Friday, February 5, 2016

The New Relationship Heads Overseas...

So I just realized that I never followed up on our weekend away to Guadeloupe. Well, three weeks have gone by and it feels as far away as anything, but it was a wonderful weekend, to say the least. Guadeloupe is a beautiful island (as many of them are) where they don't really speak anything other than French (hilarious watching us work out how to buy a bag of ice in the grocery store), and where they have the absolute WORST rum I have ever tasted (something about the distilling process, Jon explained it in detail but I couldn't retain enough to tell you properly). Despite those two annoying realities, we had an AMAZING time (not a shock). We swam, drank imported rum in the sand (hooray for grocery stores), and ate spectacular crepes (how we managed to order those crepes is still a mystery to me). We almost missed our flight home due to comical circumstances, and we solidified the truth that we love to travel together (also not a shock).



It was interesting traveling with a partner for the first time in forever. My ex and I routinely did not go places together, as he did not like to leave the house, and I enjoyed escaping our unhappy reality to wherever I could. So this trip involved not only traveling some place new, but seeing how compatible we are in a foreign circumstance. Unsurprisingly, we got along splendidly. We also learned some new and valuable bits of information about each other that will be useful as we further our relationship, as some information can only be revealed in the most extraordinary circumstances (i.e. I do not like to miss a meal. Like, ever. And apparently I'd never shared that with Jon before, eek! As it turns out, he can go approximately 75 hours on a handful of almonds and not complain once. Bionic. Good to know). All in all, we are extremely compatible, and compliment each other very well. More importantly, we enjoy going places together, and we want the same things out of most of our trips, so planning a new trip is exciting and fun, a complete 180 from the life I once lived. It really is a dream come true.

So onto our next journey, which isn't happening until April, but stay tuned for the next installment, I'm sure it only gets better from here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Weekend Getaway

Tomorrow my honey and I are setting out for a weekend getaway to paradise. At least I hope that's what we're doing. We are heading to the island of Guadeloupe in the southern Caribbean. Neither of us has ever been there before, and we found a very affordable airline promotion from Norwegian Air and thought we should probably check it out. As anyone who knows me can attest, it doesn't take much to convince me to go somewhere tropical, or really anywhere at all, especially if it's warm.

I am happy to report that Jon is totally into my crazy spontaneous traveler personality (let's face it, otherwise it probably wouldn't work out), so he is super psyched as well, and has renewed his dusty passport just for occasions such as this. It's only a weekend, but our first weekend far away together and a weekend away from all the responsibilities of life, all while checking out a fun new place. We've rented an Airbnb apartment right on the beach (which was also an amazing deal) and are planning on soaking up sun on our pasty skin and checking out some local sights. Not a heavy agenda, just sun, rum, and swimming for the most part, my favorite itinerary for these quick getaways.

I am exceedingly grateful to my parents for holding down my homestead while I skip out of town for a couple of days, something I'm pretty convinced every parent needs in order to maintain sanity. My kids don't even seem to notice that I'm leaving, as accustomed as they are to me working nights and weekends, perhaps this is just more regular life for them, who knows? They are being particularly crazy tonight, fighting and yelling and carrying on, so not exactly making me have any feelings of sadness about taking a few days off.

So off we go to pretend we speak French (not one bit, I assure you, should be interesting). I'll let you know if there is anything amazing that you absolutely must go see. The island has two very different halves, and unfortunately we won't have time to see both of them, but I'm guessing that won't matter at all. A full report to come...




Image result for guadeloupe

We're staying somewhere in here...



Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Facebook Official



So, if you're reading this from Facebook, you may have learned that I'm in a new relationship. This is a remarkable age we live in where announcing that you are dating someone on social media is akin to the old engagement announcements of yore. I changed my relationship status and, man, did my cell phone chirp and vibrate all damn day with people wanting to know more about the good news. This new relationship is no secret, I've pretty much been shouting about it to everyone and anyone within earshot, but somehow making it "Facebook official" is bringing things to a whole other level. Funny how things change when the whole universe knows your business.

