Denim Pennant Gift Toppers

My stack of ripped denim jeans is piling up, folks. At this point, I’m just shaking my head like, “REALLY?!?

But ripped jeans are in style, you say!

Perhaps. However, these jeans of Handy Husband’s are ripped in a rather unfortunate location. Do you get what I’m saying?

The jeans aren’t really fixable in any way that says you should be wearing them to work for Casual Fridays. It’s not THAT casual! I need to throw them away or repurpose them.

The repurposing issue is a challenge because most denim projects seem very dated or way too country western for me. I’ve lived long enough to know that if I procrastinate long enough wait awhile these projects will cycle back into style.

However, patience is not one my virtues, so I’ve been challenging myself to come up with crafts using these denim jeans that seem acceptable for this decade.

At Christmas, I wrapped some presents and made a name tag out of a strip of denim. I just wrote on the denim with a Sharpie marker. Super easy.

(These were the fake presents, by the way. The real presents with the real name tags went to our neighbors and I didn’t take pictures of those.)

I liked the denim gift tag idea because it was different, unexpected and only took 10 seconds to do.

Then I said to myself, “That was a good idea, Self. Now can you make this project NOT AS QUICK and EASY?”

And I replied, “You bet I can!”

I started thinking about pennants because a big college football game was in the news. One thing led to another and I was cutting a pennant shape out of a pair of denim jeans.

And, yes, cutting the pennant out required some math. So, kids, if you’re sitting in class wondering when you’re ever going to use geometry, let this be a cautionary tale lesson.

Instead of a school name, I wrote the gift recipient’s name on the pennant. I tried a paint pen first. That didn’t saturate the color as much I wanted. Maybe my pen was running out of paint? I switched to a fabric marker. That worked pretty well, except I only had a yellow marker, so it wasn’t bright enough for what I wanted. Finally, I switched to white fabric paint. The white paint provided a nice contrast with the dark denim.

The trial and error part of this craft made the process not as quick the first time. I was cruisin’ by the time I made the second one though!

With the fabric paint method, I found it was easiest to first sketch the letters on with a pen and then paint over the lines with a small paintbrush. I just freehanded the letters.

(I’m painting over the fabric marker in this picture, but the second time I just outlined the letters with an ink pen. Pencil would work too if your denim was light enough.) 

I decided to finish off the pennant with a strip of ribbon from my craft stash.

You could glue the ribbon on with fabric glue. That was my original plan.

Since I had my ironing board out for actual ironing (UGH), it was faster for me to just use a strip of iron-on hem tape to secure the ribbon. Do not get your iron too close to the fabric paint. It can cause it to warp a little.

I debated on how to attach the pennant to a gift bag.

In the end, I decided not to overcomplicate things (for once!) and just used a staple to attach it.

If you’re putting the pennant on top of a wrapped present you could probably just use a few pieces of tape to secure it.

What I like about this gift topper is that if the recipient wants they can keep the denim pennant and hang it on a bulletin board. Or do whatever it is people do with pennants.

If they don’t want to keep it – no biggie.

I’m not particularly concerned with what happens to the present after it is gifted.

These sorts of projects are fun for me. A way to relax and be creative. It’s a bonus if something useful or pretty comes out of the process. Ha!

I think I might be done with denim pennants and other denim crafts for awhile though. Probably. Maybe. We’ll see.

Happy crafting, everyone!


If you liked this post, here are some other DENIM CRAFTS and GIFT TOPPER ideas:

Denim Braided Pumpkin

Denim Striped and Flower Petal Pumpkins

Repurposing Denim Belt Loops to Hang Towels

Junky 4th of July Wreath

Perler Bead Gift Topper

Pom Pom Initial Gift Bag


 

*affiliate links used in this post*

 

 

 

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Travel: Luxembourg With Kids

Our quest while living in Ireland is to visit as many places in Europe as possible. If only those pesky things like budgets, school and work didn’t always get in the way. Am I right?

Over the holidays, while the kids were off from school, we had the opportunity to visit Barcelona, Luxembourg and Paris. I wrote about our experience in Barcelona here. I’ll write about Paris soon.

Luxembourg came about because we had a gap in our itinerary and we could easily reach it via train from Paris. Luxembourg is a country, but also a city. To distinguish between the two, Luxembourg City seems to be referenced when speaking of the municipality and not the country.

(image)

We ended up staying two nights in Luxembourg City, but only had one real day for exploring with our kids, ages 7 and 10.

If you ask them, they will say Luxembourg was their FAVORITE place on our trip. Part of their reasoning is due to happenstance and good timing – two things we all wish for when traveling!


WHERE WE STAYED
Hotel Novotel Luxembourg Centre
Pros:
– Amazing breakfast. Waffles, eggs, potatoes, all the breads, cereals, meat, etc.
– Gift for kids at check-in. This time it was a stuffed animal! Huge hit. They also gave the adults socks! (And, no, this is not an ad for Novotel.)
– Foosball table in the lobby. Area with books and video games for kids to play.

Cons: No real deal breakers for us, but because I did a pro list…
– No swimming pool.
– View from our room wasn’t that great –  mainly of surrounding buildings.


GETTING TO LUXEMBOURG
While Luxembourg does have an airport, we took the train from Paris. It’s only a 2 hour trip on the high speed TGV France – Luxembourg train, which is run by SNCF.

This train regularly travels at 186mph (300 km/h). It’s fast. We prebooked our tickets, so we had actual seat numbers assigned to us. There are bathrooms on board. There’s a train car with a cafe. We did not have wifi on our train. Maybe it was a fluke or maybe in the future they will have it.

Here’s the beautiful ceiling at the Luxembourg train station…

Once we were in Luxembourg, we did not feel the need to use public transportation.

Relatively speaking, the city core is pretty small and quite walkable.


