Thursday, November 29, 2012

family love



When we touched down in Cleveland, after spending five days in Northern California for Thanksgiving, we anticipated snow on the ground.  Anticipation led to disappointment.

Cold, but no snow.

I suppose it was an appropriate transition, since we had just left blue sky 65-degree weather.  It was the kind of cool-warm we last felt in Spring.  Chris and I don't mind freezing, but the sun was welcomed just the same.  It allowed for long walks around the neighborhood and afternoons in the park, wearing only a light sweater and jeans. And any chance we get to see Chris's mom makes my heart happy. She is a dear woman, who makes the best chocolate chip cookies (a large batch was waiting for us at both houses we stayed in) and pie and soup and sweet potatoes and lasagna and flan (etc., etc.), all from scratch.  Thanks, Mom!


We started our vacation in Roseville (just outside of Sacramento) with a handmade watercolor "Welcome" sign made by Chris's sister's family.  This is not the sister I visited in Chicago, this is the other sister, the oldest of the two.  She and her husband have four children: two older (ages 18 & 20) and two younger (6 & 8).  The older two visited us here in Ohio last year and are still two of my favorite people to hang out with.


Elanor spent a few months this year teaching at an elementary school in Africa, and Nathaniel has traded his Akron plans for opening his own parkour gym in Sacramento.  If you don't know what parkour is, do a Google search or a search on YouTube.  It is amazing what the human body can do!  Nathaniel has fallen in love with the sport and is now teaching youth at Free Flow Academy.


You can watch him here (he's wearing the black shirt with red sleeves) and here.  The second video is one I took on my phone at the park.  Nathaniel ("Coach Nate") was there to practice with a few of his students, so we went to watch.  Before the students arrived, he and his sister, Elanor, showed us their moves.

Brother-Sister Parkour Team - totally going viral.

The second morning began with a cup of coffee and the younger two wanting to play board games with me.  First it was checkers, then it was the game of LIFE.  I haven't played LIFE in years, but they were quick (and eager) to remind me of the rules. About an hour in, I was an artist living in a log cabin, married to a guy named Larry.  I may or may not have had twins.  It's hard to remember with how excitable the kiddos were during the game.  If I could bottle up that energy, I'd be a millionaire.  As it was, I was only bringing in $30k per year.

I'm feeling good about my future.

On Thursday, the eight of us piled in to a minivan and drove the two hours to Burlingame (just outside of San Francisco) where Flora shares a house with Chris's brother and his family.  The main event wasn't the turkey, it was the baby.  Jonathan and his wife, Lauren (Ren), gave birth four days prior to their daughter, Olive Abigail.  She is the third girl in a pool of ten grandchildren.  Yet another birth I wasn't present for (she also decided to arrive earlier than expected), but I forgave her when I laid eyes on her for the first time.  Beauty!


Over the last two days we were in town, with a 4:30am departure Saturday morning, we made the most of our time together in conversation, games, pillow fights, movies (go see the new Lincoln film!), eating, laughing, telling stories, and the obligatory In-N-Out run.  It was fun calling my Seattle family on Thanksgiving Day, and bringing them in to our festivities.  Everyone was so good to us last week, generous and kind.  Mom, Harold, Cynthia, Elanor, Nathaniel, Daizy, Kevin, Jonathan, Ren, all of the little ones, and the relatives in Chicago and Argentina that we saw via Skype = blessings!   







I hope your holiday was filled with sweet sweet joy, and that you're as fat and happy as we are. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

blessings


This morning was a good one.  Really good.

I met up with 24 other volunteers from Cornerstone Chapel for a caravan to Akron, where we joined Jesus Said Ministries at a church downtown.  It was their annual Thanksgiving meal for hungry families in the area, and we got to help serve.

When Judy, the coordinator, told us our job was to meet people, make them feel welcome, help them with their food trays, offer them seconds, and be all-around friendly, I knew it was going to be a good day.  I was so in my element, grinning from start to finish.

We joined a volunteer group from a neighboring church and served over 150 people.  Apparently, last year they ran out of food.  This year, we had more than enough!  Folks were able to take food home with them, and give food to their friends and family members who weren't able to make it.

I loved knowing everyone walked away full.

Hubby and I leave for California on Monday for a week of thanks with the Holowaty clan.  I will take with me the hugs and smiles and gratitude expressed today, and so many blessings.

Friday, November 16, 2012

breaking dawn


Should I mention it?  Okay, I'll mention it.

Chris and I saw the Twilight movie with friends last night.  I haven't read the books (I think Chris read one), but we've seen all of the movies.  I got bored after the first two.  It was my husband who convinced me to watch the third one with him on DVD.  Perhaps for closure's sake, or because we love movies and seeing movies with friends, or for that packed house energy..  Whatever the reason, Chris and I joined a theatre of teenage girls for the final installment of Kristen Stewart's mortal turned immortal saga.  I was distracted by the computer animated baby (creepy!), and Kristen Stewart being Kristen Stewart, but the Volturi made it worth it.  Oh, and that epic battle scene at the end.  People were literally screaming and crying when their favorite characters died.  Gladly, we can now put it all behind us and be thankful our local movie theatre opts for 10 o'clock premieres, instead of midnight.

I will say, it was a fun sort of addition to our anniversary date, even if we did have to share it.  The day before, a kind old man in a delivery uniform showed up at my front door with a vase of flowers. It's the one time of year that my babe sends me a bouquet without prompting, and this was the first time in years that I was home for the delivery.  Receiving his flowers was as exciting as seeing snow fall on Christmas Day.


