30 January 2012

T O    P O R T L A N D

The window on the train was quite dirty; my camera had a hard time focusing most of the time. It was a beautiful day - sunny but foggy. The landscapes took on a very mystical and dream-like feel. I couldn't help but think about the valleys and trees and mountains I'll soon be watching pass by on another continent. I also couldn't stop thinking about how inadequate my camera is for the type of photographs I'll be taking abroad. I will bring my analog camera of course, but it makes me nervous to fully rely on film. So, please share your DSLR recommendations. I am all ears!

More pictures from my weekend in Portland to come - but just a few.

27 January 2012

T H E    C O U N T D O W N     B E G I N S

One month from today, I will be packing my bags and heading to Europe. I cannot believe how close it is now. About a year ago this whole adventure was only a thought, a "what if" -  a phone call made to my sister, and now I'm only four weeks away from it all becoming a reality. Let me tell you, it's very weird. I've been to Europe several times before, but this time will be so different. It very well could be life changing - but I guess we'll see!

To be honest, I find myself at times feeling a little nervous about the whole, grand thing. I don't worry  much in general - but sometimes I stop and think about how big this is going to be and I must say, it's a little scary! I wonder if I am ready, if I have done enough planning, if I have paid enough attention to detail, if I have enough money, if I have everything I need for this experience to be successful. Have I forgotten anything? I suppose that's what this last month will be for; final preparations. 

Some of you may know that more often than not, The Sound of Music is playing somewhere in my mind and that I will shamelessly admit it is my dream for my life to resemble it as much as possible someday. So in those moments of fear and doubt, I remember my heroine Maria Von Trapp  (did I ever mention that I read the book about true story of the Trapp family singers? I'm sure I must have. It was so exciting for me to read, I can't imagine that I would have kept it to myself. If you, too love that film, I recommend it!) and I sing this song to myself.* I am on my way!

New chapters and experiences can be intimidating - but I have confidence in me!

* The only place I could find a good version of that scene was on this chinese website. (Shrug.)

24 January 2012

S E E     Y O U    S O O N

This weekend I am hopping on the train to Portland to see this beautiful lady. It will be our last chance to be together before I leave for Europe. Bittersweet!

I am also very excited to share that I will be selling a few of my latest works at a new shop/gallery in Portland, Lowell. It is owned by Maya, an internet pal of mine whom I am so looking forward to meeting! I am honored to be a part of this beautiful new space, even if in such a small way. Take a peek here to see the beautiful pictures Anja of Clever Nettle took of the shop.

Speaking of, a day does not go by where I don't stress about the print shop and how far behind I am with getting that all together. I so hoped to open it before I leave on my trip, and I still plan to - but it will only be open for a short time, unfortunately. I will do my best to get down to business and get that all sorted out next week!

22 January 2012

T H E    A R T I S T

I loved The Artist - it was so refreshingly sweet and funny. I admit that I was a bit skeptical about how much I would enjoy a silent film, but I wasn't bored for even a second and just about smiled through the whole thing. I would be so happy to see it again. I'm always a sucker for a good, old fashioned dance routine! Bérénice Bejo was so adorable, and Jean Dujardin charmed my socks off with that amazing smile of his. Swoon!

You must go see this if you haven't yet!

21 January 2012

T U L I P S    &     L I G H T

I've been feeling a bit low this week. Just a lot of dumb things happening in procession of one another that amounted to a minor sob fest last night. Oof!

While at the market with Gramma today, I bought some tulips - a little piece of spring to put some spring in my step. The snow is melting (which I am now ready to say goodbye to) and the sun is shining. The pretty light it is casting throughout the apartment is helping to lift my spirits quite a bit, too.

Ps. Mister Obama also has been making me smile when I'm feeling blue.

18 January 2012

O L D     P H O T O S ,     A     N E W     J O B     A N D     S T U FF

Well, I got my wish for another snow day! Just as I was putting on my coat at 6:30 this morning, I received the orders to stay home and keep warm*. We have a couple of inches on the ground already, snow is still falling and more is on the way.

Since I have grown accustomed to waking up before the sun does every day (that's a lie - I cannot grow used to it and probably never will, but I still get up and go every morning), I am not quite ready to fall back asleep yet. So I am cozy in bed (Gramma finally got the internet yesterday! Yahoo!), sipping some chamomile tea and about to do some more internet shopping (you guys, I've been buying so much stuff! It's so much fun).

Before I do that, I remembered that I had found these old photographs of my mom and my uncle that I wanted to share. I discovered them before Christmas in a box while trying to organize all of my things in Gramma's guest room closet. They are so precious, everything about them. I love old family photos, and these are especially special because my mother is just so dear to me.

Now, to decide on which color to purchase these No. 6 clogs in, and whether I should get a hat with lattice, or a hat without. What do you think? Also - where does one find a perfect, old fashioned style one-piece bathing suit this time of year? Even after days and hours spent searching the world wide web, I can't seem find one that I love/can afford anywhere.

