weekly photo challenge: windows

coconut milk

This weeks photo challenge is (was) about windows. One of my favorite travel photos is of a window…an open window.

A small window propped open with a stick. The shutter overhead hangs crookedly…coconut milk filled plastic soda bottles line the lower sash…the last bottle on the left is the only one with a red cap…

A small handmade wooden table sits off center, beneath the shopkeepers only window. A white, floral cotton swath of fabric covers all but one corner of the table… green and yellow bananas sit beside fresh whole coconuts…but my eyes were on the window.

The row of bottled coconut milk, the fruit for sale beneath, the soft white paint covering the concrete walls, the crooked shutter…the island on which this little shop was situated… it was all so beautiful…I had to take a photo…

The island was Rarotonga.

It was a two month stop along our ’round the world trip we took years ago…it was magic…

We rented a small flat from a local woman and rode our rented bicycles everyday, everywhere…we savored cooking on an actual stove and loved the weekly farmers market. This is where I first spotted this lovely open window – at the market.

I also appreciated the many beaches, the simplicity of our daily lives, the balmy breezes, the lush mountain hikes and all the photo opportunities…this one in particular…

Windows.

They all have a view – good or bad – and they all show something perhaps not so easily seen from the other side…of the window…

enjoy.

planes, trains and automobiles

I had planned posting as usual last week, though after being bumped from our flight (who bumps a family traveling with a three year old? American Airlines does), after waiting in line for three hours to check in, then told (rudely) there are no more flights until the following day (what?) – didn’t plan for that expense (complaint letter being written soon!), then delayed the following day (in Miami) due to a snow storm and then, finally, we arrive in Connecticut, to visit with Michaels’ sister and niece, and there is no internet connection for five days. Life seemed to say, no posting for you…so here I am, now…

We returned last week from our epic trip and stopped off in Connecticut for a few days to visit with family and attend the Architectural Digest Home Show in NYC. This is a big show and an expensive one.  We’d been invited to participate for the past few years (it’s a juried show), though wanted to check it out first, in person, to see if it’s a good match for us (get a sense of the overall ‘vibe’), this is NYC and a very HIGH end show after all, so before investing lots of money and time we thought it best to to do our research, first, and I’m so glad we did.  We loved it!

They have a ‘MADE’ section which is a perfect fit for Michaels’ work and our business (Designs Adrift).  We spoke with a few exhibitors (artists) and not only were they friendly, encouraging and talented, they suggested we take the plunge and exhibit next year. Each person we spoke with said it was worth the investment and their business grew as a result…grew enough to continue coming back year after year.

We were placed on the guest list, so the entrance fee was waived and Michaels sister babysat (family rate = free) Finn all day while we traveled in and out of the city… we ate a delicious lunch for only $8.50 (for the two of us) and walked to the show. No cabs for me. I love walking in NYC, it’s the best way to be ‘in the city’ – especially as we were only there for a few hours… why spend for a cab when walking is not only free, but great for the body too.

The train and parking fees were money well spent. We look forward to the prospect of exhibiting next year and I am beginning to plan accordingly – who knows where it may lead?

But, for now, I’m settling back into being ‘home’ and have already started a few seeds, despite my garden still covered in snow…

Planes, trains and automobiles.

There’s nothing quite like being ‘home’…

enjoy.

thrift shopping around the world

Years ago, Michael and I spent a year and a half traveling around the world. We visited 13  countries and needed a variety of clothing – what to do when your carrying everything you need on your back? Keep things simple and visit thrift shops when possible (not every country has thrift shops of course).

We utilized thrift shops (charity shops) while traveling through Australia, New Zealand, England and Ireland. We picked up sheets (I cut and sewed) to use as curtains in our little car while driving around NZ, we also bought ceramic mugs and a few kitchen items for cooking while camping – we had camping cooking gear, but the luxury of having a car made it easier to have a few ‘nice’ things to eat and drink from – and then we left them in the last hostel where we stayed on our last night… I’m sure someone took advantage of them, if not the hostel itself, than another traveler. While in Australia I was in need of a wool sweater and I found a beautiful one. When we left, I re-donated it back to another charity shop. And in England I was in need of some fun party clothes, so off to the charity shop I went – when we left England I kept what I could (meaning what might come in handy later and fit in my backpack) and gave away the rest…

It’s a simple and cost effective way to add to your existing wardrobe while traveling. Particularly after a few months of wearing the same articles of clothing, day in and day out, it can get a bit dull…so why not utilize thrift shops, if the country your visiting has them? Plus, you may find things you wouldn’t normally at home – all the more fun!

