Thursday, September 12, 2019

CHRISTINE TURNS 36



This post was meant to go up sooner than now, and closer to the day of my actual birthday, but the end of summer was especially full of good things and I struggled to find the words or time to update this blog.  But I have many updates!

As we're in September now, I'm mourning the end of summer, as I usually do, holding on to the last vestiges of warm weather, and hyping myself up for fall activities, trying to ignore the inevitable winter beyond that. It will be good for me to look back on memorable moments of the end of summer with these posts, as a way of reliving and cementing.

My birthday this year meant I turned 36, and happily so.  It's been better each year, the experience and lessons really showing up with their value, and me being able to access the confident parts of myself with more ease.

Each year on my birthday, I like to take the day off work and then spend the day doing something that I have been wanting to do throughout the year but hadn't done yet.  This year, I wanted to spend some much needed time with Ken and also to try one of the RVA Bike Share bikes I've been seeing pop up downtown.  We did just that: starting with breakfast at Subrosa, and then rode to Potterfield Memorial Bridge next to Brown's Island, rode across the bridge and then biked up to Perly's, one of my favorite spots, for lunch.  It was a spectacular way to spend the morning. 








I also spent some of the day pickling things and reading Ruth Reichl, which just felt right. 


Later that day, we went out to Carytown to Garden Grove with the girls and my MIL, mostly for their ginger ale, which is made in house and oh so good. 




And finished off the day with Benny's giant pizza slices. Ken and I agree it's one of our favorite places for pizza these days. 


The next day, our friends came from out of town and we had a relaxing day hanging out by the pool and ended the day with a dinner outdoors in the backyard on a long table, which was my dream - the weather was perfect, the food delicious and company delightful.








I always prefer pie to cake for my birthday and my cousin Lois delivered with her signature blueberry pie, which we stuck with candles, sang over and enjoyed for breakfast the next day. My birthday extravaganza lasted over several days this year and this pie was the perfect way to end it!




Tuesday, August 13, 2019

WHAT I'M READING V. 55




1. Florida by Lauren Groff

I loved Lauren Groff's "Fates and Furies" - she somehow has this ability to connote with the words she uses so what she doesn't say is just as important as what she does say. There is a sparseness and exactness to her writing, which is a pleasure to experience and immediately inspires me to try again at writing.  This one was a collection of short stories, which I listened to on audiobook, regretfully. I think this is one of those that would have been better served read from the book with my own eyes and pacing. I really liked the collection and the writing too, just as much, but it feels as though I missed a lot. I'm going to pick this one up again in book form to re-read.

2. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett 

This was a delightful read. It's short, and I wish I could remember who recommended it to me so that I can talk to them about it. It's about a queen who all of a sudden gets very interested in reading, and everything that happens as a result. It's funny and endearing and I recommend it to anyone who needs a little boost in their week. I read this one when I was having a particularly tiring week, while sipping a glass of rose on the sun porch, and it did the trick.

3. The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker

I was excited about this one, with the expectation of philosophical waxings about gathering and its meanings and implications. It does some of that, but it's more of a practical how to; starting with her own experiences, groups that she has worked with, and ways to make gatherings better.  It remained interesting to me throughout because as someone who thinks a lot about gatherings, it was refreshing to know that there were other people who are very intentional about such things.  I think it is a great conversation starter for businesses, organizations and individuals to take a step back at how they gather - if at all, and if not, why not - and assess ways they can make it more effective and meaningful.

4. Paul, a Biography by N.T. Wright

This one was a tome of a book - not necessarily because of it's length, although it is a longer one at about 500 pages - but because there was so much deep and rich content.  Wright goes through a thorough and detailed analysis of Paul's life, starting wit how he must have been raised, his influences, his passions.  He paints a vivid picture of Paul's background and then walks through Paul's conversion and journey throughout Asia Minor to visit churches. It gives such a rich picture of that time period between 5 AD to 65 AD and helped me understand more deeply how his work was impacted who he was, and in what ways that impacted and grew the early Christian Church.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

LOGAN TURNS FOUR



I love this girl, I love talking to her, I love talk about her. She is so funny and extremely boisterous. When she is upset about something, she'll be upset about it long and loud.  When she gets her mind set on helping you, she'll help you whether you like it or not.  She is a quick learner, learning as she does the thing.  She is determined and she knows what she likes and doesn't like, and is not shy about telling you. She no longer wakes up several times in the middle of the night - thankthelord - but she does sneak into our bed early in the morning to get another snooze and snuggle in, and it is one of my favorite things about my day.  



