Friday, December 30, 2011

Homeward bound

Headed down south to the land of the pines...
I'm thumbin' my way into North Caroline

Coming up for me, tonight: a belated North Carolina Christmas, with some New Year's festivity thrown in for good measure. 

Europe is grand and all, but as we know, there's just no place like home.

Happy, Happy New Year to you all... I'll catch you on the flip side, with all the fresh excitement of a new [letterpress] calendar.


Thursday, December 29, 2011


After three days in Paris, we spent five (plus two mostly-travel) days in Austria. As amazing as our time in Paris was, we were beyond excited to hang out with T's sister and brother-in-law in the place they call home for eight months of the year. You might remember that Alex plays hockey in the Austrian league - yep, this is one hockey-loving family that I joined. He and T were actually goalies together in college, which is a whole other story. At any rate, we get to see Avery and Alex in their summer apartment in Boston and during summer family gatherings in Connecticut, but without ever having been to their home in Linz, we always felt a little too far removed from the primary part of their year.

Now, we're officially in the know. When Avery tells stories about the rest of the folks in their Melrose Place-style Austrian hockey commune, we know exactly who's who. Instead of just noticing whether Alex's team won or lost, we're now looking at every player's stats. More than that, though, we got to see them in a place they've come to love, a place where they're building roots, and there's nothing more worthwhile than that.

I didn't take as many pictures as I should have in Austria. We were around so many more people that my photographer's instinct slipped away. So not pictured in this slideshow are hilariously fun evenings of hanging out with A&A and the rest of the team and their corresponding "WAGs" (that's "Wives and Girlfriends," by the way... and yes, the term is actually used), which may or may not have ended with the Linz police breaking up the fun, pictures of Alex's awesome cooking, or pictures of many, many rounds of Catch Phrase and Telestrations. But I do have photos of picturesque Linz and Salzburg (despite the not-so-picturesque weather), the three of us drinking a tad too much strong German beer or "hot wine" in the stands during an away and a home game, and adorable things like dogs on ice.

A few teasers:

Without further adieu, the full slideshow:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Oh, Paris.

You are my new favorite.

Your small streets and your little moments... those are the things that stole my heart.

Your wow moments are pretty heart-stopping, too.

And if you'll indulge me, I have to say that being in love in your city is a special kind of magic.

There's more, much more... and I'm counting down until the day we can return. Enjoy our slideshow!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Au revoir! Auf Wiedersehen!

I'm taking advantage of what I expect may be my last clearly thinking moment until I step on the plane to bid adieu for the holidays. While we'll miss our stateside holiday traditions this year - and of course the familiar faces that come with them - we're thrilled to do something just for us this year. Seeing the world a little bit this Christmas just feels right, especially since some other familiar faces are involved.

As my parting gift, I offer our 2011 holiday card, which makes me embarrassingly happy. Our house portrait was done by the lovely Rebekka Seale (whose blog is also lovely), and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. Even better, after our cards are all sent away in the mail, we have a portrait ready for framing that we can enjoy each day of the year. Best. Card Idea. Ever.

Thanks for the fun and the conversation we've shared over the year, friends. I hope each of you has your merriest holiday season yet!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ramen obsession

My current excuse regarding near-constant cravings for Toki Underground is that ramen is good for my cold. But really, I don't need to justify my obsession with this stuff.

The kimchi hakata is pretty much all I want to eat these days. Look at that stuff... can you blame me?

While we're on the subject of ramen, if you didn't get a chance to read the debut issue of Lucky Peach when it launched this summer, try to find yourself a copy. The issue is entirely focused on ramen, and is as hunger-inducing as it is giggle-inducing. Good writing through and through, especially if you find boys' clubs more charming than obnoxious. (Personally, I waver... but this boys' club pulls it off.)

Mmmmm... ramen.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Scrambled Brain (not a recipe post)

I turned on my television tonight for the first time in what feels like a century. Lunch today was the first time this week I read the newspaper. I visited Twitter, Facebook, and Reader, too - the real things, not just the mobile versions. Here's a sign of how hectic things are right now: my astrology app (yes, I have this) (even though I have sworn off psychics) (a story I may tell in 2012) told me that December would be my biggest career month of the year. I thought that was sort of impossible, since I'll be on vacation for half of December... but I think the damn app might be on to something. Since job-blogging is for the birds - very, very dimwitted birds - we'll skip over that currently enormous portion of my life and just say that things are swell.

So what are we left with, then? We're left with a still-unplanned trip to Europe. The logic there is that because our goals consist not of Louvre sightings but instead of belly fillage and sensory overload, planning isn't really required. I'd simply like to step off the plane and be swept away in a Paris whirlwind, with my favorite partner in crime there to help me pronounce things. This is me, simplifying.

