Friday, January 12, 2018

Have a gorgeous holiday weekend.


Do you have big plans this weekend? It is Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend here in the States. That means three days off of school and work for J and the kids and we are planning to take it easy. Here's hoping the kids sleep in every day! Have a great weekend, and now a few links to keep you busy should you be looking for something to listen to, watch or read.

A good song for the nostalgic repat.

How to Approach a Rage-Cleaning Mother. (LOL!)

A quick and easy, delicious weeknight meal.

Anyone else's kids obsessed with these?

On not dreaming.

The best decluttering advice.

Seriously swooning over these. (Insert heart-eyes emoji face here)

This is my kind of gym class! ;)

WHAT?!

Calling all Berliners!

Like co-washing, but better.

And from the archives:

Infinite cuteness.
You either love it or hate it!
Feeling peckish?

As always, thank you so much for reading and for your thoughtful and kind comments. I am so happy you're here. May your weekend is blissful and enjoyable in every way! See you back here Tuesday. xo

(Photo via Ryan Sheppeck/Instagram, h/t Bridget)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Botox?


Have you gotten botox? Would you consider it? Now that I'm getting older and friends who are ten years younger are getting botox, I've started to wonder if maybe it's time to give it a try. It was easy when I was 27, and had no wrinkles or fine lines to speak of, to say I would never do botox! But now I have some pretty clear forehead lines. And crow's feet. And smile lines. Ugh. It's all part of aging, of course! And those of us who are lucky enough to grow old and get wrinkles must never take that for granted.

But still. Those lines! I would love to have a perfectly smooth forehead instead.

Sigh. I will not be getting botox. Reason number one is that I do not have $400 to put towards it every 3-6 months. So that settles that. But, even if I did, I'm not sure I would do it. I have a very expressive face (hence all the lines in the first place;) and I worry that my children wouldn't even recognize my different moods or conveyed messages if I did botox! Seriously. And then there is the slippery slope factor. At some point, something else would need to keep pace with the smooth skin and it would be so easy to justify a little eyelid lift, and who knows what else?

So, no. At this point it looks like botox is not for me. Instead I'm going to keep following my daily skin routine and get really serious about sun protectionstaying well-hydrated and getting plenty of beauty sleep.

But honestly, I'm starting to think the most important piece is finding role models and imagining how we might like to age as we become older. I remember seeing an older woman walking by the lakeside one afternoon in Zurich and deciding I wanted to emulate her completely as I grew older. She had silver hair, a cute black and white striped top, dark jeans and red flats. Her posture was great and she carried herself with such gaiety and confidence. I said to my friend as we pushed our toddlers on the swings, "That is what I want to look like when I'm older!" and she said, "Oooh, yes! I can totally see that being you someday." Bingo.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Delicious Sun-dried Tomato Cream Cheese


Nothing is quite so satisfying now and then as an everything bagel with sun-dried tomato cream cheese. It has everything to comfort and delight on a freezing winter's day: chewy hot bagel; creamy decadent cheese; bright, delicious, sweet tomato tang, garlicky yumminess. Add a cup of coffee and it is a little moment of heaven.

Read on to learn my quick and easy recipe for the best cream cheese ever, with a secret tasty ingredient to take it to the next level.


You can buy ready made flavored cream cheeses, of course, but I like to have full control of the intensity of the flavor. When you make it yourself, it's just better. I used ingredients from Trader Joe's, of course. The best results I've gotten are with the full-fat cream cheese (duh), genoa pesto (although fresh basil leaves would work just as well, but would discolor if not used right away) and julienne sliced sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil. The olive oil is important. The batch I made with the sun-dried tomatoes which come loose in a zip-top bag didn't work nearly as well. Finally, the pesto is what really gives it that kick! So don't skip the pesto. :)


Put the cream cheese in a food processor, add 1/3 cup of sun-dried tomatoes, being sure to get a decent amount of oil along with them and 1 to 2 Tablespoons of pesto. Then pulse to blend.


It's done when all of the colors have blended and the sun-dried tomatoes have been chopped into little bits. Put it all in a container with a lid and keep in the refrigerator for one week. Because of the oil and pesto, it's soft and easy to spread straight out of the fridge. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Repatriating? Don't talk about that.



A funny thing happens when you repatriate: Very quickly, you learn not to talk about your expat life.

EVER.


No one is interested because it's over and that part of your life is history, so why would you keep on talking about it? And more often than not, they're also offended because they can't help but feel that you're bragging about a several-years-long vacation you just took. Of course, everyone goes on vacation sometimes. You weren't on vacation as an expat, except when you actually were, but it was normal everyday life, just somewhere else! No one wants to hear about it. 



