Tag Archive | California

Turkey Day Prep

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We have had two days of nonstop rain and there may be a snow flurry heading our way. While this has not been my favorite forecast the chilly,wet weather is the perfect incentive to stay inside and prep for Thanksgiving. With 9 family members from California in town, we’ll be having Thanksgiving with 13 people. Thankfully my brother-in-law and his wife live just down the street and we are sharing kitchen duties. That means two turkeys — they are going the traditional route and we are deep frying ours — tons of sides, a few pies and a whole lot of wine (thankfully we don’t have to make that).

Along with the turkey we are making our usual stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans with shallots, cranberry relish, and dessert. This morning I took care of the pies — we’ve got an apple crumble and good ‘ol pumpkin ready to go. Next up, putting together the stuffing so tomorrow we can just slide it in the oven and be done with it, allowing us to focus on the truly important things like deep fried turkey. And family, of course.

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving!

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Thankful Thursday

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Yes, it’s Thankful Thursday on Friday! I swear I started this post yesterday but things just got away from me, so without further ado:

I can’t believe it is only a week until Thanksgiving —  where did 2013 go? As the year winds down and the holiday season swiftly approaches, it seems as good a time as any to reflect on some of the many things I am grateful this year.

The opportunity to sing. On Sunday I will be able to share my voice with others during the Capitol Hill Group Ministries Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. This is just one of the unique chances I have had this year to get back to singing. During the summer I connected with a violinist and pianist to perform “To Love You More” at a house concert. It was so much fun to sing was the two of them, as well as a drummer and a cellist.

• Our big, crazy families. While my immediate family is pretty small on both sides, my husband’s family is quite large and this year we are getting an extra does of togetherness as his mom’s side is in the process of descending upon DC for Thanksgiving. We’ll have a week and a half of big (delicious) dinners, our favorite California wines, trips to museums and monuments, chilly winter walks and lots of time for talking (too bad we don’t have a fire place to gather around)! And in just a few weeks we will get to do it all over again (with my family included this time) in California.

The many chances to travel near and far in 2013 — from Turkey to Tampa I have seen beautiful sunsets, had incredible meals, and spent time cultivating relationships new and old. I can’t imagine what life would be like without airplanes that can get me to California in 6 hours or to Istanbul in 10.

• Work that I love. It’s been four years since I went out on a limb and began to work as a freelancer. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine my life any other way. I love the projects I get to work on, my handful of colleagues, my clients and my freedom — who else can take a mid-day wake-up shower? Each year I learn more about running my own business, meeting the needs of a wide range of clients and the blessings of being able to grocery shop on Tuesday’s at 10 am.
What are you thankful for in 2013?

Mini Monday: Fall!

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Yesterday was the first official day of fall and the season has definitely arrived in DC. The sun is still shinning, but the temperature has dropped into the 50s and 60s. It’s time to bundle up and close some windows!

Growing up in California, I never appreciated fall until we moved to the East Coast. I am sure there was some sort of transition between summer and winter on the West Coast but I don’t remember noticing it. Now that we experience all four seasons as very distinct entities, I have a new found love for fall.

My favorite fall things include:

  • the chance to wear sweaters and scarves;
  • watching the leaves change, particularly when they turn bright red;
  • cooking (at least helping/watching my husband cook), baking and eating warm food again;
  • buying tiny pumpkins and gourds to create a fall centerpiece for the dining room table;
  • being able to enjoy a sunny day outdoors without becoming a hot, sweaty mess;
  • and snuggling up with my hubby!

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring!

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As a child, I always disliked rainy days — mainly because you couldn’t go outside at recess — for some mysterious reason getting rained on was pretty much the worst thing that could happen (seeing as it is only water, I have no idea why).

But now that I work from home (i.e. I can just hide inside when it’s raining), I enjoy rainy days. It is better in the fall/winter when I can curl up with some tea, re-read Harry Potter for the umpteenth time (don’t judge me) and listen to sound of the rain hitting the roof. However I have a new found appreciation for summer rain — something we never had in California — because it makes my garden so happy. It doesn’t hurt that it makes my water bill happy, too!

Of course, there are times when I cannot avoid emerging from my cave and wandering in the rain. I realized as I was listening to it fall this morning that we have had some (very) rainy adventures the past few years in Paris, Bergen, Ephesus, Rhodes and throughout Iceland. While a sunny day in the 70s would always be preferable for exploring a new destination, if I’ve got to be out and about in the rain I’d rather do it somewhere other than DC! Plus on a trip, rain is an excellent excuse to hide out in a flower-covered gazebo for a bit or grab a drink at a cafe and watch the world go by.

Working Here, There, Everywhere!

It’s that time of the year where I have a continuous running dialogue of, “Goodness gracious it is HOT” going through my mind (and often coming out of my mouth). Unfortunately today is no different. In fact today it is not only hot, it’s REALLY hot. This morning at 8 am, the temperature was 80 degrees (doesn’t sound so bad, does it?) but the real feel was 100 degrees! At 8 am! This is one of those terrible weeks in DC where the temperature really never cools down below 80, so it’s hot all day and all night. I probably wouldn’t focus on the heatwave quite so much if I didn’t work from my un-airconditioned home.

