31 May 2016

Birthday Gifts I Chose For Myself And Our Home

I may have overdone it this  year on the birthday gifts -- haha. But I finally took a stand and got a bunch of things that I've been wanting for far too long. It's a random list but they are all things I've been looking and looking for or wanted to buy for a very long time.

As I'm writing this I'm realizing that all the gifts I chose for my birthday are things I've been wanting for years, some as long as 20 years. Why has it taken me so long to just do it and get things I really wanted. There's a whole psychological conversation to be had there.

First I have wanted a collection of Piggy and Dirt stars for....forever. I first saw them in 1999 and then saw them at the Sundance Resort general store for years. Then I would look at them on Etsy regularly. Next I went gaga for them in NieNie's kitchen windows, But I never just made the purchase. I'm not really sure why. But last week I finally started my collection and bought three. I would love to get more as time goes along.

I love the ideas for Fourth of July stars and stripes windows in the Etsy store. The red, white and blue were so festive and I can just imagine how pretty they would look in the dining room windows in June and July each year. Scary thing is that just looking at them makes me want to go crazy and buy every one of them and put them all in my windows for the next two months. Better stay away from Etsy! Yay for that purchase finally made!

The second thing I purchased that I have wanted for a zillion years is a jig saw! And it too is of course orange, what other color would I chose. So silly. I have wanted a jigsaw to do wood projects for so long it's ridiculous and when one takes into account that one can be found for as low as $25 the fact I have never made the purchase even more ridiculous.

BLACK+DECKER 4.5 Amp Jig Saw
image via Home Depot

I bought the least expensive model and it has a cord and probably the weakest motor of any jig saw, but I decided that if I don't use it often I won't feel horrible. If I use it all the time and become a jig saw pro, I will sell this one and buy a fancy $100+ cordless version. But I have to earn that by actually making use of the one I bought. I am sure it will be fine for the little projects I have in mind. I bought a couple of scraps of wood at the Habitat For Humanity Restore on Thursday to play with.

I have been wanting some religious art for our home. I have looked and looked and there was one thing I've almost bought several times -- do you see a running theme here?

One thing I've wanted for years is a great Los Angeles LDS temple artwork for our home. I saw this one and liked it immediately....a few years ago....I know, I know, you've heard that story before somewhere. So I purchased the 11x14 version and it will be shipped to our house. So excited to get it and find a good place for it.

Los Angeles California Temple Print

I have also wanted a piece of art representing the Proclamation Of The Family for a while but just didn't see anything that felt like us artistically. I somewhat liked the subway style versions by The Man can't handle subway art, it is just too chaotic to him - I get that. So when I saw this last week I thought, that is the one! It is a download, so I got my file and will take it to the office supply store and have it printed 11x14 and then frame it. Great buy for $5.99.

FAMILY PROCLAMATION - SPLASH // 11 X 14 // instant download

So there you have it, my wacky round up of things I have wanted forever that I just never bit the bullet and purchased. No idea why it took me so long, but I have to say that beyond the excitement of getting these four new things, I feel really happy for myself that I went ahead and acted on all these things that I wanted...not things other people wanted, but things I wanted. I'm trying to learn to love self a little more -- see my Pinterest board called Learn To Love Self. I'm a bit proud of myself here. 

27 May 2016

Celebrating My Birthday

Monday was my birthday and due to a very busy work schedule the past few weeks I didn't really take my usual time to make plans for my birthday. But I did make plans to take some time off from work this week. Yesterday was my floating holiday, today is for dental work and Tuesday is checkups on my foot and in the middle of that throw a three-day Memorial Day Weekend.

After work Monday evening I headed straight to my favorite nail salon for a manicure/pedicure. (Have I ever mentioned that for some reason I just hate the words mani-pedi?) I was bummed to get the guy/husband to do my feet. He is rough and I was extra sensitive about the broken, now mostly healed foot. But even when I told him to be gentle, he wasn't. Not even sure he heard me or cared.

Then when he did the callous removal he did is so hard I was squirming and wincing in my seat. Despite my obvious discomfort he just get going at the same pace, chatting away with the other employees. It was NOT the relaxing, spa-like experience I was hoping for! But at least I got my first pedicure since probably last November. Hooray for that. But I just can never have that man touch my feet again, EVER. Even on my way home the skin of my feet was hurting in places where I am sure he went a little too deep with the callous stone. He's done my feet once before and I noticed that my polish only lasted a couple of weeks. When the ladies there do my polish it lasts for a good three months, I kid you not. Thank goodness one of the women there did my manicure and for two seconds, after he'd left my chair, and she was massaging my arms and hands I got very relaxed.

