taking care of his very pregnant wife (I still ate like a queen, and hardly lifted a finger during the whole process).
Pre-Furniture - from the family room, looking at the backyard
Backyard, looking at the house
Dining room
Sydney's Room
Other half of Sydney's room
My hard work came 2 weeks later, when our newest family member arrived on June 9th.  We were, and continue to be, overwhelmed with happiness and love when Sydney made her appearance into the world.
First Family Selfie 
scrunchy baby pic
As our lives evolve, so does our blog.  We've gone from a food blog to a travel blog and now we're becoming a "doting about our sweet little Sydney" blog.  So brace yourself.  I'll sprinkle in a few posts from the past - I still have 6 Europe trips left to document, and I'm determined to finish them.

But for now, here is a quick look at our first week as parents.
Just out of my belly - still hard to believe she was in there
New family
With MarMe.  Can you tell, I am still learning how to hold her safely in this photo? 
First of many Father/Daughter chats
meeting her MarMe
Happy 1st Father's Day - Sydney loves her daddy
Chilling with Grandpa Billy
Proud parents and grandparents! 
Another proud grandma
Full family photo 
Sydney Anne came into this world on June 9, 2014 at 10:36am.  She was 6 pounds, 8 ounces and 19 inches long.

It's amazing how quickly life changes with a baby.  I'm not going to lie, it's exhausting, especially those first few weeks but it's worth every minute of lost sleep.  We are loving getting to know our sweet baby girl, and enjoying this new adventure more and more everyday.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Back in Spain {Eating our way through Madrid}

Hola desde Madrid.  Actually, hello from San Francisco...  Michelle and I are slowly but surely catching up on the blog, one trip at a time.  We have to go all the way back to August 2013 for our weekend to Madrid.  

Why did we go to Madrid?  Why not?  Who doesn't like warm weather when you're stuck in an Irish summer (albeit the best Irish summer in 18 years)?  Who doesn't love tapas crawls?  Who doesn't love exploring a major European city for a few days?  Who doesn't love Spain?!

This was my third trip to Spain since we moved to Dublin and our second together.  In fact our first trip outside of Dublin was to Barcelona.  I fell in love immediately.  After an amazing weekend in San Sebastian earlier in the year I was itching to go back. 

Michelle in front of the Royal Palace

We flew in bright and early from Dublin and hit the town to see the sights.  First stop (after coffee) was the Royal Palace.  We've seen our share of grand buildings over the summer and opted not the pay for the tour and just checked out the view from the cheap seats. 

Inside Plaza Mayor
From the Royal Palace we took a short walk to Plaza Mayor, definitely one of the more impressive squares that I've seen.  Finally we saw enough culture to get to the good stuff, Mercado de San Miguel.  A newly renovated, fairly high end food hall in the city center.  It's basically a tapas mecca and the perfect stop for a mid day snack. 

Seafood galore, too bad we didn't have a kitchen at our hotel
The ultimate olive bar
The great thing about the mercado is that you can buy what you want from dozens of stalls and then just grab a seat in the middle to enjoy.  It was so tough to decide between all of the deliciousness around but we made do.  

Notice the octopus on toast?  I was craving octopus and can't believe I waited 4 hours after landing to get some.
Total happiness.
What do you do after a couple of beers and a tapas lunch in Madrid?  Sit outside, have a coffee, and watch the city go by...

Michelle looking adorable as usual.
Mercado de San Miguel was one of 3 mercados that we visited during our weekend but the only one planned.  The other 2 we stumbled upon were definitely local, not as geared to prepared food, and totally awesome.  We were so jealous not to have anything like it in Dublin.  I don't remember the name of the market below (I mean, it was 8 months ago!), but you can see how people do their everyday shopping.  I love how the shoppers are very particular about the stalls they go to and it seems like everybody knows each other.  Completely different than going to the Marina Safeway and bobbing and weaving around the store in a mad rush with the rest of the neighborhood after work. 

Typical fruit stall in the market
Meat mecca at the market, crazy how much variety they had on offer
We actually stumbled on the market above on our way to the Museo del Prado, Madrid's sprawling collection of world class galleries.  We don't have any pictures from in the museum, but it's definitely worth a trip if you are in town.  Not to mention, it was over 90 degrees and we were melting after getting soft over 18 months in Dublin, the air conditioned museum was much needed.  We spent the rest of the day just cruising the city and enjoying the atmosphere.  

