Guatemala I love you so

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It’s probably time to start discussing my Guatemala trip and throwing photos at you.  It already feels like a lifetime ago and a million miles away, well that second part is probably true.  It’s hard to remember what my expectations where before I left for Guate, but these words came to mind: unsafe, third world, dirty, colorful, busy city, and travel.  About half of those turned out to be true, but some of those words were a bit off.  The words I’d use to describe Guatemala now are, colorful, green, nice people, yummy food (NOT mexican food), adventures, green hills, volcanos, and third world/ bustling city, oh and crazy crazy drivers.

The trip was inspired by Cassie, who moved down there back in July.  She had some things planned for our trip and I couldn’t have been happier with their outcome.  First, hang out in Guatemala City which most tourists skip and I’m so glad I didn’t.  Yes it’s crazy, but also so great to see how another city functions or how their roads are totally whack or that I was definitely the only tall blonde person for miles.  Next we went to Antigua for the day/night on our way to Semuc Champey.  Antiqua is touristy, gorgeous and cobblestoney.  Yes that’s a word.  Semuc Champey was way back in the outskirts of the wilderness, an 8 hour shuttle ride, up and down a windy, wet, slippery dirt road and on a partially flat tire.  This was was Cassie best describes as “Indiana Jones” adventures. We could hear the Indian Jones theme song all day long, we road in the back of a truck with 15 people (standing), swam in bat caves, jumped off rocks, swam with a candle in hand and went as far back as we could go.  I fell at one point which really shook me up.  It made me realize that we are so vulnerable in nature and to be more cautious.  The nearest hospital was 3 hours way on a dirt road.  I didn’t want to take any chances.  And yes, I saw one bat hanging above, all snuggled in for the day.  I even saw it strreeetch it’s cute wing.  After the bat caves we dove in the river via a rope swing.  This was rad up until the point where this girl in our group almost didn’t jump off the swing and could have seriously broken her back.  We then tubed down the river and laughed at the three people from singapore who didn’t know how to swim, and then feared for their lives when they did NOTHING to try and get to shore before the waterfall around the bend.  Oy!  THEN we had lunch. After lunch, we hiked to the top of the hill, which felt much more like a mountain, and took pictures of actual Semuc Champey, which was breathtaking, hiked down and explored the river.  This was a major highlight of the trip, warm blue water, new found friends, green green hills.

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It was the devil’s birthday, so tradition has it that you burn a devil piñata in the street and rid your sins from the year.

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This is Antigua, see what I mean about cobblestoney?

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These tostadas need a whole post in themselves thats how good they were.  If I could have one thing here in the states it would be these tostadas.  Don’t be deceived, it looks plain, but good lord its a slice of heaven, or a tortilla shell of heaven.

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Here we stayed in Semuc in a  cabina

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Mayan tradition says you wear face paint, or the tour guide was playing a big joke on all of us.

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This picture above does not do it justice, but it really looked like heaven on hearth at this moment

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Totes normal.

After our trek back to the city, we drove our car up to San Pedro at Lake Atitlan.  Having a car was glorious up until we got stopped by the policia and had to pay them $200Q ($25) for driving without a license.  I had to take the wheel with my drivers license, Cassie’s passport and another person’s car registration, huh?  Anyways, San Pedro was amazing.  Quant little lake town with too much time on our hands.  We ate, we drank, made amazing friends Katie and Steph.  The highlights here are quiz night, Zoola food and hiking to the top of Indian Nose at 4am to watch an active volcano and sunrise over the lake.  Epic I tell you.  We ended up staying in San Pedro for the duration of the trip and skipping out on the beach.  We packed in a day trip to Chichicastenango, where the huge Sunday market is. Pronounced “Chia-cast-eh-nahn-go”

This is such a brief summary on such a big adventure, but I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

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Lake Atitlan!

 

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Also, totes normal.

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Every.single.one of the tortillas in this country are hand made and I vote these tortillas for president!

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Real life yo.

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COFFEE!!

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These are the girls we met in San Pedro, both Australian and both amazing.

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Chichicastanango!

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This was the cemetery outside of Chichi and boy was it colorful

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This lady here on my right made the shirt I am wearing.

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We set fireworks off at the top of Indian Nose

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See on the right how it totally looks like a face in the mountains, that’s indian nose.

