What no one tells you about the moving process

I was ready for a lot of tedious packing. Endless hours of stuffing our things into boxes, taping them up, labeling, next! I was ready for getting rid of so many things we accumulated simply because we could, sending them to better homes in hopes that our new home wouldn’t be as cluttered.

I was not ready for the endless days of melancholy as we get ready to say goodbye to our home of over a decade. The house we brought our babies to from the hospital when they were born. The house where every birthday party took place. The house I didn’t really like for two years, and which I resented for many more when the money spent in it was pulling our family under.

I was not ready for driving around, running errands, and the thought of “is this the last time I’m here?” is triggered every time. Well, I’m sure I haven’t seen the last of our new Target yet, but our little Chinese food place, where we got consistently good food for the last ten years, I’m pretty sure last night was the last time we got takeaway there. The new pizza place was telling me about their promotion for next month and I just smiled, thinking “we won’t be here.” The library where my children got hundreds of new adventures.

We will find all “new” places, of course, new favorite restaurants, new corner stores to run to for the two eggs I don’t have for my cupcakes, and Target is an ever-comforting presence, although I won’t be there with my best friend, who calls the “team huddle” bell the “team cuddle” bell. I will think of her every time I hear it, every time I get a Starbucks or have Chinese food by myself because I am addicted to it and it was our weekly ritual.

The other day we were watching Face Off and the Golden Gate Bridge was one of the inspiration choices for the contestants. I wondered, if I see the Bay Area pop up in the news once we’re in Wisconsin, will I be one of those people that automatically turns to see what’s going on in our old turf? My husband has already found a news station he likes, since he was there for weeks at a time. I’ll miss Frank from Channel 2, but thank goodness he has a Facebook page so I can at least keep up with his daily stories.

We got our first new house gift last night, from dear friends we will also miss. We’ve shared good food and wine more times than I can count, good times and bad, and lots of house decorating ideas. From all corners of the world we managed to be friends, and I am sure we will remain so even with this distance between us.

We leave many good people behind – today I will say goodbye to my mom and siblings. Not forever, I hope, but definitely for a long time. Technology may be a curse on our humanity but I will cling to it, Facebook and email and Skype, to see beloved faces and let them see ours in exchange.

I am excited and happy for this new adventure, but there is also sadness and melancholy, and the joy in knowing those latter feelings means that we built a good life for ourselves here. We will miss and be missed, and we will go on to make new friends, new memories, without forgetting those we leave behind.

The weekend beckons and I shall yield to its call for more packing and more goodbyes. Until next week, then.

Paris Vacation – part 4

Apologies for the delay in posting the next installment. I am almost 100% recovered from my elbow surgery, don’t have complete range of motion yet but every day is a little better.

While we were in Paris, we found out there was a Christmas Market going on, on the Champs Elysees. It’s like the Art & Wine festivals or Harvest festivals we’ve been to in the US, with lots of vendors from all over selling their wares, many of those were food items that had us drooling!

It was here that I had my first (of only two during the whole trip) Nutella crepes:

One of the vendors was selling these HUGE tiles of chocolate of all percentages – milk, dark, bittersweet, etc.

Several vendors were selling churros. Except they’re called by a different word in French:

So, um, this is a word we Latin people use for uh, something else. Two something elses, in fact. Females have them, and you wear a bra over them. As much as I wanted some churros, I could not muster up the courage — or the straight face — to go and order some.

Speaking of straight face . . .

I did order macarons from a vendor that had just about every flavor you could think of. We were having friends over to cook us a meal and we were providing the dessert.

In that box are salted caramel macarons, vanilla, double chocolate, orange cream, and Nutella. SO GOOD. I think I ate three of them before our friends arrived. MY BAD.

The meal our dear friends F & B cooked for us was a raclette. This is a traditional dish where melted cheese is poured on top of cooked potatoes, meats, and vegetables. In our case, the potatoes were steamed, then sliced, and we had a variety of charcuterie.

It was one of the best meals I’ve had in my life. The cheese was perfectly smooth and you just mix everything and eat it — or at least I did. We do not, as a habit, have huge meals consisting of potatoes, meats, and cheese, but that is changing, my friends, because I plan on trying my best to recreate this dish and making it our splurge meal. Good thing we will soon be somewhere with a reputation for good cheese. (More on that soon, I know you’re getting tired of hearing me say that)

And no, there are no more pictures because I was too busy stuffing myself.

Patriotic Mani

Just in time for today’s soccer game AND for the 4th of July, I bring you a couple of red, white, and blue manis.

One is pretty awesome, full of creativity and gorgeousness.

The other one is mine.

Seriously. that ONE NAIL took me 45 minutes. And it chipped like, 2 minutes, after I took this picture. Thankfully, it was AFTER.

But enough of that, let’s look at the pretty 😀

Girlfriend’s just too critical of her art. I think it’s gorgeous. And glitter! I should have added glitter. Duh.

