Prior to owning a house, I would not have described myself as a person who was good with plants. Sure, I love flowers and the feel of green grass underneath my bare feet in the summer time, but in general, I wasn’t into the keeping of plants or caring for garden. Part of that is because my dad does it so well ( and I think he liked having quiet time outside when my brother & I were kids), and I also have ridiculously bad allergies ( as in I wear a mask when outside for the months of April and May).
Since owning a house, I’ve sloooowly made my way into gardening though in full disclosure, I’ve killed a few indoor house plants in my life. Nothing makes me happier than being outside relaxing in the summer time and I’m trying to create a backyard sanctuary. My dad has coaxed me along and done a lot of the hard work ( including mowing my lawn, he’s a lifesaver), but I’ve slowly taken a liking to getting my hands in the dirt.
My dad is also helping me get my vegetable garden in gear again with a few things planted already. I’m hoping to add some flowers to my backyard. This past weekend, my dad and I worked together to remove a beast of a bush that I have wanted out for the past two years. Here’s a shot of the middle and end because the phone on my camera ‘ate’ the before!
And my lovely lilacs! After 4 years of being in the house, this is the first time I’ve seen them bloom!
* I discovered that I love to paint last September and have spent a good portion of time since them dabbling with it, but every time I sit down and try to create something, my inner critic tells me how unartis-like I am and I worry about what I’m doing. Nicole wrote a great piece about how to stop telling ourselves we’re not something ( in her case, an athlete). I’m really trying to stop telling myself I’m not an artist.
* My coworker and I had a great time reminiscing about these toys of our youth. I had a few of these and I saw the Snoopy snocone maker re-released at Target last summer– everything old is new again!
* My friend Lauren tweeted this article this week and it resonated with me on a lot of levels. I’m nowhere near thinking about a baby yet, but I definitely understand being the odd girl out and trying to make a life for yourself as an adult when friends are making their own families and doing their own thing. It’s the thing I’ve struggled the most with after the divorce and I think I’m finally getting there with having a life I love and am proud of.
* I’ve been thinking a lot lately about next steps in life, but the self-doubt and wondering about so many possibilities often overwhelms me. When I read Amy’s piece about worthiness, I just kept nodding my head because I’ve thought so many times ” why would anyone want to do this or that with me?” I know I am worthy of great things that come my way and perhaps just being a bit more mindful of being open to opportunities and experience, and less worrying about the future, will allow those things to develop.
* Spring is here in Massachusetts/Rhode Island- the tulips are gorgeous, my grass is green, and the lilac bush in my backyard is in bloom! I had lunch outside yesterday and I’m so happy the warmer weather is here! Looking forward to putting up screens this weekend, airing out the house, and doing some yard work.
Wishing you all a lovely weekend!
The Dutch are not entirely known for their cuisine- chocolate, cheese, and beer seem to be the things they do best. In my prep for Amsterdam, I had only a few food “bucket list” items- Indonesian, croquettes ( the Dutch like to mash things up together and fry them), Dutch pancakes ( essentially crepes), and lots of cheese.
Shrimp & cheese croquettes
Needless to say, there was a lot of cheese which was fantastic, but there was also a lot of ham. In fact, almost every time there was cheese, there was ham. So much that by the end of the week, I’m pretty much over ham and cheese together. I try not to eat a lot of carbs in my regular diet, but considering I was on vacation, I made sure to eat all the food of the area– by the end of the week, I was definitely sick of the pancakes, sandwiches, and other matter of carbs I was consuming, though since my mom and I were doing so much walking, I actually LOST weight while on vacation!
Dutch pancake with gouda and ham
The Indonesian food did not disappoint- while we didn’t do the rijsttafel (Rice table), a traditional Indonesian meal, we thoroughly enjoyed a wide array of choices with a lunch special that included the highlights of the restaurant’s menu ( with the exception of a fried banana which might have been the grossest thing I ever put in my mouth). The many frites (French fries) we ate from street vendors and restaurants were amazing- I am definitely a convert to eating fries with mayonnaise.
Shrimp “bread” with dipping sauce at Sama Sebo, awesome Indonesian food
We had some good meals and a few so-so ones; as most Europeans do, breakfast and lunch are big meals and dinners are often small, tapas style, which is smart, but when you’re walking around all day like we were, we found ourselves snacking a lot later trying to quench our appetites. My mom and I both learned we definitely need coffee to function properly ( we arrived in Amsterdam after a red eye and we’re lucky we found our bags we were so out of it) and almost everywhere we went had such small coffees, we probably spent a good portion of our food money buying multiple cups!
Gratuitousness tulip shot!
