Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Thoughts on living the dream.


When you make the leap into something new and unknown, you always wonder. Wonder if you'll be happy. Wonder if it will be everything you hoped it would be. You spend a great deal of time holding your breath; steeling yourself for the homesickness or disappointment or inevitable Did I do the right thing? moments.

Here we are, entering week twelve of our new life, and I can honestly say moving to the Pacific Northwest was the best decision we could have made for our family. The house, the school, the culture... we were absolutely meant to be here.

Finding happiness, contentedness, is something to celebrate. Especially if you weren't sure it was possible.

As we move into the cooler fall weather, and our new normal feels more normal, I still find myself in awe that we made this leap. In the months and years leading up to The Move, it all felt more like a pipe dream than a plan. But we did it.

Friday evening we got word: the sale of our New Hampshire house was finalized. It was the one thing that prevented us from truly moving on. Oh, the heartache and stress that poor house caused.

The moment the ink dried on those documents, we were able to literally and figuratively close the door on that chapter in our lives.

And while I desperately miss my weekly coffee date with friends, and the sense of community we found in our last couple years living there, it isn't goodbye. I'll go back from time to time, I'm sure, but as I walk the streets of New England, I will no longer feel trapped. 

I now accept that period for what it was: an important leg of our journey. A necessary one, I've come to realize.  I no longer view it through a fog of discontent; returning will be a happy thing.

Although I still spend some days fretting about this and that, for the most part life is good. When you find the place you're meant to be, things just seem more effortless. You relax a little, opening yourself up to bigger and better things. Life feels less temporary, so you start living with intention.

You lift your vision board off the page and start making it happen.

This is not to say everything smells like roses all the time. Parenting, marriage and pursuing that dream career all take work. Some days, hard work.

If it were easy to become your best self, living your best life, it'd be difficult to recognize (or appreciate) when you actually achieve it.

These are the things I ponder when I lay in bed on a lazy Sunday morning.

And because I aspire to see the glitter in the sidewalk, here are a few of the things that make life grand:

Coffee table dinners + family movie night.
This kid.
This cider, shared with Husband. [It is good.]
This Anthropologie candle. [I seldom get excited about fancy candles, but this one wooed the heck out of me.]
The discovery of blue pumpkins. Enough said.
These Bucketfeet shoes that arrived just moments before we left for Sam Smith. It was a rookie move wearing brand new shoes to a concert, but these bad boys left nary a blister. Seriously stellar footwear.
My first mums. Ever.
Vista, the heated blanket.
This guy. He's such a card. [Also, note to selves: splitting an order of biscuits and gravy is still too much food.]
Apples + peanut butter.
Kiddo's love of sushi, which lends itself to mother/son date nights.
What are you loving? (Look on the bright side!)


Monday, September 29, 2014

And so the (Sam Smith) obsession grows.

Friday morning, Mario rather casually asked "Would you be interested in seeing a Sam Smith concert tonight?" Um, well, let me think. Yes! Yes! Yes! 

Though the concert sold out six weeks ago, he set about finding tickets. That guy's determination + resourcefulness + Craigslist genius is something to behold.

After several hours of searching, and dozens of phone calls, texts, and emails later, he got through to someone. It took a sketchy sounding trip to an Asian grocery store in downtown Portland, but in the end he scored a pair of tickets. For the original selling price. I know.

It was an awesome night. The venue is outdoors and although large, it's intimate-feeling with everyone perched on picnic blankets and low lawn chairs. 

Guys. It was amazing. I was inspired and touched, and, and, and. No words. 

If you get the chance to see a Sam Smith show, don't walk. Run

Everyone deserves a Mario + Sam Smith in their life.

[Cue requisite grainy iPhone photos that make it look like we were a mile away from the stage instead of the 50 feet we actually were. Also, you can check out his view of us from the stage on Instagram. Good stuff.]

Two hard ciders. I'm such a rebel.
How about that tree behind the stage? I mean, heeellllo.



Sunday, September 28, 2014

weekend links


// This post grabbed me and held on. Stories like this are one of the five billion reasons I haven't stepped foot in a Walmart in almost a decade. (Plus I discovered a lovely blog to add to my reading list.)

// The Minecraft Parent. (I'm one of them.)

// Also, Nintendo and I go way back. (A NES from Grandpa at age 6, to be precise... I'm still fiercely brand loyal.) Few know this, and it seldom comes up in casual conversation, but I'm not too shabby in the video game department. Playing The Legend of Zelda is hands-down one of my favorite things and is tied to some of my best memories. It has allowed this mom to bond with her growing boy in a way we might not otherwise. This video has my heart.

// I'm still learning to be brave.

// This bird's eye view is simply amazing. (I want a print!)

// A brilliant, funny bridesmaid photo.

// How coffee got its nickname. I've used the phrase a zillion times with zero insight. Now I know.

// I can't wait to stay here one day. (Soon, I hope.) Even better, how do I go about finding a place like this of my very own? (Could it be the secret to unlocking our dream life?)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Dating my husband in Portland, Oregon.


