You guys! The clouds tonight! Totally amazing! It's nights like tonight that make me appreciate those extra few minutes of daylight, so I get to see stuff like this on my way home from work.
Also, Fluid Pudding started a one sentence journal project for the month of February, and I've been participating. We're pretty loose with the rules for what we're affectionately tagging #lazyjournal, so some of mine are more than one sentence (and include little drawings). I've been posting them over on Instagram, but I may catalog them over here at some point, too.
This is how I spent most of my Sunday, at the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo. There were so many food samples that I didn't need to buy lunch, and I came home with a bag full of gluten-free goodies to try. There were even beer and cider samples! But my favorite thing? It was the pastry in the photo above, from Bacano Bakery in Oakland. It's probably one of the best gluten free baked goods I've ever eaten. Puff pastry seems to be one of those things that's hard to duplicate in a gluten-free version, but they've got it figured out. That apricot pinwheel was so good, that had someone served it to me outside of a gluten-free expo, I would have been questioning its gluten-free-ness.
Bacano doesn't have a store front yet, but they have a website and facebook page, and you can find them at some Farmer's Markets. I may have to make a special trip to the East Bay just for some Bacano Bakery treats...
Have I told you about the time I ordered some Proactiv cleanser? I'm not really an infomercial kind of girl, but I had seen the commercial SO many times, I had to see if it would work. After about a week, I sent it back because it was bleaching my towels. It was my first, and I thought my last, "As Seen on TV" purchase.
A couple of weeks ago, I happened to see an ad for the Wen haircare system. I had heard of it before, but hesitated to try it. Some of you may remember I've been struggling with the frizz, and the commercial promised that after one wash, I'd be a believer in Wen. Having tried so many things on my hair in the past few months to combat the frizz, including cutting about 6 inches of it off, I figured it couldn't hurt to try one more thing.
My order arrived on Saturday afternoon, so Sunday was my day to become a believer. I used the recommended amount of sweet almond mint cleansing conditioner in the shower and the anti-frizz styling cream after I towel dryed my hair, and then blow dryed the same way I always do. And I have to admit, it was a major improvement. The frizz isn't gone completely, but it's working much better than anything else I've tried. The texture of my hair is also softer and it has more shine.
But, here's the thing, in the directions for using the cleansing conditioner they recommend a number of "pumps" to use for different lengths of hair. Medium length is 16 to 24 pumps, and one pump is a pretty decent amount of product. At this rate, I'm not sure the 16oz bottle in my shower is going to last more than 2 weeks. But maybe it's worth it because it works so well? (They're right! I'm hooked!)
Has anyone else tried this stuff? Can I get away with less "pumps"? I may have to experiment and see what happens.
If anyone else is interested in trying it, they offer a kit on their website (which is what I ordered). Sephora has a kit too, but the one directly from Wen is a better buy (at least right now).
I already mentioned that the Europe trip was a big deal for me. It was the longest vacation I've ever taken and the furthest I've ever travelled. But, it was also the biggest trip I've ever planned.
Sure, we had picked out the cities we wanted to go to, but then we had to figure out how to get to them, and when, oh and where we'd be sleeping. And the rental car! Can't forget that! Are the passports still valid? Better get those updated! This trip occupied a large part of my brain for a long time. I don't know how people plan a wedding and a honeymoon at roughly the same time. I guess thats why they pay other people to do it for them?
Thankfully I had friends who could impart wisdom from their travels, and it was a huge help. And I seriously do not know what I would have done without the internet.
One friend helped me figure out a rough schedule for how long we'd be in each place (thanks Jennie!). For some reason I couldn't wrap my head around the timing, so she put together a spreadsheet for me to work from, and it was perfect. Another friend sent me a bunch of links about insurance for renting cars in Europe, which saved us a chunk of change. And thanks to the internet, we were able to book all of our hotels (and research exactly where they were located and find the best price), order Oyster cards for the Tube so we had them in hand and ready to go after we landed, order our Eurostar tickets to get from London to Brussels, and book the apfel wine brewery tour. While I'm not necessarily one of those "plan every single detail down to the minute" type of people, I did want to take care of as much as I could before we left and I think it made me less anxious to know we had a place to sleep and transportation for all the places we were going.
Typing it all out now, it doesn't seem like it was such a big deal, but it took a long time to get everything sorted out. Traveling that far and that long means you've got to make plans for the things you're leaving behind as well, like the mail and your cats (the mail was MUCH easier to figure out than the cats). Deciding what to do about the cats was a major stress factor, but once we figured it out, I felt SO much better.
Planning the trip was definitely a learning experience, but I also ended up learning a little bit about myself once we were actually traveling. After we arrived somewhere, I needed time to sort of collect my thoughts and get my bearings. You know, look at a map and figure out where things were. I finally realized this after we arrived in Bruges. We checked in at the hotel and basically walked out the door to explore and I realized I was quickly becoming grumpy. Partially due to hunger, but also because I needed to situate myself in a new town. So we found a cafe, ordered some food, and I checked out some maps and brochures. I was in a much better mood after that.
The other thing I realized is that the husband and I travel pretty well together. This was the longest trip we'd ever taken together, and aside from a couple of minor incidents, it was all good. One of those incidents was while we were lost in Ghent trying to find our hotel. It was stressful for him as the driver, and me as the passenger/navigator, and when he saw that I was about to lose it, he handled it amazingly well (I think I'll keep him).
