Monday, December 31, 2012

Dolphin dives

*sparklingly (http://sparklingly.blogspot.com)
{ Monkey love | Honduras | December 2012 }

When we decided to go somewhere warm for the holidays we knew we wanted a mix of jungly and beachy, so we looked toward the coastlines of Central America. Our first choice was this gorgeous property in Nicaragua built on a lake in the middle of the country that seemed perfect: green in every sense of the word, intimate, lots of places to explore, yoga out on a dock everyday, my style of food and comforts, but sadly worked out to be too expensive for us, especially since we wanted to do a solid two weeks.

The place we ended up choosing in Honduras isn't exactly what I expected, but one thing it delivers in spades is the junglyness. We're on a nature preserve of sorts and there's a family of monkeys here that are adorable (until they try to swipe your things), these squirrel/gerbil-type critters that scamper around, stately peacocks, squawky geese, iguanas that look like mini-dinosaurs and therefore freak me out when they sidle up to our palapa on the beach, roosters that crow at random times of the day, pheasants that look completely out of place and humble cows. Quite the motley crew.
*sparklingly (http://sparklingly.blogspot.com)
{ Shiver-inducing iguana | Honduras | December 2012 }

But of all these wild beasts, the most amazing are the dolphins (which aren't running wild on the property of course).

I was somewhere in the neighborhood of about ten years old when The Little Mermaid came out and I was obsessed (until The Lion King, which is now and forever will be my all-time-favorite Disney movie, despite feeling like I should like Aladdin more since it features a Disney princess I can identify with). Anyway, point is, I watched that movie verging on daily for quite a few months after we bought the VHS, so I knew all the lines, the characters' expressions and the words to all the songs. I felt like Ariel and I were the same and I even tried to perfect a little mermaid/dolphin dive in the pool during swim practice (which may be why I was never a good competitve swimmer, too much time wasted flipping my imaginary fins around).

*sparklingly (http://sparklingly.blogspot.com)
{ Sweet little guy saying hello | Honduras | December 2012 }

When R and I had the chance to actually swim with dolphins a few days ago it was completely surreal. They were these gorgeous, playful, cuddly (seriously!), laughing (again, seriously!) creatures that loved to impress and were crazy for our applause and cheers and whistles. It really was an incredible experience. They had this magnificent power, but turned to mush when they sensed we were happy. And their speed and grace! They'd zoom off, do back-to-back flips and then race back to us, stopping with a swift ninety-degree turn right in front of us. Then they'd loll over on their sides so we could scratch their silky smooth bellies. We were able to take some beautiful pics of us hugging our dolphins and us each getting a sweet little smooch from them.

One of the most amazing things for me was seeing my 6'4" husband become like a little boy again when the dolphins swam around him. I've seen him with babies and puppies, but he was absolutely enthralled by the dolphins and his giddiness was just as precious to me as the chance to flit around with dolphins and channel my inner Ariel.

If you've never done it before and ever have the chance, please promise me you'll take a swim with some dolphins. You won't regret it.

*sparklingly (http://sparklingly.blogspot.com)
{ Showing off for us | Honduras | December 2012 }

And with that—Happy New Year's! Here's to a fabulous (hopefullly dolphin-filled...or at least dolphin-adjacent) 2013 for all

Saturday, December 29, 2012

An unburdening

*sparklingly (http://sparklingly.blogspot.com)
{ Peacock roaming about | Honduras | December 2012 }
This holiday I'm trying so very hard to "turn off", which is harder said than done (clearly, since I'm typing on a gadget at the moment). But, in this case, letting my feelings go here is probably a good, cathartic thing (versus mindlessly checking social media or work emails which is usually not).

A lot has happened this year: family situations, work situations, life situations (Hi Sandy!)—but the last few months have been especially challenging.

I took on too much work.

I dealt with natural disasters (although to a much lesser degree than many, but to a higher degree than everyone in my circles here in NYC).

