Thursday, February 5, 2015

Lately. As in, January.

This last Sunday I tackled the snarled mess otherwise known as my camera roll. Two months worth of snaps were clogging up precious GBs and something had to be done (seriously iPhone 6... four hundred photos and you're full?). So I went about transferring photos from the VSCO app back to my camera roll and my camera roll to the Cloud and from the Cloud to my computer. (Is there a simpler way to do this, I ask).

In the process I realized I was creating January and February photo folders simultaneously. And while most of us would be just fine skipping the first month of the year altogether, it still exists. (Should we start a petition?) Events took place and I have the photos to prove it.

Because I live by the motto "It didn't happen if you don't have an iPhone photo to prove it", I'm dumping January right here on this page. All of it. Even though New Years feels like three months ago, it wasn't. (I chalk this up to the fact that I forgot to take my Vitamin D pills for, like, four days straight. SAD is real my friends. So is self-diagnosis via WebMD.) (Also, that isn't actually my motto. I made it up just then. But I'm seriously considering using it as the tagline on my business card. If and when I get one.)

What I'm saying is, life happened. And it looked very similar to this, only slightly less filtered.


Meal planning. It really does exist outside of the blogosphere. It's rather wonderful in that it makes me look and feel especially domestically inclined. It also distracts from the fact that I seldom never vacuum.


The sunrises lately. My goodness. They're making Sunset look bad.


Pacific Northwest fog is quite magical and mysterious. Our street has been looking especially Privet Drive-ish as of late.


If Vista had a Twitter feed, he'd be right up there with Katy Perry in number of followers. He's such a card.


Where have hot pots been all my life? It has been declared: Our next house is going to have a built-in hot pot station. Also, see how seriously Mario takes his hot potting?


Pho comes in at a close second. Homemade or otherwise.


Every home should have a Thinking Fez. Obviously.


I wasn't planning on attending the Costa Rica trip until the second week of January. Our childcare fell through, the timing was off yada yada yada I decided to go after all. So the fact that my passport expires soon + has my maiden name (understandable since we've only been married 8.5 years) became a bit of a concern. (I'm lucky to have made it in and out of Rio last year with all my passport shenanigans. I dodged the bullet that is Brazilian prison.)

Anywho, all this hemming and hawing meant a trek up to the passport office in Seattle to get that bad boy expedited. Which meant a day in Seattle. Which is never cause for complaint.

I heart you, Seattle. 
(And Mario.) 
(And Storyville Coffee.)
(Not necessarily in that order, though it depends on the day.)


A drive up to Seattle calls for a squirrel mask. Duh.


An authentic Mexican food stand is worth its weight in gold. I want to plant a big fat kiss on the cook every time I take a bite of one of his burritos. (You're welcome for that bit of mental imagery.)


Gah! These two. For ever and ever and ever. Amen.


 I started and finished a craft project in the span of two days. A personal best. Husband ate a little crow... though with several totes in the garage full of craft projects in various stages of completion, who can blame his skepticism when I declare my undying love for a cross-stitch otter.


Teva ankle boots. For ever and ever and ever. Amen.


Dill Havarti + smoked salmon + rice crackers for breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Not enough brew in the world to keep me functioning. And I live in the coffee capital of the United States.


Graffiti art that blows my mind every. single. time.

It's was real, January.







Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The family that sniffles together... drinks magic tea.


While living in New Hampshire, Kiddo and I had developed a longstanding tradition: a weekly after school date at our favorite coffee shop. I will forever cherish those afternoons spent sitting across from each other discussing our days, exchanging thoughts, playing a game (or ten) of Uno, and savoring our chosen treats.

Inevitably the time would come when one or both of us had some sort of bug. Runny nose, sore throat, sinus pressure... even an iffy stomach now and then. And if one of us had it, the other was sure to follow. You know how these things go.

