Musings

Your Favorites of 2013

It has been a crazy and wonderful year! Who knew that a year that started in Spain would end permanently back in America? It has also been one of the best yet – I married my best friend this year! This post isn’t about what I loved in 2013 though. I took at look at my site stats and thought I would share your top 10 favorite posts of the year.

10. One Month and Counting…¬†– It was a simple post, but it was wonderful to be able to acknowledge one month of marriage and how different life would now be after things settled down.

Clyde Brown Productions, Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati, Earth Tones

9. Back to School – Back in America, back in the classroom! It’s been a whirlwind, but doing something that comes so naturally while we get ready for the next step in our future has been a comfort.

8. Spanish Culture – I wrote this one a long time ago…May 15, 2012 in fact! However, you seem to love it and you kept it as a favorite in 2013. What’s not to love about Spain and their culture?

Sevilla, Spain

7. October 19, 2013 – Best day of my life! The rest of our photos became available recently, and I just cannot stop looking at them. This has to be one of my favorites though. ūüôā

Clyde Brown Productions, Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati, Earth Tones

6. Entering Gibraltar – Avoid the Airplanes! – You were just as enthralled in the process of crossing the airport runway every single time Matt and I entered and exited Gibraltar as we were. This one was written way back in January 2012, but the craziness of it never got old. I can’t say that I miss crossing the border every day to go to work, nor do I miss waiting for the airplanes to take off to get there!

I stole the following picture from my friends Kaitlyn and Chris, who came to visit us while we were living in Spain. It is a fantastic look at how the runway divides the two countries. They are taking the photo from atop the Rock of Gibraltar and you can see the long runway strip with traffic driving right across it in the middle! On the other side is the city of La Línea de la Concepción, Spain.Spain, Runway, Airplanes

5. Why I Went Missing – Blame it on tradimo… – I’d gone on a long blogging hiatus and in this post, I told you why! It was the first time I gave a glimpse of my work life in Gibraltar.

4. The 4th of July – European Style – Ah, the epic 4th of July party in which we drew upon American customs to entertain our European friends! They absolutely loved the games of beer pong, the greased-up watermelon fight, and of course, the American cuisine.

Party, Independence Day, Europe, Spain

Our house, all decked out in red, white and blue. I miss this place.

3. A Final Fling Before the Ring x 2 РIn preparation for my nuptials, I was lucky to have not one, but two bachelorette parties! One in Spain and one in Dallas. Both of my hostesses were absolutely amazing and I had the best time.

Spain, Estepona, PuroBeach, Laguna Village, Bachelorette, Marriage

A celebration before finally becoming a Mrs.!

2. The American Invasion – I don’t blame you guys for loving this post. Having my friends come to visit us was such a fun time – from dinners at La Finca and Pura Tapa, to the Spanish fair, and of course, a trip up the Rock of Gibraltar that ended in an ape bite. It was a visit I’ll never forget.

Spain, Europe, Travel, La Fina, Pura Tapa, Alcaidesa

1. Drumroll please!!!! Your favorite post in 2013 – Emily En America!!! After all of my traveling blog posts, the countries visited, the cultures chronicled, it really means a lot to have my move back to America come in first place. Matt and I are so very excited to be home, though we definitely miss life abroad.

This year has brought so many changes to our life and I’m so glad to be able to continue my writing and to have you as loyal followers! Thank you for giving me a reason to write this blog and I hope you have the best New Year! Here’s to what 2014 has to offer!

2014

Cheers!

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In a Glimpse…

Here is a small glimpse at our very first Christmas as a married couple with both friends and family!

Holidays, Friends, Family

Holidays, Friends, Family

Holidays, Friends, Family

Holidays, Friends, Family

Holidays, Friends, Family

Holidays, Friends, Family

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Happy Holidays

Christmas, Holiday Season, Dallas, Family, Festive

Our very own little Christmas angel!

I love the holiday season because of precious time spent with family and friends. Both Matt and I have our families in the Dallas area (for the first time in years, we all live in the same city!), which makes for days filled with celebration.

As we all spend time together, I so enjoy the Christmas music and movies, late nights enjoying a glass of wine and playing games, the fantastic food, and the excitement as presents are opened and you hope you’ve gotten everyone just what they want.