Because you feel like you can't talk about it, and because nothing around you resembles anything you had during your expat life, it's almost like it's gone. Poof. It never happened. All those memories have nowhere to reside. Talking about it is the only way to keep it alive, but when you do, even in the most innocent and genuine of ways, people are turned off, as if you're putting on airs or being pretentious. So you don't and it's the most disorienting thing to have several years of your life erased, and along with them a huge piece of your identity. It hurts like hell.


I can remember so clearly the first time I stopped myself mid-sentence from saying something completely reasonable and in-context about my expat life. We had only been back in the States for a few weeks when J and I were on a dinner cruise on Lake Superior. As we set sail, I looked at him and started to say, "The last time we were on a boat was --" But I stopped myself before I said "in Venice!" and instead said, "before Theo was born!" I just knew saying the former wouldn't go over well. Still, it felt weird to have to edit out the truth in order to avoid awkwardness.


It has definitely made repatriation a lot harder for me not being able to talk about it. It's made it a sad, lonely and isolating experience. Of course, no one is to blame. People don't get together and coordinate reactions to expat stories and conspire to force repats into silence by being so disinterested and offended by their stories. It's just a natural, seemingly universal reaction. But I can't help but wonder if I might have had an easier time settling in and envisioning my future here if that hadn't been the case? I guess we'll never know.

Are you a repat or an expat? How does it go over for you when talking with friends and family about your experiences abroad?

Monday, January 8, 2018

My New Favorite Perfume


Perfume is, as Coco Chanel so famously said, the invisible accessory. So when we lived in Switzerland, I especially loved wearing perfume because of the dreaded kisses. I didn't have to wear too much and yet everyone I greeted would smell it. I really felt it added something to my outfit and made an impression. I've always liked perfume, but I wasn't disciplined about it or anything. In Europe, it became a total necessity because I wasn't about to risk getting that close to that many people smelling bad!

On my first birthday in Switzerland, J gave me a bottle of this fabulous Prada perfume for my birthday. I loved it so much, I used every last drop and I even bought it again! I have a bottle of it on my vanity right now. There is nothing else like its woodsy, incense-y, bright and vibrant smell. But, as much as I adore it, sometimes I want something a little more floral and feminine. Something pink!

Enter Miss Dior.

Miss Dior Eau de Parfum is far from new, but it's new to me and I can't believe it took me so long to find it. I love the sweetness, the rosy fullness, and after it's been on for a few hours, it is delicate and powdery and warm. I don't think I could find a better winter scent. I've been wearing it almost daily for a few weeks and J has asked and remarked a few times, "Is that your new Dior perfume? I like it." Win, win! This one is a keeper.

These days, I've become a total perfume junkie. I have 7 different bottles going right now and three on my wish list. That seems a bit excessive. ;) What are your favorite perfumes? Do you switch it up with the different seasons? How many do you keep in rotation at a time?

Friday, January 5, 2018

Have a lovely weekend.


Did you have a good first week of the year? I spent a lot of time reflecting and thinking and writing and then today I went crazy doing a bit of financial planning and it all feels so good. Tonight we're having dinner with my cousin and her family and I can't wait to sip a hot toddy by the fire to soothe the sore throat that decided to pay me a visit. Ugh. The colds and flu this winter just won't quit. Coco and J are skiing tomorrow and Coco gets to be part of the Mighty Mites (Mights?;) class for the next six weeks. She is so excited! Theo and I intend to lie low and maybe go for a walk or two.

I hope your weekend is lovely and here are some links for you:

Kind of wish I had gotten a flu shot now.

How Switzerland made international headlines in 2017.

I can't wait to make this delicious winter salad!

Talking to toddlers.

Me rn. (Go away, cold!)

How flying seriously messes with your mind.

THIS.

Try something new for 30 days.

If Jupiter were as close as the moon.

When spring comes, I'll be wearing all black and these daily.

Frozen Niagara Falls is so otherworldly!

Stay healthy and warm wherever you are! See you back here Monday. xo

(Photo of balloons by Geronimo via Instagram/Olivia East H/T Design Sponge)

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Why is approaching 40 so scary?


A few months ago, I turned 38. Ever since, I have felt 40's unrelenting approach. In my mind, 40 feels like some deadline or end point. I can't tell if now is a time to make grand changes and get in before the cut off, or to hunker down and stay safe because it's too late. I've been trying to figure out when life started to feel so limited and finite? When did the possibilities seem to dwindle and narrow?

