Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Glory

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Pictures from a hike I did up the Boulder Flatirons. Some of my favorite trails (can you find the trail? Look closely!) go through talus. Since this is a heavily used trail someone took the initiative to create a trail through the fields so you had a relatively clear, stable path to walk on but a lot of times the trails through talus are simply marked by carns - rocks stacked unusually. It's like a scavenger hunt!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Get Together

JR, my friend Jay, and I all drove up to Milwaukee together. We did the drive in a record breaking (for us) 15 hours and 45 minutes.

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It's terrible, at times, to be so far from my family since we are scattered so far from each other but I suppose it's the least we can expect - it is how we were raised and we've held true to that.

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Milwaukee, as always, welcomed me like the old friend it is. For lunch after Thanksgiving we went out to Comet and the forty five minutes spent outside with the family was some of the most fun I've had in a while!

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Jacket: Japan (I think the brand is Zazie but I'm not certain)
Sunglasses: Pilgrim
Jeans: j. crew
Shoes: Anthro's Lucky Penny Tori

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

White Winter Hymnal

Have you ever sat and listened to every single cover of a single song? That constitutes a good evening in my book.

Tonight's song? White Winter Hymnal by the Fleet Foxes as done by...


Oh Land....

and...


Birdy...

and of course...


Fleet Foxes themselves...

(among other covers sitting around on the internet not linked here...)


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Moab, Utah

One day (and I am not making this up!) JR and I piled in the car with our snowshoes, snow gear, and boots to go snowshoeing in Winter Park. When we got to winter part we were a bit disappointed by the lack of snow!

Since we were on I-70 already and in the mountains we just decided to keep going west. Eventually, JR and I ended up in Moab, Utah a few hours later and we decided to go hiking in the gorgeous Arches National Park.

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We did a few of the trails there, including the Double O to the Primitive Trail. The most stunning part of the hike was walking across a fin while hiking the Double O trail. Basically, you walk across this fin and on either side of you you can look down thousands of feet into this canyon. It's unlike anything I've ever experienced before. While we were up there we saw tiny people hiking in the canyon below and surmised that the Primitive Trail would probably take us down there.

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We certainly were not wrong. The primitive trail took us down and around the canyon with a little scrambling, following cairns, and one or two side trips off the trail on accident we made it back to the car two and a half hours later. It was one amazing hike and I am so thankful that I was able to experience a tiny part of Moab and I'm looking forward to my next trip back.

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I just hope it's a little warmer next time because it was one of the coldest nights in the desert I have ever had the pleasure of sleeping in! When we woke up our tent was frozen stiff with a hard frost!

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PS: I've been enjoying a lot of Frank O'Hara poems lately. You can read a few here.

Monday, November 07, 2011

How to Run Your House like it's 1899.

Someone sent me an email asking me how I keep and run my house. I'm not sure if it was inspired by them stumbling upon the Apartment Therapy post, or if they just looked through the archives of this and came to some conclusion that I'm domestically inclined but I'm finally able to sit down and write you a post about how I keep house.

I've said it once and I'll say it again - I'm an old fashioned housekeeper. My domestic heroines are the characters in Grace Livingston Hill novels who manage to transform a hovel into a place of domestic tranquility, peace, and quiet in days.

I can't give her all the credit, though. I've taken a lot of cues from vintage household management books that I've found that date from the early 19th c. to the 1950's. I've sort of read them in a half serious manner - some of the things, like keeping eggs in some sort of hazardous chemical to preserve them for three years, are so ridiculous and frankly unsafe that I have to laugh. Other things, though, have stood the test of time and the test of my house, life, and busy schedule.

Voorjaarsschoonmaak in het Vondelpark / Spring cleaning in the Vondelpark

The single most important thing that most household management books and I agree on is that you need a routine. Some people need a detailed routine written down on paper. Some people need a morning and an evening routine, a weekly routine or whatever. Whatever type you need, be it written or unwritten, on a post it or in a binder or on your fridge, routines make the home go smoothly. A good old fashioned housekeeper has a routine to make her work go smoothly.

I have a morning and afternoon routine written down and taped to my desk at work for the first five things I do when I get there and the first five things after the kiddos leave but I no longer have a written routine for my home because after doing the (in general) same routine for eight years it's just memorized. I know when I wake up I get dressed, make the bed, and so on. I know that on Fridays I clean out my car and we look over the finances. I know that on Sundays we grocery shop and meal plan. I know that from 5:45 - 6:00 everything stops and I spend fifteen minutes picking up the house. I know that at 6:30 I start cooking. I know that I spring clean in March or April and I put my fall decorations up in October. These things, practiced year in, year out are in my brain and help my home run like clockwork.

Student cooking in homemaking apartment in Lodge, 1917.

