Monday, December 23, 2013

The Double Life

I went back to duffles. For the past two weeks I have been nannying in southern California, just outside of LA.  With my mornings free and a car at my disposal I explored a fair amount. I didn't anticipate this time and place I would be in beforehand.  I assumed I'd work in the mornings on my photography or other business dealings, then nanny in the afternoons. I think I had forgotten what it meant to explore a new place. In fact I got the itch again. The itch to travel, explore new places, new experiences and have time to ponder life with myself.

I have a quote book that I've been gathering quotes and sayings in for a number of years now, maybe 8-10 years off and on. I attribute it to the inner nerd in me. Andrew says its an inner and outer nerd…regardless, I have collected hundreds of inspirational sayings and letters from people that I look to from time to time. Throughout college I looked to it for guidance and direction; during the summers at Sail Caribbean I looked to it for encouragement and inner strength; and now, I look to it to give me a confidence boost and a reminder of who I am and who I want to become.

I came across this poem last night.

The Double Life by Don Blanding

How very simple life would be, if only there were two of me. A restless me to drift and roam and a quiet me to stay at home. A searching one to find his fill, of varied skies and newfound thrill, while sane and homely things are done by the domestic other one. 
And that's just where the trouble lies; there is a restless me that cries for chancy risks and changing scene; for arctic blue and tropic green, for deserts with their mystic spell, for lusty fun and raising hell.
But shackled to that restless me, my other self rebelliously, resists the frantic urge to move.  It seeks the old familiar groove that habits make. It finds content with hearth and home - dear prisonment, with candlelight and well-loved books and treasured loot in dusty nooks
With puttering and garden things, and dreaming while a cricket sings; And all the while the restless one insists on more exciting fun, it wants to go with every tide, no matter where…just for the ride. Like yowling cats the two selves brawl until I have no peace at all.
One eye turns to the forward track, the other eye looks sadly back. I'm getting wall-eyed from the strain (it's tough to have an idle brain). But one says "stay" and one says "go" and one says "yes" and one says "no".  And one self wants a home and wife and one self craves the drifters life. 
The restless fellow always wins, I wish my folks had made me twins.
I had a great time in California exploring and traveling this faraway state of looming palm trees, constant sunshine, rugged canyons, and glitz and glamour. I had been feeling restless the prior week to arriving in LA. And yet I have been happy at home carving out a life with Andrew and making our house a home. I find this poem increasingly accurate to my personal self.  I want this double life Blanding speaks of.  I am finding myself leaning more towards the stable life, but every now and then I crave the drifters life.  I crave that rush of excitement at each new place, I long to wander aimlessly down unknown streets, and I dream of faraway places to bring my camera.  And yet, this morning, I could not be happier sitting in my godmother's old mustard yellow chairs staring at our twinkling Christmas tree as I sip hot tea and think about all the normal every day things in life I'm thankful for.

 Sunset in Pacific Palisades
 Point Dume in Malibu
 Birds of Paradise
Hollywood Walk of Fame
 Malibu Lifeguard Stand
 Hike to the Hollywood sign in Beverly Hills
 Million Dollar car on Rodeo Drive
 Getty Museum: Best museum in the world
View of LA from the Getty Museum
Home Sweet Home


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Packing Dilemma

I woke up this morning in sunny California. I looked at my suitcase laying haphazardly on the floor and sighed. One day I will learn how to pack.  I will not throw extra things in at the last minute that I don't need. I will learn to think outside of where I am at the moment and visualize what I will need in a new place and new climate. I will not fill an entire suitcase just because there is room.  And I will not frantically unpack and repack the morning of my flight.

At least I realize that I want to pack less but somehow I always pack more.  Its kind of become this dilemma that I am incredibly self-conscious about. I don't want to be the person that packs too little and wears the same thing all week, neither of which is stylish or fashionable.  And I don't want to be the person who packs TOO much and has an embarrassingly large duffle filled with bricks.  I literally rack my brains about this and have a mind war with myself in what to pack until I get out of the car at the airport. In fact this trip I almost unpacked as Andrew was letting me out of the car.

To be fair, I wanted to pack in a carry on, but for a two week trip, that is tough.  Even when you do research on, its still hard to picture a 60 degree climate when you are in a 40 degree climate.  Case in point, I packed way too many sweaters, no flip flops, no hairdryer or toothpaste and too many varying jackets.

I am here in California to nanny for a Nantucket family I've known for a few years now.  I call it my two week paid vacation.  And man do I feel like a little Cali vacation. This past month we have been busy with finishing up the back living room, side deck and Andrew's shop. Our goal was to finish these projects before Thanksgiving and somehow we succeeded. My parents came for the week of Thanksgiving and we had a memorable week together exploring Newport and nesting at 82 Middle Ave.  Although I won't be home for these two weeks of the holidays, it is comforting to know that my sweet house is decorated for the occasion.

Clarks Christmas Tree Farm just a few miles away in Tiverton was the perfect spot to go cut down your own Christmas Tree!

My loving grandmother "Mimi" needlepointed these dining room chairs years ago. She was incredibly talented and although I admire her work (on the left), the style was just not mine.  After a gazillion stables and everyone chipping in, we finally uncovered all 8 chairs and recovered with the linen fabric on the right.

Notice the new Mahogany mantel. Andrew built this and varnished it just in time for me to cover it up with decorations. It is supposed to mimic the shape of a ship's hull. It really finishes off the room quite nicely. Be on the lookout for the new bookcase that compliments the mantel...

