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Blue Ridge Blues

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Shenandoah.

Our home away from home. Alex visited this past weekend on a guys-only sort of hiking trip. He said it was snowing on the trail but the sun danced so warmly against their backs that you would think it was springtime. I know exactly the scene he described and can repaint it in my mind through memories. A tinge of jealousy ran through my veins when he told me.

We visited for our anniversary last month. Fitting, I know, seeing as our entire relationship seems to follow the backbone of those mountains. It was a rustic sort of celebration. The air was crisp and scented by a wood stove overlooking the mountains. We moved slow and intentionally through each moment. Quiet moments. Lots and lots of quiet, reflective moments. The mountains seem to speak through us as a messenger, sending our thoughts bounding across the mountaintops and back to one another through the wind. 

So Alex visited without me this past weekend. While I did mundane holiday preparations not limited to polishing the silver and dusting every nook and cranny. And, yes, I was jealous. Therefore, I’m taking you back with me today. Back to the Blue Ridge to take away my blues.

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Oh, also, if you haven’t entered The First Annual Blog-iversary Giveaway, it needs to be your next stop on the world wide web. Run along, now.

Keep Austin Weird

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We just don’t have curiosity shops like this in Annapolis. There are antique stores. And there are rummage stores. But nothing like Uncommon Objects.

I have an unreciprocated love affair with this purveyor of curious belongings. I get lost in the tiniest little details.

The best part about curiosity shops is that Alex and I can spend hours inside, wandering around independent from one another, and meet up with completely different perspectives on the same square foot of space. There’s just so much to see!

Pictures cannot do this shop justice. Nor can words. As a matter of fact, I am at a loss of words. I could tell you about how overwhelming it was to turn each corner and see more and more and more. I could describe the overwhelming excitement of staring at the same wall for thirty minutes and still finding new items displayed. I could share with you all of the near-purchases we didn’t take home because they were either too large, too expensive, or too useless.

But for now, I’ll just tell you that if you need just one reason to visit Austin, let this be it.

*Filed under Wanderlust Life*

Love Notes: Places

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I like nice things. I’m a quality over quantity girl. Buy it once, buy it right. My poor husband. I’m never really a cheap date. Same theory. There’s no reason to waste calories and money on sub-par food. I’d rather stay at home where I have a pre-selected wine collection and can make a good meal for half the cost. Dining out is about the experience. And the quality, of course.

Alex and I took the Megabus (best public transportation experience of my life) down to San Antonio last Thursday. It really started as one of those “I’ve never been and we may never have a chance to go again” type of trips. Plus, two round trip tickets were $12. So off to San Antonio we went.

We have places. Most couples do. Places. They mean the world to us. And just the thought or reminder of these places brings us back to us. Seattle is one. As is the Shenandoah Valley. Michigan, of course.

Then there is Venice. We will never forget Venice. In fact, Venice decorates several of our walls. And so then we step down a small flight of stairs into the Riverwalk of San Antonio.

There it is. In a matter of seconds. That connection. That unspoken, overwhelming energy and sensation. You only get it from your places. It makes you feel home. No, not home home. Us home. Depressions and worries and current strains aside. Us home. San Antonio reminded us of Venice.

And we walked that Riverwalk all day. We had intentions of eating dinner at a great restaurant recommended by my cousins. But then, we kept walking past this gorgeous, quiet, fancy restaurant, Las Canarias, at the corner by our hotel. And gosh it stepped right off of a Venetian canal. Not to mention, a bathroom to die for. I’m a sucker for a fancy, sanitized bathroom.

Sometimes you just have to go with your heart. Sure, we had a prior reservation with great accolades to boost (sorry, Esquire). But you know what? We needed Las Canarias. We walked in pretending like we were back in Venice. And we walked out realizing that San Antonio wasn’t Venice at all…. it had become it’s own, separate place.