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And lastly, this guy made my shoes!!!

Let’s just take it slow and enjoy it

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So there we have it, 2014 is finished, completed, book closed and 2015 all shiny and bright just asking to be cracked open and devoured like an unsolved mystery.  There is something special about sitting in the middle of two borders, like when you are in Lake Tahoe and you straddle both California and it’s liberal lifestyle and Nevada and its blinking casino lights and just for that moment you are in two places at once and then you step away and it’s gone.  That’s how the first few days of January always feel.  A little whiplashed because you were not quite finished with the past year and are pretty uneasy about jumping into the next one.  2014 was really hard, but also really really good.  How am I supposed to just stuff the whole year up on the bookshelf to collect dust?  2014 was the year I searched my hardest for the perfect job.  I was beaten down at times that it wasn’t out there.  The search weighed down on everything I did and thought about.  I loved where I had worked, but a change was in order and I couldn’t go forward without it.  Lucky for me, right in the nick of time I scored what I think is the perfect fit.  Yeay! I still get excited about it.  More on that, once I dig my toes in more. 2014 I said goodbye to my best friend Cassie who moved to Guatemala, and then I said hello as I visited her down south.  Again, another post all in itself is in order for that topic.  Just as soon as I turned around and headed home, Keller and I flew across the country to New York, a complete opposite of Guatemala, but oh so good.  You guessed it, a post in and of itself. It sure was a great way to seal the deal on 2014.

Looking forward I don’t have any grandiose ideas for 2015.  I hope to discover a healthier eating habit, not a diet, but maybe a healthy appetite for home cooked goodness.  I’d also like to take more trips.  I know I know, I just got back from not one, but TWO BIG trips in December, but those trips made me realize how good it is to travel.  Looking back at my instagram feed I can see I took a ton of little trips and how good they were.  Lets do more of that shall we?  Also, maybe let the creative juices flow again.  Those are good juices I tell you!

One last thing I hope to remember more in 2015 is something K-dog said when we were walking home from breakfast at TLC on the first of the year.  We were tired from our adventures, walking towards Duboce park to watch the dogs and reluctant to greet the day and he said “I just want to take it sloooowww and enjoy it”.  Yes my deary, YES.  Let’s do just that, in fact let’s do it all year long.  Since then, this thought has been like a warm fuzzy pilly old blanket hugging me, just looking around and enjoying the moments.  Like right now, here we get sit at our most favorite coffee shop, where the barista is examining the bags of beans, and dudes sit cozy on the bench playing on their phones or hovered over their Merc-muffins, staring off into space.  Oh, or the lady who just walked in, she has the rough blonde bed head I’m also currently styling.  Or, the six people squished together at a four person table, huddled outside over their cofffees.  This is the stuff that’s good isn’t it?  The stuff that makes you think, man, how did I get do dang lucky.  Lucky to do nothing.

Let’s do nothing this year!

2014 recap!

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October Challenge

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A one month resolution.  Not a full year, not 6 months, not even more than 31 days.  One month.  That seems to be the sweet spot.  Short enough that it’s attainable, short enough that you can plan, long enough that you really wrap your head around it and most importantly, long enough that you can initiate or reset a habit.  For our 2014 resolution, Keller and I would do one month resolutions.  January was a no TV month.  See we were not excessive by any means, but it was something that we wanted to reset, something we wanted to live without for a while. February was.. crap I can’t remember.  I know March was no bread, which turned into no gluten for me, which turned into chaos.  This was about the time we stopped.  I don’t know if it was the gluten, or something else, but this was right about the time my body went A-wall.  I stopped the challenge 2 weeks in, slowly adding in bread.  I won’t get into the details, but it was not fun.  Every time I ate, my stomach would hurt.  I could only eat at home without feeling awful.  Then summer came and resolutions were the last thing on my mind.  Here we are at fall, which is all about new beginnings for me.  Since there are no rules to this thing I call life.  The rules I set can be moved around.  So I can start a resolution up in October if I want to.

October was a no spend month.  The rules around it were hazy, but it was basically anything I could live without.  No clothes, no makeup, no office supplies, no halloween decorations (I know sad ), no halloween costumes (it gets real these resolutions), no retail therapy, and no online shopping.  A whole ton of yes to hiking, yes to taking a walk, yes to writing in this blog, yes to reading a book and yes to less clutter!

