• Adventureland!,  Family Dynamics,  Off to See the World

    Christmas Gift Ideas

    I am one of those wives everyone warns husbands about. When Mike asked me what I wanted for Christmas a few weeks back, I told him I didn’t really need anything. “I don’t want to get you something you need, I want to get you something you want,” he explained. Wise man, that Mike. Still, I couldn’t think of a blessed thing I wanted that could fit under our tree on December 25. I am fortunate enough to own my own piano. Mike gave me an old computer that works perfectly, and I bought a new phone just before getting laid off. I have a closet full of clothes for…

  • Sunset
    Adventureland!,  Off to See the World

    Surprise Neighbors, Or Why I Love Camping

    “Shoot, I forgot the tinfoil. For the baked potatoes.” I looked at Mike, who kept his eyes ahead on the path’s gentle curves. It hugged the ocean, the way back to the campsite. “That’s okay. We’ll figure something out,” he said, pulling Rusty to heel. “We can use two pans to create an oven for them. Stick it over the fire.” “I didn’t bring pans,” I said. “None of the meals I planned included anything that needed a pan.” “What about the chili?” “You don’t need a pan for chili. You just set the can over the fire.” “Oh. Well, we’ll figure something out.” “We can ask someone at the campsite.…

  • tall tree
    Off to See the World

    My Relationship with Giant Redwoods

    As we dumped our bags unceremoniously on the living room floor, grateful to be home after six hours on the 5, I noticed it still sat on the side table: the back issue of National Geographic dedicated to the giants. Though I’d read it, I hadn’t been able to toss it yet, for how often does a magazine feature your favorite trees on its cover? Not just any trees, but the largest trees in the world – trees that predate Christ, trees found only on your coastline? They’re dramatic, those trees. When we arrived at the grove of giants a few days back, I felt the same hushed splendor I…

  • My Badge
    Off to See the World

    An Introvert Goes to BlogHer

    So anyone who follows me on social media knows I was at the BlogHer Conference since last Wednesday. Come on, I know you all saw this: I assume every blogger who went will be posting some sort of conference recap – some of the women I hung out with already have done so (like Kate Hall and Julie DeNeen, to name a few – I know there are more, but I haven’t yet had a chance to scour the web). In fact, I am still processing the experience. In fact, last night was the first time I’ve slept more than five hours straight. There will be no recap here. Instead, before I…

  • Bastille Day Fireworks
    Off to See the World

    Happy Bastille Day

    I’m a little late with this one (Bastille Day is on July 14th), but I was kind of busy getting laid off on the day I had planned this post, so cut me some slack. Please and thank you. I have been thinking a lot about Bastille Day in the past few weeks. Yeah, I know I’m an American, so why am I thinking about the day of French Independence? Well, mostly because every year around this time I start reminiscing about the June and July I spent in France. This was the year I celebrated Bastille Day instead of the Fourth of July; the year France almost won the…

  • Swami's Beach
    Off to See the World,  SoCal

    Beautiful San Diego!

    Last weekend Mike and I journeyed to North County, San Diego. Not a whole lot happened on the trip, and I was such a lazy good-for-nothing that I didn’t even take pictures until the last day, when it occurred to me, “hey, I might want to blog about this later.” I snapped three half-hearted photos, one of which is a duplicate, and called it good enough. I have been tired lately. I took naps on this trip. Naps. For those of you who don’t know me, I don’t really nap. I’m just not a sleep-during-the-day kind of girl. I’m a let’s-cram-every-bit-of-fun-we-can-into-this-time-away-from-suburban-sprawl kind of traveler. But I was tired. And I…

  • General Lunacy,  Off to See the World

    An Affair (with Cheese) to Remember

    I hit a turning point in my life when I discovered my love for cheese. This sounds shocking, but I hated cheese growing up unless mom disguised it as something else, like on pizza or a hamburger. No string cheese for me, no little wedges with the cow face on them for snack, nuh-uh, nothankyou. Just give me some Teddy Grahams and I’ll be happy. I had always been a picky eater. My list of no-can-dos would have intimidated even the most easy-going of mothers: broccoli, brussels sprouts, mayonnaise, mushrooms, cantaloupe, apple pie, parsnips, jelly, wild rice, tuna, salad dressing of any kind. I could extend that list, but I’d like to…

  • Off to See the World


    I followed the point-by-point instructions in Let’s Go: France, but wasn’t sure I’d taken the correct bus – much less gotten off at the right stop – until the museum appeared ahead of me. After a half day of vague directions and multiple bus transfers, it wasn’t far now.  Shifting the backpack on my shoulders so it wouldn’t rub the sore patch along my collarbone, I sped up, buoyed by relief that I hadn’t gotten hopelessly lost. Again. Sweat dribbled down my temples. I recalled the Provence of cinema, perpetually sunny and pleasant. Today, I sweated through my clothes, same as yesterday, and every other day I spent walking on solo day trips from town to…

  • Adventureland!,  Off to See the World


    “Voulez-vous avoir un rendez-vous avec moi?” “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.” “Rendez-vous,” he pointed to me, pointed to himself. “Oh, no, no, merci,” I stammered, probably blushing. I hadn’t been asked out on many dates for a twenty-three old, so I hadn’t yet mastered the art of the effective rejection, even in English. Little did I know the persistency of French men… The young man turned to our friend Hisham and crooned a measure of the lyrical language I had yet to pick up. Hisham smiled at me. “My friend thinks you are very beautiful. He wants to take you on a date.” “Oh, tell him thank you, but I…

  • Adventureland!,  Off to See the World

    Man, the Desert is a Weird Place

    For those who don’t live here, California is a magical land, particularly the L.A. area (which I hate, but that’s for another post). Within a two-hour radius, one can find mountains, snow, the beach, one of the world’s largest metropolises, and the desert. I went to the desert last weekend. What a freaking weird place. The desert not only has its own climate, but culture too. As an outsider looking in, I saw a lot of A.T.V.s, tricked out versions of off-road vehicles and dirt bikes. I saw a lot of hole-in-the-wall honky-tonks and down-home restaurant-type establishments. I saw a lot of overweight people drinking a lot of cheap bear…


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