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.
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!
Each time we take a big trip — France/Jordan, Costa Rica, Norway/Iceland, and now Turkey/Greece — we design and print a photo book that includes a handful of the thousands of pictures my hubby took during our adventure. I love the books because it means our photos will last as opposed to tons of 4×6 prints floating around. But since I am not scrapbooking the images myself, we have never had a place to keep the little things we picked up along the way — things like entrance tickets for museums and other sites, museum pamphlets, city maps, or business cards from restaurants we really enjoyed.
We’ve been hard at work on our Turkey/Greece book and it’s almost finished, but for the first time I thought, “Why not capture the tickets and other tidbits and include a picture of them in the book?” So above are samples of my attempt to incorporate many of the random pieces into one collage shot per country. Now we will be able to look back and see how beautiful the entrance tickets to sites in Istanbul and Ephesus were as well as what our favorite restaurant in Rhodes was called and where we stayed in Samos. By including these pieces in two photos within the book it means we can keep the memories, but minimize the clutter because who really needs a road map of Samos laying around? Probably not us anymore.
Whenever we travel we try to bring something home from our adventure that will remind us of our time away. When we visited Jordan, it was a few mosaics that we could hang in the living room, some salt scrubs and a mud mask from the Dead Sea, and Za’atar and Sumac — two super tasty spices that we fell in love with. From Norway it was reindeer sausage (that was confiscated at customs upon our return, sad) and wool socks. And from Iceland it was a tiny handmade wool sweater for a wine bottle which, I admit, sounds bizarre but is totally adorable! Plus every time I grab a glass or a bottle from the wine rack, I am reminded of our whirlwind trip around Southwestern Iceland.
As we started our travels in Turkey we kept our eyes open to see what might be a wonderful reminder of our trip once we were back in DC. We avoided going the traditional Turkish rug route (which was easy to do since we already have rugs from Pakistan and Afghanistan in the house) and opted for hand-painted tiles (small, as pictured above, and large) that we can use as part of a back splash in our kitchen (whenever we remodel it) as well as a variety of spices and teas. We enjoyed our dining experiences throughout Turkey so much and bringing a few Turkish flavors home will allow us to relive the memories.
Each of the items we purchased were sealed in air tight pouches, but when I got home I found some empty containers around the house that would allow me to show off our Istanbul treats before we partake. The teas include “relax” tea (it looks so pretty with its rose buds), mint-lemon tea, and Ottoman apple which smells heavenly thanks to its blend of cinnamon, cloves and allspice. For the spices we picked up a “salad” blend to use on cucumbers and tomatoes this summer and a BBQ spice blend. I’m looking forward to giving each of these items a try, but for now whenever I walk by the containers on the shelf they remind me of special time spent with my husband and that makes me smile.
Well hello there faithful readers (ie my dad). It’s been awhile. In fact it’s been about 6 months since my last post. What’s been going for all that time you may be wondering (or not, but I’ll tell you anyway):
• Continued Home Improvements: These have focused mainly on our basement, which is starting to look like a real living/guest space (except for being sans bed). The bathroom is quite lovely now that my husband and father-in-law re-tiled the floor, put in a new sink and fixtures, and applied a fresh coat of paint. The main room has also been painted and we’ve finally put up a few things on the walls—mostly “pubby” things like pint glasses from England, a dart board (at regulation height mind you), and a rowing oar. Ironically we mostly drink wine in our basement, so we haven’t been acting terribly “pubby” ourselves.
• More Foster Pups: We’ve also had quite a hiatus from fostering. We took a break from March to May and then from May until September after our experiences with Timmy the Terror. He was a sweet, but insanely neurotic guy who hated stairs, the backyard, other dogs, and sometimes my husband. It was a rough two weeks for us and the poor guy. Our most recent doggie house guest, Sophie the Sweetie, was a much better visitor. Despite her good manners, a puppy hiatus has been imposed as my husband prepares for some extensive overseas work travel.
• Speaking of Travel: We were away almost as much as we were home this summer. First, we spent two weeks of July in California where we attended weddings in Pacific Grove and Sonoma and where I celebrated the big 3-0. During our California getaway my husband and I also had a chance to head back to where we honeymooned — St Orres in Gualala — and belatedly celebrated our fifth anniversary. In August we crossed the Atlantic the old-fashioned way (with a stop in Iceland) on our way to Norway. Being abroad meant two weeks away from the states, away from work, and away from everything that is part of our daily routine. We visited Oslo, Kristiansand, Trondheim, the Sognefjord area, and Bergen, and our getaway included spending time with old friends and making some new ones. On our return trip we spent two days exploring Iceland, including enjoying a delicious break from the frigid air by spending our last morning soaking in a thermal pool. The weather was amazing and we enjoyed the chance to catch up with friends, see the beauty of both countries and unplug from reality for a bit.
• Garden: Despite all our time away our backyard garden still did pretty well in its first summer season. My husband hooked up an automated watering system and we ended up with a decent amount of tomatoes (and a freakishly high water bill…). Our peppers and jalapenos finally took off in September. In fact we still have so many jalapenos that we’re using them in everything. We’ve also harvested a good haul of green beans, salad greens, herbs and potatoes. Turnips, green beans, beets and carrots are still growing — along with the jalapenos, of course!
• Jazzercise: To top it all off, I spent the spring preparing to be certified as a Jazzercise instructor. I was grateful to pass my audition in June and jumped into teaching classes around DC in July. I’ve been teaching between 6 to 8 classes a month and it’s going well. I’m feeling healthier and enjoying helping others have fun exercising. This has been made extra easy by the inclusion of some of my favorite summer pop hits in the recent choreography — who doesn’t want to rock out to “Call Me Maybe” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”? This week I am teaching every night. It will be interesting to see if I can move on Saturday!
With all the changes and diversions this summer, it’s been hard to blog. I’m hoping that this fall I can get back into the swing of it.