On one hand this no-spend month made one part of my life SO MUCH EASIER.  Actually, it made a few parts of my life a whole lot easier. On the other hand, I didn’t save the planet or cure cancer.  My life didn’t change in any great measurable amount, but you know it’s those little things that make up the big things.  So I will focus on the oh so important little things.

A) The decision process in shopping is rather laborious for me.  Do you feel me on this one?  I get the sense I’m not the only one with these crazy thoughts.  It’s the “is this the item I have been searching for?  That one sweater I got 4 months ago really worked out, maybe this will be just like that, or maybe it will be like that striped shirt I never wore and never will.  How will I know if this truly will be the answer I am looking for?” I take my purchases seriously can ya tell?  They hold the answers I tell you!  This inner dialogue can consume me and really stress a girl out.  By having a hard fast NO, it makes life just that much less stressful.  Here are some examples, Dilemma: Do I need to buy the gel manicure kit from target, it will be glorious I tell you! Imagine all the colors! Answer: NO, and then 5 minutes later I completely forgot about the need for anything. While I chip away at the week old polish.  Dilemma: It’s starting to get chilly out, I could use a new jacket, I really feel like I need to step up my cozy game.  Answer: NO, I have jackets, plenty of them.  I will live.  You get the idea?   So here comes the dramatic part.  It helped me to think of others that are less fortunate.  Bear with me here.  If these moms, kids, dads and families from countries that  are not doing so hot, are living life just fine with what they have.  Then so can I.  I would think of an image I had recently seen of someone in Africa, or Guatemala.  Or even someone here in America.  These people have needs and wants, and they don’t go buying gel manicure sets just because they probably can.  They buy what they need, because thats what is important.  Yes, I want to enjoy my hard work.  I also want a reality check once in a while.

B) It came to my attention how much of my day came to thinking of things I needed to buy.  Simply walking past stores, reading blogs, seeing instagrams.  It was like a whole world I no longer needed to buy into.  I started to notice so much of what we do as American’s is consumer based.  I follow a couple bloggers I adore and I soon realized that all they post about are things to buy or what they recently bought or things they want.  I don’t want to live in a world that makes me feel like I am always in need of the next best thing.  I am content with what I have.  I want to love what I have.  Its all really good stuff.

C) I focused on spending less time shopping or seeing if shopping can fill my time, I spent quality time with the people around me.

D) I actually spent less money on other things.  When I was grocery shopping for the camping trip, I went to buy the snacks, s’mores and beer.  Instead of my normal routine, buy 2 different kinds of each item because more is better!  I actually only bought what I needed, and you know what?  No one else noticed. I didn’t have a bunch of extra stuff I didn’t need.  Thats a lie, I bought too much beer and case in point (get it case? haha), I have a ton extra. (not complaining here)

E) The best part is that my budget at the mid and end of the month was so much better.  It was FUN.  I do my budget, I track every little thing I buy.  I am an accountant, it’s what I do.  Normally, it was a pain, moving money around and stressing at the end of the month because I was not within my limits.  This time around I will meet my budgets and finally have a good step going forward.

F) Lastly, Unexpected items were not so hard.  I was hit with a bill I was not expecting.  Normally this would have thrown my Misc items budget out of whack and it would stress me out a little.  This time around though, it was ok.  I had the room for it.

Results:

My goal going in:  October budget was to save some cash and see if I could really do it.

Results, I spent $1.29 on a makeup pencil sharpener (mine was left during house sitting) and Kelan bought me a planner, which was sort of not the point, but had he not been there I wouldn’t have gone for it anyway?  Not sure, again these are my rules there are no consequences.  I saved an unknown amount of money, but in the end I will admit it was not as much as I had hoped. I thought I would be swimming in money.  While I am still in my limits, I am in no way a surplus.  I will say my credit card was not touched once this month.  Now THAT is saying something.

Lesson learned: Less is more.

Points:  If 5 was winning at life.  I’d say I was at a 3.5, you know because I bought the sharpener and didn’t totally cut out on eating out.  However, that should probably be a challenge in and of itself.

November Goal:  Drink 8 glasses of water a day.