I came home from work to see this beautiful package sitting on my desk. I could not imagine who would've sent me such a beautiful package! It was from my parents! So wonderful of them. Living far away we are getting good at using delivery services to send happy sentiments across the miles. We opened this cake up the night after my birthday and The Man's first response after one bite was "This is damn good cake!" Well done Mom and Dad and well done Nothing Bundt Cake!

For my birthday, The Man and Kiddo took me to Cheesecake Factory for dinner. It just opened here in Albuquerque a few months ago and has been so popular we waited until things calmed down to reinstate one of our favorite family rituals -- dinner on the patio at Cheesecake Factory. This is a long-standing tradition that started when The Man and I first started dating. CF was the only place that was really open late when we tried to go to dinner at 10 p.m. It was just easy to know we could always get in there.

Meeting up in various places between San Diego and Los Angeles we became regulars at a LOT of CF restaurant locations and this carried through throughout the years. We were pretty bummed when the closed the location very close to our house in Los Angeles, even though there were at least five other locations within 20 minutes of our house.

I had a very surreal experience walking into Cheesecake Factory. I felt like I was "home." And that meant a multitude of things. It connected me with our family traditions and history -- so many wonderful memories. It connected me with California. For all the grousing one can do about cost of living and traffic in California, I do miss it. I miss our neighborhood and miss so much our many friends there that were made through most of my adult life. I miss my life there and who I was when I lived there. I miss our life with our little girl who is suddenly not so little anymore. I miss the ocean breeze, the beach and more.

In no way does that preclude me from appreciating life here in ABQ but it is very different here. There is lots to appreciate here, like being able to eat outside at Cheesecake Factory in the summer without needing a sweater. We ordered lots of our old favorites and I have to say we all felt that feeling that we were at home, someplace very comfortable that we knew. It felt so good to feel that deep knowing feeling, to be so deeply at ease in our new town. I think we are still missing that. (More on that when I talk about some design projects soon).

Dinner was just such a joy I couldn't have wished for anything else for us. It was a lovely day with sweet message from so many FB friends. Their kind words sunk especially deep into my heart for some reason on this birthday. I think I needed to see myself in their eyes for a little bit. We can be so hard on ourselves. It was nice to see myself reflected in their eyes for a few minutes. I wrote back each and every one a thank you and more of a note to some who sent a longer message. This was a great birthday gift for me.

The day after my birthday I made the happy purchase of two pair of these sandals. My feet have really been very painful over the past few weeks, which makes me feel 100 years old and walk like it too. I had been hoping to find some good Birkenstocks that would help my feet and I was lucky enough to find two pair in my size at a local shoe shop we frequent. Mission accomplished, sandals for the summer and hopefully less painful feet. That was my birthday gift to myself.

I have a little birthday money tucked in my wallet and I have a few wishes that I might use it for. I suddenly have a very strong hankering for a jig saw. I think I'm going to go buy one! It's about time I did and I certainly have the outside space to use it now! I have a project idea that I want to try. I also want some of these Piggy and Dirt stars. Also on my possible list were a solar pool blanket that heats the pool by the sun, a firepit, a hammock or maybe some turquoise jewelry. Fun stuff.

Since my birthday is always around Memorial Day Weekend I've decided I'm just going to celebrate right through the holiday. Have a great holiday weekend for those of you in the US and great weekend to all our friends abroad!

25 May 2016

Blooming With Joy and Creativity

It's been a very interesting 2016 with the broken foot and several other adventures all unfolding at the same time. Now that I've been out of my cast for a month, even though my foot is still incredibly painful and swollen every day, I am feeling a new burst of energy and excitement about life.

I have met some amazing people since we've moved and had the opportunity to work with some very inspiring folks around town. It feels like all those things are coming together this summer and I am really excited to see what can become of some of my ideas. It feels like the season of perfect storms and opportunities to do some really amazing things.

I have been scribbling and scrawling in notebooks like crazy, envisioning new creative projects from sewing to painting to photography. I have about 100 things on my Pinterest boards that I'd like to whip up in "my spare time." It felt like we were stuck in unending winter and early spring for a while and suddenly last week summer just decided to arrive overnight. Now we are having hot, windy days and I am looking forward to a dip in the pool,  weekend floats and sunning. Sounds heavenly.

I have been very inspired by my friends lately and have come to the realization that I have a lot of very incredible people in my life, amazingly good people -- friends from childhood, schools and many different jobs, church congregations and so many other activities. I am happily meeting the same caliber of people in my life here in New Mexico. These friends just blow me away and I find myself motivated to try to live up to their amazing examples and be a friend of equal caliber. It's a good yardstick and constant reminder of who I want to be. So grateful for that!

