Monday, August 27, 2012

The Ancient Journey Begins

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When it comes to international travel, the journey often begins as much as a year or two in advance. That's the LOGICAL way of doing things, but there are certainly other ways. Like the way I'm doing things: I'm trying to plan the details of our 10 day Greece Extravaganza in about a month and a half. When we went to Cape Town, South Africa in 2010 for the World Cup, we started planning over a year ahead. It took us a year to pay off our trip, which our gracious friend put on his credit card. It was totally worth the scrimping and saving and I would totally do it all over again. 

Not everyone can justify taking these types of trips that the Mister and I like to take. Some people don't even have the option. I count myself blessed that I have been lucky to travel as much as I have and created those invaluable memories. Some people want to own houses or expensive clothing labels. I wouldn't mind those things, if I could have the best of both worlds, but in our perspective paying for travel is much more of a lasting investment. Many of my friends are saving for and buying their own houses now. We're nearing 30 and spend every cent towards our next adventure. It doesn't seem smart in this economy. It leaves me feeling reckless and ill-prepared for our future. But there always seems to be another exotic place beckoning and I'd rather have those views, that cuisine, and the memories than a three bedroom / two bath. To each his own.

For those of you interested in Greece, or interested in general, here is the run down of our journey. It starts with the passport renewal (I have a new last name!), the International Driving Permits, and the flight arrangements. I've spent countless hours agonizing over hotels and locations on Trip Advisor, and we have had numerous conversations in front of a map of Greece to determine our routes and priorities. Our trip will be a three-parter. 

Part One
Fly from San Antonio, TX to Athens, Greece, and straight on to Santorini island. Spend three days and nights of luxury (and de-jet-lagging) for the "romantic honeymoon" part of the trip.

Part Two
Fly back to Athens, pick up rental car, and spend four days on the road, touring the mainland and Peloponnese by car -- lots of ancient ruins sites.

Part Three
End back in Athens for two days and three nights exploring the metropolis and museums.

We come from backgrounds of Theatre and Philosophy, and if you know even just a few things about the ancient Greeks, you know that these are precisely their areas of expertise and famed cultivation. That said, modern Greece will surely be experienced, but ancient Greece is definitely what we're after. I will share more details as we count down one month from today, that we will be landing on Grecian soil.

For now... here's a little hello from Santorini Island. Um, who doesn't love Savage Garden?


Monday, August 20, 2012

Upside Down, Left to Right


Sorry Folks, I am getting behind. The last few weeks I have had to write my FWF posts for Sunday Hatch several days in advance, since I've either been hosting guests or had weekend plans, but I keep forgetting to cross post. So here is last Friday's post for Sunday Hatch, and regular posts will now resume!




One of a great many things Danielle Goates (of Sunday Hatch). and I have in common and have connected over is our shared appreciation of Paper Goods and Printing Techniques. Of these, I think we both share a deep love of Letterpress work. We've both worked at paper stores (boutique - not Dunder Mifflin) and up close and personal with different types of paper, printing, and designs.

Letterpress is a perfect example of how sometimes the old way of doing things is still the best way. Even though it takes longer, requires more human effort, and isn't necessarily as reliable as other printing methods, every letter-pressed page is slightly different from any other. I love the uniqueness and the evident handiwork in the craft. It thrills me to see old methods revisited. We are so quick to move on to the next best, faster, brighter, clearer product. Sometimes we forget that beautiful and meaningful might take a little longer to achieve and require a bit more work, but is entirely worth it.

And well, isn't that true for most things in life?  Slow down a little... enjoy today.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Face Time

Every Friday I blog for Sunday Hatch. This week's post is below.

