Friday, May 29, 2015

Seen. Heard. Bookmarked.


Three day weekends make me all wonky. Not once have I had the day right this week: Tuesday was Wednesday, Wednesday was Thursday, and so on. Thank goodness today is not actually Saturday, because that would mean the weekend is half over. I never want the weekend to be over.

We have no set plans, which is my favorite way to approach the weekend. I hope your days are filled with naps, iced beverages, and driving with the windows down.


Seen and heard this week:

another use for pickle juice (besides drinking it straight from the jar). (Just me?)

a Southwest-themed bbq party (those cupcakes!) (!!!)

maybe Ozzie and Harriet had it right: a case for sleeping alone

a comprehensive summer reading guide


National Geographic's annual photo contest (each and every one is amazing)



vegan queso (I've had it. It was delicious. I'm a convert.)

After 4 years, Birchbox has run it's course for me. Perhaps I'll replace it with this when my subscription expires.


Now go make some Vitamin D!


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Burlington, Vermont + A Tiny House


I have trouble imagining when and where Mario and I are going settle down. Permanently, I mean. As in, established in our forever jobs (having figured out what those are, exactly), leaving our perfect-for-us home every morning, walking to work with thermos of coffee in hand, permanent. Considering we've lived in nearly every region of the US, and been to all 50 states between the two of us, I should have a better imagination for these things. But, alas.

As a result of this conundrum (of sorts), I often ask myself the following questions: Will I know when I find THE place? Have I already found it in Portland? (All signs point to yes; or somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.) This restless soul yearns to wander, always, and I'm rarely sure where we'll be in five years, let alone in twenty. Fortunately, Husband is open to living almost anywhere and shares my love of exploration. We are made for each other in that regard.

Because I so seldom feel at home, in the sense that I have yet to feel 100% settled anywhere, when I  find myself contemplating spending my post-collegiate, post-motherhood career years in a particular town, I tend to take note. I am forever on the hunt for that elusive place that meets all my needs (whatever they are). A place where I can imagine practicing my craft long term (whatever that is). A place that has the potential to look and feel like home.

My first maple latte in almost a year. (Insert heart-eyes emoji.)

Burlington, Vermont is one of those places I can picture myself living in long-term. Mario is also smitten with Burlington, which means it keeps its status as The (Potentially) Perfect Place. To be honest, it's a lot like Portland culture-wise, minus about half a million people. The only caveat is New England winters. I've had my fill for a bit, but I (almost) never say never.

I flew in and out of Burlington for my girls weekend, and spent the night there before flying out last Monday. My flight was later in the afternoon, so I spent the morning wandering around Church Street, soaking in the sunshine and mellow vibes. It's easy to feel at peace in Vermont, that's for sure.


Sunday night I had my first Airbnb experience in the form of a tiny house near downtown Burlington. It was a tad out of my comfort zone, the idea of staying in a stranger's backyard while letting myself in and out of the main house to use the bathroom, but I felt a strong call to stay there. The typical hotel experience didn't interest me at all. Perhaps I'm growing wiser and more daring with age.

It was the best experience! The people where super chill and friendly, and I adored the 80 square foot room. It was big enough to comfortably house a queen size bed, night stand, small desk, and a chair. It also served to fuel my obsession with tiny houses. I walked to and from a pho restaurant for dinner, and stayed up late reading The Scarlett Letter with the windows open, to the sound of birds chirping and squirrels pattering across the roof. I even applied my makeup the next morning using my iPhone camera as a mirror. (A previously untapped talent.)

Accidental selfie.

After hours sitting in the terminal and even more time spent cooped up on the runway, my Monday flight was cancelled due to mechanical issues. My first thought was Maybe the tiny house is available for another night! The airline sprung for a room at the Holiday Inn (sad face emoji), but there are worse things than another night in Burlington.

I finally made it home Tuesday afternoon, and spent two days zombified thanks to my lack of ability to adapt to time zone changes. Anyone else have this problem? I mean, really, a three hour time difference threw me completely out of whack. One day last week I fell asleep on the couch while meal planning and woke up covered in cookbooks and grocery lists two hours later feeling like I'd been abducted by aliens. I'm a mess.

And now, it's back to life as usual.



Friday, May 22, 2015

Filling my friendship tank.

 
Back in February, a friend called to invite me to a girls weekend in Vermont. I was knee deep in the job hunt, and afraid to commit to time away, but after nailing down the dates and talking with Mario, I decided to go for it. If I got a job, I'd just have to let my employer know I had plans. It could be my last chance to get away for a while, and, well, I miss my New England tribe something fierce.