I also love that so many of our friends are here during this time – so far we’ve been able to see quite a few of them for some festive celebrations.¬†From Christmas sweater parties to dinner out with longtime friends in downtown McKinney, it has been such a wonderful time for everyone to come together.

Matt and I have many family and friends in other states and abroad that we won’t get to see this holiday season. Therefore, we want to extend¬†our warmest wishes in hopes that everyone has a joyous, safe and Merry Christmas, and a very happy new year!

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The Longest Two Days

Ice, Snowstorm, Dallas, Lost Kitty, Pets

What, Mom?! It was fun!

As many of you know, Matt and I adopted a kitten when we were living in Spain. His name is General McFluffybutt and he has been the topic of many blog posts. He’s quite the traveler, making his way with me across the Atlantic Ocean to our new home in America. He’s adapted so well and travels amazingly.

While in Spain, he spent many days outdoors. Since he started his life as a street cat, I decided it was only fair to let him venture out and explore. The forlorn looks he would give me as he sat at our large windows was enough to make me cave. At first, his visits were supervised, and then over time, I knew I could trust him to stay close to the house and he always came back at the end of the day, ready for dinner.

Just this past weekend, Dallas experienced an ice storm that many have dubbed “Icemageddon.” Rain accompanied freezing temperatures, turning the trees and streets into a not-so winter wonderland. Something like 260,000 homes lost power due to falling trees taking down the power lines. My parents were without power for three whole days.

Ice, Snowstorm, Dallas, Lost Kitty, Pets

The end of Icemageddon…

Our plight had nothing to do with the loss of power, however. On the morning that Icemageddon was set to roll in, the General slipped out the door, was promptly spooked by gardeners when they started their leaf blowers, and took off. Matt searched all day for him, thinking he’d come home, to no avail. When I returned from work, our little man was still nowhere to be seen, and as the weather started to take a turn for the worse, I started to panic. While everyone assured me that cats are smart and that his fur would keep him warm, I couldn’t help but let my mind wander to less desirable scenarios.

That first evening, I slept down in the den by the sliding doors leading to the back porch. If he wandered back and meowed, I was going to be down there to hear it. Alas, morning came without power and without kitty. Day two of the ice storm was stressful, because without power, we were unable to make “lost kitten” fliers. I felt like everything was working against me.

It was also difficult to go out looking for him – we slipped and slid our way around the neighborhood checking every nook and cranny we could find. When we eventually got our power back (we were one of the lucky ones who didn’t have to wait too long), we printed small fliers and went door to door chatting with the neighbors. Late in the afternoon, Matt’s brother and his wife came over to help with the search, but as darkness descended on us, we were forced to come back in and hope he’d find his way home alone.

Lost Cat, Pets, Dallas, Ice, Snowstorm

Our little flier that went out to the neighbors.

I’ll tell you, we went for every trick in the book to help our little bugger find his way back. I put his litter box on the porch, we put little salmon pods out around the yard…I even put out a single candle on the deck after reading that the glowing light helps bring curious cats home. Matt and I stayed up quite late that second night, because the General sleeps all day and is quite nocturnal. If he was going to make his way back, it was going to be in the dead of night.

As Matt helped me prepare my bed on the couch in the den for another night downstairs, I asked if he would whistle one more time. It was after that “one last time” that he heard what we’d been waiting to hear for two days – little meows from the porch steps. The General was home! Matt immediately called out, “Em, he’s home” and I popped up from my makeshift bed to see the little fluffybutt looking at us with his big eyes.

I cannot put into words the feeling of relief I felt when I saw him; I immediately burst into tears and the minute he was in the door, I had him up in my arms. I could swear he walked around the house smugly that night and since he’s been back, he’s picked up a few new habits, almost like his adventure made him more courageous.

Even though it was exhausting and emotional, this doesn’t mean that he will never be allowed to go out again. He is born to explore and after this experience, I feel more prepared for that inevitable time when he doesn’t come home as promptly as we’d like. We will, however, wait for the cold front to move out and I’ll be supervising his first trips outdoors come spring!

Ice, Snowstorm, Dallas, Lost Kitty, Pets

We suspect that he may have been under this deck the whole time.