Remember thrift shopping is not only for when your home, they are also fantastic resources to make use of, while abroad, as well…

Finn, Jess and I recently checked out the charity shop, here on Tortola, and this is what I picked up;

toy planehammer + sawpuddle bootscaprisAs serendipity would have it, Finn has been looking for a toy saw – and there it was, bonus wrench to go with it. Wooden toy plane, perfect, as Finn had just experienced his first plane ride. And then, oddly, it rained here (it’s not the season for rain), and Finn was missing his rain boots – voila, there they were…a little boy can never have too many rain boots, right?

And finally a pair of capri pants for me. I did need another pair while here as my summer weather wardrobe was lacking when I packed…

Total for all $2.50.

Charity shopping around the world – why not?

Enjoy.

traveling on a budget

I thought it would be timely to post on this topic, as we are away at the moment, visiting with friends, on a distant (and warm) island…though this trip is more like ‘coming home’ (we had lived here before Finn was born) than traveling, but its’ got me thinking about travel…

So much can be said about traveling. There are so many variables to consider – are you traveling for a few weeks or longer? Will you be visiting one country or many? Are you traveling alone, with a friend, or as a family? Are you ok out of your ‘comfort zone? Can you stick to your budget? Are you able to ‘go with the flow’?…

But before deciding to go anywhere (or do anything really) you need to be able to save money. Saving a little each week can quickly add up to big savings. Putting aside $25 per week ($3.57 per day) will add up to $1300 in just one year. Michael and I saved for two years prior to leaving on our big trip years ago…we worked a lot, we worked so much we had no time to spend needlessly…yet, we didn’t see it as a sacrifice, we saw it as a way to accomplish something we really wanted to do – we had a goal and stuck to it. And in the end, all those things we chose not to do, wouldn’t have made a big impact on our overall life, but our travels did. Traveling changes you. It gives you a much larger view of the world. It reminds you – there is so much out there – there is so much to learn…and appreciate.

You can choose to see what it is your ‘giving up’ as a sacrifice or  as an avenue towards the things you really do want. 

We’ve made choices which may not be easy for most, but our choices have allowed us to do things we feel are important, to us.  And now our choices have allowed Finn to enjoy his first travel experience. And that to me is worth so much more than any dinner out could ever give…

hermit crab in shell

cacti

sunset

It also helps having dear friends in beautiful places! Thank you…

What do you wish to save for?

Enjoy.

there’s no place like…

home. After being away for awhile, I am thankful to be home, in Maine.

We took a road trip to visit with my grandmother (Finn’s great-grandmother) at her beach house on Long Beach Island NJ.

We also decided to break up the trip and stop off to visit with Michaels parents in Connecticut too – it’s a long trip for a two year old…The drive reminded me of how differently we live here – what we’re exposed to and not exposed to – Maine is vasty different than the states we drove through as well as the states we stayed in…and while we had fun among all the busyness on the Jersey Shore (no boardwalk, thankfully) and catching up with everyone (and watching everyone trying to keep up with Finn), I am appreciative to be back home, in Maine, where life is little less populated…and a little more grounded…far from perfect I must say, but for now, just right for me.

I’ve realized I like less populated areas more than overpopulated areas – granted I love NYC, San Francisco, Boston, Portland (both) and enjoy all the things a city has to offer, but, for now, I prefer living in a more rural area…well, maybe not so rural…rural enough to enjoy quiet natural surroundings and open spaces, but not so rural that it takes 30 minutes to get to the nearest town (as it does for us at the moment). While it’s not easy living, I do enjoy having space to think.

Home has been many different places for me throughout my life. I wasn’t the kid who grew up in the same house, on the same street and had the same friends throughout childhood and then into adulthood. My parents divorced when I was young (they were young too –  parents at age 17, yikes, not easy to say the least) – my mother had primary custody of us and for one reason or another (I think mostly financial), we moved around a lot. Never very far, but far enough that we needed to change schools, make new friends and basically ‘start all over’ in the world of school and neighborhoods – life was often turned upside down.