I've said it a thousand times, but I'll say it again: I am overjoyed that we moved here. The Pacific Northwest is where I am meant to be. Maybe forever. But a long-distance move, no matter how welcome, means leaving things you love behind. Because it's never all bad. For us, it is the people we met through Kiddo's school. A group of parents and educators so amazing, I still can't quite get over the fact that we don't see them on the regular. We met them later in our New England years, and that is my only regret. I have yet to find a social circle here, which makes me miss them all the more.

Last Thursday I made the cross-country trek to Northern Vermont to meet them. Most knew I was coming, but for one it was a surprise. She's quite possibly the best person to surprise; her reaction crossed the entire happiness spectrum and I felt so darn loved. We all marveled at how, after almost a year apart, it was like I was never gone. That is certainly a testament to how amazing and welcoming these women are: I can be exactly who I am. Ugly bits and all. I can talk about my relationship, worries, fears, loves, parenting woes, and joys. Several times I waged that all too familiar emotional what if: Would I live here again for them?

Though if this trip reminded me of anything, it's that the world is small these days. And also that one must always say yes to a girls weekend.

We spent three glorious days visiting craft + farmers markets, local shops, and the quaint little villages that make up the area. There was also laughter to the point of tears, mixed drinks, and too many shenanigans to recount. (Though girl code prevents the disclosure of such things anyway.)

This one's for my girls. (Cue photo dump.)


Aforementioned shenanigans. Can we talk about the brilliance that is this photo?!


So much laughter. It did my soul a world of good.


These Medicine Cards blew my (skeptical) mind. Each of us drew vastly different cards and they were crazy accurate. I gained so much insight.

Snow still lingering in the mountains. 


Homemade Pad Thai (the best I've ever had, hands down), five forks, and Cards Against Humanity. And laughing until water came out my nose.


A darling little friend who caught a ride on my shirt. 


One of my friends went back to school to get her Master's Degree so she can teach visually impaired kids. I am so proud of you, Jane! (Also, how about this birthday cake Angy made for her? In braille! She's my hero.)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Bookmarked.


When this post goes live, I expect to be thousands of miles away, having traversed the country yesterday. I've been planning a trip back to New England to have a getaway weekend with a few of the friends we left behind. Friends I miss dearly. The kind of friends that let you be you. One of them doesn't know I'm coming, a carefully orchestrated surprise, so it went without mention until today.

I look forward to a few days of debauchery, laughter, and the New England countryside in spring. Mario, the apple of my eye, will be holding down the fort while I'm gone. The fact that I married up, and know it, bears repeating.

In the meantime, here are some things that caught my interest this week:

a new (grownup) coloring book + watercolors



deconstructed sushi bowls

food blog trends that must die (funny!)

a day in the life (romance is alive and well)

shorts weather is nearly upon us (thank goodness!)

obsessed with this photo. and this one. the whole feed, really.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Catching up.


The calm has made its way into another week. We've found an easy groove, whereby Mario tucks himself away in his office for the day, while I venture into the city to find a new coffee shop where I can brainstorm and write and ponder my heart's desires. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to explore my surroundings while I decide what the next step will be. It's a luxury I will never, ever take for granted. Never ever.

Also, if you know a good recipe for homemade circus cookies, like the one above from a local coffee shop, I'll pay you fifty hundred dollars for it.


We are looking forward to the end of the school year; a year that has proved to be a difficult transition for all of us. After attending a small elementary school where we knew every teacher on a first name basis, then an intimate charter school that felt more like a community than a school, adjusting to the anonymity of a large high school with six teachers a day has been no easy feat. There have been missed assignments, parent-teacher pow-wows, and dozens of email exchanges.  Under all that work lays the hope that he will find his groove from here on out. Though I've long since learned that parenthood is never absent of hurdles. The exception to our calm has been the last minute push to get term papers written and scientific posters printed. This last weekend we microwaved 9 frozen burritos, 9 pork buns, and 9 Hot Pockets, all in the name of science. The things we do as parents, no? (Also, if you're in the mood for something cheesy, meaty, and deliciously full of nitrates, give me a call.)


This morning, after two interviews and over six weeks of waiting, I received that all too familiar Thank you for your interest, but... email. If I'm honest, I'm not crushed. Though it seemed like The Perfect Job when I applied, it has seemed less so with time. There were budget issues within the department, and the hours were significantly reduced from one interview to the next; it went from full time to a We'll try to give you 20 hours a week...maybe...hopefully... kind of thing. The right job (for me, right now) is out there, and I'm confident I'll find it. A job with some semblance of work-life balance. There is certainly a way to accumulate the experience I need for grad school without sacrificing my soul. So I'm back on the job hunt.