WHERE WE ATE
I know you’re probably going to ask me what local delicacy we enjoyed eating while in Luxembourg.

Well. About that.

We ate at a Mexican restaurant called Chi-Chi’s and it was packed! I wouldn’t quite call the food authentic, but it was good. Best meal yet, the kids said. They got ice cream with their kid’s meal. Of course it was the best!

A random thing happened in this restaurant. I went upstairs to use the restroom. When I opened the restroom door, the first thing I saw was a man changing a baby’s diaper. I had that instinctive “oh no I’ve walked into the wrong restroom” impulse and took a step backward. He said, “Oh sorry! I had to change the baby and this was the only changing table.” I just said, “no worries” and went about finding a stall to use. That’s the first time that’s ever happened to me!


WHAT WE DID
We didn’t have any set plans when we arrived in Luxembourg. This was a bonus stop on our trip and after a quick consultation with our travel guide, Google, we decided to set out on foot to explore the old part of Luxembourg.

Fortifications of the Old City of Luxembourg
Luxembourg was very clearly built – back in the day – to be a fortress. They used the natural landscape with the river and steep hills to their advantage.

The fortifications that still remain including 17 km of tunnels became an UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site in 1994. The tunnels are often referred to as the Bock Casemates.

The tunnel access was closed when we were there in late December, but we explored what we could above ground.


Impromptu Soccer (Football) Game
We walked down a steep hill from the casemates and along a paved path next to the Alzette River. As we were walking along, we found a soccer field/football pitch. (I couldn’t find a name for the field, but its coordinates are 49°36’49.7″N 6°08’04.3″E.)

Lo and behold, luck was on our side because someone had left a ball on the field. I’m not sure if that’s normal. It wouldn’t be in Ireland. We took advantage though and probably spent a good 45 minutes playing soccer as a family.

While I’d love for my kids to remember the cultural and historical experiences of our travels, what they will probably remember or enjoy the most are these spontaneous moments of family fun.

And how many 7-year-old Americans can say they’ve played soccer in Luxembourg? It’s a cool memory to have.


National Monument of the Solidarity
I wish the pictures of our day in Luxembourg were bright and cheery, but there was a snowstorm on the way. It was cold, grey and this eternal flame definitely caught our eye. The kids were hoping it would warm them up! Wishful thinking. 

National Monument of the Solidarity features an eternal flame. This flame and the surrounding memorial are a tribute to the lives lost in WWII. The memorial is also designed to remember the resistance of Luxembourg as it faced Nazi occupation.

Not a light-hearted topic, that’s for sure, but if your kids are learning about world history this is a great place for a conversation starter.


Tunnels, Stairs, Bridges, Elevators
Luxembourg definitely has that ‘fortress on the hill with the valley below’ vibe going on.

And the valley below is really far below.

Despite that, the city is completely walkable. There are pedestrian paths everywhere and it made exploring a lot of fun. Truly!

A tunnel through a tower-like structure? Of course we want to run walk through that!

My mention of the valley below is important because off in the distance we saw an elevator. Just an elevator. Outside. It was the most random thing and we HAD to check it out.

It turns out this elevator is not random. It is a completely intentional use of space. The award-winning Pfaffenthal Lift opened in 2016 and connects the “Pescatore” park located in the city center to the Pfaffenthal area at the bottom of the Alzette Valley. It can transport 300 pedestrians an hour.

Best of all, It’s free.

A tremendous amount of thought went into the design of this elevator. To learn more about it, here’s a great article from World Architecture.

It was wild to look down at the valley where we had just been walking and playing soccer. You can even see the train in the distance.


Villa Vauban – Art Museum
We were on the hunt for lunch and walking through a park when I spotted a sign for an art museum with FREE admission. Score!

Here’s a travel tip: The sign for a “free museum” is code for “clean bathroom.”

I didn’t know what our lunch situation was going to entail and everyone needed a restroom break. So, we popped into the Villa Vauban museum. I figured we’d get some culture, warm up from the cold, use the restroom.

Here’s where good timing and happenstance came into play. The very first thing we saw off the museum entrance was a room full of beanbags. Giant beanbags. And a disco ball throwing colorful lights all over the walls.

Best. Thing. Ever!

I did confirm the space was intended for the children to use – if they removed their shoes. We were the only ones there. The only ones! I sat on a bench while the kids played and read books. Handy Husband toured the museum. Everybody won in this scenario!

FYI – If you do visit the museum, you will need to check your backpack or other large bags in a locker. You’ll need a one euro coin to release the lock on the locker and you get your euro back when you’re finished.


Souvenir Shopping
To escape the cold on the way to lunch we also did a little souvenir shopping.

Kidding!

Just wanted to see if you were still with me.

There did look to be some very nice, very high-end shopping in Luxembourg if that’s the thing you enjoy doing with children in tow.

There is a shop at the Luxembourg Train Station that has some souvenir-type items, books, magazines, snacks, etc. Most of the reading materials were in French though.


SNOW!
The best thing happened in the afternoon. It started snowing! Legit snow!

My kids hadn’t seen snow in quite awhile and they were BEYOND ELATED.

If you’re 7 and 10 years old and have been wishing for snow and then it starts snowing while you’re on vacation, it’s pretty magical!


Did we enjoy our time in Luxembourg City? Yes!

Admittedly, a bit of luck and good timing was on our side during this quick visit.

While there are other museums and things to do in and out of the city, I don’t know that I’d plan a long trip with your family to this city. Start by seeing if there are things to fill up a day or two first and then go from there.

Happy Travels!


If you liked this Travel With Kids post, here are some others:

Travel: Barcelona With Kids

Travel: Belfast With Kids

Travel: Copenhagen, Denmark With Kids

Visiting Ireland: The Cliffs of Moher and Aran Island With Kids

A Day in Malmo, Sweden With Kids

Visiting Ireland: Galway With Kids

Visiting Ireland: Kissing the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle

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Happy List: #54

We are approaching mid-January! How’s 2018 treating you so far?