Mario's work schedule has been civilized the last several weeks, at least as far as these things go, with most trips lasting only 3-4 days. His last business meeting necessitated a Saturday morning departure, and despite a Tuesday night return date, it felt looong.

I felt more separated and disconnected from him than usual, likely because we sacrificed our weekend together and were reunited smack dab in the middle of the week and all its natural busyness. It was kind of like Hello! I missed you! Quick! Go to sleep... it's past our bedtime and we have to be up at 5:45a to get Kiddo ready for school!

I tend to have a low threshold for marital disconnect these days. Not be confused with marital discord, this is more the feeling that we are living separate day-to-day lives. You know, Kiddo and me with our daily routines and Mario with his own work and travel routine, one scarcely resembling the other. It's the nature of the beast when one person in a relationship has an unconventional work/home life. We've been doing this song and dance for 11 years, which is nearly our entire relationship, so I suppose I'm growing weary.

Mario is pretty much the funnest (most fun?) person I know and I miss his face on the regular. There are definitely worse places to be marriage-wise.

At the end of the day, we are great at stealing moments together. So while yesterday was a school/work day, we set about spending it as a duo. Because let's face it: if I'm going to spend the day sitting in front of my computer, I'd rather he be on the other side of the table.

And so we set out to explore Portland in the most productive way possible. 


First stop: Barista (Pearl District). The seating is limited to a few tables in the hallway, but we were lucky enough to score one quickly. But more importantly, the coffee. Oh, the coffee. Guys. Hands down the best latte I've ever had. Ever. (Which is saying something, as I've worked in my fair share of coffee shops and consumed precisely one million cups of Joe over the course of my 33 years on this planet.) It was perfectly balanced and the flavors were smooth and complex. Look at me sounding all pretentious.

Also, there may have been a brief visit to the Keen flagship store next door... (Husband in these boots? I mean, Come. On. How have I never hijacked his feet and forced them into ankle boots before? Swoon.)


Lunch: Súpa. The menu is simple: a handful of homemade soups and gourmet variations on the grilled cheese sandwich (dubbed "melties"). We each picked a soup (tomato basil for him, Thai coconut chicken for me) and shared a grilled cheese (the "Piper" with Hatch chillies). If I were teacher, this place would get a check plus and a smiley face sticker.

Oh, and how about those eyelashes? (They're real.)


Okay, so I might have proposed that particular part of town for our day date so I could hunt down a shirt at Anthropologie. (I blame Lauren.) After having the sales lady dig it out of the back room (why were they hiding it?) and making Mario wait for ages (a saint, that one), I stumbled upon The Perfect Shirt. It's impossibly soft, impossibly flattering and perhaps the most comfortable shirt I've ever owned. It's like those magic jeans in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

I'm pretty sure it's also the most expensive shirt I've ever owned. But there were declarations that this shirt would be The Perfect Shirt to wear to a job interview and surely it would ensure me my dream job and Husband stared at me blankly before replying "Shouldn't you start looking for a job first?"

You get it. I know you do.


Then there was a little meandering. Just a little. Before selling our firstborn to Whole Foods for the sake of local hard cider, fresh pasta, and the opportunity to grind our own Nutella.

This city! This man! My cup runneth over. 

The End.

(P.S. Was this anything like Adventures in Babysitting? I've always aspired to have such a glorious story to tell. I have the perfect camel trench coat standing by should such a caper present itself.)



Sunday, September 21, 2014

Weekend Links: clothing + happiness + health (and everything in between)

It's official: Portland is not rainy and gray. I've decided it is simply propaganda, meant to keep the masses at bay. It's an attractive place, after all, and traffic is bad enough, so why invite more people to the party? The rumors about the awesome food and great shopping are true, but the rain part is a farce. We've been here 10 whole weeks and have only seen it rain twice. See? Proof.

I am totally on to you. (Whoever you are.)


// Despite the 90 degree temps, which forced us to switch the air conditioning back on, I'm becoming obsessed with fall duds. (Case in point: this outfit.)

// Speaking of which, I've always thought ankle booties were for tiny women in tiny jeans (i.e. not me). Then the other day I came across a rack of various booties at TJ Maxx. I tried on a few and, shocking even myself, learned that I love them. (I also learned that I tend to favor the wedge kind.) I'm a little late to the game, as per usual, but this style guide will help prevent them from collecting dust in my closet, having fallen prey to the "cuter on the rack" syndrome. Goal for this week: buy a pair.

Also,

// The most popular clothing brands, not based on revenue, but by internet searches. (Because a Ralph Lauren skirt costs more than a Forever 21 skirt, but it doesn't necessarily mean they're more popular among shoppers.) The author, a Cornell student, has some pretty interesting perspectives on certain brands.

// These wardrobe basics. Almost my entire wardrobe is comprised of basics. So there's that.

Moving on...

// This article about a North Korean architect and his idea of a futurist world is so interesting.

// A post on the human condition, specifically the idea that nicer stuff will bring greater happiness. I read it three times.

// Two similarly great posts about finding happiness with what we have and knowing when to break away from Pinterest (and other outside influences).