I've had my life shifted a bit as we've had a houseguest for three months (yep, that's not a typo). Even though our houseguest is extraordinarily respectful and helpful and we have fairly opposite schedules, it still jars the rhythm of daily life for me. I'm the opposite of my brother in that I'm extremely protective of my space, my sanctuary. Our apartment is small (~650 sq ft), and each inch is put together and arranged in a way that calms and soothes me. I don't necessarily want a big house ever (although I see the benefits when you have a long-term guest), I just want a space that's sacred to me. And, it's taken a much bigger toll on me than I thought it would to not have the space to myself (when I say "myself", I mean R & I, although he knows how precious my space and time is to me and he gives me lots of both). Even now, while we're away, our guest is still at our apartment PLUS two additional ones. Granted, these are people very, very close to me, but that doesn't change the fact that knowing our home is being fully inhabited by someone other than us two makes my eye twitch.

I know I need to let (it) go.

Part of this two-week hiatus from life in Honduras is a chance to breathe in and out. To ignore those nasty niggles that someone is sprawled across my bed at this very moment. To turn off everything around me and just focus on the elements that we get to experience here together: fire of the sun, water of the sea, wind through the palm trees and this beautiful earth below our feet.

So far it's working.

(Although, it did take some major unwinding, but I might go so far as to say that I'm actually completely relaxed right now).

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from Honduras!

{ R surveying the sea | Honduras | December 2012 }

Christmas Eve means more to both of us in our individual traditions (which is good for our joint!), but in this land of no clocks, no Christmas trees and no midnight mass, all the days are melding together and I missed wishing you all on Christmas Eve, but here I am on Christmas Day!

Since arriving on Saturday we've been in (mostly) blissful ignorance of everything else in the world but this turquoise sea, this white sand, and each other. We're filling our days with frequent dips in the water, jaunts around this little island in a pair of kayaks, rowdy card games and keeping our things out of grabby monkey hands (more on that later). Hope you all are having a nice wind-down of your year, too.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Monday meanders: 4


{ via }
I'm currently on holiday in Honduras with the hubby (oooo alliteration...although I despise the word 'hubby'), but put this together last week before taking off. Enjoy—and hope you're all having a good start to your week!

+ Strengthening sweetness and stimulating spiciness: Oh me oh my, I could smell the scent wafting through the air just from reading this goodness from Rachel in Rome (her lovely picture shown above).

+ Flitting and flanerie-ing: So much to love about this post from Sarah in Sydney (hmm, sensing a pattern here) on the French idea of taking a wander around the city just to absorb and soak it in. No goal in mind, other than to revel in your surroundings and maybe indulge in a local goodie or interaction with your neighbor. It's slightly akin to the Italian "dolce far niente", or the beauty of doing nothing, although the latter doesn't necessarily imply a stroll. I think this makes my daily and weekend walks much more special because now they have a spot-on name, no?

+ Instastealing? So apparently a lot of the Instagram hullabahoo last week was just a result of bad writing and they have no intention of stealing your photos for advertising campaigns, of which only they will profit in. Good to know (not that I use Instagram all that much, but still...).

+ Spidey sense: Have to agree. Best. Picture. Ever.

+ Waldorf Astoria: Sweet story of a couple returning to the grand hotel where they spent their wedding night in 1952 for a milestone anniversary—turns out, the WA honors your original room rate (if you have your receipt, of course). So instead of paying $3,450 for a night, this couple paid $21. Excellent for the brand, but in general, just a cleverly awesome thing to do.

+ Celestial Lights: Gorgeous, gorgeous video of the northern lights above Norway, Finland and Sweden.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Honduran holiday

{ via }

R and I are spending our end-of-the-year in the Caribbean this year. We'll be celebrating Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, our wedding anniversary, New Year's Eve, New Year's day AND R's birthday far, far away—the first time we're doing the whole shebang, just us two.