Carina is a dear friend from college, we got back in touch a few years ago and of course, then she moved to Seattle. Sheesh. On the plus side, it meant that I got to see her when we went on our recent road trip. She’s just awesome and does amazing nail work.

Thank you for convincing me to do this, even though I massively sucked at it! Love ya, C!!!!

Brain Dump

It’s been a while since I posted – life has gotten super busy but also, there was a bit of news I was dreading to share. Our sweet Willie-Boo, our Egyptian Mau, passed away a few weeks ago. We had the pleasure of his company for over a decade, and will always remember him as the most loving kitty we’ve met.

He brought so much joy to our home and is sorely missed. Our other cat, Bernie, also misses his buddy of 11 years, and has become a lot more active in wanting attention and love.

In happier news, I threw a small party for Steve’s 40th birthday – he’s a voracious reader, so the party was book-themed. If you follow me on Instagram, then you got to see various shots of the party prep:

I had Steve create a list of books he wanted to read in case anyone asked what to get him for his birthday. He got a bunch of new books and our friends were kind and generous in other ways as well. It was a fun afternoon with lots of good food and even better conversation.

The boys are almost done with school. Part of me wishes they would bundle all the no-school days at the end so they could be done a couple of weeks early, mostly because of Alexander. Autistic kids, especially, rely on routine, even more than regular kids, and having days off here and there really mess with him and make it harder to go back to school. We have been lucky with a group of teachers and therapists that have worked with us to help Alex get the most he can out of school.

Last weekend we had a wonderful time with Steve’s sweet cousin, she is an amazing riding instructor and was great with both boys, getting them to ride and trot, and do pre- and post- ride work on the horse:

Thank you so much, cousin T.!!!!

I will be bringing a “virtual swag bag” post next Monday, sharing with you some ideas for cool gift items.

Hope the rest of your week is amazing!

Third annual New Year’s Day Brunch

What better way to start the new year than with a bunch of friends and lots of excellent food? After the success of our second annual NYD brunch, we knew our little tradition had serious traction and prepped for good times and good food to start 2014.

The talented Desiree from The 36th Avenue designed adorable printables which came in handy for our celebration – I added a bit to the large printable, but other than that, the design is all hers.

Steve, his mom and his aunt do some cooking:

Steve also made monkey bread, and our guests brought yummy scones with homemade jam, homemade breakfast sausage, fresh fruit, OJ, sweet potato hash, brownies, etc. while we provided coffee, pancakes and waffles, and eggs and bacon.

As excellent as the food was, it was even better to have family, and friends from all areas of our lives, getting together. Truly a great way to start 2014 – cheers!!!

Sweet day

My dear friend J sent me a link to the promotion Sprinkles Cupcakes is currently having – bring an unwrapped toy and you get a free cupcake. Hello!!! I quickly rounded up three toys the boys had never wanted to play with, in fact, they were still sealed in their plastic wrap, and off we were to our local Sprinkles.

J had never been to Sprinkles. Wait no, she had never been to a cupcake store – time to remedy that, and in turn, donate some new toys for local children’s charities.

We were giddy 5-year-olds in that store, eventually made our selections – after letting a couple of people go in front of us because seriously, that display is a little overwhelming. I’ll tell you what I chose – Black & White, Carrot (for Steve) and Vanilla for my boys to split. We sat there eating our cupcakes, grins on our faces, happy to hang out and eat something decadent.

Sprinkles will be holding this promotion until December 15, so if you want to participate, you have three days left. I am super happy that we made a little day trip out of it and got to spend time with my good friend.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Ukrainian dinner

Steve’s coworker and her friend came over last night to cook a wonderful Ukrainian dinner for us. I had met them a couple of months ago at the appreciation event for Oracle Open World, which Steve’s company attended. There was food galore, drinks for all and some skinny guy singing:

Our new friends decided to share their culinary expertise and make delicious, traditional food for us:

They treated us to borscht and Russian salad – which in Russia/Ukraine they call
Olivier salad, after the Belgian chef who invented it in Moscow. I love hearing about the origins of names of food, in Peru we also have something called “ensalada rusa”, i.e. Russian salad, which was very, very similar to what we enjoyed last night. Also, because you need to know this ;D nutmeg in Ukrainian is muskatnyy̆ horikh and in Spanish it is nuez moscada. Muskatnyy̆ moscada, similar word roots.

The borscht was, for me, the highlight of dinner. It was so fragrant, so complex in taste, so full of texture, that I’m sorry to say Steve isn’t going to find any of the leftovers when he gets home tonight. We also had some roasted chicken drumsticks made by Steve (our oldest LOVES drumsticks), all-American apple pie, and I made some cupcakes, which we decorated with the colors of the Ukrainian flag in honor of our wonderful guests/cooks.

So thank you, gracias, and spasybi to our Ukrainian friends, for a wonderful evening and amazing food!