In balance

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Do you ever feel as if the world is slightly tilted to one side and you are using all this extra muscle to stay upright, but it’s not enough of a tilt that you actually realize it until your muscles get tired and you think -yeah, this has been a lot of effort lately, what’s up with that? I had been feeling this but hadn’t put much thought into it until my sister proclaimed on Facebook that her stress levels were off the chain, and my cousin Lisa commented saying that it was something in the moon and October and the star alignment. I don’t know the specifics, I’m obviously not very scientific, but I suddenly started to notice this anxiety in myself as well. Lisa then said that it should be passing soon. I sort of doubted that not thinking this little stress ball would ever leave, but then these past couple days it’s as if the world righted itself and my inner argument has finally subsided. All is in peace. Out of nowhere. Not sure if any of that makes sense. It does to me. My theory is that it’s the change in the seasons. We instinctually cling to the world we know and when the weather and daylight patterns start whipping us around, our heads start to spin. Now that I fully feel as if fall is here I just want to jump up and hug all those glorious colors. I want to skip down the street.

My other theory on feeling in balance is exercising, working hard at work- you know not feeling like a slacker, focusing on the good in people, listening to a good album and returning from a camping trip. Maybe there is truth in the work life balance. Maybe there is truth in the work hard play hard. Maybe there is truth in good music. Either way, I’m digging it. I want to keep the steady going.

Currently listening to The Paper Kites -Featherstone. My cousin Lorin made a video with that song and I can’t get it out if my head since! I made this little quote thing to go along with a lyric from the song

Birthday/Camping

Wow, this is long over due.  Here I was looking for the post I did on camping back in July.  Turns out, I didn’t post one.  To summarize, my mom came up to visit for my birthday which was just perfect.  We had a Thursday all to ourselves, walked all over the city, Mission Beach Cafe in the morning for breakfast (NO LINE!!) then we meandered down Valencia, stopped at Tartine, because there was NO LINE!! we picked up some bread pudding and this meringue thing I love so much, we walked past birite, searching for a pie needed for the family camping trip, no luck.  This brought us right past bi-rite ice cream though, and since it was my birthday I was all, who cares if we just had brunch and have bread pudding in a doggy bag we are getting ice cream yo, because again NO LINE!!.  So we walked up to the top of Dolores park, for the view.  We talked about this and that, pondering on where we would end up next when all of a sudden I said RUN, bc the J came and I knew our legs were tired and there was a pie shop with our name on it.  My mom, so proud of her, didn’t even hesitate just ran right with me.  Turns out the pie shop had the pie we needed. WIN.  After this long adventure we napped before indian food for dinner.  Family came, it was precious.  Then we went home early because we all had to get ready for camping the next day.  Which leads me into part 2, but first, a commercial break.

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these mimosas were huge. Just how we like ‘em.

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these ladies worked at cooks in a restaurant near by, they just happened to be on a lunch break. Loved the scene

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Camping was fun.  I can’t do a summary, because a) I lost my phone for 3/8ths of the visit.  I loved camping so much that I thought, eh who needs a phone.  ME, I was the one that said that.  The one who takes one bagillion photos of the same damn leaf.  This spot was so perfect, a big beautiful lake, boats to rent, islands to swim to and on the other side of the highway were pot holes to hike and swim in.  So much fun was had I can’t even get into the details.  Spending time with family while camping is now at the top of my list. Something about allowing everyone to do what they want but all be near by is so comforting.  20 people, including the dog.  There was always a nook where someone was laughing, others were screaming, others were napping.  Pure magic.  I can’t wait to do it all over again.

My cousin Lorin made this rad video.  Damn she is talented.

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note Jackie’s little lion chair

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Jackie fell back, but don’t worry nobody was harmed in the making of this picture.

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clothes line + tent = heart eyes

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My canoodle partner <3

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we boated over to this private island and we declared it to be called grass island from here on and forever

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How adorable is the committee above.

All the rest of these were taken by Lorin

Silver lake 2014

we didn’t get the whole gang, but this was the only group shot we took.  Note Kelan’s ensemble

Silver lake 2014 2

 

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Stella and bowie silver lake

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Jackie

Bowie

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hooowww adorable are they?