To say we're ecstatic is an understatement.

I'll try to check in every few days, but in case you don't hear from me for a few weeks—have a lovely holiday, everyone and Happy New Year!

{ via }

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A bout of the sniffles

*sparklingly (http://sparklingly.blogspot.com)
{ A few weeks ago. Back when I felt as badass as my boots look. }

I've got this obnoxious bug and I'm pretty annoyed about it.

Mostly because I've been harping at someone close to me for months now to take better care of themselves: "maybe your day's meals shouldn't consist of just one cup of instant coffee and a sketchy hamburger", "maybe you shouldn't wear just a windbreaker when it's 38F outside", "maybe you should sleep more than 4 hours a night", etc. So when that person fell ill, I didn't say "I told you so", but I definitely thought it, especially when the cold lasted just over two weeks.

And then I came down with some scratchy-throated, stuffy-headed nonsense this weekend and felt slightly less vindicated. Although in my defense, I really think I've been struck because I've been:

+ Working way too much (day job + evenings/weekends on two side projects + citizenship applications)

+ Slightly overdoing it with holiday/family commitments (the last of which was on the eve of my downfall—but I don't regret one second or bite of my company's amazingly indulgent end-of-the-year dinner: 8 wine-paired courses of delight)

+ And, the weather did this ridiculous roller coaster last week with 60F one day and 30F the next and I didn't dress appropriately.

+ Plus, I should have been hibernating all weekend to recoup, but instead worked nonstop, which I'm sure didn't help.

I don't have a real fever, and apart from one minor sensation of nausea, I don't feel flu-y, so I've made the perhaps pig-headed decision to not take medicine. A course of Nyquil & Dayquil is always my go-to, but I'm wondering if I could just let this yuckiness run its course and not deal with medicine hangover.

But now that we're approaching Day 6, I'm feeling less tough and more silly about it.

I just went outside and propped myself up against a building on my office's chichi Soho corner to turn my face to the sky and soak in some bright sunlight and that was about the best I've felt over the last few days.

Just a few more hours to get through and then I can recuperate somewhere far, far away with nary a computer in sight but lots and lots of sunshine.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Oh, the places you'll go

Riserva dello Zingaro, Sicily
{ Riserva dello Zingaro | Sicily | September 2010 }
Sometime during a college break I wandered into my mom's craft room and grabbed a scrap of lavender cloth and used it to bind a notebook—it had beautiful paper but a horrific cover that needed to be hidden ASAP. On one of the first pages of the book I scrawled out a "life plan" (almost 0 of which has actually happened, so there's that) and a list of places to go (some of which has happened).

For inspiration, and to remind myself, here's that original list, along with some additions...and annotations (for the places that I think about often):

+ Scandinavia: specifically, the Aeroe Islands, the Åland Islands, Copehnagen, Lapland, Gotland, Malmo, Reykjavik, Kullaberg, Nordkapp and Skagen, to start. (ETA: North Cape of  Norway)

+ Egypt: I've been obsessed with Egypt for years, especially Ancient Egypt. I would have fit in so well—no one loves flitting about more in light-colored linen, gold/copper/bronze and gem stones, and lounging about on marble slabs in spas than I do. Not to mention: powerful women, hedonism and an ever-present emphasis on learning. I would do Ancient Egypt so well. Would love to do 10 days of intense travel through the interior and along the Nile, book-ended by a few days at a seaside resort.

+ Grecian Isles: I spent a few days in Athens and Santorini a few years ago, but I always thought it would be nice to rent a boat and a captain and sail through a portion of the country's maze of islands for a few days...or weeks.

+ France: I also wouldn't mind seeing the French countryside—I don't know if just seeing Paris/Versailles should really count as checking this country off of my list.