We ate veal. I haven’t eaten veal since I was a teenager in Switzerland who knew nothing of veal’s true existence. And we shared a bottle of Syrah. And we topped it off with a chocolate cake a la mode: cherry ice cream and a cola glaze. It tasted like cherry coke. And, no, there is not a single picture of it. We finished it like pros. We splurged. We took our time. We flirted and laughed and used our best manners.

Couples need this, you know. No, not an expensive meal at a prime view table overlooking a pedestrian-only canal. Couples need places. And to build memories off of these places. Because life gets in the way. And when it does,  a hike through the Blue Ridge mountains, a memory from our first real “trip” together to Seattle, a taste of Michigan air, or, in this case, a candlelit top tier dining experience overlooking the canal is all we need to find us again.

Even if we didn’t know we needed it.

Catch up on our recent vacation to Texas:

Barton Springs, Zilker Park and the Fire Ants that Nearly Killed Me

The Salt Lick and how amazing Texas BBQ Truly Is

Missed Love Notes? The 1st and 2nd installment can be found here:

On Compromise

Date Night

*Filed under Married Life and Wanderlust Life*

Why I Don’t Miss Vegetarianism

Meat. If you follow my blog you know that meat and I revived our relationship only a few months ago. Not a moment too soon, either, because this trip to Austin wouldn’t have been complete without some Salt Lick BBQ. So post-fire ant bites and our stroll through Zilker Park, my cousins took us out to The Salt Lick. Appetites are not needed. You eat anyway. It’s that good.

The ribs were my favorite. Followed by the turkey.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk Salt Lick. Apparently it’s made a name for itself. You’ll probably notice it from Man v. Food. And, in my case, anyone and everyone who has ever resided in Texas. Because they all talk about it.

This is the type of post that doesn’t really need many words. I mean, what do you need to know? There is an open fire pit with crackling pecans over oak wood. Wet, juicy BBQ and the heavenly smell of red meat. Portions are huge. Heart attacks are forgotten. And, oh, they let me take a peak at the back kitchen to take some pictures! Completely unprovoked.

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*Filed under Wanderlust Life*

Quack

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So… I’ve been holding off on sharing these awesome pictures with you because I’m patiently waiting for the arrival of the professional wedding photos. You see, about a month ago, we took a quick weekend jaunt to Florida for my father-in-law’s wedding. And I ordered a bunch of prints. So we wait.

However, in the meantime, because ducks are cute, and ducks swimming in a hotel fountain are super cute, I gave up on my wait and decided it was time to share. The ducks, that is.

The lobby of The Peabody has a fabulous player piano that makes you feel like a million bucks. In the background, the fountain splashes rhythmic and steady. Have a seat in the plush upholstery and the service will come to you. It’s kind of like high noon tea at The Ritz, plus a couple of live ducks. Or, in my husband’s case, high noon hot chocolate. In July. In Florida. (I know, I don’t get it either).

Once the 11am March of the Ducks crowd disappears, Donald the Duckmaster (no, seriously) rolls up the red carpet, and the little ones begin to splash around merrily in the fountain, intoxicated on copious amounts of bird seed. This is the best time to hang out.

I’ll be honest. I thought that ducks inside a hotel would be sort of ridiculous and somewhat unsanitary. I imagined a whole bunch of ducks waddling through the lobby leaving their droppings every which way for guests to dodge. Apparently ducks are super easy to train and these little guys didn’t wander at all. In fact, I became smitten with them. Especially their little duck butts. Ducks have the cutest butts.

Have a quackingly fantastic day. Quack.

*Filed under Wanderlust Life*

Costa Rica… En Mi Corazón

In my mind I had this perfect plan for revealing our honeymoon on the blog. It’s right there, in my iPhone calendar under November. A whole week of memories. One year later. A Thanksgiving Special. Because, well, I give thanks for my husband and my life with him, and our honeymoon. And also because we took our honeymoon over Thanksgiving.