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Tom in waterfall

chillin in a waterfall :)

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House sitting, birthdays, camping and other related event

We’ve been house sitting slash pet sitting as of lately and I have to say its been so very interesting.  I suppose I’ve never been near home, but not actually have gone home for extended periods of time in, well, ever.  It’s this weird- I know where I am, I know the directions and all the places around, but I am too far from home to just stop over and water the plants or swap out some t-shirts but I’m still close enough that I cooould do it.  Keller and I had these big ambitions.  We thought that a shake in the routine, a good change of scenery would kick our butts into gear and let us unleash the productivity bubble we had been hiding.  Turns out, nope. Just the same.  Actually, it’s not the same, its’s worse!  Ever since we started this house-pet sitting extravaganza I feel like we have lost about 4 to 5 hours a day.  Yes, my mornings are cuh-razy with the kids, but the evenings are wide open, yet I go to bed far too late having not a moment to spare.  Our initial goals, er I mean MY initial goals were to hike, bike, walk, cook, jump full force into illustrator all the while skipping along with normal life.  So far, I’d say we have touched on all of the goals but a very mild easter egg pastel, not a full punch in your face neon like I had hoped. I might blame it on the weather though, 90 degrees does not lend itself to running, hiking or cooking fall soups.  Things might turn around though, we still have time, and I can see a WALL of fog lingering over the hill near by.  It’s been tickling the neighborhood for about an hour now.  Rolling in, rolling out, in, out.  Right now we are on the in.  I’m hoping it cools it down enough to cook some squash.

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evidence of our hike

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isn’t that moss oh so rustic?  It is obviously not evident, but this picture was so awkward to take, but I just had to!  About 20 feet to my right were two highway patrol officers holding 4 boys hostage.  We decided later that they were being held hostage for having BB guns.  I bet those little shits were hitting squirrels and birds :( Let’s not think about it.

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How cute is this lending library in the neighborhood? I wonder what kind of books are in there.  Next time I’m going to take a peak.

Fun fact, I have not taken ONE picture of the kids.  It’s really weird, I love them so much, all their little feathery parts, but I have not taken a picture during this visit.  I have TONS and tons from past visits, but I keep looking at my phone for one and don’t see any.  I attribute it to the lack of time, the missing 4 hours.

Keller and I went to celebrate Stina’s birthday this past weekend.  She turned 30, 30 full swings around the sun – she said.  I agreed with her, 30 was not very much at all.  We camped at Refugio which is this adorable little camp site RIGHT off the highway and RIGHT on the beach.  We scored a huge group spot, and camped to our hearts content.  Apparently camping to my hearts content meant eating s’mores for breakfast.  Don’t judge.   I make a mean s’more only perfected by jumbo marshmallows and andes mints.  Don’t worry I have the step by step perfect s’more instructions.

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adorable I know.

Since we were so close to the beach, Stina and her friends brought a kayak, paddle boards, floaties and goggles.  This was SO FUN.  I tried paddle boarding finally, harder than it looks, but WAY more fun than I ever gave it credit for.  It’s this mix of keeping your muscles tight for balance but completely limber to roll with the water.  The trick is to A) not think about it.  It’s similar to meditation.  The second you think about it, release that thought. Just let it go.. there is no need for the thought of standing on water to enter your mind.  It won’t help you.  and B) look in the distance horizon, beach, surfers, boat, anything but the water in front of you.  You can eventually look below you because that is the coolest part.  Seeing the world below you which was not revealed to you before when you were swimming in it.  Somehow, standing above the water, not roughing it up allows for a clear look down below to the shells, fish and goodies.  All this floating, swinging and laughing chalked itself up to one of the best weekends.  I’m starting to think there is a pattern, whenever I go camping I say out loud several times “this is epic”.  Outside of this camping world, I never use this word.  It is not a word I’m comfortable with throwing around, yet come sleeping bags and apparently breakfast s’mores and you got me practically yelling “eeeeepic”.

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This moment, we were free.  We just let it all go.  On those swings, in that moment we were free.

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Don’t even get me started on the water and how clear it was.

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How adorable is this camp site?  The dude appreciated the fact that we had to back up and take the picture of his campsite.  I got a smile and wave/thumbs up as we went past.

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Here is that s’more I was telling you about.

Anyways, epic times were had and I’m so ever grateful for them.