Friday, January 30, 2015

Blah, Blah, Blah and a Winter Playlist

I went for a walk today and saw a gigantic pumpkin in the trash. I don't know how it lasted this long, but it was still as tangerine as a tic tac. 

This happened after I went to sit with my neighbor to watch the hummingbirds nest and feed their babies in the oleanders between our houses. You can't see the babies in my pictures, but I'm hoping to get a few shots of them with my long lens over the next few weeks. My neighbor read you're not supposed to get very close because you could alert other predators to their presence.

When we were at the beach a few weeks ago I took a picture of two of my surf kids on manual focus by accident, but there they are just before the fall term ended. If it weren't for them, I would have only associated age thirteen with accidentally wearing boxer shorts for "free dress" at school, getting hit in the mouth with a kickball and trying to sell my 7th grade teacher's desk supplies for pennies and quarters at lunch with my best friend Erin. Now I'm learning what weather is perfect for eating Acai bowls and overhearing conversations about how the best flavor of cough drops is Strawberry Cream. I didn't even know they made that kind, but apparently the honey flavor tastes like mosquito spray so...  They love surfing for all the right reasons, and that's my favorite thing about our sessions together. I have a total of four surf students now and they all make surfing better.  

One of the reasons a person with a lot of time on their hands might discover the words "winter is my favorite time to surf" written in my journals every year is because we've had a fun North West swell every weekend lately. I've been riding my 5'6" squash tail since we went to Tahiti and I feel like we're in just the right sync together. Of course, that's exactly when I think it's time to switch it up with boards, but I have a feeling life is about force me into that decision anyways. Sprout is still small; the size of a heirloom tomato, my app says, but I've been looking into other board options for the remainder of this pregnancy that I'll share soon.

I mentioned the other day that Scott and I got some bookshelves at the thrift shop. One is for the room we are trying to make for Sprout and the one pictured above is currently in a corner of our main living area. The thing is, I can't deicide if I like it. I stare at it periodically throughout the day wondering how I accumulated so many orange and black books, trying to picture it painted white or with a pallet wood backing and worrying that I'm killing the feng shui I'm not sure the room ever had. 

I've re-organized all the books three times now. I think I'm going to just have to paint it white so I can stop wondering if it'd be better that way. Do you have any advice on organizing bookshelves? What do you think about painting this one a glossy white? Scott is going to make cabinet doors for the bottom shelf and those aquamarine, quartz looking rock things in the picture above will be the handles (I got them at anthropologie). We also got that little wave coatrack for Sprout for 6 bucks. I think it'll stay just as it is. 

I made a new winter playlist (below) that has been the background sound for all of these projects and random thoughts. The middle of the playlist it's pretty pop-ish and upbeat to make cloudy days seem more like a special occasion. I also picture this playlist being good to listen to while road tripping or snowboarding.

And then there's the picture of Dragon, Minky and Dolly sitting at the end of the bed and enjoying a life that may go on forever. I look at them now and think--How does one say to a small child, "These toys are Mommy's"

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!  

Giveaway closed. Winner: Rach! 
Thank you all for entering! 

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 :)


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? 
We use air-miles everywhere we fly. 

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