Friday, June 28, 2013

remember that one time when I flew 5,000 miles to Hawaii and left my cell phone sitting on my kitchen counter in Virginia?

Yeah, so that happened.


One of the great things about Hawaii, The Sequel was that I thought packing was going to be so much easier the second time around. Since we'd just been to Hawaii a few months before, I already knew what I'd need and what things I didn't use during the first trip and could leave behind. And then I go and FORGET MY CELL PHONE.

I realized it just as my mother was about to drop us off at the airport. "My cell phone!" I exclaimed, as I remembered that I had put it on the charger on the kitchen counter a few minutes before we left the house. I wanted to make sure that I had a 100% charge for the 10.5 hour direct flight from Dulles to Honolulu. "You should've made a list", chided my mother. Oh, a list! You're telling The Queen of Lists to make a list?! "I had a list", I told her. "And I had crossed off everything...except...cell phone." Wop wop.

It wasn't worth missing our flight to go back to retrieve the phone, so Larry and I boarded at Dulles and I prepared myself for a travel experience without music, internet, social media, taking photos, or Candy Crush. Ugh. I had spent so much time mentally preparing myself for 10.5 hours of iPod music and phone games...and now all I could do candy?! Misery. (I did have a couple of books with me, but I'm usually so tired that I have a hard time concentrating on reading on planes.)

Just the essentials. I like to pack light. :)

Aside from flight boredom, it was actually kind of nice not to be chained to my phone. Someone wants to e-mail or call me? Tough titty, I don't have my phone! I'm the first to admit that I should spend less time looking at that thing anyway. But the biggest adjustment was not being able to take photos. I love using my phone to document my travels and without Instagram, I felt a little lost. So I improvised. I had a handful of index cards and some black and blue pens in my purse. Instead of Instagramming our trip, I would sketch it.

I started with sketching our experiences on the plane. I drew these in the air - quickly, turbulence and all to document our pilgrimage back to Hawaii:

As for the forgotten phone, unfortunately I really did need it since Larry would be at meetings during the day and we needed to be able to communicate to meet up afterwards. My mother sent my phone to Honolulu via FedEx overnight. It arrived the next day. It was an $85 mistake. D'OH.

Even though I had my phone back with me and could take Instagram vacation photos, I still continued sketching some of the amusing things that happened on our trip:

And there you have it - a peek inside my vacation brain, illustrated with demented comics. Way more fun than Instagram, right?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

collections | oil & vinegar

oil & vinegar
Larry and I were cooking dinner the other night and I was rooting around in our pantry for a bottle of vinegar.
I think I just needed regular ol' cider vinegar for the recipe, but as I sorted through bottles of balsamic, raspberry, and rice vinegar, I realized we have a truly alarming collection of vinegar. Same goes for oil. 11 bottles of vinegar and 13 bottles of oil...who needs that?!
oil & vinegar
Oils | Peanut, Sesame, Toasted Sesame, Chile Olive, Hot Pepper Olive, Lemon Olive, Basil Olive, Extra Virgin Olive, Vegetable, Canola, Sunflower, Coconut

Vinegars | Balsamic, White Balsamic, Sherry, Red Wine, Raspberry Red Wine, White Wine, Rice, Pesto Rice, Apple Cider, and Distilled White (I use this one for weed killer.)
oil & vinegar
We certainly aren't connoisseurs of fine oil or vinegar - these are all available at the grocery store and were picked up for one recipe or another. (Except the white balsamic - no idea why I have that. It's been around a while and has never been opened.) 24 bottles take up a lot of cabinet space, so I think I need to make a swimming pool-sized vat of salad dressing, pronto!

Friday, June 21, 2013

return to waikiki

Hawaii is my place. I love to travel and take the opportunity to explore a new part of the world whenever our meager budget allows. But I've never felt compelled to return to any of the other places that Larry and I have vacationed. I've loved all the national parks we've visited. I've loved the cities and the Caribbean islands. I was always sad to leave. But whenever we next had the chance to take a vacation, I'd always choose somewhere new over returning to someplace we'd already been. Hawaii is the first vacation destination I've felt differently about. I could return again and again. I love it there. It's my place.

So imagine our surprise, when just two months after returning from our two week vacation/wedding in Hawaii, Larry got the word that he would be sent back for a second round of meetings in May. Obviously, I wasn't going to let him go back to paradise without me, so in the harried span of a week we had booked our return flights to Oahu and nailed down the rest the travel details: After Larry's meetings, we would fly from Oahu to Maui and spend a week exploring the island. We would visit two islands, take four flights, and sleep in four different places in ten days.