+ Turkey: There was a line in that movie "A Walk to Remember" about being in two places at once (and the guy makes the girl's dream come true by having her straddle the state line), but I'd like to do the same in Turkey—except, straddle two continents, crisscrossing between Europe and Asia and enjoying all that that means: the collision of food, culture, art, architecture, spices, attire, etc. 

+ Prince Edward Island: I do have a thing for Anne Shirley and Avonlea, you know.

+ Spain, specifically, Andalucia: On the fateful trip when I met R, I almost didn't. I had originally planned to spend that month after graduation in Spain, but I ended up in Italy. Almost 8 years later, I still haven't seen Spain.

+ Caribbean Cocoa trail: I've actually spent a bit of time in the Caribbean, but there's a smattering of more "exotic" islands that I'd love to trek through, especially after reading this NYT piece about the Cocoa Trail.

+ Ireland/Wales/Scotland: I like rolling hills, greenery, whiskey/scotch, dogs, horses, castles, foxes and tartan. Plus I don't mind gray/overcast weather, so really this trip should have happened by now. (Am a little worried on the food front, but, I'll manage).

Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday meanders: 3

{ via }

Very few tidbits to share from my online futzing around last week...since I mainly meandered from my sofa to my bed and back thanks to this bug that's taken me down.

+ Coconut snowballs: Kinda obsessed with these no-bake, gluten-free, nut-free and vegan goodies (pictured above). Maybe when I'm standing on two feet again I'll whip this goodness up.

+ Santa Lucia: Oddly enough, there's a specific cultural/religious tie between Sweden and Sicily. Sweden (a secular, mostly Lutheran country) has an annual festival of light on winter solstice to mark the beginning of daylight and warmth as the year progresses. Lucy comes from the latin lux or "light" and the festival in Sweden is named for Santa Lucia, a martyred Catholic saint from the fourth century. She's the patron saint of Syracuse in Sicily (about two hours down the coast from R's hometown by car) and the blind (she's usually pictured with her eyes on a platter—a little unsavory). The Swedes celebrate with little girls (or boys...) dressed up in white with a crown of candles and lots of processions and singing, saffron buns and mulled wine.

+ The story of Jim: An beautifully disorienting, touching post about contradictions and life and lessons learned from Sarah at The Yellow House.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Carafes, castles & clans

Gambino Vini vineyards Linguaglossa Sicily
{ A favorite Sicilian winery | Gambino Vini | Linguaglossa | September 2011 }


I've moved on from listening to Friends clips on my walks home and I've ventured into re-watching episodes of shows I've already seen via Netflix Mobile. Lately I've been going through Season 1 of Brothers & Sisters and you know what that means?

+ I always crave a glass of wine as soon as I get home (they are always drinking!)

+ I need a house like Nora's (this was decided a long time ago, but I'm reconfirming).

+ I may be reassessing my initial thoughts on a maximum of two children—who
   wouldn't want to create a lively tribe like that?

   (This is serious: I've always been in the two-kids camp, because I know myself
   and my patience levels and what I can handle, but lately, even without watching
   this show, I've been thinking it might be nice to create and nurture and mold the
   family that I've always dreamed of...)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Joining the EU

NYC City Hall Archway
{ Looking up under the City Hall archway | NYC | December 2012 }

Let me tell you about last week—and why it involved getting fingerprinted more than once, writing a handful of checks, and filling out an obnoxious amount of paperwork.

We're about to hit the three-year mark on our marriage, which means: I can file for citizenship in Italy and Sweden! Well, Italy. Sweden requires you to actually live there first, but trust me, I'm working on that.

As part of the paperwork, I had to get an FBI criminal report and a police report for each of the three states I've lived in. Of course each individual body had their own specifications and costs and notary requirements, which made the whole process that much more interesting (sike).

I thought it'd be pretty simple after the legwork of getting fingerprinted was done—just wait for the FBI and all those states to send me a report, translate all our identification documents and get them authenticated and then call up the Italian Consulate to schedule an appointment and sweetly ask them to grant me citizenship, per favore.