The excellent news is that this new relationship is hands down one of the best three things that has ever happened to me (the other two being the births of my beautiful children). I have been unable to focus on much else for the past few months, a welcome and wonderful distraction from the rest of regular life. I am not going to go into great detail here on this blog (although if I see you in person I am likely to talk your ear off about it, as most of my friends can attest), but I will say that I had no idea that this kind of mutual love, happiness, and connection with another person was possible for me in this lifetime. The feelings are big, and scary, and wonderful, and I hope to hell they never end, but even if it all blew up tomorrow I would be so much better off for knowing what this feels like.

So, yeah, Facebook official. I'll take that, along with all of the other wonderful components of this relationship that don't have to do with social media. I'll take every single little joy and speed bump that comes with getting to know everything about someone you've chosen to be with. Everyday is an adventure, even the mundane, and I can't get enough.




Friday, October 23, 2015

A Food Tour of South Florida

I spent the weekend in Miami, or should I say in South Florida, as I didn't actually spend too much time within the Miami city limits, but definitely enough to get a serious Florida fix. I have lived in Miami twice in my life now, and I have no desire to live there again. The traffic, the congestion, the intense materialism that the transient residents have, the obsession with fake breasts and fancy cars and glittery jewelry really doesn't do it for me. But there are some things that set Miami apart from any other city: and this weekend it was most certainly the food.

Being a city that is stuffed full of people from all sorts of exotic countries, it is very easy to find a delicious meal in a matter of seconds in this sprawled out concrete jungle. The fact that you can often times eat this meal while looking at the ocean is another slice of heaven. But to find the food that will really make you moan with delight, you have to travel a little bit further to parts unknown.

My original intention of the trip was to bring my children down to visit their father, who they hadn't seen in several months. I imagined that somehow this would be a rather laborious effort for me, and was pleasantly surprised when they went off with their dad and stayed for three days, giving me and my best friend an actual vacation, something I haven't had without my kids in years. Having spent the last eight months as a full time single working mom, this was a surprise that went way beyond the glorious, and into the realm of an unexpected lottery win. To have Jane, my all time favorite travel companion, with me really set it over the edge in awesomeville.

Our first night, tired after not enough sleep and a very early flight, we set out for dinner in Hollywood, just a couple of miles from our hotel, and stumbled upon a dimly lit, attractive Brazilian restaurant. Viva Brazil serves up a beautiful buffet of beans and rice, fritters, salads, and meats freshly carved off the rotisserie. Brazilian food is some of my favorite, and the flavors did not disappoint, especially when washed down with the Caipirinha, the signature cocktail of Brasil. We rolled out of the restaurant and I barely made it to a horizontal position in our hotel Murphy bed before I was snoring. Delicious food coma indeed.





Our second day in So Flo involved getting hideously sunburned on the beach, followed by mahi sandwiches, ahi tuna, and pina coladas in giant creepy coconut heads on Hollywood beach. We were surprised by how many restaurants in Florida hang up way too many Halloween decorations. Fake cobwebs abound in the south apparently.




That night we went out for an amazing Cuban meal (Rice and beans! Churrasco steak!) and then dancing at several Latin dance spots in Hollywood. This has always been my favorite part of this part of the world. Salsa dancing, and dancing in general, abounds. People are always enthusiastic, the place is often crowded, and just when I think I am too old for anyone to dance with me, they do.

We stayed up way too late dancing, and then the next morning had to make the pilgrimage to the only place that can save you after a night like that: El Palacio de los Jugos (the Juice Palace). This place is an institution in Miami, and has been for years. They seemingly speak only Spanish, the lines are long for the fresh squeezed juices and Cuban sandwiches, but the payoff is absolutely worth it. Anyone visiting Miami should head down to Flagler and 57th Avenue and eat here, you will not be sorry.