The last six months have been pretty wretched for me. Ever since our plans to move back to Switzerland fell through, my spirit seemed to bottom out right with them. I've spent many a night lying awake running back over everything in my mind. Regrets large and small; pondering my life at the present. Connecting the dots that led me here. Is this all there is? I ask myself in the darkness, willing myself to go back to sleep. Finally, after some time, sleep comes. I rarely dream. And then morning comes. For a brief moment before waking, I feel calm, warm, safe. And then wham! It's as if I'm smacked in the head with a 2x4, every day. There is nothing actually wrong with my life. It's quite beautiful and comfortable in so many ways. But it is also quite a ways off of the track I thought it would be on at this point. Or maybe it's just where I thought I'd be but for whatever reason doesn't feel the way I thought it would feel. Either way, time is running out. 40 somehow became the finish line and it's almost here.

I have been feeling so alone. Alone in worrying. Alone in feeling so much pressure to have everything squared away by now. Alone in feeling like I am dropping the ball more often than not.

Then last week I read Ada Calhoun's article The New Midlife Crisis for Women. Calhoun writes about the major stressors plaguing women in their late thirties to mid-fifties today. Money is a major one. Relationships. Career and competitiveness in the workforce. Children or the inability to have them. The general pressure to have it all.

A few of my favorite passages:

Possibilities. We still have them in midlife, but they can start to seem so abstract. Yes, I could go get a doctorate, but where would I find the graduate school tuition? I could switch careers—therapist? Zamboni driver?—but at this stage of life, do I really want to start from the bottom, surrounded by 20-year-olds? If I went on an Eat, Pray, Love walkabout, who would pick up the kid from school?
"Having kids was the thing I wanted my whole life," says Karen, 42, a psychotherapist in Arizona. She pauses. "I had to turn off the Facebook feature with 'Six years ago…whatever.' I was torturing myself with it: If only I'd done things differently then, I'd have a baby now.
You come to this place, midlife," writes novelist Hilary Mantel. "You don't know how you got here, but suddenly you're staring 50 in the face. When you turn and look back down the years, you glimpse the ghosts of other lives you might have led. All your houses are haunted by the person you might have been."

Reading Calhoun's take on everything, I definitely don't feel alone anymore. I highly recommend reading the whole essay.

Maybe a high school librarian I know was right. Last fall, I was weighing a couple different job options and running through the pros and cons with her. She just shrugged and told me they both sounded good and I really couldn't choose the wrong thing. "My grandma used to say," she smiled, "'You can have it all, just not at the same time.'" Well, that certainly takes the pressure off, doesn't it?

How are you feeling at your current stage of life? Do you feel like you're where you're supposed to be, or thought you would be right now? Do you relate to Calhoun's words at all?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Family Ski Day


Today we all went skiing all together for the first time this season. J has been up with the kids many a time, but I have been wimping out since ski season began. This is embarrassing, but I kind of had a hard time falling asleep last night knowing that I was going skiing this morning. I really was nervous about it and was sure that I would fall a million times and not have fun at all and determine that skiing was not for me.


It turns out I had nothing to fear! Not only did I remember a lot from last year, but Coco was such an amazing teacher. I told her to go first and take it slow and then I followed in her tracks. She is a ridiculously good skier (more than a few people stopped us to say so!) and following her and seeing how easy she made it look made it easy for me, too.


Coco is so comfortable up at the mountain and Mt Spokane is such a family place where everyone knows her by name, that we can just let her lap us on the bunny hill as she wishes. She is responsible riding the chair by herself and never gets tired of riding over "the bumps" at the side of the bunny hill, a little jump course made into the side of the hill. J got me my very own skis and boots at the ski swap this year and they are AWESOME. If you're learning to ski, I highly recommend shorter skis to start out. They make everything easier.


In the morning, there was a lot of fog. But by noon it had begun to burn off. And for the remainder of the afternoon, we got a beautiful sunny day.


The sky was a brilliant blue and it felt like we were in a different world looking down on the fog lake below. It was breathtaking!


We took a couple different breaks for hot chocolate and beers and french fries. It was so much fun and I really can't wait to go again. Just before sunset, my phone died and then we stayed on for a few more hours of night skiing. I even went on the run that I fell at least 8 times and cried on last year - and had a blast! I really was surprised, but turns out I'm a skier! I feel rejuvenated and refreshed after a day outside in the sun. It was the absolute dreamiest day.

Do you do any winter sports? How do you combat cabin fever? Do you know how to ski - if not, would you be willing to learn?

PS - More (including Coco on the bumps!) in my Instagram stories if you're into it. ;)

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Resolve


Are you feeling hopeful with the ushering in of a new year? Have you written resolutions? I've spent the better part of the past two days making unedited lists of things I'd like to do this year.

Knit a sweater for Coco. Exercise more. Write every day. Stop looking backward so much and start looking forward much more. Be present with my kids. Improve my wardrobe. Konmari the entire house. Be good to myself. Move overseas again. Read at least two books per month. Drink more tea. Plan meals and budget. Drink less alcohol. Paint my nails and burn candles and take baths and do face masks more. Keep the house clean. Re-write the negative train of thought chugging through my head. Go for walks. Take the kids to the library.