Two constants in my life (in terms of home) were houses owned by my grandparents (on both sides). One, on a small lake in Mid Coast Maine (the lake house) and the other on the very busy island, Long Beach Island, on the coast of New Jersey (the beach house). I was fortunate. I had a beach house and a lake house. We weren’t always able to visit both – for a few years we didn’t visit either, but I knew they were there…

Both places always felt like ‘home’ to me; each holds it’s own nostalgia for me – and more so now that I can share them with my son…these two homes mean so much more to me than simply being the family beach/lake house. They are a part of my past, they are a part of me. Theses are places I can share with him – places which always feel like ‘home’ – places I could always depend on, they were always there…they were my constants.

Until the age of 34 I never lived anywhere for more than two years. Granted, I did live in Boston for three years while attending college, but only stayed during the school year – I would move for the summer break – not back ‘home’ as many other students would – I didn’t have that home – but I did have the constants…thankfully.

I’ve called many places home up until now – Massachusetts, NJ, Pennsylvania, Washington and Florida are a few of the states I’ve lived in as an adult and while traveling I experienced a variety of homes. I called my tent home for months while in Australia, a small flat in Rarotonga, my 1970 VW camper while traveling across the U.S., and a three bedroom home in Mexico while I was teaching there, as well as a 20 foot sailboat in the Caribbean, and now a 200+ year old farmhouse on the the coast of Maine – home, to me, is where you want to be, or where you are now…

We’ve made this house we call home, home – at least for now that is…we chose to fix it up and make it ‘ours’. I feel wherever you are living, you should make it yours.

Having said all this, I also know it is not my permanent home. I’m not sure I will ever be the type of person who ‘settles’ into a house and never moves, perhaps I will?  Maybe I just haven’t found that place or perhaps I am destined to enjoy a variety of homes/living situations throughout my lifetime…who knows – all I know is I am appreciative of where I live now, how I got here and where I’ve been.  I also look forward to finding and making my next home…wherever that may be.

 

Enjoy the weekend and enjoy being home…wherever that may be.

scrumptiously delicious

popcorn – yes, popcorn. Not the microwavable, chemical laden type served up in its own special packaging -no, I’m talking about fresh, made in minutes, popcorn…popcorn from scratch.

The whirley pop popcorn makerThe Original Whirley Pop™ Stovetop Popcorn Popper makes the best homemade popcorn ever!

I was introduced to this simple yet very efficient piece of equipment while house sitting for some friends on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands…I often enjoyed popcorn back in the states, but for some reason hadn’t thought to make it while in the islands. So, when our friend showed us around the house and pointed out their fabulous (and well used) popcorn maker I decided then and there that popcorn was going to be enjoyed at some point during our stay. Why not enjoy a cocktail, on the balmy veranda overlooking the Caribbean Sea while snacking on some delicious popcorn? And we did, often…

Though once back in our caribbean shack I didn’t want to use my ‘stateside’ method of popping corn – a large heavy bottom pot, covered with lid,  constantly shaking over flame, waiting for all the popcorn to pop – no, I wanted the ease of the whirley pop….and the whirley pop is not available on this tiny caribbean island, I had to wait…

We returned to the states for hurricane season and just in time for the large annual Damariscotta Hospital Yard Sale. It’s a huge yard sale held every year on a local farmers field in Damariscotta Maine. Items are donated throughout the year and categorized – proceeds support the local hospital – children’s clothes, tools, furniture, housewares, antiques, etc. are just a few of the items typically available. Can you imagine how happy I was when I spotted the new Whirley Pop in the kitchen section for only $3.00? Serendipity I say…

So, the next time you have a hankering for some snack and your not quite sure what it is, give the old fashioned idea of freshly popped popcorn a try and let your taste buds swoon…

It is so easy to use. Place enough oil (sunflower works well) to coat the bottom of the pan and pour in organic corn kernels – enough to cover the bottom of pan…place over heat and when you hear popping starting (within a few seconds) start turning the crank and within a few minutes you will have delicious fresh popcorn. Sprinkle with your favorite topping or simply a pinch or two of kosher or sea salt and enjoy!