My kids resumed school this week. I was ready to get back to a routine. Then I remembered that routine involves homework 4 nights a week. *sigh*

This week I shared our trip to Barcelona with you! I had never been to Spain, so it was fun to see a completely new place. We tried to practice our Spanish language skills while we were there and it really makes me wish I would have studied abroad while in high school.

On Wednesday I asked for your advice on what to do with my latest junky find. Thank you for joining in on the conversation on Facebook! If you haven’t sent me your ideas, I’d love to hear them!

My first Happy List of 2018 is quite the mash-up!


EMILY HENDERSON LIKES MY SHEETS

People. Do you see the blue diamond pillowcase on this bed? Right behind Emily Henderson’s arms?

(image: Style By Emily Henderson)

Those are my sheets! I bought them at Target this summer and brought them home to Ireland in my suitcase. I think I’ve explained this before, but American king-sized beds are not a thing in Ireland. Therefore, king-sized sheets are not a thing either.

Anyway, I LOVE my sheets. Absolutely love them. It’s probably my 4th or 5th set of Target sheets and they wear really, really well.

Here they are on my bed. I still love my upholstered headboard too.

I’m enormously kind of tickled that I selected something for my home first that the famous and talented Emily Henderson selected for a client.


DIY LIVE EDGE BATH BOARD

I’m the sort of person who WANTS baths to be my thing. In reality, I just can’t seem to get all the joy out of a bath that bath lovers seem to. And my hands are always wet, which doesn’t work for turning the pages of a book or even worse, my Kindle.

What caught my eye for this DIY besides the live edge was the phone stand. I might be more likely to soak if I could prop my phone or iPad up in a semi-safe spot to binge watch The Crown on Netflix. I’m on Season 2, Episode 8, by the way.

Jenni from I Spy DIY has a full tutorial for you on this clever DIY!

(image: I Spy DIY)


A WHOLE NEW LEVEL OF ADVERTISING

Speaking of things that happen in bathrooms…

I can’t decide how this next one makes me feel. At first I thought it was April Fools. Now, I swing back and forth between “it’s catchy” and “just wrong.”

Anyway, you can now pee on an IKEA ad to see if you are pregnant. If you are pregnant, the price of the crib lowers. I don’t know the logistics after that on getting your crib. I have no need to know.

According to this article in Ad Age/Creativity Online, IKEA used the same science that regular pregnancy tests use.

(image: Creativity Online)


SNOW ACTIVITY

For all of you getting pounded with snow lately, here’s an idea to do with the kids or grandkids.

Do you have snow? Try painting on it with liquid watercolors and pipettes! ——————————— . Let's celebrate all those frosty, icy, snowy STEAM activities you’re doing. We can’t wait to see what you post!⠀ ⠀ And be sure to tag all the fun, hands-on activities you’re doing with #steamkidschallenge (not just the snowy ones), because each week we’ll be featuring a surprise, off-topic activity that makes us swoon, too.⠀ .⠀ To join in on the action 😉, ⠀ .⠀ 1⃣ Make sure you are following the @steamkidschallenge hosts: @leftbraincraftbrain @figmentcreative @preschoolsteam . ⠀ 2⃣ Add the tag #steamkidschallenge ⠀ .⠀ We will close out entries and post favorites next Monday. Thanks for playing!⠀

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PEOPLE BUY WEIRD STUFF AT WALMART

Here are the top selling items people are buying at Walmart as reported in Business Insider.

Grape flavored drink mix in Ohio? Mayo in North Carolina?

For full details on how Walmart came up with this list, read the article. Yes! They track your purchases.


FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH?

I generally don’t buy into product hype, but I did feel a flicker of hope deep down in my soul when I read an InStyle article that said Kiehl’s Powerful Strength Line Reducing Concentrate sells one bottle every minute around the world.

So, it’s probably not as popular as some of the things sold at Walmart – like glue sticks in Maryland – but, it’s still pretty popular for a $62 bottle of unicorn magic.

I made that last part up. I don’t know if there really is unicorn magic in the bottle, but I’m kind of curious to know.


LEARNING TO FALL

The Dutch are not simply relying on anti-aging serums to ease them gracefully into their best years. Nope. They have a more practical approach –  teaching elderly people how to fall. This article in the NY Times explains how the program works. Have you heard about this?

From the article written by Christopher F. Schuetze, “The Dutch, like many elsewhere, are living longer than in previous generations, often alone. As they do, courses that teach them not only how to avoid falling, but how to fall correctly, are gaining popularity.”  

I think I would benefit from this class now!

Just saying.

Ironically, my name means graceful. HAHAHAHA!


RED PEPPER CASHEW PASTA

I have never made a cashew sauce. Have you? One with a little spice sounds right up my alley and I’m curious to try this recipe from Pinch of Yum.

(image: Pinch of Yum)


LIME WASHED WOOD

Have you ever lime-washed wood before? That’s what caught my eye on this Instagram post by BeautifulChaos.Home. I have no idea how it is done, but I’m curious to find out.

I do love how those doors look!


THE PRETTIEST BARN

Growing up on a farm, barns were practical places. Necessary places.

They weren’t places where you’d find fancy chandeliers. The only thing colored white in a barn would be nothing the spots on a cow.

Now, look at this barn all fancied up for weddings and events! It’s the prettiest barn I’ve ever seen. It’s the White Sparrow Barn in Quinlan, Texas, and I absolutely adore it.

There’s a lot of architectural and event eye candy on their site, so check it out!

(image: The White Sparrow Barn)


Happy Friday, everyone! Here’s to an amazing weekend!

