... when you're constantly on the move, few things remain unchanged.

celebrate the small things | Jan 30

Friday, January 30, 2015

Not a whole lot happened this week, but I'm celebrating regardless because there's seriously so much to be happy about, like:

  • my health - I felt elated earlier in the week, after I managed a six mile hike and the pups seemed more exhausted than me!   
  • my hubz - constantly thoughtful and romantic, even after 6 years of staring at my face and putting up with my BS! 
  • my pups - well they're just the cutest, cuddliest and always make me smile.
  • my girl friends - this weekend we're off on a bachelorette getaway to the Hill Country, to celebrate Meredith's getting married! Can't wait
  • the city - found out this week that Austin offers rebates to anyone who buys a composting system!  I'm constantly in awe of how environmentally friendly and forward thinking this city is!  Now it's off to the store because you'd better believe I'm getting my own compost bin to sit on the patio.

oh yeah, and as of today: 23 days left until our super romantic, anniversary Caribbean cruise!  Hope everyone has a great weekend! 

this week's tip | open your mind

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Do you believe in God?  Which God?  Vishnu?  Arianrhod?  Ahura Mazda?   Tsohanoai?

I believe in the faith of endless possibility.  To me, your God is as real as my own but so what?  Does what I believe really impact your life in any significant way?  Why are there people who always try to make someone understand things in their way?  Why is it important that you should agree 100% with me and I, with you?

My dad used to say 'leave the matters of faith alone for your heart to decide: it's a personal decision.'  That's resonated and stayed with me throughout my entire adult life, for I also believe we each have our own path that twists and turns us in its own way.  A way unique of any other that shows us different things and teaches us each a different lesson.  How could I ever possibly see the world the way a 50 year old man living on the Irish coastline would?  Or a 17 year old Somali girl?  Or Giorgio Tsoukalos?   Why are there some that think I need to?  Isn't faith meant to be a very sacred, personal issue to everyone?  Something that brings you comfort and bravery.  I mean honestly, what do you care who I'm praying to in the dead of night?  How does that touch your life at all?

The very idea of converting someone to your religion baffles me.  Mainly because no two people ever really interpret things the same way, but also because of how much one person can change over the course of their lifetime.  I've often heard Christians say that one Bible passage could come to mean two, or three, or even four different things throughout their own lives, depending on the reader's mood, situation, growth or change in life.  Which part then, would you try and make me see?

I dream of a world in which we are each secure enough in our own beliefs that we don't to try cramming them down the throat of anyone else; and not merely from a religious standpoint either.  A world in which government systems aren't so hell-bent on controlling every last one of us, that they feel the need to periodically fuel the hatred and underline the differences between us all.  A perfect utopia in which we are all open-minded enough to believe there is validity in every faith.

What I'm about to say isn't meant to sound like boasting, but I consider my own life as testimony that peace can be attained through open minds.  Consider me briefly:  I was born and raised Russian Orthodox in a communist society | despite a communist, atheist grandfather, who incidentally remains my most beloved relative | my mother is Baptist | my best friend is Baptist | I'm not sure about my bro exactly, but think he's somewhere between Christian and ancient-astronaut-theorist | I married a Methodist | moved to America where my closest friends became: (OMG) Muslims (what!), Greek Orthodox, transcendentalists, New Agers, Catholics and (sorry mama) atheists.  Oh, and can you believe I've somehow managed to befriend republicans and democrats (even a tea party enthusiast) alike?  It's baffling...or is it?  Because, in my opinion:  no one cares.  No one I want to be around, anyway.  My friends and I take each other at face value and leave personal beliefs alone, since we all believe you reached your own conclusions on purpose.      

It's so enriching to share your life experience with people from vastly different backgrounds to your own.  To discover how your silly buddy that makes you laugh so hard you get abdominal pain, can even have a sense of humour when he was raised in poverty in Bangladesh.  Or how your Iranian friend's entire family with Zoroastrian beliefs were simply told to convert to Islam and within a week had their homes stripped of any Zoroastrian book or artifact, who has legitimate reasons to despise Muslims, but doesn't.

It's an enormous world and I think it's fair to state that every 7+ billion of us have a unique perspective and personal belief.  I will never make you try and see the world through the eyes of a girl born in Kazakhstan during the Soviet Union era but grew up in Australia.  Nor could I ever fully adopt your point of view.  I do believe, however, that with an open mind we can empathize with each other and learn so much about what it is to live in this world.  Isn't that what we're here for?