Tuesday I had my first EVER facial. I have really sensitive skin, and have forever struggled with hormonal acne, so I've always been hesitant to get any kind of spa facial treatments. I know that seems backwards, because lots of women who have acne use facials to help maintain their skin, but I guess I was nervous it would only irritate my skin even more. I'm happy to say there was absolutely nothing irritating about it, except maybe the fact that they endlessly plugged their products. My skin feels clean and exfoliated, and definitely smoother than usual. Of course, I would love for it to feel this good all the time, but I don't have hundreds of extra bucks lying around to throw at spa facials. So I decided to play the game "make a facial concoction from things I have at home." As I hunted around, I found this recipe, and thought it was perfect because I have all three ingredients on hand!




The Ingredients

Age Avengers
Blackberries deliver even more antioxidants than blueberries do.
Main Squeeze

The vitamin C and natural enzymes in fresh citrus help brighten the skin.
The Bee's Knees

A mild antiseptic, honey gently exfoliates, promotes tissue growth, and seals in moisture.

The Instructions
Step 1
In a blender, combine 2 tablespoons plain yogurt and 2 tablespoons honey, and pulse until fully combined.
Step 2
Add 1/4 cup mixed berries, pureeing until smooth, then add 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
Step 3
Using your hands, apply mixture to a clean, dry face. Let mask sit 10 to 15 minutes, then rinse face thoroughly with warm water and pat dry.


We all need a little face time, sometimes.



Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A little bit of LASIK in my Life



It's now been two full months since I got new eyes. At the beginning of June I had Lasik surgery to correct nearsighted vision in both my eyes. If you dare to, you can read more about that whole (rather traumatizing) experience here. As I have never followed up from that original post, I thought it was time - for all those potential Lasik candidates out there - to give an update.

My recovery has just been a rough road, period. There is no question it was worse than I expected and than I was warned about, but there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel now. I hope for most people's sake that I am a minority. Continuing well past the instructed one month mark, I was very careful in general about touching or rubbing my eyes. My eyes felt sore and swollen if I touched my closed lids when I was washing my face or applying moisturizer. This sensation has slowly dissipated, but I have had to be much more careful than I ever thought I would need to be. I waited the full week before wearing any kind of makeup, and even after that was very very very careful during application and removal. I also found that any kind of eye makeup or even powder around my eyes just made them more irritated, so I have largely avoided it unless I was going some place special. 

The worst side effects of the surgery, however, have been dry eye and light sensitivity. Neither are something I ever had to deal with before, even in my contacts. There have been nights I just went to bed before I was sleepy, because the dryness made my eyes feel so strained and tired, and I was sick of trying to keep them open. I've been back two extra times to see my surgeon, in addition to all my regular appointments, for these reasons. The first visit the surgeon prescribed an allergy drop, even though she only saw mild irritation (these cost me $100+). She also told me to continue using my rewetting drops on a daily basis. At that point I was needing drops every hour or two while I was awake. It was especially bad any time I was around ceiling fans or in front of an a/c vent, spending long hours on my computer, and when I would wake up in the morning. The first few weeks of July I spent in deep depression that I had made a huge mistake and would never live a normal life again.

I ended up going back a few weeks later because I realized that not only was I experiencing severe dry eye, but my sensitivity to light was worsening and becoming a potentially dangerous situation. I made the decision to see my doctor after a driving trip on the highway where I was suddenly so blinded even with my sunglasses and tinted windows, for no apparent reason, that my eyes welled up with tears. I was diagnosed with TLS (Transient Light Sensitivity) which is apparently a very common side effect of all-laser (rather than blade) surgeries, and even more common in women. They don't know what causes it, but it usually appears 2-3 weeks after surgery and is treatable with a round of steroid drops. So I did 11 days of steroids and that's where this story takes a turn. For the better.

Since I finished the steroid drops, both my dry eye and light sensitivity has hugely improved. For the past two weeks I have started feeling optimistic about the future enjoyment of my new eyes. It has been a very positive thing for me to see some solid improvement. I'm still using wetting drops mornings/evenings as a preventive and to continue to help the healing, and occasionally when I feel a little scratchy or dry, but right now it's way better than it was before.