 

*affiliate links used in this post*

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What Should I Do With This Junky Treasure?

If you’ve been following along on this blog – and thank you for doing that – you’ll remember I talked about our sidewalks being torn up and the amazing memento I now have from the tree that was cut down during the process.

I’m not sure if I mentioned it, but our driveway apron was torn up too.

A few weeks after the new concrete was poured, I cleaned out the flowerbeds next to the driveway.

Yes, I occasionally do tend to my flowerbeds. I swear!

Do you know what I found when I was weeding that day?

A glorious junky treasure!

Talk about chippy perfection!

It’s a piece of gate hardware that was embedded in the concrete at the base of our driveway. Part of a latch, I think. We no longer have a gate, so it was not a necessary embellishment.

The city workers tore it out when they removed the old concrete and tossed it aside in my flowerbed. Bless them.

I cleaned it up and for that last 3 months have been moving it around my house trying to figure out what to do with it. I KNOW I can do something fun with it. I just haven’t figure out what – yet.

Perhaps you have some ideas?

I measured the hardware for you. It’s roughly 4.5 inches by 4.5 inches.

(As a total side note: Does anyone from the Pacific Northwest remember the Sprouse-Reitz stores? The last ones closed in 1994. That ruler in the above picture has a Sprouse sticker on the back! No joke! So, of all the things I’ve lost or discarded over the years, somehow I’ve managed to keep a ruler from when I was a kid? It’s got to be 25 – 30 years old! )

At first I thought the hardware could be a stand for a book or a 4×6 photograph, but it’s so deep I think it looks a little weird. It’s also not quite tall enough to be a cookbook holder.

I also thought it could be an industrial letter J.

But! The hardware is top heavy, so I’d need to weigh it down to make it stay in the J shape.

It’s heavy enough to function in a hook or stocking holder-type capacity if I had something lightweight to hang off of it. Maybe necklaces? Or a placard of some sort?

I also need to seal it so that the chippy, rusty goodness doesn’t keep creating a mess.

Now, let’s just all assume I’m not crazy for thinking this thing has potential.

I need some ideas on what to do with this junky treasure. What am I missing? Send me your ideas! Please!

Thank you and happy brainstorming!

 

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Travel: Barcelona With Kids

When you’re living though a cold, damp winter in Dublin, a quick getaway to Barcelona, Spain, in December is a real treat!

Actually, in my mind, a trip to Barcelona no matter the time is AMAZING.

This was our first time visiting Barcelona and we only had two days to explore the city. Before we left I did a little online research so I had an idea of what was available to do in the city and of interest to our family (our kids are 7 and 10).

When we landed in Barcelona on December 26, it felt like an Irish summer. I kid you not. The locals were bundled up in parkas, but my kids were like, “WE FOUND THE PROMISED LAND AND IT’S WARM!” In case you’re wondering what my kids call warm these days – high 50s Fahrenheit.

All the loose plans involving indoor attractions were scrapped. Instead, if there was a theme to this trip, it was let’s stay outside as long as possible! Even if the wind kicks up! And it did.


WHERE WE STAYED:
Novotel Barcelona City
Pros:
– Their breakfasts are super hearty and delicious (eggs, potatoes, meats, breads, cereals, fresh juice, fruit, etc.).
– Kids get a present at check-in. This time it was a lollipop and a Minions bracelet.
– Play area for the kids with toys and video games.
– This Novotel is located next to Glories Shopping Center with shops and restaurants and around the corner from a metro and tram station.

Cons:
– For all the stuff we ended up doing, we had to either walk or take the subway. Granted, the things we wanted to do were spread all over the city. It would have been nice to have been on the beach, but that’s just personal preference.

The View From Our Hotel:
We didn’t have a beach view, but we did have a view of Torre Glòries lit up at night!


WHERE WE ATE:
I honestly cannot tell you the names of any of the restaurants where we ate. They all ended up being hole-in-the-wall establishments that looked sketchy, but had amazing and inexpensive food.

We also stopped at a couple of grocery stores to buy apples, oranges, water and cookies. We always buy the cookies! You have to see what sweets everyone else is eating, right? Just nod and say, “yes.”

One night we ate sushi from a huge supermarket store – CarreFour. Honest to goodness, the food selection in that grocery store was amazing. If you buy loose fruit though (ones you bag yourself) make sure you weigh it before you take it to the checkout counter. Live and learn.

Oh, and because one of my children would rather starve than eat sushi, he got a McDonald’s Happy Meal. Don’t judge. Sometimes travel is all about survival. Plus, it’s sort of interesting to see what’s in a Happy Meal in various countries. In Spain you can get tomatoes instead of fries. That’s totally what my kids did!

HAHAHAHAHA! Not! Just wanted to see if you were paying attention.


TRAVEL CARD (BARCELONA CARD):
You can purchase a Barcelona Card that includes free admission to many attractions AND all your public transportation – even the train from the airport. Generally speaking, these type of tourist cards can save you a few bucks if you’re hitting a lot of attractions. It’s best to price things out before you purchase one though.

We ended up purchasing a Barcelona Exrpess Card (2 day), which gave us the transportation option and discounted (not free) admission to some attractions. While we did use a lot of trains and buses in two days, we didn’t end up using any of the discounts the card offers. I’m not sure if we came out ahead or not on that deal, but it was nice not to have to worry about train and bus tickets all the time.

If you do buy a Barcelona Card there is a small discount for purchasing it online in advance of your trip. You will receive a voucher that can be redeemed at various tourism offices for the card. It was slightly confusing/frustrating to find the tourism office at the airport. That’s because we didn’t deplane into Terminal 1 or 2, so we had to go on the search for the tourism office. Also, you are supposed to print out your voucher prior to redeeming it. However, enough people don’t do this in advance that the customer service agent handed us an email address where we forwarded our online voucher and he printed it out for us.