My friend in the photo up there is our first peony here in our backyard. I have to give Mother Nature totally credit for this photo -- late afternoon light, on the stem in the backyard. Crazy amazing! Our yard on three sides is landscaped in the "high desert style." That means some pines, sagebrush, natural grasses, rocks and cactus (even after The Man removed a few hundred pounds of it for the safety of dog and kiddo.)

In our walled back yard we have a little haven with the pool, mature trees, flower beds, grapevines, lots of lavender and lilacs, roses, lots of vines and a small round stucco gazebo, with large rock steps leading up and down to four different levels across the yard. There is nice space around the pool for lounge chairs and a small spot a few feet away for a small table with benches and sun umbrella. 

Above all that we have the lovely courtyard patio area where we put the big table for dinners under the cafe lights.The peonies are in a corner of the patio. Peonies always remind me of my grandmother who grew the most beautiful deep pink peonies. It is so nice to have a little garden setting in the desert. We are looking forward to putting the backyard to full use once this weekend hits. It's pool time and time to start eating dinners outside, inviting friends over and really enjoying every moment of summer.

Now that the warmer weather is finally hitting us here in the US, what are you excited for this summer? Looking forward to sharing it with you!

16 May 2016

A Weekend In Taos, New Mexico

One of my initial goals when we moved to New Mexico was to take every opportunity to get to know our new home. I thought it would be fantastic to take a weekend every month to visit a new corner of the state.

We barely got settled, into the school year and through the holidays when I started my five-month broken foot odyssey. So a couple of weeks ago when our new, much loved, next door neighbors invited us to meet them in Taos, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take our first weekend getaway.

Unfortunately kiddo got sick the night we were planning to leave and none of us was feeling too great. So we decided to wait until Saturday morning to see how everyone was feeling. Come Saturday morning kiddo was not feeling great but was begging to go since she'd already been packed for two days. We decided we all could use a couple of days away from the house and projects and To Do lists. 

We met our friends and had lunch at the historic Taos Inn restaurant Doc Martin's. We enjoyed some great, classic New Mexican fare and a nice visit together. Then we wandered Kit Carson Street and a variety of beautiful art galleries. One of the most interesting stops was at Angie Coleman Fine Arts. Our neighbor, who is an artist is a friend of Angie's, so we got to see her block printing. It was a great opportunity to see what goes into her beautiful work that we also saw features at Taos Inn.

Along the way there were lots of pretty alleys and nooks and crannys to see and the lilacs were in bloom and were so fragrant. Kiddo was feeling pretty wiped out at this point so we checked into our hotel for the night and ended up eating the snacks we'd brought with us for dinner and we never left the room again that night.

We stayed at the Hampton Inn, which I'll give the following reviews. When we got our room keys and headed to our room with luggage in hand, The Man and kiddo were ahead of me. Once I got into the room, I saw baby toys on the bed and then a suitcase against the wall. Hearing people coming down the hall, in horror, I said, "This is someone else's room. C'mon let's get out of here!"

It did take a few seconds for each one of us to register what was happening in the room because the beds was made, and the room was very tidy. The Man said he thought it was odd that the hotel had provided us with a crib. Once The Man ran back up to the lobby and got us another room, we ended up loving our room. It was very simple, stylish and comfortable. There was a great indoor pool in the hotel, breakfast and everything was very easy. The one downfall was that the room was not at all soundproof. Noise from upstairs, the hallway and neighboring rooms was loud. Luckily we were tired and slept a long time anyway.

 Sunday afternoon we tracked down a pizza joint The Man has been talking about for as long as I've known him and it well worth it. It's not a spot you would ever find if you weren't hunting for it. Word is it has a cult following.

Taos Pizza Out Back is rustic to be sure, but the minute you step out of your car the smells coming from inside assure you that you've made a fantastic decision for your next meal! We were all about ordering once we sat down and quickly ordered drinks and their version of a supreme pizza.

We were not disappointed and I will gladly revisit any time we're in town and definitely will recommend it to everyone. Everything about the pizza was fantastic and they also had a great dessert menu, which we were too full to check out.

We wandered the downtown plaza for a while and did a little souvenir shopping and enjoyed looking at beautiful New Mexico jewelry and other locally made products. We took things pretty slow the entire weekend and headed home early Sunday afternoon. The drive home was beautiful and went quickly.

I am looking forward to going back to Taos again when we're all feeling a little better and to adventuring to all the places we didn't get to see on our first trip. We passed lots of river rafting spots, and there is lots to see around the Taos, Angel Fire area. Here's to more New Mexico road trips this summer!

Check out my instagram feed, kalanicutblog for lots more photos of our New Mexico adventures including a trip to the Sandia Peak Tram last week.
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