Ice, Snowstorm, Dallas, Lost Kitty, Pets

Home safely and soundly, cuddling with me in bed. ūüôā

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Healthy Livin’

Central Market, Kale, Quinoa, Healthy Living, Salmon, Salad, Food

My delicious kale and salmon salad! I know dark soda isn’t the healthiest, but I desperately need one halfway through the school day.

As I mentioned yesterday, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. However, the one downfall to this holiday is that all of the great food isn’t actually healthy and I always stuff myself full. Then, when you factor in leftovers, that’s even more unhealthy and gluttonous (but delicious!). Even more so, if you were me this year, you celebrated Thanksgiving three times! By my calculations that is three Thanksgiving celebrations + leftovers = I may need new pants soon.

Therefore, I am officially on a “health kick” – until Christmas. Come on!!! I’m allowed to enjoy all the goodness of Christmas treats, right? In all seriousness, though, it’s time to revamp my pantry and fridge. As good as holiday food tastes, it doesn’t¬†feel good once all is said and done.

A couple days ago, I made a trip to Central Market. We didn’t have those in Ireland or Spain, so a ¬†once normal thing to do back when I lived here turned into an extremely overwhelming shopping experience. I mean, there is a regular grocery store AND a pre-made section…how does a girl choose? In the end, I visited the gluten-free aisle because Matt and I have decided to cut back on our gluten for a variety of reasons. I also stocked up in the pre-made section with kale (I’m jumping on that bandwagon!), salmon, quinoa, fruit and veggies.

As a result, I’ve been bringing kale and salmon salads to school when I work. I never thought I’d like kale, because I heard it was similar to spinach, which I’m not really a fan of unless it’s doctored up with lots of cream and cheese. And alas, that would defeat the purpose of this exercise. I’ll tell you what, though, Central Market does this pre-made kale salad with nuts and cranberries, and I am in love. I’m also a huge fan of salmon, and since I’m buying that pre-made as well, I can stick in my freezer pack lunchbox and eat it cold while still getting all of the flavor.

So far, it’s going well. Matt and I even made a healthy, homemade pizza the other night with chicken and lots of veggies. If anyone has any suggestions on how to cook and prepare kale and quinoa in yummy ways, please comment here! I’d love to expand my knowledge of healthy, flavorful living.

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Lately…

Thanksgiving, Hockey, Stars, Dallas, Baby Shower

That is one beautiful bird…and it was delicious too!

Matt and I have integrated ourselves back into the Dallas scene lately with a couple nights out to watch the Stars, to celebrate at baby showers, and to spend time with friends and family over the holidays. There never seems to be a very dull moment, which is a nice way to start off our time back in the States.

Thanksgiving is easily my favorite holiday since it is the trifecta of festivities: food, family and football. We got to celebrate not one, not two, but three Thanksgiving bashes this year! The first kicked-off with our friends, Brittain and Aaron, when they hosted Friendsgiving in their home. This would be my first Friendsgiving and I certainly hope it is not my last. Aaron smoked the turkey on the grill and we all brought something to contribute to the potluck dinner. What a fun night!

Our other Thanksgiving celebrations occurred with our respective families, all festive and fun. There is nothing quite like a home-cooked holiday meal to put this girl into good spirits. Turkey, potatoes, stuffing…yum. And with Christmas right around the corner, the good food and time spent with family are just going to keep on coming.

Thanksgiving, Hockey, Stars, Dallas, Baby Shower

Awesome seats to catch my first professional hockey game!

Other than holiday festivities, Matt and I have attended a couple professional hockey games. Now would you believe that as much as I love sports, I’ve never been to a live, professional hockey game? When I watched hockey on TV in the past I thought it was a pretty boring sport, but after going in person, I am hooked! It is so fast-paced, there is constant action and when the Stars score a goal, mayhem! We are very thankful to our good friend who helped us gain tickets to both games we’ve gotten to see so far (thanks Dallas!).

And of course, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve gotten to attend a couple baby showers for my sweet friend Taylor. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to be able to celebrate my friends, in person instead of from afar, when big things happen in their lives. I was lucky enough to attend her couples shower in the Dallas area with Matt, and then to tag along to Oklahoma to see her one more time at her other shower before baby Blake arrives.