Trip to the “big mall”

My friend J and I hit the big mall yesterday, but instead of a plethora of inspiration what we found was mostly “meh”. Maybe we’ve been on Pinterest too long (not) but there were a few things that caught my eye, and our noses:

This candle is awesome. The smell is so unbelievably yummy, I can’t wait to put these out around our living room once this freaking heat goes away.

Seriously. It’s almost September, people, I should not be sweating at 7 in the morning.

Then we hit Sephora and I found this gorgeous gloss, I think I had looked at it before, but it’s such a pretty and wearable shade, although it’s scary purple in the tube. It wore down to a shimmery raspberry.

I had no lipstick or gloss before so I got a pretty true representation of the color. It’s Givenchy’s Velvet Purple and it’s just gorgeous. Still not paying $29 for a lip gloss, though.

The last item that caught my eye was an orange skirt from LOFT. I have so many neutral clothes that it would go with many of my current tops, and it would be delicious with burgundy. Again, once this freaking heat goes away.

Other than that, and our yummy coffees, there really wasn’t much to capture our imagination. Pottery Barn was a big room full of tan and grey, and I’m sorry, I need some color in my life. We were, however, inspired by the pretty candles the autumnal atmosphere around many stores, so J and I decided to go home and decorate for fall. Sort of an “if you build it, they will come” thought, maybe “if we decorate for it, the weather will cool down” — at least we hope.

Thanks, my dear friend, for an awesome morning and even more awesome chat!!!

Road Trip, part 2

After a couple of awesome days with friends and family, we had a quiet morning and then headed out to the Space Needle. Somehow, all four of us were wearing black shirts ;D

At the gift shop, we picked up some fudge and a Seattle tree ornament — I love to buy ornaments wherever we go as a family — and went up on the Needle. The day was clear and the views of the city were just gorgeous:

We met up with some family members for a farewell dinner at Saffron Grill, where we enjoyed a delicious Indian meal. Alexander discovered that he loves Naan bread and ended up eating an entire platter’s worth. I had heard a lot about a local ice cream shop, Molly Moon’s, so we all went to a nearby location to enjoy some dessert:

Simply the best ice cream I’ve had in my life. I tried the salted caramel and vanilla, but ended up ordering the melted chocolate. My husband raved about the vanilla with hot fudge sauce, and everyone was thrilled with their tasty treats. I also bought a vanilla bean caramel lip balm that I swear I am tempted to eat. We had planned to start our trip down towards California on this evening, but our cousins kindly invited us to spend the night at their home. We woke up refreshed and ready to spend the next couple of days driving.

The next morning we started with some Krispy Kremes for breakfast. I honestly think it’s been years since we had donuts — Alex had never tried them — but we decided to have a vacation splurge and got a dozen for the day.

The Oregon coast is stunning, we cut over to start our drive down from Astoria (where The Goonies was filmed!) and began looking for lighthouses, since Alex had read a book on them and really wanted to see one.

When we found one, the boys ran giddily towards it:

We couldn’t get inside but the boys were super happy just to see it up close. Steve took a picture of a nearby rock with a few hundred creatures on it 😀

The last adventure of our trip was Wildlife Safari, a drive-through animal experience that a dear friend had recommended. It was SO worth it!

The boys loved seeing the animals up close. The bears were so funny, they were playing around and getting in and out of the water and generally having a great time.

With some changes coming up in our lives, this trip was a sweet way to close out the summer. Alex said “I love Seattle, but I am very excited to go home, mama.” We are so grateful to our friends and family for hanging out with us, feeding us, and showing us around Seattle. We will definitely be going back.

Road Trip: Pacific Northwest

On Sunday, the day after Alex’s birthday party, we left for a week-long road trip through Oregon and Washington State. We have family and friends in the Seattle area and it seemed like a nice way to (almost) end the summer with school starting on Monday.

On Tuesday, we did some sightseeing with relatives around central Seattle:

We also rode the Ducks, it was such a blast!

Our dear relatives prepared a delicious dinner of salmon, chicken mac casserole (supposedly for the kids, but we ate a lot of it, it was so good!), homemade biscuits, green beans, beautiful flowering tea, and for dessert, ice cream with blueberries. Needless to say, we all slept very, very well.

The next day it was time to hang out with our friends – they have three sweet kids and their boy and Aidan were friends right away. We took the ferry over to their house after spending the morning in the pool and at Pike Place Market – does this remind you of certain cell phone commercials?

We did not tell them to line up like that, seriously!

The views from the ferry were spectacular:

Then a viking welcomed us to town 😀

And our friend made the best. ever. vanilla. cake. Like, I will always make this cake whenever my boys ask for vanilla cake, it was that amazing.

We hung out for a while and then took the ferry back.

Thank you, Warcraft gang, for a memorable evening. We shall meet again!

More on our adventures next time!!!