The 5 best things about my trip to Amsterdam, in random order:
1. The city: My mother and I spent most of our days strolling through the city streets, making our way down various small alleys and discovering little shops and amazing architecture along the canals. It was a great way to see so much of the city and get lost a bit, though my mother was ever the best navigator with her trusty city map. I think only once did we have no clue where we were going, but since we weren’t on a schedule and just enjoying our time together in the city, it didn’t matter that we were a little lost.
2. The museums: I have a bit of a confession to make. I work in the museum field, but I’m not a huge museum fan. I know, blasphemous. Mostly, this is the case for history museums because that’s what my background is in, so if I do go to museums while visiting a new place, they tend to be art museums. The Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum were extraordinary- Van Gogh is one of my favorite painters and at both museums I was able to see some of his great masterpieces that I have studied for years, as well as learn of some of his Dutch Impressionist contemporaries who had equally stunning work that I found inspiring. It’s hard for me to fully describe how I felt at The Anne Frank House & Museum– it’s something I’ve wanted to see for over twenty years & the experience well surpassed my expectations.
3. The tulips: Long on my life list has been to see my favorite flowers in bloom in Holland. Prior to our leaving for Amsterdam, I had read that the tulips weren’t in full bloom yet because of a particularly dry spring, but I had high hopes anyway to see the flower fields and Keukenhof. And they were extraordinary. I think I took over 100 flower photos and just loved the day roaming through the flowers and finding so much beauty, color, and greatness.
4. Having a trip with my mom: My mom and I are very close, something I cherish even more as I get older. When I decided I wanted to go to Amsterdam as a way to celebrate my 30th birthday, I couldn’t imagine sharing the experience with anyone other than my mother. She had not been to Holland since she was a teenager and had never seen the tulips either. We had lots of great conversations, laughs, and made many memories that will last through the years.
5. The countryside: On the last day of our trip, Amsterdam was quite crowded too. Alkmaar was crowded too, but then after we left the cheese market our tour took us to a Dutch windmill, now a museum previously a water mill. There is a windmill at one of my organization’s public sites so it wasn’t so much the windmill that excited me but more the quiet and lack of people.
Of course Amsterdam is not the only trip I’ve taken in my lifetime and I know that there are going to be many more adventures in my future. But going to Holland was something I wanted since I was 7 — that summer I read The Diary of Anne Frank, learned from my mom that she had visited the actual house, and had some weird fascination with the Dutch side of my heritage. Since then, I wanted to go to Holland.
For most of my years, a trip was discussed but for a bunch of reasons ( college, grad school, money, jobs), it never happened. Sometime in 2011 I decided that I wanted to go for my 30th birthday and we began to plan. In all honesty, up until the moment I purchased the airline tickets in January, I think I still had doubts that it would happen. I bought the tickets on a Friday afternoon while at work and kept saying to my office mate ” this still doesn’t feel real.”
With all that happens at my work in March and April getting the exhibit ready to open, going to Amsterdam at the end of April definitely didn’t feel real still- and it wasn’t until I found myself trying to find walking shoes two weeks before we were set to leave did the idea of the visit seem more like a actual thing that was about to happen. In the week or so before I left, everyone kept asking if I was excited and I think I let people down with my “sort of” response. It wasn’t that I was NOT excited- it was more that I was trying to temper my enthusiasm and feelings about the whole thing. This was something I wanted for so long and it felt slightly unreal that this huge goal was finally happening. It was an amazement on many levels- I accomplished something I said I was going to do- not just in that I said I wanted something when I was 7 and it finally happened when I was 30, but that I had budgeted and made plans so that I could take the trip.
Part of my coolness about getting ready for the trip was also that I did not want Amsterdam to disappoint me after wanting something for so long. Of course, the likelihood of that happening was small, but like so many other things in life, I worry or get anxious about something so that the feeling of relief ends up being so great. It’s a strange place in my brain when it comes to anticipation and achieving goals, to say the least.
Of course, in the end, Amsterdam was wonderful, having a week with my mom was an extraordinary treat, and doing all the things I wanted to do for so long met my expectations and surprised me too.
This is at Alkmaar, the 700 year old cheese market in The Netherlands. I don’t remember when I first learned about this place where dairy farmers brought their cheese to be purchased, but I do remember that on a season of The Amazing Race a few years back that the contestants had to try the task of running with the cheese like the men above. When my mom and I were planning our trip, I knew this was something I wanted to do.