WHAT WE DID:
Beach

One of the first things we did was find the beach! Barcelona is located along the Balearic Sea, which is part of the Mediterranean Sea. The sand had a coarse texture and was a medium-brown, almost clay color. I’m not sure why, but I found that tidbit interesting.

No one was in the water when we were there, but plenty of people were hanging out on the beach or walking the boardwalk. There are restaurants, playgrounds, bathrooms and feet washing stations all along this area.


Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia is one of the most famous landmarks in Barcelona. The temple is famous for different reasons. First, its architect is the famed Antoni Gaudí. As a result, its design is definitely unique. Second, the temple has been under construction since 1882. That’s 135 years of construction – give or take some work stoppages here and there. According to the temple’s website, construction may be complete by the first third of the 21st century. So by 2033. Maybe?

If you’ve read Dan Brown’s latest book, Origin, then you’ll know Sagrada Familia was featured pretty prominently in the storyline. I really enjoyed that book, by the way.

Partly because of the book, but mainly based on what we already knew about Sagrada Familia, this was the one “adult” thing we were going to do while in Barcelona. We got to the temple just after its opening time and ALL the tours for that day were sold out.

Whomp, whomp.

Learn from our mistake! We should have either gotten there earlier or bought tickets online prior to our trip. It looks like they sell tickets up to two months in advance. Kids 10 and under are free. I think we could have waited in line for general admission tickets, but the line was crazy and the process confusing. For ticket tips, this website was helpful after the fact.

My kids did not feel sorry about our misfortune one bit because do you know what’s right outside of the Sagrada Familia? A playground.

It is a pretty epic setting in which to play.


Park Güell
Park Güell is considered to be another of Antoní Gaudi’s masterpieces. It was originally intended to be a residential development and work started in 1900, but the project was scrapped by the owner, Eusebi Güell, in 1914. The land was sold to the City of Barcelona and became a park in 1926. Park Güell was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.

Tickets to the ‘Monumental Core’ of Park Güell are available online up to 3 months prior to your visit. We were able to walk up and buy tickets, which are sold in time bands. As an example, we arrived at 11:15 and were able to purchase tickets for entrance to the core between 12 and 12:30. I don’t know if this would be the case during peak tourist season. You can stay as long as you want once inside, but you have to enter within the time on your time band. 

What did we do while we waited for our entrance time? Well, most of Park Güell is a large public park with trails, picnic areas, restroom and a playground. You don’t need a ticket to visit a public park! 

So, we played on a playground.

We walked the paths and explored Gaudi’s handiwork. It really does boggle your mind to see the intricate paths, arches, benches, etc. that his vision created. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Park Güell is located on the top of a hill, so when you walk the paths you will be rewarded with impressive views of Barcelona and the Balearic Sea. 

Just keep climbing…you’ll get there!

Once inside the Monumental Core – the ticketed area – we saw more of what is in the public park. There’s also a Dragon Stairway, the HypoStyle Room, Nature Square (under rehab when we were there), gardens and the Laundry Room Portico.

Plus, you have access to the Porter’s House, which is now a history museum. The wait to get inside the museum (below) was 45 minutes. There was no way my kids were going to cheerfully handle a 45-minute wait for something that doesn’t involve a rollercoaster. That’s my reality and the museum wasn’t a high priority for me anyway.

If I would have realized the wait was going to be 45 minutes for the museum and knowing that you can sort of see some of the things in the Monumental Core from the free areas of the park, I wouldn’t have bought the entrance ticket. I don’t want to discourage you from buying a ticket though because maybe you’ll get more out of it than we did.


Playgrounds
In between our walks to various attractions or walks to the subway stations, we kept stumbling upon public playgrounds. It almost became a running joke there were so many of them! The park situation was definitely a way to motivate our kids to keep moving.

“Let’s go find another park, kids!”

From what we saw, Barcelona has done an amazing job of creating outdoor spaces for its residents (and visitors!) to enjoy.


Teleférico de Barcelona – Cable Car
The one thing we REALLY wanted to do as a family in Barcelona was ride Teleférico de Barcelona – the cable car. I don’t think my kids have ever been on one and certainly not in Spain! We set out to find one of the cable car stations only to arrive and realize that it was closed due to high winds. 

Whomp, whomp.

These things happen. You can’t control the weather while on vacation. You also can’t always rely on an attraction to update their website with these type of closures. We were just one of many tourists caught off guard that day.

It would have been awesome though!


Castell de Montjuïc
We didn’t let a little cable car closure ruin our day! After all, we got to ride the funicular railway to get there (that was new for us) AND there’s always another park to find!

The closest “park” in this instance was the one surrounding Montjuïc Castle (Castell de Montjuïc).

Montjuïc Castle is located on a high point above Barcelona with panoramic views of the sea. The castle site was used as a place to defend Barcelona for centuries. It became a military museum in the 1960s.

On our hike up the hill to the museum, we found the coolest set of slides. They were as steep as this picture indicates and a clever use of space.

We decided not to go into the museum, but the grounds around the castle were gorgeous.

We were SUPER glad for our Barcelona Card and the public bus that came every 15 minutes from the castle to take us back down the hill. I don’t think mama the kids would have made it. Later that day our activity trackers showed we had walked 98 flights of stairs – most of those were on our hike UP to the castle.

Side note: Also located on the Montjuïc Hill are the stadiums from the 1992 Olympics. You can tour them for free. We didn’t do this, but did go by them and they looked very neat. The stadiums are now used for concerts and sporting events. 


Parc de la Ciutadella
Parc de la Ciutadella is a 70-acre park in Barcelona that is home to the Parliament of Catalonia, Museum of Natural Science, the city zoo and a large fountain.