Of course, it's never that simple with the Italians. They told us the next possible appointment will be in AUGUST 2013! I could have an Italian baby by that time! Not only did we have to pay $3/minute to hear that bad news over the phone, the $150 I spent on fingerprinting and record requests was for nothing, since by the time that appointment rolls around, they'll have expired. Annoyed doesn't even begin to describe my mood. I bet if they minimized their espresso breaks and lengthened their hours from about 2 hours a day to say...a normal work day of 7.5 hours we'd have an appointment next month!

(Note: we were instructed to only call once we had all the documents ready, if we had any idea they wouldn't give us an appointment for the time it takes me to grow a baby we'd have made the appointment first A YEAR AGO and then done all the run around to get our documents in order).

Meanwhile, we heard our marriage is thisclose to being formally registered in Sweden. I sent the paperwork back in October to register our marriage there, which would give me the right to receive their version of a SSN, which makes getting residency and benefits from Day 1 infinitely more easier, instead of waiting to do it once we arrive.

In the midst of all that foolishness, I finished R's citizenship paperwork for the US. After two rounds of fiancè visa applications for him to enter the country in 2009, plus applying for his 2-year green card in 2010, and then his 10-year green card in 2012, he can (finally) ask for US citizenship (like Italy, the US also requires you to be married for three years before making your request).

Am waiting for the day when I will no longer have to write a check to any country's homeland security/minister/etc. (I'm scared to even tally up how much we've spent in the last 4'ish years on this). If everything keeps moving forward R should have American citizenship next year and I will hopefully have Italian citizenship and Swedish residency within the next year...which would give me a break from dealing with immigration bureaucracy until 2016,  when I can ask for Swedish citizenship. And THEN I will no longer have to deal with this nonsense...well, until we have children and need to request citizenship in three different countries for them. Sigh.

I'm on my way to becoming Jason Bourne—except with legal passports.

And no Treadstone, of course.
{My trip to Goa | 2006 | Jason Bourne may have run down this exact same beach }

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday meanders: 2

{ via }

A few tidbits from my online futzing around last week for your afternoon distraction:

+ The epitome of Christmas may be in these cookies (above). Must figure out way to make them gluten-free immediately! No doubt these would put me in the mood.

+ Pets as diamonds: I'm all for sparkly jewels, and I've loved all the pets I've ever had, but this seems like an odd way to memorialize them once they've gone.

+ Cleopatra costume: On the way hand, I'm a little jealous, on the other, this seems like a bit much, even for a supermodel.

+ Pug birthday: I'd be wondering the same thing, dude.

+ Science of gifting: Be merry and regift!

+ What happens when we sleep? 16 things you didn't know, like every person that appears in a dream is someone you've seen in real life—we can only dream about people that appeared in our vision, even if we don't remember having ever seen them. Creepy! (Also, those sleep positions/personality things are spot on: I'm A, C and D).

+ Pop Danthology 2012 is a mashup of 50+ pop songs and it. is. amazing.

+ Culture fading back into nature in this ingenious forest library made of books! The comments are interesting—does using books as a structure mean we no longer need physical books because we've gone digital? Is it really okay to discard books like this, shouldn't they be donated? With all these microenvironments...does it smell (I'm particularly curious about this)? Is it depressing to see remnants of a discarded culture? Regardless, I think the photos and idea (at least initially) are beautiful.

+ Stunning photos of William and Kate. I never got into the royal wedding hype...until the morning of. I was late to work because I watched it on the news and I started crying! (Granted: I do tear up regularly while watching TV, but still). I think there was something about their elegance and commitment and stoicism under pressure that I really admired—and still do.