*I just realized I have forgotten to mention that I have a job again. Self-employment simply wasn't cutting it, and the perfect opportunity arose to nanny for a little 3-month-old baby girl temporarily. Her name is Alice, and I took that as a sign that this was a match made in heaven (the name Alice is spoken in my family like it is magic. My great grandma's name was Alice, whom I never met but I have heard was the most wonderful woman ever. I was going to be named Alice - but my father didn't want me to have an "old lady's name", and so I became Alyson instead. I would have been honored to be an Alice, though! Silly dad). She is adorable, and I love having a sweet little baby to take care of again - despite the 5:30am wake up call. This job also means money (!!!) - and since I have no bills, I'm having a great time purchasing all of the things I have been wanting for my trip!

16 January 2012

S N O W !

I stayed indoors all day yesterday, watching the snow fall from the couch and watching terrible Hallmark movies with Gramma. We weren't at all prepared for the five inches we got (I know, all of you who know what real snow is like are rolling your eyes); somehow we managed to go all day without hot chocolate!

I love snow days, I love the calm and peacefulness of them. Many of my friends will disagree, but I wish the winter white would stick around a little longer.

12 January 2012

O N    T H E    5 2 0

Driving over Lake Washington on a winter's evening.

I live in a beautiful place. I will miss it when I'm gone.

10 January 2012

G U N T A     S T Ö L Z L

Reminded of her by my girl, Claire. I saw some of her works at the Bauhaus museum in Berlin a couple of years ago. Pretty inspiring stuff! Makes me wish I knew how to weave and work a loom.

05 January 2012

T R A V E L     P L A N S    U P D A T E

(click to view larger - much easier to read!)

So far, this is the round up of where my sister and I will be staying and working during our trip. Being the visual person that I am, I had to make this dorky little map in order to organize my thoughts and be able to actually see our plans. 

We have a little unexpected hiccup to work around, which occurred when two of Ashley's best friends got engaged a couple of months ago. So she will be leaving me for three weeks to fly back to California to be in both of their weddings*. I am trying to decide exactly what I am going to do during that time. I have a couple of ideas, such as Iceland, and I am definitely hoping to stay with my friend Jojanneke in Amsterdam - but if any of you have suggestions, I'd be glad to hear them!

No. 1 -  Madrid, Spain
We fly into Madrid first, so we are going to stay there a few days before we jump into everything.

No. 2 - Mallorca, Spain
I have told you about La Serrania before, which just might be too good to be true. I can't believe March is so soon!

No. 3 - Cannes, France
Seven years ago, when Ashley and I first crossed the Atlantic and traveled around Europe, we passed through Cannes but never stopped to see it. Ever since then we've been curious, so we might take this time as a chance to take a look around. Although, I think we're both open to other ideas, so again - if you have any, please share.

No. 4 through 7 - Paris, Amsterdam, Iceland...?
Or something, until Ashley returns.

No. 8 - Amélie-les-Bains, France
Our good friends told us about La Fargassa, and it is one of the destinations I am most looking forward to. I have my fingers crossed that I'll get to help Madhu (the owner) out in the bakery.

No. 9 - Le Mans, France
Here we are planning to take a little time to unwind and stay for a weekend at our cousin's French country cottage

No. 10 - Lozice, Czech Republic
Ashley just discovered Syyyr yesterday and emailed the owners about a work-stay opportunity with them. They confirmed this morning that we are welcome to come! I am really looking forward to this one, partly because it's in the Czech Republic - I am Czech myself and so have always wanted to visit there - and largely because I will get to learn how to make cheese and bread. Look here to see images of the farm and it's beautiful setting.

No. 11 - Munich, Germany
I am so thrilled to visit Germany again! This time, Ashley and I will stay with our dear friend's family prior to her wedding. That is, if we can be helpful and useful, rather than bothersome extra bodies. Following that week, we will celebrate the love of Viki & Sam and the promises they've made to each other in Austria. I can hardly wait for that! Afterwards, we plan to go camping in Austria with them and a couple more of our sweet ol' friends, Jess and Scott. After that, all I know is that a Sound of Music tour is definitely in order. But otherwise, who knows! Maybe we'll go home, maybe we won't? 

There are still quite a few things to sort out and preparations to make, but even still it is pretty clear; I am going to have the time of my life!

*It seems everybody is getting married and/or having babies right now. Is anybody else experiencing this?? Have I been left behind?

04 January 2012

" S U L I A "

Not long after Christmas day, my dear friends Suli & Julia (Sulia, as I like to call them) got engaged. They had a quaint private party at a restaurant. It was dark and cozy, and therefore hard to get good pictures (I really ought to upgrade my camera - especially before my trip!). Suli secretly recorded the proposal on his phone. I watched the video and although it was too noisy in the room to hear any of the words exchanged between them, it was so touching and made me cry (of course).

These two are some of the greatest people I know, and they make an absolutely perfect match. It's so exciting to see a pair like them together, two people whose love and partnership one can really believe in. I cannot wait for their wedding next fall! I know that I can count on it to be a true celebration, and for a really great party to follow.