Peace out.    

tuesday tunes {Youth by Daughter}

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

It's been a strange, introspective, educational week.  On Thursday, I saw the Theory of Everything at the cinema, which had a profound and lasting affect; then over the weekend I saw a movie called A Long Way Down, which wasn't the best movie I've ever seen, but it is thought provoking.  Anyway... the highlight of the film was the song played in the scene where J.J. realizes he's being played for a fool: Youth by Daughter.  As I tend to, I instantly downloaded the song and listened to it about a million times, first because of its catchy melody, then because the lyrics resonated with me.

I've been brooding lately.  About life, humanity, myself and my perceived lack of achievement.  Discovering this song was a wow moment because it's exactly how I feel.  Here are the lyrics:

shadows settle on the place that you left
our minds are troubled by the emptiness
destroy the middle, it's a waste of time
from the perfect start, to the finish line

and if you're still breathing, you're the lucky ones
cause most of us are heaving through corrupted lungs
setting fire to our insides for fun
collecting names of the lovers that went wrong, 
the lovers that went wrong

we are the reckless, we are the wild youth
chasing visions of our futures
one day we'll reveal the truth
that one will die before he gets there

and if you're still bleeding, you're the lucky ones
cause most of our feelings, they are dead and they are gone
we're setting fire to our insides for fun
collecting pictures from the flood that wrecked our home
it was a flood that wrecked this home

and you caused it
and you caused it
and you caused it

well i've lost it all, i'm just a silhouette
a lifeless face that you will soon forget
and my eyes are damp from the words you left
ringing in my head when you broke my chest
ringing in my head when you broke my chest

and if you're in love, then you are the lucky one
cause most of us are bitter over someone
setting fire to our insides for fun
to distract our hearts from ever missing them
but i'm forever missing him.

and you caused it. 
and you caused it.
and you caused it.

Goosebumps for me, every time I hear this ethereal song with soul quacking lyrics.  To me, it's about the accumulation of pain, the corruption of innocence and loss of childhood.  The realization that the world is a major disappointment, full of heart ache, followed by the desensitizing steps we take to protect  ourselves from further pain.  Yet, it seems to implore the listener to hold on to their pure, youthful naivety.  Not to loose it along the way, but to consider themselves lucky to be able to feel at all.  The alternative would be to become a silhouette, a lifeless, soon forgotten face.  It goes hand in hand with the Theory of Everything, and perks me up, because Stephen Hawking didn't allow this to happen to himself at all.  He remains one of the lucky ones.

Ultimately I think it's an empowering song.  Sort of saying: look at me, you don't want to to end up like this.  The words destroy the middle, it's a waste of time. from the perfect start, to the finish line together with we are the reckless, we are the wild youth.  chasing visions of our future. one day we'll reveal the truth, that one will die before he gets there; seem to caution against rushing through life without savouring the present moment, since that's all there ever really is.  Almost as if the lyrics are telling you that the secret to not becoming broken and cynical is to find a way to be happy in, and savour, the moment without letting it crush you.

I love it and I'm somewhat blown away by the message that the universe has conveyed to me twice this past week.  I've had the moment of wallowing self pity, followed by the swift kick up the ass I needed.  I won't be corrupted, numb, lifeless or bitter: there are no excuses for failure.

What do you think?  Bit heavy for a Tuesday morning?

major anniversary news

Monday, January 26, 2015

Looking back, Will and I agree that getting married in December was a mistake; especially on a date that falls smack-bang in between Christmas and New Years Eve.  The major reason is that due to family traditions and expectations etc., that time of year can never truly just be about the two of us.  Other reasons include not being able to go anywhere alone (without majorly hurting someone's feelings or removing ourselves from family fun) and the fact that after the mountains of presents and travel expenses are paid for, we couldn't afford it if we tried!  We always go out for the customary dinner date, but sometimes it doesn't seem like enough.  

When our anniversary rolled around just recently it was a big one: five years married! and as we were trapped amidst three dogs, a car full of suitcases, forced family fun and a sixteen hour drive back to Austin; we were bummed that we couldn't commemorate it in any remarkable way.  That's why we've decided to do something different and start celebrating our unofficial anniversary of the day we met, Feb 21st, instead.  That gives us a chance to replenish the old bank account a little - and recharge our over-socialized batteries as well.    