// A minimalist blog design I'm smitten with. (Has anyone bought a prefab blog design? Is it easy to install? I'm afraid...)

// Downing raw apple cider vinegar as part of your daily routine. I've tried it before, but failed to find compelling evidence as to why I should put myself through that, so the scientist part of me was never persuaded to stick with it. But! It's the second ingredient in my allergy tonic, which is working wonders (wonders, I tell you!), so I'm giving it another go. I'm telling Biologist Sarah that we are conducting a small scale study and she's tentatively on board.

// Making deodorant. Would you believe it actually works? It does! (Though I can see Mario rolling his eyes all the way from South Dakota. He's positive I've gone totally and hopelessly crunchy.) (P.S. Didn't your mom ever tell you your eyes would stick that way if you didn't stop?)

// Finding a new (to me) blog is a beautiful thing. (I've been reevaluating my blogroll lately and tidying up + seeking out new reads.)

// I wish I was sailing.

Happy Sunday.




Friday, September 19, 2014

A week in the life.



// Previously mentioned early morning jog. My body said Get Up! last Saturday morning, and so I did. (It also said Let there be Shinsplints, Side Cramps and Achy Hips!, and so it was. Though to be fair, what did I expect after so many weeks on the lam?) //

// The world is vastly different at sunrise, I've come to realize on those rare occasions when I dare to leave the house on foot at such an hour. Only a select few attended the party, so I had the streets mostly to myself. I noticed things like the glitter of morning dew on the grass, sparkling like millions of tiny diamonds. And the first signs of changing leaves in the uppermost branches. Then there was that family of impossibly fuzzy rabbits darting across the schoolyard. Even the high school, a vessel for so many anxious thoughts over the past couple weeks, seemed tame in the early morning light. Dare I say, approachable. Anything seems possible at sunrise, which is why I simply must become a morning person. Let it be so. //


// Introducing our favorite salvage/antique/oddities store to good friends. // Remembering our first awestruck visit. // Shenanigans. //


// Our new favorite Saturday morning activity: the Portland Farmer's Market. I love, love, love this place. The neighborhood, the vibe, the amazing booths. It's not your typical farmer's market. (Says I.) Mario stood in line for 30+ minutes just to score a chicken + biscuit sandwich. Worth every second. // Finding out what real, freshly-grown ginger looks like. Quite beautiful and nothing like I surmised. // Jellies and jams to the moon and back. // A kiddo who eats tomatoes like apples. I find it entirely charming. And confusing, considering he won't eat a turkey sandwich. But mostly charming. // Crepes filled with fresh lemon curd. // I bought this house in my mind one hundred times over. //


// Sweet relief from my allergies. When something works this well, you don't even complain about gulping down a mixture of raw honey + raw ACV + bee pollen + nettle + herbs. You just do it. //


// The "Edgefield Fizz" // Chocolates almost too pretty to eat. // Waking up to this furry face on a Sunday morning. // A boy who still picks flowers for his mom. Sometimes he'll come across a lovely bud during his cross-country run and will carry it around with him until I come to pick him up. If that isn't the best thing, I don't know what is. //


 // Dinner party prep. //

// Gummy bear sangria that was a huge hit. So much so that when we ran out of white wine, we started improvising ingredients so the party would never end. //

// So many new recipes. I've never had such a long run of new meals without experiencing a dud or two. The recipes in this cookbook are so simple, yet so awesome. (They aren't paying me. I swear!) //


// The fiddle leaf fig lives on! No new leaves, but no dead ones, either. *knock on wood* Also, it is clearly Vista's favorite place to be photographed. //


// Stay with me forever, Pumpkins on a Stick. // I couldn't wait until September 21st, try as I might. A fall drink made it into my morning. I've never warmed up to the taste of Pumpkin Spice (blasphemy!, and yet another reason I should be kicked out of the blogosphere), but this vanilla-cinnamon latte made me feel all fuzzy inside. // 


// Revisiting an old favorite. (Can it be an "old favorite" if we've only lived here 2 months?) A few weeks ago Husband and I made the mistake of setting up camp in a local coffee shop on a scorching day and nearly died of heat stroke. The charm of being in an old garage is, well, less charming in the throes of a heat wave. All that aside, their coffee is awesome. So is the vibe. (Think coffee island in the center of an industrial building + vintage tables and chairs/church pews.) I could spend (cooler) days and days in there. //

Last weekend some great friends, most of which we've known for over a decade, came to town. We had dinner, toured Portland, and in general had a merry time. 

I made a makeshift guest room out of the office; a bed fashioned from two carefully chosen pieces of "camping foam" (a wonderfully random Fred Meyers find) which, when stacked, made a twin-size memory foam mattress for one. How very domestic of me.

And as these things always go, we had the best of times but also sacrificed the usual restorative qualities of the weekend. Monday came before we knew it and we have felt a bit off-kilter ever since. Laundry is just now being acknowledged and counters wiped and I nearly wept openly which I switched my alarm to the "off" position this morning. 

Three cheers for the weekend!

I decree: there will be pajamas worn longer than socially acceptable, pizza delivered, and mindless television watched. Hear, hear!