There is much more to come in the month of December – a Beyonc√© concert, Melissa’s company Christmas party (I’m her date!), more holiday festivities – so stay tuned!

Thanksgiving, Hockey, Stars, Dallas, Baby Shower

The beautiful table at my parent’s house for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving, Hockey, Stars, Dallas, Baby Shower

Getting to hang out with my sissypoo all the time for the first time in years!

Thanksgiving, Hockey, Stars, Dallas, Baby Shower

This little guy is adjusting well. He’s even starting to go outside – with my supervision of course.

Thanksgiving, Hockey, Stars, Dallas, Baby Shower

Our Friendsgiving assembly line. That is our beautiful hostess leading the way.

Thanksgiving, Hockey, Stars, Dallas, Baby Shower

A pre-hockey cocktail and dinner. Oh how I missed a good dirty martini!

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October 19, 2013

Piggybacking on my last post about the wedding, we recently received a sneak peek of our photos from our photographer and I can’t wait to share some of them with you here! We used a photographer recommended to us by a friend in the Cincinnati area. Christina Littleton Photography captured our day with the most stunning and unique photos, and I simply cannot wait to see the rest.

As for the details, we chose Cincinnati in the fall because its rolling hills are known for the beautifully changing colors. We were married at the Cincinnati Country Club and I decided the overall color theme would be Earth tones – greens, tans, browns, taupes, etc. Our amazing 10-piece band, Clyde Brown Productions, kept everyone on the dance floor all night long and the toasts by my Dad, my maid of honor (Melissa) and Matt’s two best men (Michael and Jacob) were epic.

For our table centerpieces, we chose to go more minimalistic with the floral decor and instead, used lanterns and tea lights with bud vases and foliage. The effect was vintage and glowing, just how I had envisioned it. My cake was done by Servatii’s in Hyde Park, the same bakery that did my mother’s cake for her wedding day. ūüôā

And of course, my dress…I found it in Dublin, Ireland with my bridesmaid Lauren. I wanted it shipped to Dallas, though, so I contacted the designer, Cymbeline, who was based out of Paris. They found a boutique in Dallas, Patsy’s Bridal, who was willing to work with the European designer – and they loved working with them so much, they are now carrying the entire line!

All in all, it really was the perfect wedding! Here are some of my favorites of the first round of photos.

Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati

Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati

Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati

Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati, Clyde Brown Productions, Earth Tones

Clyde Brown Productions, Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati, Earth Tones

Clyde Brown Productions, Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati, Earth Tones

Christina Littleton Photography, Clyde Brown Productions, Earth Tones, Cincinnati

Christina Littleton Photography, Clyde Brown Productions, Cincinnati, Earth Tones

Christina Littleton Photography, Clyde Brown Productions, Cincinnati, Earth Tones

Christina Littleton Photography, Clyde Brown Productions, Earth Tones, Cincinnati

Clyde Brown Productions, Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati, Earth Tones

Clyde Brown Productions, Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati, Earth Tones

Clyde Brown Productions, Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati, Earth Tones

Clyde Brown Productions, Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati, Earth Tones

Clyde Brown Productions, Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati, Earth Tones

Clyde Brown Productions, Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati, Earth Tones

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One Month and Counting…

Wedding, One Month

Officially married!

I simply cannot believe that yesterday was exactly one month since our wedding. Time has flown by so quickly and it feels like it happened forever ago.

Much of the advice that I received regarding the actual wedding day centered around the fact that it goes by so fast and that we should savor every second of it. Those people were definitely correct in their advice and I only wish that I could go back and relive the day all over again.

I had also prepared myself for the fact that after the wedding and honeymoon, things would slow down and the realization that we weren’t going back to Europe would truly sink in. That has also most certainly happened. From the moment General McFluffybutt and I set foot (and paw) on that train to Madrid until the end of our honeymoon, I never really had the opportunity to dwell on the fact that we were moving.

Now that all of the chaos is over, it is definitely sinking in. Most of what I can remember from my dream last night included a beach and the sea. In it I was looking out at the beach and begging Matt to spend the day there with me. Since I am landlocked now and my previous residence included this view exactly, I think I can deduce what this dream meant.