She turned FOUR last month, and we were so pleased to be able to celebrate her.  She requested a pool party with friends, a balloon game, and banana cupcakes (she was fine with the chocolate and vanilla ones we ended up with) and that she got! Along with a surprise big present of this balance bike, which she has been practicing on diligently since. 



She was just as pleased with the red balloons as she was with the bike and played with these balloons for a solid half hour by herself while I set up for her party. 




The birthday girl got to have her breakfast on the unicorn float. 




Sloane's present to Logan was this shirt that she designed. Isn't it great? Logan loved it. That's Logan's face looking at the gift giver. 




Logan recently changed daycare to one that is closer to us and it's been a good transition overall, but she misses her friends at her old daycare.  Happily, a few of them got to come to the party, including Logan's BFF Avery.





We ended the party with a balloon game that Logan requested wherein everyone keeps the balloon in the air while the music is going and then has to grab it and freeze when the music stops. Balloon games are always such a hit with kids! 


I'm still processing the fact that my youngest is four and occasionally mourning the end of the toddler era, but getting to know how amazing she is at this stage is easing all that into sweet memories. I'm caressing the present with all my might and I'm so grateful we get to have her as part of our family. 


Friday, August 2, 2019

NEW YORK IN JUNE




About a month ago (although it feels so much longer !), I took the train up to New York City to meet my parents, who had just flown in from Korea the day before. I was traveling to spend a long weekend up there with them, visiting the city, and my sister and brother-in-law, who live up there.


I have a ton of photos and they document almost all the activities and food consumed up there, so I figured I would compile it here as a guide of sorts - for you if you'd like and for my future self as reference. 


I took a train from Richmond this time, by way of Ashland train station - the sweetest station there ever was - and it ended up being a lovely way to travel.  There was a moment of claustrophobia, which quickly passed, and I didn't get to read for as long as I thought I would, but I did get a very satisfying nap in. 


My parents had flown in from Korea the day before into New York, and we had plans to meet at Chelsea Market - a spot that I had never been before.  Goes to show, no matter how many times you go to New York, there will always be places to discover - one of the reasons why I love this city so much.  My mom is a huge fan of one of the restaurants in Chelsea Market called Miznon, which has delicious Mediterranean fare, and that's where we met up. 


Found them! 


The food here was so good. I got a giant roasted cauliflower for my meal and I couldn't finish it - it was so filling!


We roamed around the other shops in Chelsea market, including this one for spices and tea. 


This place at the end of Chelsea market called artists and fleas had local makers set up with their goods - there was so much amazing stuff in there. 



It was wonderful to see them and especially fun to meet up in New York like this. 



This is my adorable mama, on the subway, looking at my dad. 



We met my sister at Bemelman's Bar, a bar downstairs of The Carlyle, which has illustrations of New York all over its walls, done by Ludwig Bemelman (the illustrator of the children's books, "Madeline"). I loved this place - the illustrations were beautiful, the drinks were good, and they had a live jazz pianist there.






The next day, my mom and I ventured out for a walking adventure through midtown, starting with Bubble & Sip, a bakery that a friend told me about. I didn't get what I went for (the cream puffs weren't ready yet when we got there) but we got this black sesame croissant and this amazing matcha pudding, both of which were entirely satisfying and delicious.



We did a little bit of window shopping and bunch of walking, and for lunch we made a quick stop at this place called The Kati Roll, which had Indian street fare. It was exactly the kind of thing that I want to eat when I'm in NYC.