We really couldn't believe that we were going back...and to be honest, were a little embarrassed to tell our friends that we were taking a repeat "trip of a lifetime." The whole thing felt a bit like a combination of LOST mixed with deja vu, but once the wheels touched back down in Oahu, it felt like we had returned to an old familiar friend. In fact, when we arrived in our hotel room we were greeted with this:
(Wine AND cupcakes??? How did they know? Turned out it wasn't meant for us, but the Hilton let us keep it anyway.)

We stayed in the same hotel in Waikiki as we did during our first trip. It felt like home. I was reunited with Guavalicious (my favorite cocktail!) and befriended the bartender at the pool bar.
While Larry was in meetings, my days were spent like this:
Due to the six hour time difference, I was able to maintain getting up early every morning in Hawaii (no small feat for a morning hater like me)...though this did mean that we had the lights out by 8:30 pm almost every night. Seriously. But the mornings were great. I headed down to Waikiki Beach to watch the surfers (and the old guys with metal detectors!) at 6:45 am and read my book in the quiet.
There wasn't pressure to sightsee or take pictures of everything since I had already done that before. This was time for pure relaxation and it was perfect.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


To Kill a Mockingbird + Blood Orange Soda (back porch)
I've been doing a lot of reading this month. The other evening while I was sitting on our back porch, I snapped this photo of my book and my drink: To Kill a Mockingbird (finally reading it!) and San Pellegrino Blood Orange Soda (the only soda I'll drink). And then I realized it would make a really fun series - pictures of books and drinks throughout the summer. (Two of the best summer things, right? Ok, reading and drinking are pretty awesome year-round, but are made even better when they can be done together while sitting in a beach chair, in my opinion!)

So, what are you reading and drinking this summer? Let me know on Instagram and tag your photos #booksandbeverages.

P.S. I just changed my Instagram username to @funnelcloudrach to match my Twitter handle. (Also, I was getting tagged in way too many photos of tornados!)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

durham in diptychs

We were on the road quite a bit after returning from Hawaii. There was Easter weekend in western Maryland. The following weekend in Durham to vend at Rock & Shop Market. Then Larry off to Wisconsin for a business trip and back in time for us to head to Richmond for Spring Bada-Bing.

I've been traveling light (ie: without my camera) and relying on my iPhone for photography lately. A few Instagram diptychs from our trip to Durham in April:

Taking the dogs to the sitter's:
durham diptych
In the hotel:
durham diptych
Rock & Shop:
durham diptych
durham diptych
A proper Southern breakfast - chicken & waffles (Things That Are Awesome!) and grits:
durham diptych
Exploring Durham:
durham diptych
durham diptych
durham diptych
Duke University:
durham diptych
durham diptych
On the road again:
durham diptych
Picking up the pups:
durham diptych
It was a busy weekend - I had thought we'd have plenty of time to relax, explore, and check out the restaurant scene (my number one priority as a tourist!) - but I was overly ambitious. That was for the best as the highlight of the weekend was getting to visit with my cousin and her sweet family in Raleigh - we spent two fantastic evenings with them and it was such a great reminder that taking it easy and catching up with family is so much more rewarding than checking things off a touristy To Do list.

Friday, June 14, 2013

back to your regularly scheduled programming

My blog has felt like an extended vacation this year. Two weeks in Hawaii turned into two months of blog posts. And while my blog became All Hawaii, All The Time, in real life we had a very busy spring here in Virginia.
new art
Sneak peek | New art coming soon!

There have been good things: weekends out of town (Western Maryland, Durham, Richmond), cooking challenges, lots of books being read, the creation of new art, a book signing, lunches and happy hours with friends, dinners out with family, a concert, the start of a sewing project, and yes, believe it or not, a return trip to Hawaii...

And bad: jet lag, an injured pup, snow, a fender bender, tax and business stress, headaches, and the Boston Marathon bombing and ensuing manhunt.

sad pup
My poor pup was prescribed two weeks of "bed rest." He was not happy about it. (He's all better now.)

And just general busy-ness: We've traveled every month of 2013 so far. We can't keep up with the yardwork. (Being out of town for a good chunk of the spring results in an overgrown yard - we're those weird neighbors who live behind the giant hedge...) We had another last minute trip to Hawaii to plan. (I'll spread out my blog posts and share the photos from Hawaii, The Sequel throughout the summer.) I have a truly sickening amount of unresponded to e-mails clogging my inbox. (Sorry!) My shop vended at two art markets in April and will be at two more this summer. (New art finally coming soon!) And my Etsy shop has been out of control while I've been traveling and on bed rest. (Thanks so much to my patient customers!)

spring bada bing
Richmond Craft Mafia's Spring Bada-Bing

welcome to the jungle
Welcome to the Jungle! (AKA, The Vine That Ate Banjo.)

shipping department
Funnelcloud Studio's "Shipping Department." Ack.

