Friday, July 30, 2010

The Tug of Travel, the Attraction of Roots

I've been settling in from our vacation this week, enjoying the familiar comforts of home and reminsicing with photos. Mexico is so far away from Portland, in a lot of ways--our bottles of tequila look a little lonely sitting on the shelf here!
I always crave novelty--new sights, new things to eat, a place I've never been. But at the same time, there's nothing like coming home after a long vacation, grabbing your favorite mug, and curling up under your favorite blanket. It seems like a well-lived life is one that balances these, to the degree that is best for each individual.
And yet... I just want to travel. Yesterday I read The Lost Girls, a blog about three women who quit their jobs to travel for a year, and Nomadic Matt, who travels for a living. I was immediately struck with envy. It's such an adventure to see new things!
Jesse and I are tentatively planning a trip to Europe next year, and it's been consuming my thoughts this week. It's all I can think about--where should we go, how long, what should our route be, should we bring bikes, and how much will that cost anyway... I've been a bit distracted at work. The thought of getting up and going somewhere is just too arresting!
Getting up and Going in Sorrento, Italy, 2005
On the flip side, I like the idea of putting roots down and getting to know a place. Living in community. Recognizing the local barista or mailman. Being able to really call a place a home, and knowing what the local food is, and what the seasons are like. Having a history somewhere. Belonging.
Life in general is a struggle between global vs. local, it seems. It's impressive to know the details of the Kyrgyzstan struggle going on, but isn't it just as impressive and important to know the details of the school's struggles down the street? It's nice to appreciate the beauty of Italy or Australia, but Oregon is just as pretty!
Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach, Oregon, 2010
It's time for me to tuck my travel plans into a little drawer somewhere, keep them safe and warm for later, while I focus on living in Portland. There are too many festivals to enjoy, concerts to attend, waterfalls to see, camping spots to find, berries to pick, rivers to float, and restaurants to try. With over two years in Portland under my belt I feel like I can finally call myself a "local," but there's still so much more to do. And summer is the best time to do it!
So I've decided I will stop pining for somewhere else and start living here. The sun is shining, friends are around, and we're having taquitos and margaritas tonight. ¡Ole´!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

We're Back, and We're Suntanned!

We arrived home safely from our Cabo San Lucas play-cation last night. The only thing I wanted to do was watch a movie. Too much nature and conversation occurred this week, apparently.

The resort where we stayed, with a cruise ship in the distance.

The trip was a whirlwind of good times and relaxation. I don't know how we could be so exhausted from sitting by a pool and reading all day, but we were. Relaxing is hard work. Plus, when you've got 31 family members present to catch-up with, it's a lot of conversation. We celebrating my Grandma's 80th birthday with Mexican style, though, complete with a shot of tequila (which Jesse graciously drank when the waiters offered it to her.) Now my grandparents think my husband is an alcoholic. Wonderful.

It was an epic vacation. We got beat-up by killer waves, we went scooter-ing about town, we ate plenty of Mexican food, I got a little (okay, a lot) sun burned, and we took complete advantage of the poolside fun. We vacationed with gusto, to put it another way.

We scootered around town for an afternoon, turning "scooter" into a very fun verb.

A few things I learned:

1) Jesse is easily mistaken for being able to speak Spanish, especially after a few days in the sun. I'm pretty sure no one would have approached me in Spanish had I not been with him. (Side note: Jesse is not anything, really. He's a true American Mutt.)

Me and my non-Mexican man.

2) I'm ready to continue popping the birth control. There were a lot of kids on the trip, and many more on our plane rides home, and I'm pretty sure I'm not mature enough to keep from strangling any small screaming child. So to avoid jail, we'll just play it safe for awhile longer. Cuteness is best preserved from a distance. (No offense meant to Myles, Naomi, and Lilah. The screaming kids on the plane are another matter.)
Naomi and Myles: yup, they're pretty cute.

3) I can do tequila, in small doses, and in mixed drinks. Also, Mexican beer is actually quite delicious when taken with sunshine, a beach, and crashing waves. There's a reason I don't drink Corona in Portland.

4) Family is nice to be around. I have a big family, some of whom I haven't seen in years. It's nice to catch up. And to show off Jesse. It's even better to get to do it while sipping margaritas and dipping in pools. Yup, family is pretty good.

Me, my dad, and my sister.

Oh, and an update on my wardrobe. I spent so much time making clothes for the trip, only to realize that actually, I only made about three things, and my cuter clothes are ones I bought. I spent every day explaining that no, I hadn't made this shirt. No, not this one, either. Nope, just that one dress, really. 

But yes, I did wear Cabo San Sundress in Cabo San Lucas, and it was beautiful. Pockets!

And now, welcome back to Portland. At least it's still a heat-wave here, too. Except for the green trees, it's like we never left Mexico!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Oh, Baby, I Was Bound for Mexico...

We are jetting out of Portland for a weeklong vacation in Cabo San Lucas!

In another day, this will be us:

Only throw in a couple dozen family members, of course. And maybe a piƱa colada! I've spent the last few months making clothes with the idea to wear them on this trip, and now that it's here I have too many!!
But I'm bringing Cabo San Sundress, of course, my boat race dress, and my green tunic dress (for maximum airport comfort.) I had a goal to make seersucker shorts--that didn't happen. They got cut out, but nothing else. Oh, well!