LL Bean catalog anyone?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Tupperware meets Jewelry Parties!

When our parents were raising us it was tupperware parties and the start of Mary Kay makeup.  This idea of women coming together to just be women and shopping for things that make us beautiful, its a brilliant idea.  A friend of mine from Richmond encouraged me the other week to join Stella & Dot as a stylist.  A few years ago I would have never seen myself as a stylist or stylish for that matter.  But now that I have put down some roots, I have been yearning to meet more women and immerse myself in Rhode Island and all that New England has to offer.  I am longing for more girlfriends, more creative outlets and another way to make a name for myself here. So, I did it, I joined Stella & Dot this week as a stylist and could not be more excited! 

Just yesterday afternoon I heard the UPS man pull up and drop two big boxes on our front porch. If he tried to ring the doorbell or knock on the door he was out of luck: Andrew disconnected our door bell and our front door is currently in the basement being stripped, sanded and primed. Anywho, I knew when the boxes arrived, it was my Stella & Dot start up package and jewelry! I had no idea what I was getting into - as I opened the brown box all these little color boxes appeared with encouraging sayings and I immediately knew I was hooked.  It felt like Christmas after each box was unwrapped and tossed aside. How gorgeous are all these pieces that I get to wear around and encourage people to buy?!?! So FUN!  We all need a little more of that in our lives…FUN and things that make us feel GOOD inside and out.

I'm excited to throw some parties, get a little out of my comfort zone, meet some empowering women and improve my wardrobe. Things are about to get stylish around here!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Cheers to 40 Years!

This weekend we celebrated Andrew's 40th birthday with a big bash on Saturday night, followed by a mildly drunken run over the Pell Bridge the following morning.  Not my finest hour in planning both events back to back, but I couldn't have imagined the weekend any differently.

When my parents throw parties my mom is planning for weeks on end and is always stressed.  In fact my sister and I not so secretly make fun of her ability to agonize over every detail.  Until this weekend I had never quite understood the immense scale of work that goes into throwing a big party.  I think I spent 3 months planning for this weekend and it was over in 6 hours.  I wouldn't say its a let down, but man does your body all of a sudden feel the weight that has been lifted off.  I am still recovering after a 2 hour nap yesterday and 11 1/2 hours of sleep last night. Whew.

I went with a beer theme, because Andrew LOVES beer. Probably more than most people, and not just any beer, but yes, the King of Beers. Budweiser. I know, I cannot believe that Bud Heavy is his favorite. You'd think after 40 years Andrew would have acquired a better taste palette.  So, I decided to embrace his love of the King of Beers and greasy, unhealthy food and center his party around it. I have to thank my addiction to Pinterest for the inspiration of the party.  I scoured the internet for weeks coming up with the perfect favors, table decorations, signs and food. I borrowed decor and dishes from dear friends and scored the perfect Budweiser jacket from my friend Maaike.  I filled an embarrassingly large shopping cart at Trader Joes 2 days prior and stocked up on beer and beer pong essentials. I ordered a special Budweiser cake 4 weeks in advance at the Newport Sweet Shoppe. In other words, I spent a lot of time trying to make this party as perfect as my mind could handle. And I had a great time in the process.

cheers to 40 years birthday decor

a cold one for the old one

40th birthday beer party theme

40th birthday pint glasses with stickers

birthday party food

Budweiser cake for Andrew's 40th birthday party

Our friends came from all over - Maine, Connecticut, Newport and New York.  It really made me realize what special people we have in our lives.  Sunday morning I felt incredibly blessed. I have only lived in Rhode Island for a year (and that's kind of a stretch having been gone in the summer) in such a short amount of time friendships have blossomed and I can say that these people make me feel at home.
This quote sits on my desk, and I cannot find it to be more true at the moment…

"Funny thing about joy, is that you only really find it when you are too busy HAVING fun to go looking for it." 

40th beer birthday party with Budweiser jacket

Sunday morning we woke up at 4:30am after a 3 1/2 hour nap to drive into Newport and participate in the Pell Bridge Run. I had bought tickets for our 2 year anniversary this July and Andrew had been dreading only one thing: waking up early.  In fact he said he would train for waking up early, not the running.  In other words, he thinks "the early bird gets the worm" is bullshit.

So off we went to Newport with Andrew still intoxicated for a 4 mile run.  His "smart ass" was in rare form.  It was an experience I will never forget.  I have been fascinated with the Pell Bridge ever since I moved to Newport and find that bridge one of the prettiest in the world.  I even used it for a photography project last winter.  In other words, the idea of running over it as the sun rose made me ecstatic. And it was truly incredible. They close off 3/4 of the bridge for an hour so that 4,000 runners can run from Jamestown to Newport for a 4 mile race to the finish at the Newport Yachting Center at 6:30am.  I had slightly trained for the run and by that I mean I had run a few miles for a few days in the past 2 weeks.  Andrew on the other hand had only talked about running…and waking up early. So Andrew's goal was to not throw up. And I am proud to say he did not throw up and actually had a good time in the process. It was a beautiful morning at 55 degrees and overcast - we could not have asked for a better experience!

 And so, with the weekend and party over, I feel almost empty and without a goal. I am having that moment of "what now?" But then I am reminded that it's back to the grind.  It's back to house projects and businesses and my favorite holidays.

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