The second thing an old fashioned housekeeper has is a sense of the seasons. Knowing the seasons helps us to work with the natural rhythms of wherever we are living from meal planning to cleaning schedules.

One of the things we have the luxury of forgetting these days is the fact that at one time fresh salad greens didn't happen in December. We ate preserves all winter long and ate fresh fruit all summer long. For my grandfather, a child in rural Wisconsin the 1920's, an orange in the winter was worthy of a Christmas present. When we meal plan an old fashioned housekeeper keeps an eye on what's in season at the store and makes meals that fit what is needed in her household's own seasons. Is it flu season? Fresh vegetables, things high in vitamin C, and soups to clear the sinuses might be on the menu plan. Is it a busy season? Quicker meals, things that clean up easily, and food that works for on the go might be on the plate. Is it a time when you need comfort food or special foods for holidays that are coming up? An old fashion home keeper knows the seasons and currents of her household and lives with them.

Waslijnen Volendam / Laundry lines Volendam

Another important thing that is mentioned over and over again is that an old fashioned housekeeper lives and works within her means. Household finances are infinitely complicated and always have been. Some people have joint accounts. Some people are single and get to manage their own finances. Some people share households but have their own bank accounts. The best advice I can give you is to make a budget that gives every dollar you have control over a place to go before you even get it. Then, the day you get paid move the money where it needs to go instead of just letting it sit around waiting to be spent on something else.

In conjunction with this it's important to budget for what you're actually going to use not just what you wish you spent. JR and I use a spreadsheet that we fill out sometime before pay day together that auto calculates how much we have left to spend. Then, when we get paid we move money wherever it needs to go - bills, savings, fun things, groceries. Finally, it's important to save just a little for a rainy day. Maybe your emergency fund is in a tin in your kitchen among your spices. Maybe, like us, you keep it safe in a savings account. The important thing is that you have one...to be used for emergencies only.

The last thing on the topic of finances is that the adage "Mend, Make Do, or Do Without" still stands all this time later. Get everything you can out of the things you own. Keep your kitchen appliances in good repair and clean and they'll serve you for a long time. A sewing machine overhaul once a month can get those useful things to last into the double decades. Sew that button on your clothes when it falls off and get those pants to last another season. Use scrap yarn and tule to make your own dish sponges. Finally, if you can't afford it right now...be patient and save for it.

(all of the pictures are from the Commons on Flickr...)

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Siamese Dream

We got a little itty bitty crumb of a kitten this past week...

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...so we named her Miette.

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Saturday, November 05, 2011

Last Day

On the very last day I knew I was going to go straight from breakfast to the pool...

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So I just put my swimsuit on under the Diane Von Furstenberg shorts I'd been wearing throughout the whole trip and slipped the Marc Jacobs sheer shirt on over my swimsuit as a coverup. As soon as I finished my breakfast we headed down to the pool, sat around reading, and then slipped into it for one last luxurious day of paddling around.

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Thursday, November 03, 2011

Beach Day!

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Did I mention to you that on one of those lovely, sunny warm days at the beach I managed to get stung by a stingray? YOUCH! I touch my foot down to a gravely part of the ocean and the next second there was a pinch in my foot. A few seconds later there was searing pain up my leg and the whole foot was turning red.

We headed to the Mexican ER (which I neglected to take any pictures of!) and had it checked out. Everything looked fine and they gave me antibiotics.

I took one course of antibiotics for it and it held whatever it was at bay but 24 hours after I finished the course my foot started heating up, turning red, and swelling. I went to the doctor today and I'm now on my second course of antibiotics. Hopefully that does the trick!

Never say beach vacations are not adventures!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Dressing for Dinner

When you spend all day in a swimsuit and the restaurants around there have a dress code you dress for dinner. Dressing for dinner is kind of a fun throwback to a different era and the ritual is a fun part of the day. I also have fond memories of my parents coming home as a tiny child and my nanny changing me out of my play clothes into something nice for them, who we hadn't seen for awhile.

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I'm someone who likes to get dressed in the morning - wearing, matching, and picking out clothes is something that is pleasurable to me. Even when it's a snow day like today and I'm in jeans, a black fitted T shirt and a fair isle sweater I didn't just put clothes on - I got dressed and I enjoyed the (quick) thought process that went into dressing for a cozy day at home with JR.

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Dressing for dinner is just an extension of that - it breaks up the day, allows you to come to dinner ready for dinner. In Mexico, it was mandatory. At home it's optional but sometimes I do it just because. I put away the work clothes I've been in, run a brush through my hair, and wear something nice to dinner. I don't require it from JR but he often plays along, changes his shirt and washes up too and it really sets the tone for good conversation and lingering, which isn't done nearly enough in these days of 20 minute meals and eating on the run.

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