Fortunately, our little coffee joint had the perfect remedy: Honey Lemon Ginger Tea. It's simple, fresh, and comforting. It was thus called upon to be a mainstay at our house during trying times.

We have consumed no less than fifty gallons in the last week. Kiddo's been nursing some sort of virus that won't quit, Husband has what sounds to be the seasonal flu (while jet lagged in Spain no less—that poor man), and I've been waking up with the sensation of having swallowed broken glass. I chalk it up to the Petri dish nature of schools and the fact that I've been tending to sick patients for the better part of a week. (Here's to finishing my last clinical today!)

So tea. Lots of tea. And lots of elderberry tonic and fire cider. I will be buying my favorite apiary stand out of product at the farmer's market this weekend. Because one must never run out of tonics this time of year.


Honey Lemon Ginger Tea

2-3 slices of lemon
4-5 thin slices of fresh ginger, lightly smashed with the knife handle
1-2 tbsp raw honey, locally sourced if possible

Squeeze the lemon slices into a mug, then throw in the peel/pulp. 
Place ginger slices in a disposable tea filter, twist the top and throw satchel into mug. 
Spoon in desired amount of honey. 
Fill mug with boiling water and let steep for 3-5 minutes.

I usually get at least 2 cups of tea out of this recipe, simply adding a bit of fresh honey each time I refill the hot water.

This tea is good for soothing a troubled throat, tummy or soul.

[This post is dedicated to Brewbakers in Keene, New Hampshire. Thank you for seeing me through hundreds of hours of study time, feeding me a well-balanced breakfast and lunch on the regular, and providing a place to bond with the men in my life. Oh, and for this tonic... it's the gift that keeps on giving.]

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A new day.


This morning I woke up with the urge to write. Anything. Everything. Just write.

A rainy, gray Sunday morning calls for sleeping in and general laziness, but I seldom like doing what is called for. Contrary certainly sums up a good portion of my personality. So the crack of dawn it was.

I figured this would happen: walk away from the blog, allow other aspects of my life come into focus, and one day (soon) I'd be called back. Only when I was good and ready. And this morning, I'm ready.

Upon searching through my files for photos that sum up life lately, I realized I didn't even have a January photo folder. My iPhone photos haven't been dumped in ages. This has been a natural progression which started with closing my seldom-used personal Facebook page back in December. I have always had a sordid relationship with that particular medium, and I decided it was high time we broke up... for good, I think. Easing up on Instagram, which I still enjoy, followed suit. Unplugging from the oft complicated and undefined social interactions that accompany social media came out of necessity more than anything. Although I've never had a single defining bad experience, it was never good. And so.

With a new year came new goals and ideas. Sometimes by accident: hanging a new calendar typically calls for such things in an organic way. A shiny blank calendar asks to be written on; a canvas of untapped potential.

The last few months I'd let fear and uncertainty seep through the cracks. Although so happy to be in this new life of ours, I realize now that some of my old baggage made the journey with us. "How will Kiddo survive high school without my constant vigilance? How will I do x, y and z with Husband's work schedule? Best put my life on hold so as not to cause strain." I ruminated on these types of conversations (sometimes internally, sometimes with Husband) until everything I thought I knew was turned on its head. I felt further from my hopes and dreams than ever before, despite the fact that we'd moved all the way across the country to be closer to them.

Living in limbo, negotiating with myself for less than I deserve... it was all taking its toll.

After months of hand-wringing, I decided it was high time to make a decision. And I did. Just three days before the next class started, I signed up for a course to gain a certification that will allow me to get my foot in the door at the local hospital. So for the last two weeks, I've been in a classroom again. I've met great people, challenged those pesky Can I do it? fears, and taken big, jaunty steps toward my goals.