In the meantime, I've started another blog. The domain name has been purchased, the header laid out. My love of writing has branched into an interest for all things Portland. After amassing dozens and dozens of photos of my explorations, and even more thoughts on the matter, I found myself wanting a dedicated space to talk about them. It really is a fascinating city, and having a digital journal devoted to our many adventures carries a certain appeal. A blog seems as good a place as any to write about the places, people and things that make Portland so darn cool. It is purely for my enjoyment, another way to express myself, and for those who are seeking out the same sort of information I was (and still am) when I moved here and knew little about the area. I hope to begin adding content in the next week or so, at which point I'll spread the good news and share the web address.

I decided to use WordPress to host this new space, a platform I have zero experience navigating. There has been a learning curve, for sure, but I've also fallen in love with it's clean, modern templates and (mostly) intuitive format. WordPress seems to naturally possess the aesthetic I've been looking for all along. It definitely has me thinking about moving this space over... at some point. Advice? Opinions?


Along with feeling a greater sense of peace has come the innate desire to move my body. One of my goals for this year was a simple one: walk at least 10,000 steps a day, most days. Up until now, I've been wildly inconsistent. But the last couple weeks, after dropping Kiddo off at school, I plug in my headphones and hit the local trail. The wildlife, the smell of grass in the morning, listening to my favorite radio show. It's all good. And I have 10k steps under my belt by 9a.

After reading the book Born to Run, I switched back to the minimal sneakers I wore for CrossFit, and my Achilles and shin splints have stopped bothering me as a result. My feet are mildly sore while the muscles adjust to moving the way nature intended, but I'm glad I followed my instinct. I do all six round trip miles of the trail, and yet it feels quite natural. If you haven't read the book, it's interesting + entertaining. I recommend it. 


Speaking of books, I'm tackling my second classic novel of the year, The Scarlet Letter. It's a wonderful, engrossing book, but also challenging to read at times. I'm 150 or so pages in, and I already have a long list of words to look up. (One of my other goals for this year was to learn one new word a week, so this is perfect.) Occasionally I feel totally lost in the language, yet the story line always becomes clear soon enough. I tackle a couple chapters each night before bed, and have another novel I read during the day and when I want something a little less intellectual. Novels written in Old English are difficult for me to read in office waiting rooms and in the carpool lane; a paragraph here, a sentence there can feel incongruous. I'm so glad I set a reading goal for myself. It has led to everything I hoped it would: intellectual challenge, less electronic consumption, wholesome entertainment, and sounder sleep thanks to a more organic bedtime ritual.


Early summer is upon us here in the Pacific Northwest. The days are steadily growing longer, the temps warmer, and color is all around us. The farmers markets are in full swing, and Mario and I garner great delight in walking through the market on Saturday mornings, coffee and mini doughnuts in hand, taking in all the flowers, produce and handmade wares. There is an undeniable sense of camaraderie to farmers markets; the distinct feeling that we are members of a community. I love that.


Bee pollen. Does it work for allergies? My eyes and nose have a fit this time of year, and after trying just about every remedy from West to East, I'm hoping this will be the thing that gets me over the hump once and for all. The apiarist implied it is also an excellent energy booster. True?


After years of aspiring to do so, I think I finally have the knack of meal planning. I flip through cookbooks, making a grocery list as I go, decide which days we will have what, and stock the fridge + pantry accordingly. It sounds easy enough, but too often I would miss ingredients (or buy too much of one thing), underestimate the time a recipe would take to make, or end up with a meal Kiddo wouldn't eat. For the first time ever, we are all consistently eating the same dish at dinnertime. We are also eating out less than ever before, and enjoy having leftovers around for lunches. I'll admit that many nights I drag my feet when it comes to making dinner, but once in the thick of it I really enjoy the ritual of preparing our evening meal with my own two hands. I find comfort in food prep and planning ahead. Go figure. Food is love, it seems.

My current go-to cookbooks are The Family Flavor and Top with Cinnamon. I've had The Family Flavor for some time now, and it is hands-down the most used cookbook I've ever owned. Love. It. Top with Cinnamon (the cookbook and the blog) is a recent discovery, Husband picked it up in a local store last month (thank you, Mario!), and everything I've made from it has gone over like gangbusters. The pie crust shown above is bonkers and beyond easy to make and roll out. I've made two pies with it in the last week and can't believe how good it makes me look in the kitchen. Like I legit know what I'm doing. (I don't.) Just call me Betty.

And now we are properly caught up.

Here's to sunshine and rainbows where you are.