Once I started writing out lists, the ideas kept flowing on and on. It all seems entirely impossible and yet completely doable.

As any smart coach or goal-setting guru will tell you, it's best to keep the really juicy resolutions to oneself, but I'm genuinely surprised at how New Years-ey I feel this year. I don't think you can be much more New Years-ey than buying a brand new pair of running shoes on January 1st, and that's exactly what I did yesterday. I had been toying with the idea of joining the YMCA (yet again) and it dawned on me as I stood there, scanning the red tag clearance shoes at the Rack: It's never going to happen! I will never join the YMCA again because I will never feel comfortable at the YMCA. Sure, it has all the trappings of a nice place to go. Sauna, treadmills and ellipticals, locker rooms with showers. But no, never. It is 2018 and I am finally done thinking that some day I will love the Y. So instead, I bought a pair of Nike running shoes and I am going to get out there (just as soon as all the ice melts;) and run three times per week. I also resolve to get out all of my old Pilates and Yoga DVDs and give them a whirl right here in my living room. What else could possibly be the point of living in a house this big?!

So there you have it. Resolutions are funny. Resolutions seem inherently foolish. And yet, I can't help but want to make them. To make resolutions is to be hopeful and affirm the idea that it's never too late and that we can always start again. I have to say, it does make me disproportionately happy to see my painted fingernails skipping across the keys of my keyboard right now. And the longer I live in car-based America and continue to pack on the pounds well beyond my comfort zone, I realize (for the nth time!) that this is it. We have only the present, my dears. No better time than now to write out lists and declarations of what might make our current moment on this planet a bit better, and then do all the things.

So happy new year to you! May you find the fortitude to follow through on all of your resolutions this year. And may you also have an easy time letting go of mistakes and picking up and starting again should you falter. That's the real resolution, after all. Here's to doing all the things (Not to be confused with doing it all;) and always getting back up if we fall! Welcome, 2018. xoxoxo

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Mom Jeans



Let's talk about mom jeans for a minute...

A few months ago I was at the Nordstrom Rack attempting to shop while pushing the stroller with a screaming Theo inside. It was futile at best and as I frantically scanned the store at light speed for black pants I needed for work, I just happened to be walking past a table of very reasonably priced 7 for All Mankind black jeans. I grabbed a pair, bought them and told myself I would try them on later at home. For a couple of weeks, they sat in the cargo space of the back of the car because buying jeans has become something I really dread ever since pushing out 9 pound 10 ounce Theo. Eeeks! Whatever happened during that birth, I just can't seem to find a pair of jeans that makes me feel good anymore.

Finally, I tried the jeans on, mostly because I was running late for work and my other pair of work pants needed to be washed. It was a fluke, really, that they happened to be high-rise and ankle-length. I pulled them on, buttoned and zipped them up in front of our full-length mirror and gasped out loud! They're honestly the best pair of jeans I've ever had. They fit well, look good and feel amazing. No bunching, cutting, pinching or riding up ever.

Naturally, from that day forward I made it my quest in life to find the exact same jeans, but in regular dark-wash denim. However as with all things wonderful, they've proven to be quite elusive. So, I went ahead and ordered the same style of jean in regular-rise. Can't make that much of a difference, right? Wrong.


I tried them on and wore them on a couple of errands for an hour and they were all wrong. Saggy in the calves, cutting into my hip bones, and pinching in the rear. Ugh. Let me just say that I will never wear a pair of non-high-rise jeans again. I've officially gone mom jeans and I'm never going back! What is it that's so great about the mom jean? Well, it's like having a built-in girdle in your jeans! You pull them up, button them right across your belly button, and zzzzzzzip! Everything is all tucked in and supported. On the other hand, as you can see in the photo above, normal-rise jeans just leave you hanging. And when I say "you," I of course really mean my mom gut. They leave my mom gut hanging out for all to see - and it is not pretty.

So I'm returning the regular-rise jeans and ordering up a pair of the Madewells in the top photo ASAP. I'm done with the years I spent hanging onto pre-Coco jeans, cords and other pants. I have clung for so long to the delusion that they will someday fit again. And guess what?! They will not. Even if I were to get back to my pre-Coco weight as a number, I can feel that my body has changed structurally since Theo was born. Things shifted and settled back into different places and I am ready to accept my new body. So that's just what I'm going to do.

But can we just take a moment and recognize how fortunate we are to live at the precise moment in the ever-changing cycle of fashion when high-rise jeans are actually in style? Wowza. That is truly a beautiful gift, indeed. I'm curious, how has your body changed as a mom, or just as you've aged and become more womanly? Do you wear mom jeans, too?
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