Pretty sure this is actually a library, pretty impressive

On the recommendation of my buddy Eric we went to dinner at a place called Lateral, located right in Plaza Santa Ana.  What an amazing meal, we loved it so much we actually went back the next night!  I have actually never done that before in my life.  They do a great modern spin on traditional tapas dishes, exactly what we were looking for. 
I think I am in the middle of telling Michelle to hurry up and take the picture so I can finally eat my croquettes. 

Totally satisfied and happy enough to go back the next day for the dishes we didn't have room for our first night.
The next morning we woke up to another beautiful day in Madrid, but it was a scorcher.  We braved the heat, grabbed Michelle's favorite breakfast (croissant and coffee) and made our way to the train station.  We heard from a lot of sources (blogs, guidebooks, and so on) that Toledo was an amazing day trip from Madrid.  We heard wrong! 
Ignorance is bliss, enjoying our breakfast before heading out the train station
Down by our hotel, Madrid is an amazing mix of architecture
Toledo is probably a really cool place if you have never seen a medieval walled city before.  We're spoiled, we've seen our fair share.  Toledo was hot, I mean crazy hot.  It was also touristy, I mean, crazy touristy.  We walked around a bit but there was no oomph to the city.  Just your typical tourist junk and crowds.  There were some nice buildings, but nothing knocked our socks off.  

Madrid was cheap compared to Dublin, our amazing meal at Lateral was less than what we would spend for one of us to eat in Dublin.  Toledo was a whole other story, our only options were tourist traps and we spent a fortune for what had to be the worst Spanish food in the world.  They were definitely cooking for tourists, not Spaniards.  

We were also in Toledo on a Sunday and it's Spain so of course a lot of stuff was closed.  There was a  Jewish museum we were going to see but of course it was shut.  I guess that in Spain the Jews have the privilege of observing Shabbat on Saturday and the Catholic day of rest on Sunday, not a bad gig. We finally decided to through in the towel and catch an earlier train back to Madrid.   
Totally defeated

How we really felt about Toledo
And, if that didn't sum it up....
Back in Madrid, we were on the right path again.  We did what we do best, cruise around, check out the scene, maybe get a drink or two along the way.  We salvaged the afternoon, hit up some tapas bars for dinner, and vowed that we would never go back to Toledo again!

Hanging out in Chueca area
We came across this guy in Puerta del Sol on our walk home.  Unfortunately I cut off the guys broom, so guess where we had to go the next day as well? 
Take 1
Take 2
The next day for lunch we reluctantly went to Casa Toni for some tapas.  Rick Steve's raved about this little tapas bar on a side road by Puerta del Sol.  Rick is a great guide, but we usually steer clear of  his food and drink recommendations.  Typically you just find the tourists eating in guide book suggestions, but not here.  I was never so happy to be wrong. 

This little hole in the wall was cranking out some of the best traditional Spanish dishes I have ever had.  Not to mention the staff of 2 were awesome, as were the guys at the table next to us.  They were a fun group of middle aged drunk locals that were very passionate about what we should order.  They didn't lead us astray.   Not to mention, I always love a place that gives you a shot of home made booze with the check!   

Michelle probably saying that I ordered too much food.
Me washing it down with a nice glass of rosé
Who knew that Rick Steve's could be so right?
The rest of the day we continued our cruise around the city and tried to walk off some of our lunch.

We ended up in Plaza Ángel, just around the corner from where we were our first night at Lateral.  We sat down for  beer while the sun was out and didn't get up for a while...  I blame the little band that showed up and the awesome people watching.  I'm a sucker for an accordion and a stand up base, these guys had both. 

Afternoon beer
Same table a while later
As I mentioned we ended up back at Lateral for a light bite that night and sat outside.  Then, as if we didn't already eat enough we just had to hit up this 24 hour churro and chocolate place we heard about, Chocolateria San Gines.  I actually think that I wanted another drink and Michelle won that battle.  Totally worth it, crazy good churros with an incredibly rich chocolate dip.  

How happy does she look?
Our last full day in Madrid was spent cruising around the amazing Parque del Retiro.  It's an incredible urban park that rivals any other that I have seen.   Great way to chill out on our last day before flying back to Dublin.
At the Palacio de Cristal

Right after I took this selfie a homeless guy walked by with his junk hanging out, just like back home in San Francisco...
Hasta luego, Mardid.
We've been back in San Francisco for 3 months now and people keep asking us what our favorite trips has been.  It's tough to say, we have been very lucky to travel so much.  I can never decide what my favorite trip was, but Spain is definitely one of my favorite countries.  I hope it's not too long before we are back enjoying the people, the culture, and of course, the food!