I was told December in Barcelona is orange season and the season did not disappoint. One of my favorite things about Parc de la Ciutadella was all the orange trees. And, no, I didn’t try to pick one. I thought hard about it though!

Instead, I bought a big bag of local oranges for Handy Husband to carry around in his red backpack. He was so appreciative of the extra weight the healthy snack.

That’s the parliament building in the background, by the way. I will briefly mention that while we saw support for Catalan independence everywhere, we did not see any protests during out quick visit.

The other showstopper in Parc de la Ciutadella is the fountain called Cascada. It’s more of a structure than simply a fountain. It was created back in 1881 and then a few years later added onto and embellished to be more impressive.

I was impressed.


Did we enjoy our time in Barcelona? YES. Definitely.

I know there were some hiccups to our visit, but that’s just part of travel. Our attitude determines if it’s an adventure or an ordeal. Some of the things that didn’t happen led to some other cool things that did, so I’ll call that a win!

It was fun to experience a place that is so different from most anywhere else we’ve visited. It was also a good opportunity (and a humbling one) to practice our Spanish language skills, which are, at present, very poor. Although, in most cases, people speak English quite well.

There were plenty of museums and other indoor attractions that we did not make time to visit with our kids during this trip and that’s okay. Being outside was an enjoyable December treat!

Happy Travels!


P.S. Handy Husband is a fan of this 20L Deuter backpack to carry around our snacks and gear while being tourists. My daughter now wears these Skecher boots in a woman’s size. They have a tennis shoe sole, but the look and warmth of an UGG boot and have been awesome this winter while traveling.

*affiliate links used in this post*


If you liked this Travel With Kids post, here are some others:

Travel: Belfast With Kids

Travel: Copenhagen, Denmark With Kids

Visiting Ireland: The Cliffs of Moher and Aran Island With Kids

A Day in Malmo, Sweden With Kids

Visiting Ireland: Galway With Kids

Visiting Ireland: Kissing the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle

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Happy New Year!

Hello, hello!

I hope you had a fun time ringing in (or sleeping through) the New Year!

If you’ve been following me on Instagram (@aprettyhapppyhome) you’ll know we are off on a grand adventure.

It has been our quest while living in Ireland to see as much of Europe as we can. In this trip alone we will cross three more countries off our list. We won’t have time to do a deep dive into each of the areas we are visiting, but the highlights are pretty fantastic!

I’m taking a break from blogging this week to continue with our adventures. I’ll be back next week to tell you all about it.

Happy New Year!

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Happy List: #53, Happy Birthday Dad

Hello, hello! You are joining me on a very special day.

It’s my dad’s birthday!

If you know him, feel free to give him a call today. By “call” I mean leave a message without any expectation of a call back – that’s a true gift.  Or honk when you drive by his house. The neighbors will love that! Or maybe just bake him a pie. That’s what he REALLY likes.

Now on to some other things making me happy today!


PUZZLE TIME

This was just too fun not to share. Can you spot the bear among the reindeer?

Here’s the original image by Budapest-based illustrator Gergely Dudás . Here’s the solution.


INSTANT POT LOVE

Did anyone get an Instant Pot for Christmas?

Whenever I hear someone talk about their Instant Pot, it’s basically one big love fest. People are very passionate about this machine created by Robert Wang, PhD. According to this article on The Kitchn, the feeling is mutual.

Promotional photos of the Instant Pot always show the timer’s device set to 5:20 and that’s on purpose! Apparently if you say five-two-zero out loud in Mandarin, Wang’s native language, it sounds like “I love you.” Here’s his actual quote.

That’s kind of sweet.


PIE ART

I think I’ve found someone who takes pie even more seriously than my dad does.

Check out this masterpiece…

Or this one emulating Vincent Van Gogh. Can you even?!?!

I think it’s cool that you can find joy and art in most anything – even pies.


HANDY HUSBAND HAS A BLOG

Guys. This is shameless promotion of Handy Husband’s blog. Yep, he finally got in on the blog action. Probably because I made it look so fun.

Since Handy Husband doesn’t do anything halfway, the pictures and layouts are fantastic.

His latest post is about run commuting on the shortest day of the year. His other posts are topics that we don’t cover on this highly intellectual blog – machine learning, computer-y stuff, uh, more computer-y stuff. Definitely check it out!


WINDOWS

I just adore the windows in this kitchen by Oh! Farmhouse.

Also, I love their comment about moving the dishwasher over to the right to give the sink space to shine! Smart thinking.

I took this pic because the noonday light was so great, but it also reminded me of a last minute design decision we made. After we Photoshopped our kitchen design to include the cabinet color, we realized we did not like the dishwasher butted up against the right side of the farm sink. The stainless against the porcelain clashed and looked clunky. We really wanted the sink fully trimmed, symmetrically, in the Hague Blue cabinetry. We decided to swap the location of the trash drawer and the dishwasher so that the sink was surrounded by cabinetry. It was a minor change that made for a huge visual impact without affecting the functionality of the space. Sometimes it's hard to see these things, even when looking at a drawing. We're so glad we caught this detail. Something to consider when designing your kitchen, or any other part of your home. #kitchen #farmsink #quartz #caesarstone #brass #bluecabinets #shaker #mixedmetals #blackwindows #barnlight @walnut #island #brasshardware #wideplank #pravadafloors #subwaytile #10footceilings #kitchenaid #kitchendesign #ohio #farmhouse #urbanfarmhouse #modernfarmhouse #newconstruction #customhome #naturallight #hagueblue @kitchenaidusa @deltafaucet @caesarstoneus @pravadafloors @kohlerco @jeffreycourthd @barnlightelectric @farrowandball @wsdesignkitchenbathstudio #toledo @gilleysquires

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DECORATIVE WOOD

I like this idea of anchoring a simple frame with some decorative wood pieces from The Simple Farmhouse.