I'd like to take just a second to mention that I am really disappointed with my surgeon. I very much despise her "bedside manner," if you can call it that. I find her rude, relatively unhelpful, impatient, and arrogant. She doesn't open the floor for discussion, always seems annoyed when I question her about anything, and has on several occasions actually rather harshly interrupted me, basically telling me to get to the point. I never met her until 10 minutes before she performed my surgery, and the office has been mostly inflexible in allowing me to see someone else for my multiple visits, insisting I need consistency in my treatment. I would highly recommend selecting an office where you meet your surgeon ahead of time, and feel comfortable with all of the doctors who will be participating in your care. The actual surgery itself and my disappointment with the surgeon aside, the Mann Eye Institute has provided prompt and efficient care.

I think this update would only appropriately end with me reiterating that I think expectation has a lot to do with the all-around success of this elective surgery. Most surgeries, however minor, have recovery periods. Don't expect to be full steam in a matter of days. Your eyes will continue to heal for many months, and your vision might continue to improve or regress as well, as the swelling dissipates. If you already have dry eye or allergies, you will probably have increased side effects following the surgery and should take that into consideration and address it with your surgeon. What makes it scary is how simple everyone makes everything sound, and how complicated or painful the road to recovery can actually end up being. If this had been a broken arm or a torn ACL, I would certainly have expected pain and discomfort as my body was healing. Lasik was described as nothing short of easy breezy, and for me there were many obstacles.  

But, I am finally starting to feel comfortable in my own eyes again.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Grey Tabby Table

I'm starting to tackle and re-tackle some projects that have been on my to-do list for a very long time. This little side table was purchased for $3 from a church yard sale shortly after we moved to D.C. It's travelled around with us ever since, lost a leg, was repaired, etc. It started off a sort of aged/crackle spray-painted beige color, which never really bothered me, except that it just could look a whole lot better . . . and cleaner . . . in any other color. So, in honor of our weekend guests who were arriving on Friday evening, I decided I'd just get 'er done.


I spread an old towel in the utility room. Grabbed a disposable foam brush for smooth strokes, and dug out a can of paint (Grey Tabby by Glidden) that I had on hand. After one quick coat, we were at this point, so I knew I was going to need two more coats. What I love about a quick paint project like this is that you can do it while you're doing other things.  Apply a coat and run some errands, apply another coat and vacuum the house . . . etc. And yet you still end up with with a renewed piece of furniture in the end.


I wanted the drawer pull to be white for a little variation, so I unscrewed the screws to take it off and spray paint it high gloss white. That sucker must have been gorilla glued in there. I didn't want to break it, so instead I just let it be stubborn and painted it white with an oil-based gloss.  I figure if it wears off a little, no big loss. This picture also shows the interesting crackle paint job from prior owner.



I like it so so so much better now. It's slightly more classy than the dirty yellow white it was before. And best of all, I can check one more thing off my list.


Check!

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Source

As always, on Fridays I write for my friends at  Sunday Hatch.  Today I'm taking another look at the Mast Brothers Chocolate, and the unique journey of the beans from The Source . . .





Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Revolutionary Adventure

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Last night as the Mister and I were getting into bed, I just had a moment of utter despair. It's been creeping up on me. It happens every once in a while: that I reach this boiling point. The point where I can no longer deny my disappointment in myself any longer.

Let's blame the Olympics this time. For the past week I've been sitting on my butt watching hours of NBC coverage on the world's youngest, fastest, fittest, strongest, and most medaled men and women. And here I am, at an aging 27 years, I'm "technically" unemployed, I only have an undergraduate degree, I've done nothing to significantly impact the world, I won't be in anyone's history books, and what's worst... I don't know what I want to do with my life.

