Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Souvenir From Tahiti {Giveaway}

On our last day in Tahiti it was raining. We went into the small town on Hauhine to shop for souvenirs. The other day we were moored in the harbor of this island was Sunday and Sunday is a holy day of rest that everyone observes in Tahiti, so almost all the shops and restaurants were closed. On Monday we found a little shop that sold hand painted pareos made by a local girl named Nathalie. I wanted to bring one home to share with you here because I thought they were beautiful. Unfortunately there's only one, but if you'd like it to be yours just leave a comment below with your email and I will select one winner at random. Giveaway closes next Wednesday February 4th, 2015. 
Thank you all for reading!  

Tales from the Trip

Monday, January 26, 2015

San Diego Eats: Solace

Egg Plate: 2 Eggs any style, Arugula, Sliced Tomatoes, Sour Dough Whole Wheat Toast, sub. Potatoes for Brown Sugar Slab Bacon.
Crispy Yukon Potato-Veggie Hash, Paoched Eggs, Smoked Ancho-Chili Hollandaise, Brown Sugar Slab Bacon
Full bar: Scott's favorite drink for brunch is the Hot Hot Mary
Solace is located right off the 101 Highway in Encinitas. Sometimes we like to go here for Sunday brunch after surfing or church. There's a line in a Zee Avi song I sing in a terrible tone that goes "Life's too short for 'what if's and plans', so let the day take you by the hand". Sundays seem to be the easiest day for me to take her advice. 

At church when I was a kid, I remember sometimes being offered a doughnut afterwards from the church concession stand in exchange for not saying things like "How much longer?" and "Can we leave after communion" or "Can I keep the host and take it home with me?" I don't really need to be bought off now, but it's still nice to do something fun and different after church. 

Yesterday we didn't have any set plans so we ate brunch at Solace and went thrift shopping for a few items on my list for the new member of our family arriving soon (as my friend Nell says "our future new roommate"). Scott ordered two 'Hot Hot Mary's' with his Veggie Hash for the shopping trip and I encouraged him seeing as I had plans to visit two thrift shops and two consignment stores that day. The cute thing was, he got even more into the shopping than I did. He said he likes thrifting better because no one is telling you what's cool to buy, you get to decide. We got two new bookshelves and a little coat rack for Sprout. I'll share some pictures soon. 

If you're in San Diego, I strongly recommend visiting the beachy, swami, surf town that is Encinitas and checking out Solace while you're there. Like almost all restaurants in Encinitas (home of the first veggie burger in the United States!), they have many vegetarian and allergy friendly items (like a whole Gluten Free menu). I also really love how they regularly feature a Farmer's Market Veggie Menu (listen to tonight's: Warm Frisee & Treviso Salad; Cherry Tomatoes, Olives, Red Onion, Parmesan, Sherry Vinaigrette / Wild Mushroom Risotto; Hedgehogs, Mascarpone, Chives, Tempura Mushroom / Grilled Eggplant Parmesan; Tomato Sugo, Lemon Ricotta, Aioli, Balsamic, Breadcrumbs / $30 or $12.50 a la carte... I don't know what all of that is, but based on my experiences dining there I bet it's all good). Solace is great for date-nights and date-days. The atmosphere is fun, the patio is heated and you get to hear the train pass by while watching the town go through its daily shuffle. We love the unique menu, quality service and the good vibes. 

Solace & the Moonlight Lounge 

25 East E Street
Encinitas, CA 92024
Mon - Thu: 11:30 am - 11:00 pm 
Fri: 11:30 am - 12:00 am 
Sat: 10:30 am - 12:00 am 
Sun: 9:30 am - 10:00 pm *Live music Sunday night

Friday, January 23, 2015

FAQs + Tips About Chartering a Sailboat, Sailing and Tahiti Travel

all hands on deck when it comes to my hair
hippo sweat vegan sunscreen
Bora Bora
Salad Salad
the hotel dinners and celebrations on the islands New Years Eve were expensive, so we all decided to stay on the boat and make salad, garlic bread and spaghetti together (that's apple juice in my glass :)
for everyone but me ;) 


What companies do you use to charter these sailboats?

What's the food situation when you charter a sailboat?

We eat breakfast and lunch on the boat every day; dinner a lot of nights too. The charter companies I mentioned above will provide you with a grocery list prior to your arrival and will stock the boat according to the things you select. As you know, groceries in foreign countries are not always the same as the groceries you are used to at home (specifically in the meat and dairy departments). 

I also wanted to mention that, although I'm a vegetarian, I do occasionally eat shrimp and fish on these sailing trips. It is caught locally and is always fresh, plus sometimes the other vegetarian options on the boat and on land just aren't enough to give you a balanced diet.

What's the shower situation like on the boat?