So how are we celebrating our five years of marriage / six years of knowing one another?  We're going on a cruise!!! 

Yep.  A seven day cruise of the Caribbean that includes two bucket list items on both our lists: ancient Mayan ruin sites aaaaaaaand a day tubing through a river in the rain forest of Belize!  I'm so excited, I can hardly contain it!  

celebrate the (big and) small things | Jan 23

Friday, January 23, 2015

After a gloomy and cold couple of days I'm celebrating the sun coming out in time for the weekend! Hooray!  Everything looks more cheerful with a sunny backdrop!

Also this week I'm celebrating two new additions to the family:

a baby blue point juniper and Baxter, saying hello
and a baby lavender <3
(this will be my third attempt at growing the herb, so fingers crossed!)

And something that's always cause for celebration is dates with girlfriends! This week I've had two!  Lunch and a wedding dress fitting with my girl Meredith who gets married in May // then The Theory of Everything at the cinemas with my love Susanna.

I should mention that this movie, about the life of Stephen Hawking, blew my mind and opened my eyes in a way I can't describe.  I highly, highly recommend it and plan on buying it for myself the second it comes out on dvd.  Perhaps the biggest thing I should celebrate this week is the lesson I received from this incredibly moving film - about the tenacity, positivity and sheer purity of the soul of the man who has achieved so much despite a horribly debilitating disease: a condition that surely would have destroyed a lesser man.  It's a testimony to the human being, really, that in spite of body wasting away, the mind can reach such heights through simple, unwavering determination and positivity.

I actually haven't stopped crying.  I mean I've literally been breaking down on and off since watching it.  Its impact so deep that it's caused me to reevaluate my life and all my bull-shit, nonexistent, self-pitying excuses about why I haven't grabbed life by the scruff of the neck and fought for my dreams.  I'm filled with shame for myself, and awe for the man.  I have a renewed sense of determination and believe that if Stephen Hawking can smile and achieve more than anyone ever thought he was capable of, I simply have no excuse.  How can I even dare to invent one?  I refuse to wallow any longer!  Please do yourselves a favour and see this film.  If it doesn't drastically affect your outlook on life, then at least you will know more about what it's like to walk in the shoes of this lovable, brilliant, radiant man.  If you're anything like me, you'll be left with a bit of a crush really.

Hope everyone has a marvelous weekend.  Don't forget to give thanks for your able bodies, mouths that speak, eyes that see and ears that hear!  For that alone, you are blessed.

this week's tip | do something that scares you

Thursday, January 22, 2015

After writing all about my public squid eating experience, I realized that doing something scary actually feels very rewarding afterwards!

For me, the self-conscious scenario of eating an unconventional food was made worse by the fact that I was sitting in a busy food court, alone, and already feeling exposed.  When you're eating out with somebody, you rarely notice anyone else and you don't really care about how messy you are.  But in lone-dining situations, I always find myself eating very carefully, tying not to spill or slurp.  In all honestly, my self-consciousness probably wasn't even about what I was eating, so much as the vulnerability I felt at having an audience.

It's not that I'm agoraphobic, or anthropophobic, but am I alone in feeling like I'm being stared at and judged when I eat in front of a bunch of strangers by myself?  Even if no one is looking!  It's a tense situation, I don't like how it feels and I try to find corner tables whenever I can... but having said that, I will own to feeling a triumphant sense of victory when I'm successfully done eating at a center table, then I can rise from the table and leave gracefully - without tripping, dropping anything or bumping anything!

This empowering, triumphant feeling makes it all worth it and it's why I repeatedly choose to eat in a food court or crowded restaurant, alone.  It's like a test for my confidence and a way to desensitize myself from that feeling of discomfort.  With frequent, successful experiences: I'm sure it's bound to work.  I'm bound to overcome this fear of dining alone - whether I spill everything, break the chair simply by sitting on it, or topple the whole table over.  Yep, eventually, it's bound to work.  And eventually, I'll stop picturing these types of worst-case scenarios!