Later that evening, we ate at a new (to us) restaurant called Crave. It's one of Akron's culinary darlings and the reviews online made it worth a look.  Thanks to Living Social, we ate a full three course meal (plus drinks) for half of what we'd normally spend.  Between the two of us, we devoured plates of paella, crab cakes, balsamic and malbec braised beef, pan-seared scallops, wild truffle risotto, and risotto made with mascarpone cheese and roasted tomatoes swimming in a warm lobster corn sauce, margarita-flavored cheesecake, and a warm brownie dessert hugged by peanut butter and chocolate pretzel ice cream.  Seriously.  It was a meal you'd want to dance the Moonlight Serenade with.  Cheek to cheek. 

My groom and I made eyes at each other throughout dinner, and we reminisced.  I wonder if we'll have a similar evening fourteen years from now.  The stories we share about our meeting and pre-wedding relationship (we still haven't decided if we really dated, since we met and got engaged so quickly) never get old to me.

For the record, he fell in love with me first.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

lucky star


Etiquette queen, Emily Post, recommends ivory as a suitable gift for a couples' fourteenth wedding anniversary.  I went with ink.

Eternal love for my hubby.  

Happy anniversary, to the best guy I know!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

matcha


The other day I told my husband I was going to live to be 200, "because of all the matcha I drink."  He replied by letting me know he wouldn't be living that long.  "It's fine," I said.  "There will be other husbands."  "At least a couple," was his conclusion.

Typical mid-week conversation.

So, do you know about matcha green tea?  It's the green tea for heavy-weight green tea drinkers.  It's earthy and deep in flavor, an antioxidant powerhouse.  It might just grow hair on your chest.

When we lived in California, Starbucks offered a blended beverage in the summertime that included matcha in the powdered mix.  It's where I remember having my first taste of this distinct brew.  Then, when hubby and I were beginning our foray in to the raw foods world, Ani Phyo included several smoothie recipes in her book that suggested adding matcha as a metabolism booster.  I started buying it by the tin and have been drinking it ever since.


Some times I mix the powder with yogurt or add a little to my baked goods.  I even like the sludge that gets left in the bottom of my mug; each swallow is invigorating.

I'm going to enjoy the next 163 years.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

swing state


Living in a swing state makes me wonder if we get barraged by more political ads and junk mail than everyone else.  Like you, I am so ready for the mud-slinging to be over and our nation to settle in to whomever our leader is going to be.  I don't know why anyone would want to be president, but I am praying for them.

Democrat or Republican (come on Green Party!), they have some serious clean-up to do.

Honestly, New York and New Jersey have weighed on my heart this week more than the election.  Did you watch the news about Hurricane Sandy?  Superstorm indeed!  185 people lost their lives, 8.5 million homes and businesses lost power (at least 1 million of them are still in the dark), with billions of dollars worth of damage due to wind and water damage.  Did you see pictures of the flooding?  So much water.  Apparently, 60 mph winds and rain mixed with snow are expected for the region this week.

I hope everyone has a warm place to sleep.



We have received several phone calls, e-mails and Facebook messages asking if we're okay in Ohio.  Thank you!  We are, better than okay. It rained for six days straight (no complaints from this girl!), we had one brief snow flurry, and the wind blew trees, leaves, and trash cans around.  Our mums took a beating, but we were never without electricity (some of our friends lost power for a few days) and our city closed offices and schools to be on the safe side.   

Today is election day, business as usual.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

indigo girls


I can't remember if it was the cute lifeguard at summer camp or my high school bestie who first introduced me to Indigo Girls.  Either way, their music has woven its way through my bleeding teenage heart, my college discontent, and my adult awakening.  It's the music I want on every road trip, and one of the few bands whose songs I actually know more than the chorus to.

For twenty years, I've wanted to see these ladies on stage.  Due to time, money, and being distracted by other things, I never made my way to their live audience, until this week.  My wonderful husband heard on the radio that Indigo Girls were playing in Cleveland, so he surprised me with tickets for Thursday night.

I don't have a Bucket List, but if I did, seeing Indigo Girls in concert would be on it.  I assumed Chris did this for me, without regard for himself, but he fell in love with the night (and their music) as much as I did.  The Indigo Girls deliver beautiful poetry and timely messages through their lyrics, they always have.

And they know how to rock!

© photo credit: www.facebook.com/theindigogirls

Before the show, we ate dinner at The Flaming Ice Cube.  I had a dream that morning that Amy Ray and Emily Saliers were in this same cafe drinking coffee and herbal tea, relaxing before their gig.  I dreamt that they invited us to their table where we sat on the bench with patterned cushions, talked about musician life, and laughed at how awkward they looked on that one episode of Top Chef.  You know, hanging out like friends do.  My dream was just a dream, which is probably for the best, since the cherry fudge brownie we ordered for dessert wasn't easy to share.

Once at the Palace Theatre, Chris commented, "Wow, there are a lot of women here," and about two seconds later, we overheard a gal say to her friend, "Wow, there are a lot of men here."  It was a mixed crowd of all ages, but mostly people in their 30s and 40s.  I cried through the first four songs, I was so happy to be there. The room was packed and we all sang the songs we knew.  It was a shared experience that can be replaced by nothing else, and ended with their signature, "Thanks, y'all."  

Hubby and I walked away holding hands, euphoric.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

egg nog latte


As of today, my sister and I have a new tradition.

Since November 1st is the day Starbucks brings out their non-pumpkin holiday drinks, we've decided that no matter where we are on November 1st, we will find a Starbucks and order an egg nog latte.  If we're not physically together on that day, we'll take a phone picture and text it to each other.

This beverage is something we count down the months for and talk about a lot (usually when summer is causing us sweaty grief). Since commercial egg nog is seasonal, our indulgence is seasonal, too.  And boy, do we indulge!  I had my first one of 2012 this morning, and I'm already thinking about round two.

Do you have a favorite holiday drink?