Now that's it all over, I've got all this free time because I'm NOT planning a big trip. I'm not sure what to do with myself. Maybe I'll actually start updating my blog regularly!
(Don't hold your breath on that one.)
This blog turned 13 years old yesterday. THIRTEEN! It's a teenager! It's growing up so fast!
Yet, in 2013, I posted so infrequently that I feel a little bad even calling this a blog. I have a lot of thoughts and things I could say about the state of blogging today, but I really don't want to blather on about that. I think last year I made a slightly unconscious decision to experience life, and not necessarily sit down and write about it. I also think that being on Instagram and Pinterest has become a quickie substitute for posting to the blog. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing.
Also, my life and the internet have evolved so much since I started writing here, but I haven't been good about updating this space along with that evolution. I'd like to change that, I just haven't figured out how...yet.
And since 2013 just ended and I haven't blogged much, the least I can do is give you a list of things that I never managed to write about here.
Things that happened but never made it to the blog:
Things that I actually tried to start posting about but never really followed through with:
I don't want to set myself up for failure in the new year, but I'm hoping to try and post at least a little bit more in 2014. I've just got to figure out where I'm going with this little blog.
Thanks to everyone still reading for sticking it out all this time! It means a lot to know there are still a few of you hanging in there. Here's to a happy new year!
The last stop on our European adventure was Germany. After spending the first week and a half of the trip by ourselves in places neither of us had been, we thought it would be good to end things in a place familiar to at least one of us and where we had some friends to visit.
As we left Bruges, we discovered that the rental car had navigation (which would have been EXTREMELY helpful in Ghent, but I digress). We decided to take full advantage of our new found technology and had it direct us to Aachen, Germany. It was a good spot to stop and get lunch and there's a huge cathedral there that I didn't take any photos of.
Our final destination was Darmstadt, which is about half an hour outside of Frankfurt. It had been raining most of the drive, and traffic on the autobahn was very slow (much to our surprise), so we were both tired and hungry when we got there, and thrilled to find a little turkish restaurant right down the street from the hotel. And finally we were in a country where I could drink something other than wine...apple wine!
Since we were staying in Darmstadt, we went to find Peter Behrens house, which was over near the Mathildenhohe, and wandered through the museum there which had bits and pieces from everyone that had lived in the artists colony that was there in the early 1900s. There was some work similar to the stuff we saw in Ghent, but some other work as well. The artists all dabbled in a little bit of everything, so there was furniture, artwork, flatware, dishware, and all sorts of other stuff. I found it all very inspiring.
We spent a lot of time in Frankfurt, too. The husband showed me around his old stomping grounds, we shopped for souvenirs, and we went on an apple wine tour at the Possman Brewery.
One of the days we were in Frankfurt, we took a detour through Wiesbaden to stop for coffee and to feed some pigeons.
We also went to Heidelberg to see an old castle. (This is also where we came across more American tourists than anywhere else we had been.)
I ate a lot of salads throughout the whole trip and was very impressed with how much stuff comes on a salad in Europe. It's not just a few grated carrots, a couple of cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes, they were full of STUFF. I also got my fill of currywurst at various places (it turned out to be one of the cheaper things on a lot of menus and was pretty safe gluten-wise).
One of the last things we did was track down a building built by Friedensreich Hundertwasser who is known for some pretty outrageous architecture. The building he designed in Darmstadt is called the Waldspirale and is a residential apartment building. It seemed unreal that we could just drive up and park and wander around and that people live in it...
I've never seen anything like it. I was completely fascinated (and also surprised that we were the only people wandering around taking photos).
On our final night in Germany, we went out with some friends to a little tavern in Frankfurt and ordered the appropriately named "Frankfurt Platter" and a bembel of apple wine...
It was the perfect way to end our trip.
I've got one more post I want to do about the trip to summarize what I learned (because I definitely learned a few things about myself and what kind of traveler I am) and how I prepared for this adventure. Until then, maybe you want to browse through all the Europe photos? I've got a set going over on Flickr.
When we were coming through customs in England, we mentioned to the agent that we were going to Belgium, and he sort of scoffed and said "What are you going there for?" But when we mentioned Bruges, he brightened up and said, "Oh yeah, Bruges is nice!"
Here's how I finally figured out how to distinguish between Bruges and Ghent, because they're similar, but not. Ghent is to Santa Cruz, as Bruges is to Monterey or Carmel. Which is to say one is a slightly larger college town that has some personality, and the other one is a slightly smaller even more touristy town with personality.
It rained almost the entire time we were there, but we still managed to get out and see a few things (and buy some umbrellas).
There was the Picasso Exhibit, where we also saw a roomba-style lawnmower mowing the lawn in the middle of a building that was very old.
We went on a brewery tour, where we climbed a lot of stairs, but the view was worth it.
We did another boat ride, where it poured rain the entire time.
We found an awesome cafe, called Rose Red, with tapas, wifi, and good drinks.
And we couldn't leave without trying some chocolate. There's chocolate shops all over the place, but I checked our Lonely Planet guide and we decided to go to Chocolate Line because it's one of five where the chocolates are handmade on the premises and the guide said it was the brightest and the best.
These were all amazing, and I wish I could remember what was in them. The peanut had some peanut butter, the one with the pig had bacon (and a few other things), and the wasabi one had the tiniest amount of kick. So good.
There was definitely more we could have done, but I felt like the two full days we were there was just enough, especially after all the museums and churches we had seen in London and Ghent.
Next, we headed to Germany...