There are indoor showers on the boat, but it's kind of an all in one deal, meaning that the toilet and sink are in the shower with you. I only took a shower inside once and mostly showered on the back of the boat. We bring biodegradable shampooconditioner and body soap from home. There is hot water. 

Are the seas rough?

Generally no, but we have had a few trips where the winds have picked up and the seas were rough. When we sailed in the West Indies we were there during the "Christmas Winds" season. The swells were probably 10-12 feet and the wind gusted to 40 knots on one of our crossings. Supposedly indestructible plates shot out of the cabinets and shattered on the floor; we all had to wear life vests and Scott couldn't even reef the mainsail due to the intensity of the conditions. The only thing that kept us from totally freaking out was playing movie guessing games and looking at the horizon. These were the heaviest boating conditions any of us have ever been in. But don't worry (if you were), usually it's pretty manageable and there are definitely places you can go where you just cruise from one protected spot to another (for example, The British Virgin Islands). You chart your own course with help form the charter companies, so it's up to you where and when you sail. 

Do you need to be an experienced sailor to do these trips?

If you plan to charter the boat yourself, then yes, I think you should definitely be an intermediate to advanced sailor with at least a few members on board who are familiar with boats, can take direction easily and who are willing and able to assist in sailing, docking, anchoring and mooring the boat. We've been doing these trips since my sisters and I were kids and my dad pretty much had to teach us everything about sailing while we were sailing (I took Jr. Sailors when I was nine with my cousin, but we were the worst in the class by far). Our family managed fine and we have all learned a lot about crewing a sailboat over the years, but I'm sure my dad would say it's easier now having Scott, another experienced sailor, on board to help out.

If you aren't comfortable sailing a boat yourself, but you are really interested in these types of trips, both The Moorings and Sunsail charters have options such as private skippers that sail on board with you and flotilla-style support teams. Check out their New to Sailing page for more info. If you are really looking to chill, I hear you can even hire an on-board chef too! 

Do you have any sailing tips?

One of the most important tips I've ever heard about boating is to keep three points of contact at all times. For example, have a hand on a railing and two feet on the ground or have two hands on a railing and a foot or knee down as well. Unpredictable seas can throw you off balance without warning and boats are dangerous! There's always random things you can fall off of, trip on or run into. The three points of contact tip has saved me from eating crap a bunch of times. 

What kind of sun protection do you use?

My main theory with sun protection in the tropics, or any situation where you have continuous exposure to direct and harsh sunlight, is that you need a physical barrier between you and the sun. For example, rash guards, hats, clothing and/or sunscreen that doesn't rub in. All the dermatologists I've ever been to recommend that zinc and titanium dioxide are listed as active ingredients in the sunscreens you purchase. I always wear a type of sunscreen on my face that acts as a visible shield between me and the sun when surfing or sailing. In the past I've used Vertra Suncreen, but since I've learned about Hippo Sweat, a local San Diego company that makes vegan sunscreen, I've switched because it's more natural and not harmful to animals and the environment. My whole family did the rub-in kind of sunscreen the first few days and they all got burnt. Two people (not mentioning any names...Scott and Maddie) even got moderate sun poisoning. Everyone wore Hippo Sweat on their faces and bodies the rest of the time in Tahiti and no one got burned again. 

Do you use a miles program when you travel? Do you use a travel agent? 

We use air-miles everywhere we fly. My mom and dad typically plan these family trips and don't use a travel agent (except sometimes I think they consult a family friend). Scott and I have never used a travel agent and tend to adopt the "make it up as we go" travel strategy. 

What was your favorite dinner in Tahiti?

Le Restaurant Le Ficus - Like a luau (the local kind) or having someone cook you a barbecue in their backyard. Everyone in the restaurant eats at the same time and the group kind of grows together throughout the night dancing together and helping with some of the meal items; awesome fire show. *Wear bug spray. 

What Tahitian islands did you visit on this trip?

Tahiti, the main island (which is where we flew in, but didn't spend much time, unfortunately)
Bora Bora

What are some of your tips for traveling with family in such close quarters?

Find a spot that you can call your own. 

Bring things you can do alone like reading, drawing, music, knitting, etc.

Bring something you can share with everyone like a snack from home, a magazine, a game or a playlist.

Let the group know if there are specific things you'd really like to do and see on the trip before it starts. If you don't have a chance to do all of these things, take time to do at least one or two of them, even if it's by yourself. 

If someone is having an off day, ask them if there is anything you can do, let them know you love them, that you are there if they need anything and give them space. Wait for them to come back to the group when they are ready.

Bring an inappropriate, offensive prop that makes everyone laugh (suggestion... **18 years+ though)

Think of the whole thing as an adventure. Whether the trip turns out how you expected it to or not, you will all have memories from it even if they involve getting in a huge family fight and nearly dying at sea (I exaggerate, a little). Traveling as a family brings you together, even if it doesn't always seem like it. 