We're also left with a Christmas tree-less house. You all were right that it would've been worth it to get one. And if I could've cloned myself to get a tree and decorate it that very day, I would have. But a week went by without a chance to breathe, and suddenly we'd only have a week with said tree before leaving it, and oh by the way where is that clone again, because the next three nights were already booked solid, and then we have only a few days with the tree. So yeah. There's been some minimal holiday decorating around la casa, but that's it. And it's the best that I can do this year... I am accepting that reality. This is me, simplifying.

A funny thing about simplifying is that I forget how much better I am at it when I'm really busy than when I'm not. My head does a better job of balancing when it has more things to sort. When I'm not busy enough, too many little items sit in my head in a mess, twisted and tangled and hopeless. Being busy is the great prioritizer of my head space. It's like the mental conditioner that turns my tangles into shiny, manageable thoughts.

It's also possible that I've been working from home a little too much for a little too long, so this change has been good. Meetings and people and reading books on the train and lunches away from my home office desk are good things. Back to Basics at its best. I still love my home office and its perks, but I think I love having the option of multiple workplaces even better. It takes one to appreciate the other.

This might just be me in a past-midnight sort of mood, but I swear this photo I took of eggs from my sister's chickens looks exactly the way I want my mental space to look. Okay, maybe there are still a lot of eggs in there. But it's me... Ms. More Is More, after all. In this picture, mental conditioner is flowing. Do you see how calm those eggs look, how they're full and lively in that pie pan but not too crowded, how there is a quiet yet charmingly irregular semblance of order?

I'm calling it right now: my resolution for 2012 is for my brain to embody this photograph. Or to start some sort of mental clarity hair product line.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Our family tree

We might do things late around here, but I like to think that we also do them right. Take our first wedding anniversary, by the way - the "paper" anniversary. Those who know me might have guessed a paper anniversary would be right up my alley, but in truth I couldn't quite figure out a paper gift that T would love as much as I did. Somewhere along the way, the idea of creating a family tree took hold of us, with our wedding date as the center. And since he hadn't thought of a gift for me either, we decided that a family tree would be our collective first anniversary gift to each other. There was something harmonious about the way that gift-giving moment paralleled what the tree represented, and when I found My Tree And Me, I knew I'd struck gold.  

Our stumbling block wasn't what kind of tree to order, then, but the genealogy needed to fill out the tree.  I had lots of my family's information - with a few holes - but T's family didn't have much at all. I've long been fascinated with genealogy, so for the next year, I delved into with all my might. For any of you history-lovers, I'd really recommend digging into your own family background - it's such a treasure trove! For me I found it really interesting to research both of our families at once.

My family are as a whole settlers - they came across the pond from England, and with only one exception went straight to eastern North Carolina, then stayed there generation through generation. That kind of tradition amazes me, as someone who's had a hard time staying put herself. In this respect my mom and dad's families are absolutely intertwined. Ancestors on both sides founded a church together, sold land to each other, lived next door to each other, and were buried together. They even married each other. (Yep - my parents are in fact distantly related. Two sisters married my parents' great-grandfathers in the 1800s. They think it's hilarious. Which is really the only way to react, in my mind.) Combing through my family records was fascinating for me. I got to know people like Hezekiah and Grizelle and Hepsebeth. I was able to trace lines of my family back to Wales in the 1500s - completely new history for us.

T's family are for the most part explorers. They came to the U.S. from England, Scotland, Germany, and France. They followed their own paths - for some of them, their professional lives meant they traveled in and out of the country regularly. They went West when it was Indian territory, living in Oklahoma, Iowa, New Mexico, and California. One line even went South, becoming part of Charleston history. A few of them stayed in the Northeast, but what's interesting about T's family is that even for those who didn't, Connecticut always called them back. T's father now lives in a town where completely unknown to him, his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother was buried in 1675. For a man who was raised in California, that sort of connection is eerily fascinating. I found a kindred spirit in T's family history, too - a pioneer woman named Mae who I feel sure I would've adored had I been able to meet her.

What I found by researching our families in tandem is that despite our opposing settler/explorer natures, we both have our fair share of rogues. I love having rogues in the family. We have the upstanding citizen types too, of course... but the twinkle in our eyes when T and I laugh at each other seems to me to come directly from our ancestors who fled the military and caused mischief and married a farmhand instead of a planter. There's a restlessness that we each have that I like to think was passed down to us.

After all this history I've laid out here, it's probably implied that our little genealogy project took on a life of its own for me. We needed just five generations to fill out our tree, and so I finally pressed pause on my research to have it made. We designed a custom colorway that's just gorgeous, and perfect for our dining room. Here it is framed on the wall... a first anniversary gift that came a year and a half late.

Thanks to My Tree And Me for making something we'll treasure forever. If you're in the market for a tree of your own, I highly recommend working with them. The designs are fresh and modern, and the quality is fantastic - fitting for a piece that will tell a thousand stories.
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