But Costa Rica keeps coming to me in my daydreams. It keeps creeping up on the computer screen thanks to some habitual fingers that have memorized the clicking pattern and location of our honeymoon photos. Costa Rica keeps popping up on Facebook, thanks to a handy dandy “like” button pushed down on Finca Rosa Blanca and Tabacon Resort and Spa. It keeps coming up when it rains, when it’s hot, when the sun sets in sherbet smooth hues of oranges and reds. 

It keeps coming up.

And so I needed to write about it. Considering we’re just on the other side of summer vacation (an amazing break from reality at that) and we’ve been traveling quite a bit recently, and will travel again soon, I know that our honeymoon is not coming up due to wanderlust.

No, it’s not wanderlust. I can’t exactly pinpoint it. Do I miss it? More than anyplace else I’ve visited. But that isn’t all of it. Alex and I have our little routines that take us from day to day, weekday to weekend, mornings to evenings. We graze through each day with our routines, woven in and out of each other. Yet, some days, while I know we are together, I know that we aren’t together. And it’s that bond, that isn’t broken, just…. well, forgotten in the rhyme and rhythm of our routines, that keeps drawing me back to Costa Rica. After all, you can find the word "rut" if you look reaallllly hard into the word "routine".

But no, I’m not going to spoil your Thanksgiving treat. I have many memories and, believe me, I won’t be forgetting anything between now and then. Doesn’t this happen to us all? Sometimes I worry that my life is strewn together with a bunch of days, months and years that separate each great adventure. I grow tired and restless. I lose sight of my life today, the beauty of my routine, the blessings of ordinary life. And with that loss of sight, relationships and friendships are difficult to foster. We get in ruts. Routine ruts. So, perhaps, it truly is wanderlust after all.

But, until Thanksgiving, here’s a few old Costa Rica posts to keep you happy:

Siesta

Let the Rain Fall Down

For All My Relations

Our Tico Vase

You’re the Honey and the Moon that Lights up my Night

The Carnivorous Beast in Me

*photo’s provided courtesy of Tabacon and Finca Rosa Blanca.*

Ohana

As the season draws to a close, I can’t help but feel grateful. It’s been decades since I was able to spend so much time up north in Michigan. My best friend, Katie, was home from her tour in Jordan, allowing for face time unlike anything we’ve been able to do in years. I have plenty of complaints about working in education, but I’m reminded how fortunate I am, at least for now, that I can spend this time every summer to unwind and go back to my roots.

It’s no secret that I feel restless in my current location. The weight of the DC metro lifestyle pushes down on my spirit daily. This is not the place for me the thrive. However, this is where I am. This is where I will be. For now. And, until that changes, family visits and road trips to Michigan will do just fine. 

We’re spread all over the continent these days; rarely ever in one place at one time. But we’ll always have Michigan. After all, in my family, no one gets left behind.

Or forgotten.

Fossil Hunting

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I’m almost afraid to share this place.

Unfortunately, being August and all, the tourism season left the coastline high and dry of Petoskey stones once Katie, Alex and I arrived. So we did what any tourist would do in the situation. We took pictures.

Some of the best parts of a vacation are the impromtu trips taken for no other reason than, well, because it’s the perfect day to seek out an adventure. And you can’t honestly expect me to lay on the beach for 2 weeks straight. Up, up, up we drove to the land of fossils, the Little Traverse Bay, shopping that can max your credit card out in one swipe, and the world’s most perfect climate. This is what my heaven looks like.

Welcome to Petoskey, Michigan.

*Filed under Wanderlust Life*

The Reason “Little Surfer Girl” Was Not Written About Me

There’s something you should know about me. I’m terrified of big waves.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the way they crash into the shoreline. I love the surf. I love the curl of the whitecaps right before they come collapsing down. I love the sound of rushing water. They sure do look beautiful from my beach towel on shore. But I’m terrified.