I was going to call them corbels, but I don’t think that’s what these are. Let’s just pretend I have all my words and am using them today, okay? Thanks so much.


SWEET POTATOES

I just read an article about NBA players going vegan or vegetarian and because I have so much in common with professional athletes I think to myself, “I should really try to cut meat out of my diet.”

Then the VERY NEXT article I read is a recipe with meat in it and I start wondering if it’s time for dinner yet.

I guess I need to work on my willpower a little more, but these Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes from Not Enough Cinnamon look delicious!

(image: Not Enough Cinnamon)


HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD

Here’s me and my dad when we both had a lot more hair.

My dad is a man of few words, but I know without a shadow of doubt that he loves me. He loves my kids. Heck, he probably even loves Handy Husband.

My dad is a quiet constant in my life. Never demanding, but always available. He’s steadfast and reliable, yet surprises me with his sense of adventure. He never pretends to be someone he isn’t and he is liked and respected because of it. He’s smart, funny and the hardest working person I know.

He’s probably feeling a tad bit uncomfortable with all these mushy words, so I’ll stop now while I’m ahead.

Happy birthday, Dad! I love you!


And Happy Friday to all of you! I hope your holiday week has been nothing short of amazing!

 

 

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Living in Ireland: Festival of Trees

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

Before we say goodbye to 2017, I thought I’d share one last holiday-themed post.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed or found the most interesting about living in Ireland is seeing how the locals celebrate the various holidays.

Ireland doesn’t have the Christmas markets that other European countries are famous for, but it does have plenty of other events for locals (and visitors!) to enjoy.

This year a friend invited us to see the Festival of Trees at Christ Church in Bray.

Bray is a cute seaside town south of Dublin. It’s one of the farthest points south that you can live from Dublin and still commute 45 minutes by train into the city center for work.

Christ Church is a protestant church dating back to 1863. The church spire (below) is 175-feet tall and was completed in 1870. Eight bells hang in the spire and are still rung at midnight every New Year’s Eve to welcome the New Year.

For this festival, Christ Church set up approximately 40 trees, each decorated by a community group, inside its sanctuary. A Bible verse or hymn corresponded with each tree.

This is what you saw from the back of the sanctuary. It’s a gorgeous building.

I took a few photos to give you an idea of what it was like to be there. I wish you could have smelled the glorious scent of all of those tree! Oh, and please excuse the dim lighting conditions.

Here’s a tree decorated with items pulled out of the recycling bin.

I believe this group was advocating for people do all they can to stop or reverse the effects of climate change.

Here’s a tree made of field hockey sticks, which I thought was clever.

My kids play field hockey on Mondays as part of their school day.

I believe this was a remembrance tree.

There are names of loved ones written on each dove.

This Donald Trump tree was one of the last trees on the tour. It’s labeled the “Golden Fleece Tree” and was decorated by a hair salon.

Donald Trump masks were sold as Halloween costumes at the euro store (like a dollar store) this year. Most people here are either appalled at his rhetoric and/or think he’s a joke.

It was my impression that the tree was not intended to be a compliment.

This is just another reminder to me that our world is much more connected than folks might realize.

The ballerina tree was very pretty.

It looks like Bible verses are written on the tree’s ornaments.

They also had a wishing tree where the kids could write down a wish. My son wished for snow and he did get to see about 5 minutes of snow this year!

There was also a wood cross where people could write prayer requests down on Post-It notes and add them to the “tree.” The notes were over-flowing onto the ground. It was touching to observe.

I’m in awe every time I step foot into a historic church.

Especially from an artistic and architectural standpoint, you can tell these are special places.

It was also neat to see a church opening their doors to the community in this way.

While we enjoy attending the big, spectacular holiday events in Ireland, it’s the smaller community events that have helped me appreciate and understand my neighbors a little better.

By far, the best part about living in Ireland are the Irish people. Their graciousness and ability to see me as an individual and not as a representative of the political or Hollywood version of U.S. values has been humbling and so appreciated.

Happy Travels!


If you are new to Dublin or visiting Dublin, here are some helpful websites to check to see what’s happening in and around the city.

Dublin.ie   |     Visit Dublin      |     Dublin Town

If you are in the South Dublin area, these websites are helpful.

Dun Laoghaire – Rathdown County Council     |     Bray, Ireland


If you liked this post, here are more posts about visiting Ireland.

The Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands with Kids

Galway with Kids

Our Favorite Irish Castle Tour with Kids

Belfast with Kids

Dublin: Talking Statues

Kissing the Blarney Stone and Blarney Castle

Here are some posts about our expat experience of living in Ireland.

Living in Ireland: Christmas in Retail 2017

Living in Ireland: Storm Ophelia

Living in Ireland: That Time a Tree Came Down

Living in Ireland: Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Living in Ireland: Back After A Month in the United States

Living in Ireland: As Seen On My Commute

Living in Ireland: A Trip to the Hardware Store

Living in Ireland: Spring Flowers In Our Yard

Living in Ireland: Grocery Shopping

Living in Ireland: What to See my Hot Press?

Living in Ireland: Merry Christmas 2016

Living in Ireland: Christmas in Retail

Living in Ireland: Groceries

Moving to Ireland: Grocery Item Look Alikes

Moving to Ireland: Primary School 101

Moving to Ireland: First Week of School

Moving to Ireland: The Great Purge

Moving to Ireland: Human Kindness is Overflowing 

Moving to Ireland: House Viewing #1

Moving to Ireland:  House Viewing #2

Moving to Ireland: House Viewing #3

Moving to Ireland: Temp House First Floor

Moving to Ireland: Temp House Second Floor

Moving Tips to Keep You Sane

My #1 Moving Tip

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Merry Christmas

From our family to yours, we wish you a merry Christmas!