More deliciousness continued throughout the weekend, the coffee is so strong it's like sweet liquid crack, and the guava pastries are good enough to make you miss your plane, but the rest of the weekend is a bit of a haze as we sailed back home to regular life. I will be back to Miami soon though, I can't be away from that kind of indulgence for too long. Adios!






The Limonsillo, a funny yet appealing tropical fruit that I have yet to see in this region

The Cuban sandwich (ham and pickles, hot and cheesy) and the Juice of Life (fresh squeezed orange and passion fruit juice, aptly named by me when it is the cure-all for any bad hangover).
Cuban coffee, my reason for getting up in South Florida. So sweet, so strong, so addicting.

Ahi tuna steak on the beach


Dancing Merengue in Hollywood and Cuban dinner at Sazon in North Miami Beach





Fresh coconut water for $2.50 from El Palacio de los Jugos



Sunrise above the Atlantic

Monday, September 14, 2015

Day Off

It's Monday and this morning was the first time this season that I have woken up chilly. Summer never lasts long enough for me, I could have it all year round if it weren't for my tremendous love of the changing seasons. Fall is pretty good too, especially here in Western Mass. No one knows their way around a fall festival like the good people of the Pioneer Valley. So this year I am kind of excited to dig out my socks, carve pumpkins, and smell the falling leaves. Plus it's baking season, a dangerously delicious time for me, and I feel a good stretch of pumpkin flavored treats and fresh bread coming on. My kids will not be disappointed.

Today is one of those blissful days where I have no concrete plans or obligations. I went for a run (the fastest I've run in a long time, I'm thinking the happiness from the previous post is giving me more energy, nothing wrong with that), and made the lasagna that Sofie has been bugging me to make for the past week. It's funny how easy it is to get so busy with life that you forget to take a morning off to just putter around the house and chill out. It almost feels like I'm doing something wrong, but I know it's just what I need, and in fact my kids will actually get a decent dinner tonight as a result of me not being busy today. Days off are the best.


Monday, September 7, 2015

Happiness

Happiness.

That's where I'm at today. Pure, unadulterated happiness has found me after six months of digging out from the underground cave that was my life. 

I spent the weekend camping with two of my best friends and two of my children's best friends. Long days on the beach, giggling around the campfire, waking up outside, grappling with the neighborhood skunk, all of it was glorious. A perfect way to salute the quickly waning summer.

Ending my marriage and breaking up our family unit was the most emotionally challenging, and overwhelmingly liberating thing I've ever done. Now it's done and the dust has settled, and I am delighted to announce that the emotion that has been left behind is joy. Joy at life and all of its various beautiful possibilities. Joy at the calmness of our house and the calmness that I feel blossoming inside my children. Joy at my own ability to live my life as I want to live it, and total freedom to be who I really am with everyone that surrounds me. What a fantastic place to be, I wouldn't change a thing.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Disconnecting and Staring Your Loved Ones in the Face

Today I am doing the unthinkable for this vacation. I am using a computer and writing a blog. This week with my extended family is all about not connecting digitally and reconnecting with the age-old forgotten tradition of conversing with one another, without constantly checking down to see if somebody else has sent us a text. It's fantastic to see my 19 and 20 year old cousins intentionally leaving their phones in their rooms, even though this old house now has Wifi. Everybody here wants the excuse to disconnect, and I find that so awesome I had to reconnect just to tell you about it.

As I sit in this spot on the big covered porch staring out at the rippling lake my kids have Uno cards spread out in front of them, uncles are reading the newspaper, others are doing a jigsaw puzzle inside. Later today we will convene on the lawn for the Hartshorne Family Olympics, a yearly tradition that involves old and young chasing each other down in capture-the-flag, water balloon tossing, and egg-on-spoon races.

I can't believe that I don't make it a priority to disconnect this way in my regular life. Perhaps, like everyone else, I just get too caught up in the daily digital age, and staring at the screen most of my day becomes scarily normal. I love a week up here in the mountains to remind me to log off, shut it down, and get a good look at the faces of the people around me. I am hoping this year that it lasts more than week.