The cheese market is only on Fridays for a couple of hours in the morning and only operates from April through September. It’s about an hour from Amsterdam so we took a bus tour there- and it seemed every other tourist in the Netherlands did the same thing. With it being high tourist season from the tulips, Alkmaar was beyond packed in that way too many people in a crowd way that makes you a tad uncomfortable and on edge. My mom and I walked into the square where the cheese is sold before it is run off by these men to the weigh house and there must have been 5,000 people in a small area. I snapped two photos and then we went and sat off to the side to eat delicious frites ( French fries) with mayonnaise. When my mom and I were recounting the trip on our flight home last weekend, she said the crowd at Alkmaar was her second least favorite part of the vacation. It was so crowded we didn’t even get to sample the cheese! No worries though since earlier in the trip we did quite a lot of cheese tasting already.
The big photo download of Amsterdam pics is coming but I’m trying to sift through the over 300 photos between my mom and I’s cameras to get some of the best shots.
There is so much to say from my trip to Amsterdam and about 300 images of tulips, food, beer, buildings,and canals. I’m still a bit jet lagged and behind on life to even begin to capture it all in this place, and I know there will be multiple blog posts on the topic. Suffice to say, the trip to Holland was all that I had hoped it to be and more- it was filled with lots of fun, laughter, and memory making with my mom, lots of cheese, and some of the most gorgeous flowers I have ever seen. While I try to get my head back into the game and my job, I’ll leave this teaser photo of the view from our hotel ( though not from our room).
I’ll be traveling soon and have been busily prepping for that at work and home, which has left little brain space for much else it seems. Everyone keeps asking me if I’m excited, which of course I am, but I’ve been trying to temper my enthusiasm so I don’t get too anxious. This is something I’ve wanted since I was 7 years old, so that fact that it is now happening, seems almost unreal to me.
The exhibit at work that opened a few weeks ago has received a lot of great reviews and attention which after working on it for about 6 months, always makes me happy. It’s fitting that I get my vacation after it opened since this time around, the exhibit really felt like this huge thing I was creating since it involved more research and out of the box thinking than past exhibits I’ve done. That feels good to me- more than the good reviews.
I sort of threw out the house ‘to do list’ about a month or so ago, but perhaps it’s the start of warm weather ( finally!) in Southern New England that has me making a mental list of items to accomplish after I return from Amsterdam. It’s sort of a feeling of wanting to do things because I enjoy them combined with a feeling of being sick at looking at peeling paint or water stained curtains. I think knowing I can do them at the pace I want without pressure or guilt is a new feeling too.
I’m realizing I don’t give myself enough credit often for many things. Maybe my worst habit next to procrastinating.
I have been obsessed with avocado lately and had one the other day at lunch that was at its peak- practically licked the inside of the skin to get as much of it as possible. That might have been TMI.
Will be quiet on here for the next week or so, but I promise updates and photos from vacation ASAP!
Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the future, in particular where I want to live, what I want to do in the next decade, etc. This major dose of introspection is some of the reason for being a bit quiet on here- I’ve been doing a lot of journal writing that I’m keeping to myself, if for no other reason than a lot of my what ifs? and who cares? are generating a lot of incoherent, random thoughts that I don’t quite think I could organize just yet.
There’s a lot of big picture stuff, a lot of small things like ‘why am I keeping books from grad school?,’ and a fair share of random but important stuff ” why do I get so mad at the teenage boys who skateboard in the parking lot next to the house? Why did I buy a house next to a parking lot?” My mind is a happening place these days you could say.
All of this big and small thinking is not unusual for me- I’ve always been a big journal keeper and that was one of the tell-tale signs of my decline into a bad place with my marriage was when I stopped writing in my journal. Part of me is tempted to go up into my attic to re-read journals of years past; the ones from junior high school are mostly accounts of my social life, high school more of the same with some big things like “I’m worried I won’t make any friends in college.” The ones from college are deep thoughts, big ideas, and the goals/dreams of a 21 year old who couldn’t be stopped. I’m hesitant to read some of them from grad school and the years where I first met my now ex-husband- reading them now I’m sure it will be so clear where the decline began and when I stopped thinking of myself and trusting my gut.
It’s funny to me to think that in years to come those journals will serve as the remnant of my life ( provided I keep them). Some of them contain things I now find a bit embarrassing or ridiculous ( like names of boys I kissed or the perfect outfit from some random day), but others show me life as it’s been- a life in stages and cycles, but a life filled with so much hope, excitement, disappointment, and everything in between. It’s tough for me to go back to some of those places– even though they make up who I am today, I’m not sure I have enough distance from them to be able to read the entries with any perspective. Reading the entries from the time of my separation and divorce are definitely wounds far too fresh to reflect on– part of me has wondered if I should get rid of them, while the other part thinks keeping them is smart as a reminder to always be true to myself, trust my inner voice, and do what feels right.
I know there isn’t a right answer here, but on second thought, maybe I should revisit those wide-eyed dreamer journals from college.