I'm so ready for a week full of beaches, sun, and maybe a shot of tequila. Hey, it's Mexico!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Breakfast is yummy with goat cheese

I tried my hand at making goat cheese again last week, and it was a great success! The first time I made it, the cheese was runny and mushy--tasty, but not what I was going for. This time it was firm but spreadable, and oh so tasty! i neglected to take pictures of the process, but here's something we put it on to devour: 

I made this fried egg sandwich for breakfast last Sunday, and it was delicious!! Ciabatta bread, fresh tomato, fried egg, slivers of cheddar, and then fresh-from-the-herb-garden basil. And of course the goat cheese.
Photo credits go to the lovely Pamela Torres, who claimed that there was no sandwich better in Portland. Little does she know! Portland breakfasts can blow your socks off!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Boat Race Dress--Another Copy!

Portland has turned into a furnace. After that wet, rainy, miserable spring and supposed-summer, it's finally summer in all it's glory here.
Of course, now it's TOO hot, so we're still complaining. But I like a good heat wave now and then, so as long as I have lemonade, salads, and very little clothing, I'm good.

I haven't made anything new in a little bit, but I did finish this dress awhile ago. Yes, it's another Modcloth copy. I'm on a roll!

This one I'm actually really proud of, because I merged two patterns into one, making up a lot of details along the way to copy the original. Here's my inspiration:

I think I like my colors better! My fabric is a little bit heavier, though, so it's not quite the breezy summer heat dress that it could be. But I still love it. Back view:

Do you see that smocking? Yup, I did that. Totally made it up, too, from a random online tutorial. It helps pull the back together, and gives it a bit more stretch when I'm pulling it over my head.

It's called the Boat Race Dress on Modcloth, and I almost finished it in time to wear it to our Dragon Boat Races...but not quite. Foiled!

But I can wear it now, and imagine keeping cool while sipping one of these. Happy Summer!

Monday, July 5, 2010

English Countryside Dress: Another Modcloth-opy

I finished this one awhile ago, but I haven't gotten around to posting it yet! This is one I saw off Modcloth and thought it would just be so easy to copy:

They call it the English Countryside Dress. Doesn't it look so cozy and easy to wear? Throw on some boots and you're good to go! I went to Bolt and found a cotton/bamboo blend in a sage green color--I like the linen look of this gray above, but I couldn't quite find anything like it.

I used the Anda pattern from Burda Style, and changed it a little bit. The neckline turned out a little bit wider than I thought, but it works. And the doilies were from Etsy.

Super comfy--I feel like I can just pull it on and go! I thought the hat added to the whole outfit, too.

I think this might be a new favorite of mine!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Danger of A Single Story

I watched this video awhile ago of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and recently thought of it again when I was in the bookstore. She is a Nigerian author whose novel Half of a Yellow Sun has been on many prize lists. I'm in the middle of it right now, and I love it.

I love her points in this talk, and how she warns against having a single story of the world.
This got me thinking where my stories are coming from. I have to admit, the majority of books I've been reading lately have been some combination of white, male, and American. They've all been great books, and I'm happy I read them. But just like Adichie, I need to broaden myself. In her case, it was so she could read stories of people who were actually like her. In my case, I have a lot of those stories already. Perhaps I need some of people who are different. Different, yet similar--isn't that what we love about really good fiction?
Below is a list of books by international women authors. ("But women are the same as you," you might say. True, but in the global scheme of things, women's voices are not easily heard, so they are "different" in the sense that the global world is still pretty male-dominated.) 

Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I'm reading this one right now, as I mentioned, and I love it. I've learned more about Nigeria than I ever knew! Set in the 60s in Nigeria, the book follows a few characters before, during, and after the Nigeria-Biafran War.

Dreaming in Cuban, by Cristina Garcia
A long-reaching vision of the Cuban Revolution through the eyes of the family of Celia del Pino, living anywhere from Cuba to a bakery in Brooklyn.

Anything by Isabel Allende. I really love her. I've read only a few books, but each one was wholly different and amazing, and I'm convinced that they will continue to be that way.

The Seamstress, by Frances de Pontes Peebles
The story of two Brazilian sisters, expert seamstresses--Emilia finds herself married to a wealthy, powerful politician, while the quiet Luiza is abducted by band of criminals. Political feuds, revolution, and power spin the sisters lives around.

Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi
This is one of those books that I always see and think "Huh, that looks good," then I walk past. But it really does look good! And, it connects to this list quite well. This true memoir tells the account of a group of women in Tehran who make their own list of  "different" authors--in their case, Western classics like Lolita, The Great Gatsby, and Pride and Prejudice. What does that look like at a university in the early days of the Iranian revolution?

Time of the Doves, Merce Rodoreda
And older, smaller book by an author who lived through the Spanish Civil War, the story is about a young shop-tender in Catalan Spain who struggles to confront her country's tumultuous times.

Redemption in Indigo, by Karen Lord.
 A book about a Senegalese fairy tale, set in a made-up village, by an author from Barbados who has studied in Canada and Wales. I don't know how to categorize it! Read Lord's thoughts about that topic here, and just try to tell me she doesn't sound fascinating.

The Book of Salt, Monique Truong. Set in Vietnam and Paris, France in the 1930s, it's the story of a young gay  Vietnamese man who ends up cooking for Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. I am so intrigued!

The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy. Set in Southern India in 1969, it's a family saga, love story, and political drama involving forbidden love.

I don't want to use this list as a must-read one that I have to stick to, but rather a jumping off point. Titles to remember the next time I'm wondering what book to read. I might not get through them all, but even 2 or 3 would introduce some completely new stories and settings to me!

a little ridiculous, old-school, and oh so stylish