In fact, I can't say that I've ever known what I want to do with my life with any real certainty. The first three years of my university studies I spent threatening to switch majors. It wasn't until the fourth year I finally committed. And that year was the best, hands down, without a doubt. I felt like I was on fire. So let's examine the phrase: "what to do with my life." Every day I am really "doing" my life. I am waking, eating, sleeping, repeating day after day after day. But, I'm aspiring to greatness and knowledge without striving for it. I'm expecting results without effort or commitment. I'm wallowing.

In the end, for all four years I studied Theatre in college (a useful degree these days). A complicated concept for a young actor to understand when creating a character is that, unlike what you would image, it's less believable to just "BE" the character and more believable to "DO" what that character would do in any given circumstance. You can't "BE" something just by thinking about it and wishing for it, but you can study and memorize and "DO" all the things that character would do, in order to bring them to life. It is the more active choice, and from the audience's standpoint, action is what it's all about. It's also the harder choice, the one that requires the most work on the actor's part.  If I want to become something, or become someone different than who I am now, I'm going to have to start DOing all those things that person would do.  I can't expect to just become someone over night.  It's going to take time and study, and a lot of hard work.

I have always envied people who seemed so passionate about what they were pursuing. I had so many different interests and ideals for myself, it always seemed like I could never focus in on one long enough to become really, really good at it or to fall completely in love. I always feel like there is a higher calling, something more important that I should be doing all the days of my life, and therefore I always have a difficult time committing to the present. I have no clue what that calling is, but I hear it.  What am I waiting for?

So in my despair last night, I unloaded on my Husband my fears, my desperation for a meaningful life. And the Husband, in all his wisdom, said, "It's cheesy, but I have to say it here: carpe diem! There's no better time. Just do some of those things you want to do, don't be afraid of them, just commit until you can't commit anymore. It doesn't matter if you start the book you've always wanted to write and don't finish it, you'll have learned something about yourself in the process. And you won't regret that you never tried, years from now."

As we both turned to go to sleep, I thought: "Yes, when did I get so DOMESTICATED? So lazy? So uninspired." My final paper in my senior Theatre History class was to write my Personal Philosophy of Theatre. The word I used the most?

Revolutionary.

I wanted to revolutionize the world of theatre. I had big dreams, and I wasn't ashamed of them and I didn't spend time doubting myself. When I quit acting professionally in 2010, I never found something else that made me feel like I was fighting wildly artistic battles with the world every day. I lost that sense of creative empowerment. I think I stopped having inspired FUN.

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These guys. These guys make chocolate in Brooklyn. They are dedicating their lives to making the best chocolate in the world. In the bigger scheme, (despite many suggestions to the contrary) chocolate won't save the world. It won't stop human trafficking. It can't sustain a hungry nation. But chocolate pretty much universally makes people happy. It's delicious, delicate, flavorful, and fun. These guys have fun making their chocolate. Something as simple as chocolate provides them the inspiration to continually follow their curiosity, to explore new concepts, and imagine new projects.

I want you to watch this video before you read any further. (I know, I'm not done yet...) I don't know about you, but this short documentary made me a little teary. In a joyful way. In a "YES, that is so RIGHT!" sorta way. Plus the chocolate looks amazing and the beards are fantastic.



I have a point. Amidst the talk of revolutionary theatre and cacao beans, I do have a point. And I'm sorry. I tried to make this post structured and clean, but there's absolutely nothing structured or clean about art. Art is messy. Messy and fun. At some point I stopped being able to make mistakes, or to laugh at myself and cut my losses and start over. I need to do that again. I need to reconnect with my curiosity. You know, join the revolution. Wherever that takes me. 

THE POINT, is that it doesn't have to be world peace, four PhDs, or an Olympic medal. It can be planning someone's wedding. It can be writing a novel that never gets read. It can be chocolate. Your life just needs to be your own adventure.


"Any idea that makes us nervous or scared that it won't happen, 
we know that we're definitely on to something . . .  
Make it an adventure."