+ Stagnant love: This popped up in the NYT right after my post about keeping that marital spark alive—but it's not exactly new news. I remember my Psych 101 professor saying passionate love fizzles out after two years, and all you have left is companionship/friendship, so make sure you don't just lust your partner, you like them, too. These guys say you can rediscover each other and rekindle the flame if you can hang on until your kids leave home (but what if you don't have kids?) and that all is not doomed as long as you weave in a few surprises and variety while you wait for your kids to vamoose.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

How to embrace a gray Sunday

*sparklingly (http://sparklingly.blogspot.com)
{ Belgian hot chocolate from Le Pain Quotidien with jauntily placed pinecone }

+ Let yourself sleep in until 9:30AM, since you strolled in the door at the tardy hour of 1AM after a very, very fun dinner party uptown (how d'ya like them apples, NYT?).

+ Shuffle into the kitchen, fire up the moka.

+ Spend an hour over coffee and a spicy brunch at your table poking around online.

+ Do a few hours of work (for a project you enjoy).

+ Bundle up for a leisurely hour-long walk uptown to a coffee shop to meet your team.

+ Enjoy a pot of hot chocolate...with a pinecone propped against a candle for a dash of holiday cheer.

Friday, December 7, 2012

(Out of the) ordinary

*sparklingly (http://sparklingly.blogspot.com)
{ A page from my newest (covered) library book }

Because I'm so particularly particular, there are certain things I do that some might find unusual, but I myself find regular (ha: channeling Chandler Bing). In no certain order, here are a few of my quirks:

+ I cover my library books with white paper from my office recycling bin because I like how clean and fresh they look...and also because I'm a major germophobe.

+ Toilet paper rolls must always roll up and over. If it doesn't, the world may end.

+ I can't drink cold water out of a mug (but tea from a teacup/coffee mug is fine).

+ The world will also end if the couch cushions are wonky/smushed.

+ While reading the newspaper there must be a neat—or at least artistically fanned out—pile of read and to-read.

+ If something I'm watching comes with subtitles, I make sure they're turned on...even when it's in English.

+ I cannot walk around with just socks on. Either barefoot or slippers/shoes. Socks on floors freak me out.

+ I cannot unwind/relax after work unless the entire apartment is straightened up. I also can't leave until the same is done...which makes the days that I'm the last to leave and first to return the best.

+ I will only use certain pens (for the last few years I've been stuck on Pilot G2's and Pilot Precise V5 Needle Rollerballs) when I write and shun all others (see: BICs).

+ Talking on the phone is stressful/annoying to me. Would much rather catch-up in person or via text/email/chat.

+ Everything everywhere in the apartment needs to be at perfect angles, in pretty rows, or stacked un-haphazardly.

(Yes, I recognize I may be a little insane.)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Undecked halls

*sparklingly (http://sparklingly.blogspot.com)
{ Everyone else is feeling festive | Soho | December 2012 }

I am decidedly un-festive this year.

No decorations at home, no presents being bought/crafted. I'm not even listening to holiday music!

Thanksgiving really does set the tone for the holiday season for me and since we had a muted day this year, I don't think I've fully gotten into the holiday spirit. That plus knowing we'll be out of the city and sans family at the end of the year (so no tree, no Midnight Mass, no Glögg) and I'm feeling decidedly blue (or blah), instead of red and gold and plummy purple.

Not even this adorable series of Scandinavian holiday crafts appearing each day of December like the best advent calendar ever got me in the spirit.

I think I need to just admit to myself that this year is a wash in terms of Christmas festivities...but I can console myself knowing we'll be (mostly) offline and on a beach for two weeks soon.

That's a consolation prize I can get behind.
{ The table set and the apartment decorated for a holiday meal...last year }

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Some tweaks

*sparklingly (http://sparklingly.blogspot.com)
{ Admiring my anti-winter colors a few weeks ago }

So here's the thing, even with all the goodness I've been adding into my daily life, I haven't quite experienced all the results I wanted (namely: more energy and continuously clear skin). At the same time as I've been thinking about this, I've been spending my weekends working on a side project that has me reading/familiarizing myself with the wellness philosophies of Kris Carr/Crazy Sexy Wellness and Dr. Mark Hyman/Functional Medicine. (Randomly amazing that I—finally—get to read about things I'm interested in for work, no?).