And that doesn't even account for all the hours I've wasted playing Candy Crush!

I've kept a running list of a few of our favorite things to remember from this spring, since time seems to have disappeared into a black hole this year:

During these jet-lagged post-travel weeks, I've turned to books to get me through sleepless nights and sluggish days. I polished off five alone in the week after returning from our last trip. By far the best book I've read this year is The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. I can't recommend this book enough - by the end I had bookmarked 60 pages and added 30 new titles to my To Read list.

Evidently political shows/thrillers set in DC are my thing right now:

Our cable provider gave us a free month of Showtime this spring and Larry and I immediately became hooked on Homeland. Yeah, we're late to the party, and still haven't finished watching the first season, but we love this show!

We're still huge fans of VEEP - the perfect Before-The-Work-Week-Starts way to laugh your ass off on Sunday night.

My friend Sarah recommended Scandal, and I recently finished the first season and am hooked. The plot is definitely far-fetched (as seems to be the norm for Shonda Rhimes shows), but it's definitely entertaining.

And since I still have a trial subscription to Netflix, I've just started watching House of Cards. I'm intrigued. Kevin Spacey creeps me out, and like most political shows, the plot is complicated and a little confusing, but I'm interested to see what happens next.

josh ritter at 930 club
Josh Ritter at 930 Club. Our favorite - I think this is the 5th time we've seen him live.
Larry and I have a travel tradition of buying new music before going on a trip - we listen to a few albums on repeat as we travel and this becomes the soundtrack to our vacation. Even years later, I can't listen to Josh Ritter's The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter without thinking about driving around Olympic National Park in 2007 or Pinback without reminiscing about driving through Utah and Arizona in 2006. The soundtrack to our trip to Hawaii was Lord Huron's Lonesome Dreams which not only brings up visions of exploring Oahu's windward side, but has definitely earned a spot on my list of favorite albums of all time.

Other favorite albums this spring:
Tegan & Sara's Heartthrob
STRFKR's Miracle Mile
Stars' The North
Phoenix's Bankrupt!
Metric's Synthetica

I'm addicted to the food at the new Cava Mezze Grill that recently opened up near our house. It's like the Greek version of Chipotle! Falafel and crazy feta on a pita? Yum!

I'm crazy for pistachios. I can't get enough of them on salads, in ice cream, or straight out of the shell. Have you tried pesto made from pistachios? It's the best! Throw it on some pasta with a couple of shrimps/scallops for a delicious, elegant, and easy meal. (We like a recipe from a Cooking Light cookbook, but the one from Food & Wine is also delicious.)

I bookmark and pin a lot of recipes, but I made Smitten Kitchen's recipe for Coconut Bread immediately after reading her blog post. It did not disappoint!

coconut bread
Did someone say coconut bread?!?!

Our time in the islands whet my already fruit-loving appetite for tropical treats: I've always loved pineapple, coconut, and mango, but now I'm obsessed with lilikoi (passion fruit) and especially guava. I LOVE guava and predict that many of our summer cooking experiments will contain guava in whatever form I can get here on the mainland.

sleeping boys
Whew! We're pooped!

So that's Spring 2013. I have more to say on a few things we've done in the first half of the year, but am ready for a fun and busy summer. Onward!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

wednesday morning in my yard

wednesday morning in my yard
As usual, I'm attempting to get up earlier to be more productive and enjoy my mornings this summer. It's an ongoing battle, so I won't make any promises or set any goals (a surefire way to set myself up for failure!), but due to my headaches, I've put myself on a strict bedtime schedule and this has made it (a little) easier to get up at a reasonable time. (There are theories that circadian rhythms have something to do with causing headaches, so I'm making sure to sleep when it's dark and be awake when it's light.)
wednesday morning in my yard
This morning was a good morning. I was pain-free and up early, fed the dogs, cooked breakfast, drove Larry to the metro, ran errands and was back home around 9ish. As I got out of the car, I noticed the morning sunlight shining on the plants in my front yard and snapped a few photos:
yard collage
And then I wasted the rest of the morning blogging about it. Eh. You win some, you lose some.