In a moment of sheer zen, I envision myself casually sitting at a fancy, busy restaurant all alone.  I'm drinking red wine over a white table cloth and white summer dress, eating raw oysters, squid or anything else unconventional that I feel like.  I imagine the careless feeling within, that my grown confidence has bestowed and I see myself smiling as I remember how afraid of this exact scenario I used to be.  I can feel how wonderful it is.  I am chilled.  I have slayed that dragon, conquered something that used to terrify me and now I am cool, collected and chic.  I wish the same for you.

food for thought | squid

On Monday I went out for lunch and chose a squid salad because Will was nowhere in sight.  Had he been around, he would have cringed, pulled faces and made disgruntled remarks about how gross it was - and I wouldn't have enjoyed my yummy meal at all.   Yet as I sat at that WholeFoods table alone, with Will's repulsion in my mind's eye, I started wondering if people around me were having similarly disgusted reactions and felt very self-conscious.  Many people are grossed out by squid tentacles and as I became increasingly paranoid, I subtly glanced around to ensure no one was dry-reaching or holding their noses and pointing at me!    

It seems funny now, in the comfort of home, but it is quite a self-conscious scenario.  Australians and Americas alike are not the most polite when it comes to food etiquette: happy to openly reject something new, without trying it, and more than happy to belittle the eater!  I would have felt just as under-the-spotlight if I had suddenly reacted on a compulsion to strip down to my jocks and start dancing on the table!  As it was, I sat there trying to take big mouth fulls - desperately trying to avoid that dreaded tentacle-sticking-out-of-mouth scenario!  And I wished I had my very confident, very loud Greek friend beside me, eating her own squid salad and name-calling the haters!  Most European countries eat squid without flinching and it seems silly to care about the opinions of others... 

Eventually I did feel foolish and cursed Will for making me feel so paranoid about my choice in lunch.  I looked down at my delicious meal with the squishy, chewy texture I love so much and considered a world in which I cared so much about what others thought that I never ate squid again!  Nope - not worth it.  Sure, it has tentacles, which feel weird on your tongue.  Sure it's rubbery and takes a little work to break down... but to me it's worth it because the trade off is the taste of the very ocean!  Meaty, salty goodness: so high in protein, so low in anything bad!

My name is Lena.  And I lurve squid.  Deal with it. 

In its raw form: squid (purple, with tentacles) and
calamari (white tubes without tentacles)

Tuesday tunes {Watering Can by Liza Anne}

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

This week I've been writing a lot and despite the possibility of sounding like a spoiled brat, I'll reveal that when I write I like two things for optimum creativity: a candle burning beside me and faint, soft background music.  While listening to the Wind and The Wave Pandora station, I came across Watering Can, by Liza Anne, fell in love and downloaded the album (called The Colder Months).

As she says in the video below, this song is about falling in love with the wrong person and the relationship ultimately not working out.  Before marrying my best friend, I collected two separate cases of my own that I can relate to this topic, as I'm sure most women will have at least one!  Now, as I listen to these lyrics, her voice and the hauntingly beautiful way she expresses that lost love: I can't help smiling at the wonderful way my love life turned out and all those stupid, pointless and wasted tears I cried over boys that weren't worth it.

I've been listening to the album on repeat for most of the week, but Watering Can is my favourite song.  This video is of her signing acoustic and was the only one I could share from YouTube, but I prefer the radio version with the upbeat additions <3 you can check it out here.  Which do you prefer?

celebrate the small things | Jan 16

Friday, January 16, 2015

Ok, what the heck... I know you've all heard someone complaining about this and I don't want to become that person... but where is the time going?  The 16th already?  That means half the month has gone by!  I'm not celebrating that.  I'm bummed about that.  But maybe time's gone by so fast because I've had such a great week.  Here's what I'm celebrating:

- a spontaneous, cozy and romantic lunch date with my hubbie, who was away all last week and whom I'd missed dreadfully.

- on Wednesday Feebee, my fiddle leaf fig, unwrapped her second, brand new leaf!!  This is a HUGE deal to me since I was so worried about all my plants after our big move in October - plant peeps know a shock like that can potentially cause them great harm - but now I know she's ok!  (I am a little puzzled as to why she's decided to grow in the middle of winter - perhaps it's the indoor heating that has her confused - but SO celebrating this regardless!) 

- oh, aaaaaaaaaand a brand new Birchbox: packed full of goodies as usual.  This time a liquid body scrub, lip stain, body lotion, face cream and hairspray:

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend and continue celebrating all the small things throughout xo

this week's tip | improve your karma, try trash free

Thursday, January 15, 2015

To recommence this segment for a brand new year, I want to kick it off with a topic that's very near to my heart: the trash free lifestyle.