With all these thoughts jumbled about in my head, I decided there are a few more small changes I can make that might up my energy, clear my skin, and help me take better care of myself. So here's what I'm thinking of doing:


Play with the balance of my diet:
My diet is almost entirely made up of: vegetables (organic when needed and affordable; local when possible),  whole milk/non-homogenized dairy products from happy cows, meat from humanely, non-toxically bred animals, eggs from pastured chickies, and lots of nuts/seeds/coconut oil/spices.

+ But, I'm thinking one thing that might be a good way to experiment would be to dial back the dairy products a teensy bit.

+ And, add in even more vegetables (which would in effect make me eat less meat).

My thinking here is: I'm still a little lethargic and I still get a few inflammations on my face now and then. These could be the product of stress, a dairy intolerance, or not enough vegetables, so perhaps weighing my diet more towards the vegetable side and a wee bit off the dairy/meat side might make a difference. (Definitely not removing anything, just playing with the balance).


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Latte pappas

*sparklingly (http://sparklingly.blogspot.com)
{ A walk in Stockholm's Hagapark | December 2010 }

The primary thing people warn me about when I say I want to move to Sweden is: "but it's so cold/dark!". True. But, I'm hoping my obsession with coziness and candlelight, their obsession with "fika" (coffee/pastry breaks) and my newfound love of saunas, which exist on every street corner over there, will combat the overwhelming lack of sunlight and warmth in winter.

On a tangential note: here's a man's point of view on gender equality in Sweden (I promise I'll move on from this soon). Don't you love how the dad's are called "latte pappas"? Adorable.
"It has only taken a few weeks of this for me to know [that] when I thought I was being sympathetic to my wife during her child leave, I wasn't being nearly sympathetic enough. And when I thought I was being understanding, I didn't understand a thing...
...In Sweden, men's painful discovery of how exhausting it is to look after a baby is believed to aid parental harmony. 'You get a whole different understanding of how it is to take care of a child, because work is nothing in comparison'...
...Swedes tend to see generous shared parental leave as good for the economy, since it prevents the nation's investment in women's education and expertise from going to waste."
Granted we don't have children, nor are we anywhere close to being ready, but I think it might be nice to be in place that has this mindset when we finally decide to grow our own little family, no?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday meanders: 1

{ Of course this coffee shop has a bike hanging from its ceiling | Gasoline Alley | NYC }
A few tidbits from my online futzing around last week for your afternoon distraction:

+ 8tracks is probably old news to everyone, but I never used it until I saw a link to this homey, cozy playlist from Genevieve's archives, which also led me to this one. Both perfect moody music sources for this time of year.

+ Instagram: A friend that knows me oh-so-well told me to follow this goodness—if you love golden retrievers as much as I do, you HAVE to check out Snowbear's escapades.

+ Next Generation Foods: Shocking stats on the amount of food wasted in the US and the UK, e.g., 40% of all food produced in the US is thrown away (!!!).

+ Les Miserables: I pretty much start bawling when I see/hear any of the trailers for this film. The music is incredible and the cast live-sang EVERY single take! Amazing.

+ YouTube/White House: Adorable video of Bo, the Obama pooch, inspecting the White House's holiday decorations. Please note his too-cute white front paws and his confused expression when he sees the stuffed Bo.

+ Hurraw! I ordered some goat's milk lip balm from Amazon.com a few months ago, but am thinking that when I run out, I may look into Hurraw!'s, which is made from premium organic, vegan and raw ingredients. The goat milk one was nice, but I like the idea of some flavor/aromatherapy—perhaps the chai spice, mint and moon balm?