If you’ve read this blog in the slightest, you may know that I had the pleasure of spending my entire childhood traveling to Cocoa Beach, Florida in between jaunts up to our family cottage on Lake Michigan. My dad worked on Hubble Space Telescope, which meant that if we wanted to see him, we had to trek down to sunny Florida for shuttle launches, shuttle prep and everything in between. In those early years of Cocoa Beach, I became quite the boogie board pro. (I should take the opportunity to thank my sponsor, Ron Jon Surf Shop.) I loved riding those waves. But here’s the deal, it’s pretty easy to leave your fear on the coastline when you’ve got your daddy holding onto your board, releasing you onto the perrrrrrffecccct wave. Then, we’d take our boogie boards north to Lake Michigan for the summer. More perfect waves, this time unsalted (as Lake Michigan is a gazillion times better than the Atlantic Ocean).

So here’s my shameful, grown-up truth. I don’t like those big waves when I’m standing there alone, daddy-less. If they don’t knock me over, they will surely push my bathing suit in all sorts of uncomfortable, revealing ways. The way they swell, yards in front of me, smooth and quiet the way the best of predators hunts… no, it’s not for me. Oh, and that undertoe- people die from that, you know? Holds you under ‘til you drown.

Occasionally, I catch myself in the middle of a weather pattern change. Out there, chilling on the sandbar relaxing in the inner tube, most likely with a beverage in hand. And then, wham, the wind picks up and I’m out there moaning like a baby, trying to dodge the big waves. I’m not made for these things. And as I paddle and kick my way in, those waves keep on kicking my butt, literally, stripping me of my humility (and my bikini) as I run for the shore, attempting to save whatever is left of my dignity.

So, on days when I wander down from the cottage to see the lake looking like this:

I will nonchalantly tell you I’m really deep in the good part of my current read and I’ll stay on the beach doing this:

and bronzing like a goddess in ways such as this:

(which is the true reason for a beach anyway, right?).

*Filed under Wanderlust Life*

Skipping Stones

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The rythym of the waves crashing the wake play music to my motions. Slowed by the sand bar, distinguishable by it’s emerald green color a few yards out, the water moves gently enough to provide a surface, yet lively enough to offer a challenge in my game of skipping stones.

There are two walks we can take at the cottage. We can head south, toward the outlet. That walk will take us past the beautiful new cape cod a few doors down, welcomed to the neighborhood but looking quite out of place between the A-frames and rustic lodges we are used to. We’ll also pass a washed up log. This log seems to stay year after year, resting on the beach, marking the halfway point between the cottage and the outlet. Or, we can head north, toward the lighthouse, toward the cliff. In the distance you’ll see S.S. Badger departing from port, smokestacks puffing in the sunset. The closer we get to our destination, the steeper the staircases, higher into the clouds the homes, and the thicker the grasses.

Today, we’ll head south. The sun sets behind us. Sinking into the sand, our toes warm with every step through the tide. I can only make the stone skip when you aren’t looking. Otherwise, it’s a waste of a good skipping stone; you know, the medium sized, flat along every surface, perfect stone that, when in the right hand, can skip into the horizon. I, on the other hand, will skip it 3 or 4 times if I’m lucky. Every once in awhile I’ll get a few mini-hops in at the end to constitute 5 to 7 hops. Still, you can’t watch… I’ll surely sink it straight into the wave if you are looking.

We walk in stride, heads down in search of more skipping stones. You are the king of skipping stones. Perfect form, perfect hops across the edge of the water. We talk about what makes us happy, about how relaxed we are, about moving “up north”. As the sun drops closer to the lake, I’m glad for long sleeves and the warm water. The sun takes the summer heat with it every night.

We turn for home when the sky turns dark. The last ones on the beach, the only sounds are that of the crashing waves and our shuffling toes in the sand. There are new stones washed ashore. New stories to be told. So we walk slow. Just you, me and our skipping stones.

*Filed under Wanderlust Life and Married Life*