All dreams and feelings aside though, yesterday was a wonderful reminder that no matter where we go or what life hands us, Matt and I are in this together.

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Back to School

Richardson, Apollo Junior High, Substitute

Back in the classroom!

I’ll tell you what – moving from¬†your home in a foreign country back to America¬†really throws your life into chaos¬†and when you add wedding planning to that, there isn’t really time to think about much else. However, since the honeymoon ended and things have calmed down, we’ve thrown ourselves back into work.

While Matt and I prepare for another potential move (when will the madness end?!), I decided to¬†head back to work as a substitute teacher¬†in my alma mater school district¬†– Richardson. It’s been three years since I stepped into a classroom, but I knew with the flexible schedule and my experience, it would be a great way to make some money while still taking freelance projects in between.

Substitute, Richardson, Apollo Junior High

Unbeknownst to me, Matt decided that he wanted to capture my “first day of school.”

Ironically, my first day was back at Apollo Junior High, and boy was that a trip! Many of the staff that I knew (including almost my entire Language Arts department) are no longer at the school, so there were many unfamiliar faces. However, among those faces there were also quite a few that remained, making it nice to catch up and hear how the last three years have been.

I will admit, though, I was a tiny bit nervous before my first class – three years is a long time! But when those kids starting streaming into the room, it was like riding a bicycle. I forgot how much I missed interacting with students and taking charge of the classroom. And after experiencing the¬†“corporate culture” of working¬†for a company, I am not ashamed to say that being in charge again doesn’t suck. ūüėČ

So far, I’ve covered three classes and three different subjects. This week I’ll be at three other schools,¬†one day¬†substituting at¬†Matt’s old junior high and¬†another covering a high school French class,¬†which should be interesting considering that I¬†speak Spanish, not¬†French…can I just show them pictures of my travels in France?!

So¬†until we make our next move, I’ll continue pop in and out of classroom. It has certainly been a great way to start¬†repatriating myself!

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Emily En America

America, Spain, Gibraltar, Ireland, Travel, Moving

My arrival in Texas! Inside that black bag is our gato – General McFluffybutt.

It has been an extremely long time since I have written, and for that, I am sorry. To my followers here that do not know me personally, I’m sure that what I am about to tell you is going to blow your mind (I’m feeling hyperbolic this morning, so bear with me).

I am no longer “Emily En Europe.” I am officially Emily back in America, married and looking for my next adventure.

That’s right folks. During my hiatus, much has changed. I promise to take you through all of the exciting parts, because that’s what this space is for – to show my family and friends (my every day friends and my Internet peeps) what life is like when you uproot your life and move to a foreign country. Or in this case, back from a foreign country.

To make a long story a little shorter, my husband (more on that in later posts!), along with a few others, worked hard over the past year to sell the company they were working for. It was an arduous process with lots of traveling – London, New York, Israel – and the end result meant that Matt and I were faced with the decision to come home. And I’ll tell you…that was not an easy decision.

If you’ve followed me from the very beginning, you will know how much I loved my time in Ireland. Our quaint apartment overlooking the farm (sheep!), the American Women’s Club of Dublin (philanthropic events and friends), the new culture (I had never traveled abroad before), and the many trips we were able to take throughout that time (Bruges, St. Moritz, Paris, Majorca, Nice). Ireland was the absolutely perfect location to set me up for a love affair with Europe, and when we were given the opportunity to stay, we jumped on it.

Married, Gibraltar, Ireland, Spain, Travel, Moving

I got married! But like I said, more on that later…

Spain and Gibraltar brought us a whole different way of life. Living on the Mediterranean Sea, traveling, crossing the border to Gibraltar every day (I won’t necessarily miss that), again making life-long friends, and our very special addition to the family – I will never regret our decision to extend our time in Europe.

However, I also won’t regret our decision to move back. Since we’ve been home, it’s been amazing catching up with friends, spending loads of time with family and we’ve even had our first European visitors – our wedding was a good reason to bring friends from Ireland and Spain to America! Only time will tell what our future has in store for us and I am very excited for what that may be.

In the coming weeks, there will be changes to this blog – it will need to take a new spin and the name will potentially change. However, I hope to bring you fun tales from America, many book and restaurant reviews, and I promise to continue my travels!

Categories: Musings, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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