+ Edible Manhattan: While reading the new volume, I saw this article (see page 26) about Kitchen Surfing, a great new site that allows chefs (professional or amateur) to offer up their services in people's homes. I'm thinking about signing R up for it, since he's a ridiculously talented cook and when he first moved to the US (and before work authorization came through) he actually considered offering up Sicilian cooking lessons on the side.

+ Edible Manhattan: Another excellent read—how Kristin Gillibrand (the first NY senator in 41 years to be on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee) is fighting for better national food policies.

+ BuzzFeed: I think I'm okay with every single one of these "unexpected" flavor combos except...avocado+coffee. You?

Wistfulness

{ Pretty pretty snow-covered Swedish cafe via }

I saw this house posted on one of Sweden's tourism pages on Facebook last week and had an insane surge of happiness. Cozy little red house in the woods with a little tree out front bedecked with twinkly fairy lights and a dusting of snow over everything including the quaint stone fence? Oh, yes. That is perfection. All that's missing is a plume of smoke from the chimney and a golden retriever tromping and snuffling about in the white poufs outside.

It's funny, just having a tiny window, a teensy glimpse into a different reality and you assume it's all perfect and rosy. Walking past a fancy home goods store (or even unfancy: I get the Gimme's at IKEA!) or browsing about the blogosphere or checking out beautifully staged real estate listings in foreign countries, you think: if I lived in that house, or had that furniture, or had that for lunch, or lived that life I'd be happier.

Is it location that makes things better? The unfamiliarness and promise of the unknown? Will I be drastically happier and more fulfilled just by going to a country that I think fits me better? Probably not. Whatever ails me here will just trot along across an ocean and end up next to me, right where it's always been.

But, that won't stop me from wistfully imagining up all the potential loveliness that may or may not come to pass when I take a big jump next year. So I present to you above: the Scandinavian country cottage of my dreams.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Frissons

*sparklingly (http://sparklingly.blogspot.com)
{ Soho ceiling | NYC }
Today was one of those suprisingly comforting wintry gray days in the city—when the weather is a bit dreary but there's a certain electricity in the air that makes you feel all warm and cheery inside. The huge red and white-tented holiday fair I passed in Union Square before a worksession for a side project I'm dabbling in may have contributed to the cheer, but regardless, one of my favorite kinds of days, weather wise.

After I finished up I met R for an impromptu, late afternoon drink at Pipa, a low-key, yet sexy and shadowy winebar attached to ABC Home. There's something to be said for spontaneity. Especially with your spouse.

We hadn't planned to meet up, but I finished early and he was nearby and voilà, a chance glass of Pinot Noir with my husband. I arrived a few minutes before him and set myself up at a farmhouse table under a ceiling full of chandeliers with my book, phone, and a glass of wine tantalizingly nearby. I was completely absorbed and didn't realize R arrived until he was right next to me: tall, dark and handsome and for a moment I forgot he was all mine. 

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We get so caught up in our day-to-day foolishness: work and bills and laundry and dishes and Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Google Reader and family obligations and visa/citizenship paperwork and finishing the damn newspaper before the weekend is over that we aren't nearly as good as we should be at making time for each other. 

We never really "dated" because our courtship spanned 4 years and this big thing called the Atlantic. Whenever we were together we were completely together because we reunited on vacation somewhere new (or with at least one of us taking vacation to visit the other), so making time to meet up for a drink or dinner or a weekend away in the course of our normal life before marriage only happened for a few days every 3 - 4 months. 

At home we're always tempted away by our phones or chores after a long day at work that the idea of grabbing the other for a kiss or focusing completely on what the other is saying without our eyes wandering to a flashing light doesn't happen nearly as much as it should, but when we're out and ourselves (and not the dish-washer or clothes-folder or floor-sweeper or dinner-maker) we get to be flirtatious and charming and completely engrossed in the other.  

We either need to get better at being ourselves at home or steal more moments away because those moments? They are thoroughly thrilling.