When I asked my parents for parenting advice after I found out I was pregnant, the only thing my dad said was "Buy a boat". I think it's the best advice I've heard. 

{+This post was not sponsored (that would have been cool), although some of the links are affiliates.
+Do you have any travel tips to share?
+If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask in the comment form.
+Have a great weekend! }

Tahiti Travel Tales

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Dear Sprout ...this is going to be awesome

Dear Sprout, 

Our last appointment went well. I'll have to remind your future Nonny not to say anything about my driving on the way there next time though. When we saw you on the screen, you were hiccuping. Rebecca, our acupuncturist, says this means you're growing. She also thinks you're a boy. Only you know the answer to that right now. 

They had to take some of my blood for testing. They asked me "What have you eaten today?" and I had to tell them "Cheerios...with soy sauce." the waiting room, in front of a teenage boy in a Pancho and a bunch of elderly couples holding each other's hands and oxygen tanks. The nurse laughed like he didn't understand, but took my blood anyway. Hopefully it's as red as it's supposed to be. 

I've still been taking you surfing with me. I honestly believe you like it. I guess only you know if that's true too. Daddy took some pictures of us in the water the other day and then I took some of him. I hope you like watching him surf as much as I do. 

This swell was one of the best we've ever had and I had one of the best sessions I've ever had. I think that has something to do with you. I paddled out the back to the deep water when the bigger ones came. I told you "This is what it's about Sprout! The adrenaline that pumps through you and makes you remember all the details." I wish you could have seen the water. It's a blue-green color that paint doesn't come in. I open my eyes when we duck-dive to make sure everything is safe and because I want to capture that color in my mind's eye forever. Then I can see it if I ever have to be away from the ocean. I bet the whales migrating south stay around an extra few days just to enjoy these hues too. 

We ride the small and medium waves and only really surf with friends whose surf abilities I am familiar with. All of them know about you. Sometimes they call me "Mamma". Sometimes I hate it. But when those words come out of your mouth I think it will be the best thing anyone has ever called me. 

Sometimes I worry if you are ok or not. I even downloaded this app to detect your heartbeat that your daddy told me not to. He was right. It doesn't even work on me! The good thing is, when I'm worrying, sometimes you send me a sign. I think I feel you moving around lately. I know I do. Your presence is so strong already. 

When I think about taking care of you it makes me think of my mom and dad and how they've taken care of me; how I love the world because of them and what they've shown and told me about it. 

Sometimes I feel like I must've grown-up to be having a baby and going to doctors appointments and trying to eat a balanced, healthy diet for a growing human (with a little cereal and soy sauce mixed in), but when I see my shadow running up the beach I see I'm still a kid. And you are mine, and that's what you were before you were here at all and...this is going to be awesome. 

Me, your mom 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Where Loyalties Lie

[surf shots by Scott, my dad and Danielle]

Escaping out of the small neoprene hole at the top of my 4/3 wetsuit after winter surfs for the last fifteen years always makes me think that, were I ever to be captured and tied up, I'd stand a pretty good chance of getting away. This morning I watched the steam float off my wetsuit as the rays of sun struck it; some scientific reaction that occurs when the cold water lingering in my suit meets the warm sun, although don't ask me to explain it beyond that. These are signs that remind me I'm not in Tahiti anymore.

We only surfed a few times on the trip. These sailing adventures are more about following the wind than the waves, even though we've usually found both. The spots we surfed were extremely beautiful and extremely shallow. The sea floor at the first spot made a pattern: deep, dark cave, shallow finger of reef, deep, dark, bottomless cave, shallow coral reef... At both spots I sat on the shoulder and observed for a long while before I took any waves. I would periodically peek under to see how deep it was, all the while extremely conscious of the fact that Sprout comes with me wherever I surf now. Finally a little corner came to me and I rode happily and cautiously along, kicking out before the shallows. 

It was hard not sitting at the main peak, taking off deep and trying to get barreled; pushing myself while also proving myself to the other surfers. Sometimes I feel like I have a responsibility to positively represent all female surfers when I paddle out. Like I owe it to every water woman who has tried to make her way in a male dominated arena to surf my best so that guys know girls can surf and deserve to be out there too. But I owe more to Sprout, and the good news was there was a local girl out taking off in the thick of the male pack and riding gracefully along. 

My last wave was my best. Scott gave me a boost by pushing my feet right as the wave came so I had extra speed going down the line. Maybe I'm just making this up so I feel less guilty about surfing while pregnant, but I think that Sprout really enjoys surfing with me. Sometimes it's hard feeling more vulnerable than usual. It's hard not to see that vulnerability as a weakness, but I know I will look back on this experience of surfing with my baby in my belly as some of the best surfing I've ever done.

Mauruuru Tahiti for the waves and memories! 

Tahiti Travel Tales
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