Many thanks to my friend Meg for lugging her camera 7 miles and up a mountain to get this family photo – one of the few we took this year – and to my children for cooperating so well.

We hope your Christmas is filled with love, good food and many happy moments.

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Happy List: #52

Merry (almost) Christmas!

How are you? I hope you are enjoying this season. Me? I am!

I just can’t believe 2017 is almost over. There were hours and days that seemed so. darn. long, but the year flew by.

On Monday, I wrote about how our Christmas tree went from bringing me no joy to all the joy. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I experienced mental drama over a tree though. Sheesh. On Wednesday, I shared some far less dramatic Christmas snapshots from around our home.

Here’s this week’s moment of distraction, aka The Happy List.


PLAYHOUSE DESIGN

Playhouse designs have really changed over the years, haven’t they?

What is a much more doable idea, for those of us who are not in the market for a playhouse, are those containers holding the trees. Stenciling something similar on a bucket would be pretty easy.

Lots of fun ideas at monikahibbs.com

(image: Monika Hibbs)


PIANO SIGN

See that piano sign? This is from Magnolia’s (aka Chip and Joanna Gaines) Hillcrest Estate.

I wonder how hard it would be to recreate the sign? If you decide to do it, I’ll be your first customer. Also, there are A LOT of people on Instagram who would buy that sign!

(image: Magnolia)


RAINBOW CUPCAKES

If you plan on making rainbow cupcakes soon (and why not?), then you definitely need to find yourself some colorful candy canes now.

Have you ever seen happier cupcakes?

(image: tea.kle)


HAND STAMPED TEA TOWEL

This idea – hand stamping tea towels – is something that I would like to try. Maybe not with a potato for a stamp though. That seems like an unnecessary waste of a potato complication.

No matter how the task is accomplished, I know it’s a gift I would enjoy receiving.

This picture is all dressed up for Christmas, but you could personalize the idea in countless ways for a friend’s birthday, a house-warming party, teacher gift, hostess gift, etc.

The tutorial is on Better Homes and Gardens‘ website and was written by the ladies at Alice and Lois.

(image: BHG.com and Alice and Lois)


HAND-CUT PAPER ART

I’ve been following Theresa from Linen and Cake on Instagram for a bit now. She’s located in Spokane, Washington, and makes flowers out of paper for wreaths, present toppers, etc.

Now she’s making art that looks like this and I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around the patience this must take! She’ll be launching these in her online shop in January.

Also, is it weird to be jealous of hair that’s made out of paper? Cute up-do!

Big news! Linen & Cake is launching new wall decor. And one of my favorite things about this new collection, every piece will have a name and every collection will be completely unique. Here is a sneak peek! Introducing🥁🥁🥁🥁Celeste. I named this first piece after a local Spokane gal who has inspired me to push my creativity, work hard & love the community deeply. (Plus this shirt was inspired by a top she was wearing at our @luckyvintageandprettythings meeting) . These hand cut pretties will be at the pop up shop this weekend at @potterybarn Spokane for a pre launch, then L+C will launch these online January 5th 2018🎉 Most pieces will be 16” by 20” ships to USA + Canada . #smmakelifebeautiful #bhgflowers #bhghome #bhgcelebrate #paperflowers #paperart #makelifebeautiful #darling #darlingmovement #joannagaines #luckyme #luckyvintage #luckyvintageandprettythings #happyhome #stylemepretty #flashesofdelight #teg30daychallenge #mybeautifulmess #hgtvhome #hgtv #creative #magnolia #cottonstemheartschristmasred #lovetazaphoto #lovetaza #lovetazafashion #stripes

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(image: Linen and Cake)


RED VELVET WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

I made these red velvet cookies again this week. Once for the neighbors. Once for Handy Husband’s coworkers. Once for me me me my family.

If you need a break from the traditional Christmas sugar cookie, MAKE THESE. If you want to win friends and influence enemies at work, be nice make these.

Here’s all the info you need to bake them! The only dry ingredients are a box of cake mix and white chocolate chips, so they are super easy to make! The rest is the best just cream cheese, butter, vanilla and an egg. Oh, and I roll them in powdered sugar.

P.S. In looking at this week’s picture and old pictures, I’ve come to the conclusion that a box of red velvet cake mix in Ireland is less red than a box of red velvet cake mix in the USA. Must be a difference in food colorings. Interesting.


FREE KNITTING PATTERNS

One of my aunts, bless her heart, taught me how to knit 5 or 6 years ago. I’m still slow-as-molasses at the task, but I do enjoy it when I make time.

I haven’t touched my knitting needles in awhile, but the free pattern for this blanket has me saying maybe I should? It’s a design that won’t go out of style if done in the right color. If I start now, I could probably finish it before my kids go to college.

More pictures of this checkerboard pattern and more free patterns at KnitPicks.


TASSELS ON STOCKINGS

This is just reaffirming my belief that tassels make everything better.

More pretty pictures are at Hunted Interior.

(image: Hunted Interior)


HEADBOARD

I found this picture on the homepage of Deny Designs. They seem to have bedding and other home goods available for sale. Their fabric designs are created by artists. So if there’s a particular person who’s work you like, they might have several different designs in a collection on the site.

What really caught my eye though was the headboard. It would take us forever and a day to build something like that, but it would be totally worth it! I also like the brass stud detailing on the lampshade.

In reference to my earlier statement about tassels, I’m going to walk back my opinion. I don’t think I could handle the dusting situation that would come with a tassel chandelier.

(image: Deny Designs)


I will be back on Monday with a special Christmas greeting and a family picture. It’s one of the few family pictures we got this year.

In the meantime, thank you for reading this blog and supporting my creative endeavors. I’ve said it before and I truly mean it – this blog is my happy place and you all make coming here even sweeter.

Happy Christmas.

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