A picture is worth a thousand words they say, and my 189 Instagram shots from 2015 speak of 1000 (and then some) calories, 1000+ kilometers and 1000 moments. It has been a red-letter year: planning my wedding, saying my vows to the Novio and turning 30. And for all of the joy, there were heart-wrenching moments, like losing my aunt to a short battle with cancer, putting our family dog down and watching loved ones go through tough moments, not really sure of what to say.
Nothing is set for 2016, and for once, I’m not penning a list of goals. My life feels like it’s grinded to a halt after 30 years of fast-forwarding, of crossing items off of an ever-growing list. But now there’s someone else helping steer my life and my goals, and a nagging in the back of my head to take another leap of faith, much like I did eight years ago when I moved to Seville.
I’m often nostalgic by year’s end, browsing photos and taking stock of what the last 12 months have brought. Instagram is, by far, one of my favorite ways to share Spain and my life here (but, um, sorry for all of the food and beer pictures).
My 15 favorite have been some of my most popular, but also some of my fondest moments of a year spent mostly in Iberia. Here they are, with about 1000 words to accompany them:
La Chunga’s waxy paper napkins succinctly summed up one of the small pleasure that makes life in Spain what it is: Eat and Drink, as Life is Happy. As someone who prescribes to the life is short, so have another piece of cake school, I’ll have another round to that, and 2015 was an experiment in eating and drinking well.
Ya huele a #Feria! Shopping with @hayleycomments A photo posted by Cat (@sunshinesiestas) on
The most wonderful time of the year for sevillanos is not Christmas – it’s the springtime, when orange blossoms and incense perfume the air and every other word is “traje de gitana,” “rebujito” or “feria.” Browsing the shops for flamenco dresses and accessories is way more fun than stressing over what to buy my family (and major apologies for my HDR-happy phase in filters).
I’ve loved a lot of places in my life, but Seville may be my all-time swoon. The city streets at 9am on a dewey Saturday remind me that, even with my gripes about La Hispalense, it’s a privilege to live here. Come on, churros is an acceptable breakfast and, as evident above, there’s nothing better than wearing a traje de gitana for an entire season straight.
Benditos #Domingos in #Triana A photo posted by Cat (@sunshinesiestas) on
More simple pleasures: your más querido wearing a sweater you bought him on the first warm afternoon of the spring, chasing patches of midday sunlight, caña in hand.
I couldn’t call myself the Sevillamericana without having seen the city’s famous Holy Week processions. And living in Triana, there was no way to escape it anyway. Thanks to a family emergency and lack of funds before the wedding, I skipped a far-flung destination in favor of making Seville my life-sized rat trap, only with life-like portrayals of the life and death of Christ and a thousand other bodies as my dead ends. This photo was taken after 2am on Holy Monday as my barrio procession, San Gonzalo and Nuestra Señora de la Salud, re-entered their temple after more than 12 hours pounding pavement.
Two Romeros pray to the Esperanza de #Triana before beginning the #ElRocio pilgrimage to La Aldea A photo posted by Cat (@sunshinesiestas) on
Living in a neighborhood like mine means brass bands and religious processions happen as often as block parties (or they flat-out replace your block parties). Just before Pentecost Sunday, droves of romeros set out from TrianatowardsLaAldeaattheedgeoftheDoñana National Park, and I captured two on horseback in a moment of concentrated devotion.
This is my commute from work during the summer months, and on my bike. Suck it, Chicago and your traffic on the Kennedy.
Boats on Elkhart Lake, #wisconsin #latergram #boats #elkhartlake A photo posted by Cat (@sunshinesiestas) on
With the wedding looming, I broke my no-beer-before-boda rule to have a family outing to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for Road America. My dad and his two brothers, plus my sister, her fiancé, my cousin and his friend and I spent the weekend playing jokes on one another between beers and vintage car races. It was bittersweet knowing that this would be one of the last family trips we’d likely take for a while. But my dad paid his daughters a compliment: “You girls were so fun as kids, but you’re even more delightful to have around as adults.” No wonder I married someone who reminds me of my father!
I get to exchange I Do’s with this stud today! #halforange8815 A photo posted by Cat (@sunshinesiestas) on
I posted this photo – taken at our rehearsal dinner the night before – as I was getting my hair done for my wedding. I woke up on August 8th calmer than I’d been in weeks and ready to exchange vows. Call me a romance sucker, but I felt beautiful, fortunate and ecstatic for 2:30pm. If only I remembered more of the wedding – it went SO FAST!
Sometimes your toothless #pooch is just too #adorable! Can I hashtag #moxboxasaurus here? We adopted Mox three summers ago after putting Morgan down. Thanks to the Illinois shih tzu rescue, we got a snuggly little guy with a bad heart and no teeth, but a mild mannered, always hungry, happy little monster! A photo posted by Cat (@sunshinesiestas) on
We adopted Moxie from the Shih Tzu Rescue of Illinois in 2012 just after we put Morgan down. We knew he’d be with us for a short time given his senior canine status and health issues, but this photo reminds me of how happily he lived out his last years in his forever home before joining Morgita in Puppy Heaven at Thanksgiving.
That same day, my parents adopted Mox Box’s younger lookalike, Murphy.
My 30th was more of an afterthought – the big day happened exactly one week after The Bigger Day. For the first time, the Novio and I spent both of our August birthdays together between Chicago and New Orleans, and we did so with my family and friends. Miles may separate us, but the important people are always there for the important moments!
Saturday lunch: huevos rotos with chistorra. Bests what I made for lunch today! A photo posted by Cat (@sunshinesiestas) on
The year of eating continued after the wedding, where watching what I ate mattered a lot less than ordering one more beer. This plate of huevos rotos was so beautiful, I made my friends wait to tuck in so I could take a picture and slap a filter on it.
Only *moderately* obsessed with my new mug from @mrwonderful and @lovelystreets. So fitting! A photo posted by Cat (@sunshinesiestas) on
I bought this mug from Lovely Streets and was immediately enamored. I usually go for frivolous, but this mug actually does something else than look pretty – and it’s dishwasher friendly! You can check out their Lo que Me Enamora series for cities around the world at FNAC or online.
Oooh, #Zafra, you definitely are #charming. #typicalnonspanish A photo posted by Cat (@sunshinesiestas) on
Overseas travel didn’t happen in the first half of 2015, but I made Spain travel a priority this year. Kelly and I left a stormy Sunday Seville in October for Extremadura, where showers were rumored to hold off for the day, and stumbled upon quaint Zafra.
We filled up on nun cookies and local wine in Plaza Chica, stopping at points of interest on the way back down south. You never know what’s in your backyard, they say.
My trip to Sicily in late October felt pretty off the beaten path, despite being part of Western Europe. Think no English, no road signs and no feelings of being comfortable. The Novio suggested I take the rental car to Villa Romana de Casale, an old Roman house with beautifully preserved mosaics.
And the drive was just as romantically terrifying as could be expected for an untamed corner of Italy.
A photo posted by Cat (@sunshinesiestas) on
I ended 2015 with a solo trip to Denmark. I was immediately enamored with the orderly, modern way that Danes live, along with their Christmas markets and hot dog stands. The trip left me in the hole, but one last hurrah for a big year seemed like a fitting way to end it.
Feels both foreign and fitting to be plan-less for once, but I’ll be snap happy when the azahar blooms and I settle in to married life – I carry memories on me like I do my phone, after all.
Are you on instagram? I’d love to add you! Find more Spain, Europe and good eats from me by searching @sunshinesiestas