How beautiful is my mom!



We strolled through Bryant Park to get to the library, and got to witness the morning blossoming into a beautiful day. 




To no one's surprise, I absolutely loved the New York Public Library. I had never been before, and it felt like arriving at a pilgrim's destination.  the architecture was stunning, I loved all the different rooms, and I wish I could have stayed there all day browsing its books.






They were having a Walt Whitman exhibit there, and we made sure to take our sweet time walking through it - I learned so much more about Whitman and ended up buying a really lovely copy of "Leaves of Grass"




The heat was pretty scorching this weekend, and we ended up walking about five miles all together. Random stops for popsicles were an absolute necessity. 


We made our way down to Chelsea art galleries, and roamed in and out of 8-9 galleries, exploring the exhibits that were up.  One of my favorites was this exhibit by Jonah Wood, pictured here. 





After the galleries, we jumped on to the Highline, to walk through this little oasis of a pathway created in the middle of the city, higher up than the sidewalk to offer up unexpected views of the city.







I loved seeing all the plants growing along the path.




To end our afternoon, we stopped into Starbucks Reserve Roastery, which is this giant Starbucks with three coffee bars and then an alcohol bar with the most creative drinks, which we dried. This one here on the right was the Boulevardier, which was made from barrel-aged vaniall syrup, campari, sweet vermouth and bourbon poured over freshly ground coffee.  It was amazing....and very expensive.



For dinner, my parents and I got dressed and we met my sister and brother-in-law in Bushwick for dinner. 







We passed by House of Yes, which I have always wanted to peek inside, so we bypassed a very friendly bouncer, got handed some rainbow popcorn, and took some pictures in their eclectic courtyard. 







We had Vietnamese food at Bunker in East Williamsburg, and everything was so good.


After dinner, we went up to Greenpoint to explore a bit and peeked into Transmitter Park, where they were playing a movie on a big projector alongside the river. I made mental notes to come back here during another summer. 


The next day, Saturday, we designated for Brooklyn, and went first to a bookstore I've been wanting to visit called Books are Magic.  It was a really lovely bookstore, with great selections, friendly staff, and books and sitting area for children.  




We then meandered over to a space called Public Record, which is an event space with a coffee shop and hang out area during the day and bar and live music/dance during the night.  I love seeing spaces like this and seeing how they use it! We ended up coming back here later in the night for music, so it was neat to see how it functioned both in the day and night.



They had some sort of yerba mate drink here that was incredible.  Also, all sorts of magazines!


By wonderful coincidence and some sort of fate, my friend Soonie and I happened to be in NYC during the same weekend. She lives in California but was in town for a wedding, so we got to hang out for the morning in Brooklyn and it was wonderful to see her. She is one of my favorite people.



We had been in the Carroll Gardens and Gowanus area, but for lunch we went over to Prospect Heights.  We perused through Unnameable Books, and then went to Zaytoons across the street for lunch. 



The food here was so good...just look at the schwarma fries and platter full of salads.  And then right across the street, there was Ample Hill Creamey, which had the tartest lemon ice cream



While walking back, we found this small garden wedged in between the buildings. It was Prospect Heights Community Farm, which was lush, with things growing every which way, and we slowly made our way around, feeling like we had discovered a secret garden.



There was a lovely woman there, working the garden, sweat streaming down her face, a bucket full of weeds in her bucket.  She let me take a lace flower home, advising me to plant it in a pot so that it would grow root, and it made my day. 


Sharon, Paul and I went back to Public Records for music and dancing; we danced for about two hours straight and it felt wonderful. We were very sweaty afterwards, and these photos are poor proof of that.



I spent Saturday night at Sharon and Paul's place (my parents were at their hotel) and it was so serene waking up here. 



This was dinner on Sharon and Paul's terrace - really delicious sushi they ordered in - with Rusty begging for fish, as he does, and a stunning backdrop behind them. 

Whew! I made it through. That took me several days to complete, but it's always worth it for the joy of being able to relive my experiences this way.  New York, as always, I'll be back!