Wait, before you get worried that in 15 minutes I’ll be laying in a crumpled heap next to my desk after passing out from heat stroke, I do have a window unit in my office and I run it all of the time when I am working from home. In fact, it is SO hot that when I use my AC I can keep it at the highest setting (cooling to 80 degrees) and it actually feels great.

But there are always a few weeks in the summer where I happily work from somewhere else whenever I can. Yesterday morning and this morning I’m working from my favorite coffee shop and I’ll likely migrate to a friend’s house for the afternoon.

Not having air conditioned office space (that someone else pays for) is probably the only thing I have missed during the 4 years that I’ve been working for myself. But with my flexible schedule and the option of working at my desktop or laptop, I can make due for the few weeks that are rough. I was reminiscing about how last summer wasn’t so bad, but then I remembered I spent 2 weeks working from California and 2 weeks wandering around Norway (where I most definitely was NOT working). Being gone for 4 weeks during the summer doesn’t hurt. Sadly this summer apart from our mini July 4 getaway, I am stuck in DC so my fingers are crossed that things start cooling down soon!

Mini Monday: Whirlwind Weekend

We spent a long weekend California where we celebrated my birthday, America’s birthday and — the real reason behind our visit — a family wedding. Arriving late last Tuesday and heading back to DC even later last night, the past few days have been packed with family, food, and adventures.

We were able to spend the first few days in our hometown, catching up with our parents and extended family members. My parent’s dog, Bonnie, was particularly glad that my husband is back from Afghanistan. She just couldn’t get enough snuggles, despite the temperature topping more than 100 degrees when we were there.

The final 2.5 days of our visit we were in the Bay Area where we attended a rehearsal dinner, the wedding and a post-wedding breakfast. We also managed to wander on the beach in Half Moon Bay (where we saw some frolicking labs) and do some sightseeing in San Francisco. Despite how much was packed into 5ish days, everything went pretty smoothly.

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The terrible plane crash at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday morning impacted our travel slightly, delaying our flight back to DC on Sunday evening about 2 hours, so instead of taking off at 11:30 pm we were on our way about 1:30 am. All things considered we had a safe flight and had nothing to complain about. This morning we were certainly rushing to get  ready and start our delayed work days though.

Not surprisingly, this afternoon I am pretty wiped out, but I wanted to share a few pictures from the wedding. The location, Kohl Manor, and all of the details were exquisite. From the bright flowers to the tasty desserts and unique cake toppers to the bride’s dress and the groom’s purple sneakers, it was obvious that the couple wanted to make sure the wedding reflected their personalities.

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As a special treat, the centerpiece at each table was given to the person whose birthday was the closest to the wedding day and since my birthday was on the wedding day, I was able to enjoy the pink and purple blooms interspersed with fragrant rosemary for an extra day (and I lugged the vase back to DC for future use). My hubby and I got a kick out of our trips to the photo booth and enjoyed our time on the dance floor, but most importantly the bride and groom were over the moon in love — who could ask for anything more?

1st Jazzer-versary

When I dove into the deep end of freelancing, it was a turn I hadn’t expected to take, but making that change has been amazing. It has given me flexibility to take on projects I enjoy, travel and establish a much more pleasant work/life balance.

A year ago today I took another road I had never planned on — I passed a grueling audition to become a certified Jazzercise instructor after being a student for about five years. I spent the spring learning how to teach 10 routines and then it was audition day — a boiling hot summer morning (I was thankful to be in the morning group, not the afternoon bunch). When I arrived I selected a number and, lucky me, I was the ninth out of 10 to audition. Each of us got on the stage and led the group for two routines, but until it was your turn you had no idea which two routines you would be assigned to teach. To support our fellow auditionees, we acted as students throughout the morning. I was 16 routines in (26 if you count the “warm up” round where we each practiced teaching a routine) when it was my turn to take the stage. I felt exhausted, but I got up on stage and gave it my best shot.

As it’s my first Jazzer-versary, I passed! I was so excited that all the hard work had paid off! The process continued the next day with workshops on class planning and business training followed by another day of refining our jazzer-technique. That really just meant eight hours of exercising. Needless to say I spent that Sunday on the couch!

As a substitute instructor for the past 12 months, sometimes I have taught four classes a month and sometimes 10. In February I started teaching a regular Saturday morning class and in a few weeks I will be adding three more weekly classes to my routine… It’s going to be another adventure!

There have been challenges during this past year — most notably dealing with a mysterious knee injury for the past few months. I’ve also been on the road a lot. Between Norway, Iceland, Turkey, Greece, and four trips to California, I have spent about 12 weeks out of the past 12 months traveling, making it impossible for me to teach as many classes as were offered to me (or find time to learn as many new routines as I’d like).

During the course of my first year as an instructor, I’ve taught 72 classes, learned 68 routines, and am hopefully growing and improving with every class. I’m looking forward to seeing what year two will bring!