A trash free (also known as zero waste) lifestyle is exactly what it sounds like ~
 a way of life in which nothing is contributed to landfill.  
Where everything you use is either recyclable, repurpose-able or compostable: 
in an effort to decrease the global magnitude of trash and, consequently, the devastating toll it's taking on our Mother Earth.  

Happily, this lifestyle is gaining popularity and many bloggers have worked their butts off to increase its awareness and share their stories.  My favourites are:

Trash is for tossers (excellent summary article by the author here)

Trash Free Living here or here

While I'm not even close to mastering the ultimate goal of absolutely no trash, like some of the above gurus: I have taken very conscious steps to reduce the amount of trash leaving this household.  Right now we are down to just one biodegradable, tall bin liner per week!!   Fortunately, we live in a city that's very environmentally aware and amazingly has its own trash free by 2040 goal, making it very easy to be proactive in the lifestyle here in Austin; but I know this isn't the case everywhere.  If you live somewhere without a recycling program but still wish to jump on board, there are some amazing suggestions here and here.

The top 11 steps I've taken to become trash free:

1.  diligently recycling everything that's allowed!  Plastic, paper, cardboard, steel cans and tins, unbroken glass, polystyrene and so on.  This takes so much out of the bin - I'd say two thirds at least  - and I'm frequently astonished at cities (ahem Atlanta) that don't recycle!! 

2.  donating all unwanted clothes, household items and furniture to places like Goodwill.  Neither Will nor I have ever curbed anything. 

3.   grocery stores throughout Austin don't give you plastic bags for your purchases, but even if they did: I'd still only take my reusable grocery totes!

4.   repurposing as many items as I can: used candle tins have become catch-alls and flowerpots (by making nail holes for drainage underneath) // old Birchbox boxes are used as present boxes // mason jars are all over the house serving any purpose you can think of - tea canisters, dry herb containers, bath salt holders, drinking and cocktail glasses... you name it!

5.  buying in bulk wherever I can: like dog food, aforementioned bath salts, dish washing detergent and liquid hand soap.  Back at the house these all get distributed into glass jars, yes, even the hand and dish soap: meaning I get to recycle one large item of packaging, instead of several small ones.

6.  I bought a re-usable BPA free cup from Starbucks for $1 so that I don't have to constantly use and discard their paper ones, which adds up to a lot for me.  The plastic cup literally pays for itself within the next few visits because as soon as you mention that you have one, Starbucks gives you 10c off your beverage!  
I know drinking from plastic, even BPA free, isn't for everyone because of the other toxins it leaks, I just haven't made that leap yet, but Starbucks (and many other places) have excellent and very fancy ceramic alternatives!

7.  using live or dried elements of nature as seasonal decorations instead of plastic/ synthetic ones.  Over the past two Christmases, I have incorporated the discarded live pine tree trimmings from hardware stores - turning them into garlands, bouquets, arrangements and wreaths.  That way, once the season is over, I return them to the earth so that they may come full circle. 
 I've also completely boycotted plastic gift wrap paper, opting instead for butcher's paper, recycled paper and twine or cloth ribbons; which are all far quicker 'biodegraders'.  
(my Xmas gift wrap pics here .  Yes, the foliage is shamefully plastic, but 
I want to mention that I've been reusing it 3 years in a row). 
   There are so many other raw materials you can use throughout the year, like cotton stalks for spring or hay bails, dried wheat and fruit for autumn!  Be as creative as you like 
(and share your ideas along the way!)

8.  Will and I drink a lot of tea and I became very aware of the amount of used tea bags we were discarding, so some time ago we started buying the tea we most often drink (earl grey and jasmine green) in bulk, loose leaf form.  Now we simply steep the leaves through a stainless steel mesh tea net and are able to use the old leaves as compost, significantly reducing the amount of bags in the kitchen bin!

9.  cleaning products and methods have been the most trash producing in our home.  I'm a huge germaphobe and don't like using soggy hand towels or cloths, so had always used paper towels or clorox wipes for cleaning messes.  But just like the tea bags, one day I noticed the amount of these in our bin, found out the wipes aren't biodegradable and I decided to try something different.  Old cotton washcloths with marks or stains that weren't coming out became rags that I now use in conjunction with disinfectant spray.  Luckily, we had so many of these that I'm able to dry them out in between several uses - then it's off to the wash!  Leaving nothing for the landfill and only one recyclable plastic spray bottle every couple of weeks. 