Being at home with Kiddo full time for the last 6 months, although so valuable, has left me feeling out of sorts. I needed that time to help him settle into his new school with its unfamiliar format; to acclimate to our new home; to wait for Mario's new position and its lightened travel schedule to begin; to decide what the next step in my journey should be. But somewhere in the process the line between who I am and who they are became blurred. My edges melded into theirs, and while they still had their individual lives with school and work, my identity became lost in the process. Kiddo's late homework assignments became my late homework assignments. At one point in January I had just 28 hours with my husband over the course of 14 days (13 of which were spent getting the bare minimum sleep). Now, as I write this, he's halfway across the world. Along the way I started to believe that the only way to achieve balance was to abandon my dreams for the foreseeable future.

I forgot that the best me shines through when I'm learning and passionate about something and have a purpose outside the home. I was fighting my inherent nature at the expense of my happiness.

Thank goodness I didn't give myself enough time to second guess my enrollment in this class. Because the first few days, and the intense feelings of discomfort they brought about, put everything back into perspective. Getting this certification is forward movement, but it certainly didn't feel that way at first. After years of undergraduate work, I inadvertently developed an ego of sorts. The kind that says "A degree means never having to do that." And yet, degree or no, I'm in the trenches; on equal footing with my other entry-level peers. This whole experience has been humbling and eye-opening and uncomfortable and worth its weight in gold. Because I found my hustle. That fire in my belly I get when I set my mind to something. The part of me that grabs the bull by the horns, even if it means starting at the very bottom. I missed her.

(Did you know that some of the most important, compassionate, hardest-working people in healthcare, the ones who tend to the most basic needs of other human beings, barely surpass minimum wage? I must have done the calculation in my head fifty times over the last week: what they make every month, after taxes, wouldn't cover our rent. What they do is thankless, back-breaking work. The respect and compassion I have for caregivers is overwhelming. A post in and of itself, I tell you.)

There you have it. What I've been doing and thinking over the last few weeks. There has also been the testing of new recipes with abandon, wardrobe rearrangement, and travel prep. Because oh yeah! we are headed to Costa Rica in just 10 short days. My toes are so excited for the opportunity to thaw.

Again soon,

Sarah


Friday, January 9, 2015

Christmas on The Lake


This year we made a trek up to Montana to spend Christmas with my in-laws. The drive. Oh, the drive. I could make it on the regular, that lovely drive. Washington, Idaho and Western Montana are a road tripper's dream scenery-wise.

Family get-togethers are seldom easy for me. I come from vastly different stock than Mario, which is part of what makes us work so darn well. The yin to my yang, that man. But when you get contrasting people together, an introvert whose therapist once described her as "not what I'd call 'easy-going'" starts to ruminate. What ifs. Anticipation of any and all possible social scenarios. Plans A-Z of how to prevent awkwardness.

This is not to say I don't get along with my in-laws. I care for them deeply, actually. Still, those fundamental differences can be tricky to navigate. Less so than in the early years, but walls are not always easily dismantled. I've learned so much from them: ranch life, textile arts, living without a plan. Love. Boy do they love each other in their perfectly imperfect ways. It can be hard for an outsider to shine in these situations. It just takes time.

After over a decade in this relationship, I'm finding my groove. The anxiety period before visits becomes shorter and shorter. The visits themselves feel more natural. An easy rapport is in the works, which makes me happy. We've also figured out how to maintain our own unique way of life while gelling with theirs.

My in-laws own a beautiful property on Flathead Lake, just south of Glacier National Park. Normally we stay in our favorite little waterfront cabin across from the main house, but with winter in full swing we instead opted for a room at the little inn down the street. An easy walk between the two, but with the advantage of indoor plumbing and heat. It allowed everyone their space, and the opportunity to have quiet family time just the three of us.


No matter how many times I go up to The Lake (as we call it), I'm always in awe of its breathtaking beauty. You know those places that make you realize just how vast the world around us truly is? This is one of those places for me. For Mario, too, I think.

It was a beautiful visit full of laughter, love and Apples to Apples marathons. Christmas morning brought gifts, sure, but also much more: Togetherness. Connection. Kinship.

It was the best kind of day.