10.  although I love to hand-write, still keep a journal and often write blog posts or work assignments by hand before typing them up, I've started using scrap paper (like bills, letters from the vet & bank, not to mention the envelopes they arrive in) to write these drafts.  This ensures I don't waste a clean sheet of paper on something I'll inevitably throw away... even if it is destined for recycling.

11.  as a doggy mama, I value the importance of how quickly doo-doo bags can add up and only choose biodegradable, compostable options like these.

I know I still have a long way to go and I also know that all I can ever control are my own actions, but I implore you to consider the massive strain our planet is already under and hope you'll agree that it's worth making yourself more accountable for the footprints you're leaving behind.  If we could each decrease our amount of weekly rubbish by even 5%: the overall result would decrease global trash and benefit our planet drastically!  When  I read articles like this one, I know the time has come for me to make a change and simply being too lazy to wash something is no longer an excuse I can validate for myself.  I truly appreciate you reading and hope to hear your feedback, or the steps you're taking to help soon :)

2014 highlights

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What a year 2014 turned out to be: a year of drastic change, growth, excitement and new beginnings!  It was our first year in Austin, a city we've come to love deeply and confidently call home. A city seemingly made just for us and filled with all our favourite things, like good food, great music, nature and many eclectic nooks to explore.  What's more, throughout the year, as complete newbies knowing no one, Will and I repeatedly became astonished at how easy it's been to make friends.  Like-minded, hardworking and paradoxically carefree, wonderful friends!  Yep, 2014 was the year Will and I found our corner of the world.

It was also the year I became an aunty three... 3... yes, THREE more times! With two lovely new nieces and one amazing new nephew joining my ever expanding family.  Even if I had somehow mustered the strength, in the past, to casually walk by Babies R Us, now I have almost double the kids to spoil and no self control left whatever.

Here I am with my niece, Landry Mae,
who was born on the 20th Dec!

I became a gardener... or should that be pot-planter since I don't actually have a garden & all my plants are in pots? Whatever, I am officially a plant-lady who loves all her plants, gives them names and studies plant psychology in her spare time to better understand what they need.

My newest addition: Celestia, the violet.
Featuring Feebee, the Fiddle Leaf fig, in background 

I also became a chef (well, beginner maybe) as Will & I experimented more and more with ingredients and utensils alike, adding new gadgets to our kitchen collection and becoming addicted to cooking shows!  Having a spectacular kitchen in our new apartment greatly helps.  No more shitty, old, smokey oven or linoleum counter tops, yay!

Encountered more American wildlife than any other year: and managed to snap some pretty good photos, especially of deer!  Here is one of my faves:

Some more highlights include the trips we've taken, like those day trips to nearby towns like Wimberley Fredericksburg, New Braunfels, Surfside Beach, Bastrop, Fort Worth and several trips to San Antonio and Dallas.

And those mini-breaks we've taken to South Padre IslandBaton RougeNew Orleans and three visits back to Atlanta.  Not to mention the visits we had from loved ones overseas, like my cousin, aunty and (let's say) uncle from KAZ

or some of my Aussie family members:

We've certainly been blessed beyond measure in 2014 and a part of me is sad to see such a marvelous year end, but I am anxious to see what 2015 has in store!  I look forward to a little more structure, now that we're settled and the busy season is finished.  My main goal is to get back into frequent blogging; resume weekly tip segments/ celebrate life every Friday/ actually document those monthly day trips/ current crazes and all that fun stuff  :)

I also hope to connect with you more.  I appreciate you sharing my highlights with me and wonder what some of yours are?  

Tuesday tunes {The Wind and The Wave}

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

This week's tune is From the Wreckage Build a Home by my favourite local Austin band, The Wind and The Wave.  

Will and I first heard these guys on a TV show we like to watch, 'Hart of Dixie,' and then again at the Austin Bat Fest last August.  After hearing their whole set, I instantly downloaded their album and to this day include at least one of their songs in every playlist I make!  I love them to death and felt it only right to feature them this week, given that they are touring.  Huge congrats on their success!

PS// These guys are so up-and-coming that most of their songs don't have 'real' video clips yet, but I'm sure you'll agree that it hardly matters!


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Let's lighten the mood a little and focus on positives.  For one thing, my hoard of Christmas presents this year was utterly incredible! I truly got spoiled by friends and Will's family; what the heck people?  The present that surprised me the most was the one Will gave me - especially because we agreed not to get each other presents and I thought I was being super terrific and sneaky getting him a book!  Ha! Here's what he gave me:

A hand-crafted, genuine citrine and amethyst necklace! I was astonished. 

My bro and his wife sent a box full of lovely goodies, but my fave item was this cheese board and knife set:

My mother in law spoiled me, as usual, with a whole Santa's sack full of goodies: entirely too much to mention, but my favourites were the Chanel perfume// the MK handbag with matching travel case and passport holder (for future adventures)// the monogrammed overnight and book bags (that will also come in handy!) // and the J Crew scarf.

My sister in law, Erica, gave me this adorable snakeskin bag:

Will's aunt spoiled us with a week's worth of fancy dinners, since we stayed with her during our visit to Atlanta.  We went to several different restaurants, where she argued for the cheque every time and, as if that wasn't enough, gave me an immensely sentimental tree ornament, along with the ice bucket of my dreams!

Will's uncle surprised everyone by actually buying gifts this year (he's never done that before).  I can't help wondering why that is, when he's evidently great at it:

My friend Meredith sourced out the only two books in the world
that sum me up, completely:

My lovely Melissa found me something that'll make me
smile every time I look at it: 

i think it's strictly meant for Xmas but I love cardinals and
plan to use it whenever I like :)
I was over-the-moon to arrive home one evening and find a box on the doorstep, that contained a live amaryllis bulb inside from our dear friends Mike and Jane, who clearly got the message about my plant obsession!  I have named her Ruby and I love her <3

My cousin Rita made me somewhat mad (but also kind of full of glee) when she sent me an entire BOX of my favourite Kazakh chocolates!  This isn't helping my paleo lifestyle, nor is it conducive to that summer bikini body, but my God is it delicious!!

And lastly, I haven't taken off the brass bangle or cozy socks from
Madewell that Will's brother's girlfriend gave me:

Thanks guys, I couldn't feel luckier!

How about you?  What was the favourite gift you received this Christmas?

Tuesday tunes {Take Me to Church by Hozier}

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Ever heard the saying 'the music you listen to becomes the soundtrack of your life?'  I think it's great and in an effort to account for my own life's soundtrack, I'm starting 2015 with a new segment called Tuesday tunes; where I will post the current song (or songs) I'm obsessing over that week.

To kick things off, I wanted to share one of my all-time favourite happy songs... but then decided to be honest instead.  This week (and for the past few weeks) the song I've been listening to on repeat is Take Me to Church by Hozier.

It's a bit heavy and despite the fact that I'm a positive person by nature, doing my best to remain up-beat, sometimes there's no denying the wretchedness of human nature. That's what this song is to me.  An admission of how rotten and hypocritical we each have the capacity of being: persecuting those who are different and fueling hate.

It may seem strange that I'm sharing this, especially this time of year, but while I've had a magical Christmas, a festive New Year's Eve and am certainly looking forward to a fresh new year, a part of me (a part that I consistently bury) died this Christmas.  I am inwardly in mourning.

Some of you know I have a shaky relationship with my parents but what no one knows is that 2014 was the very first Christmas I've ever had that didn't involve them in anyway.  We completely ignored each other.  We both have our reasons.  Both equally mad, or stubborn, I guess.  Whatever. At the end of the day, we both feel that we are sacrificing chunks of ourselves to maintain a relationship with the other.

When I hear this song, it seems to fuel my anger at them and justify the role I've played. 'I'll tell you my sins, so you can sharpen your knife' are words that are too familiar and in a sick, masochistic way: they soothe me.  It seems I've tried my whole life to be worthy of my parent's love - something that's meant to be so certain and unfaltering - and I've struggled with its absence, but feel placated and comforted in this song's reminder that I'm not alone.


About unwavering me

Sharing my stories of migrating from Australia to the US | travel adventures | married life | furry kids | new experiences | lessons | and loving life despite always missing home. xo.


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spring in Austin TX

spring in Austin TX

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