Fabulous Fridays: June 28

28 June 2013
Today is Friday, people! You know what that means! I'm back for another round of Fabulous Fridays.

This week was crazy busy at work, and I left every day feeling utterly exhausted, but that didn't keep me from being awesome and doing fabulous things. Here's my list of things that made this week fabulous:
Trader Joe's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes. Because I'm a grown-up and I can.
My Saturday morning walking meetup was awesome this past weekend- met some really cool ladies.

My Sunday hike was gorgeous, but you already knew that.

The season finale of Mad Men. What will happen next?!

I got a sweet postcard from Melyssa!
Rockin' the red lipstick (of which I own way too many).

I did wheel pose in yoga! For the first time!

I finished reading a really awesome book.

Lucy time. Always fabulous.
An amazing hot pink sunset- no pictures because they just don't do it justice.

A delightful dinner with my mom (post to come this weekend).

I bought new hiking shoes so that my legs/feet don't die during my 12-mile hike on Sunday.

Yep, sounds like a fabulous week. What about you, dear readers? What made your week fabulous? Have any great plans for the weekend? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Liebster Award

26 June 2013
No one will see me if I hide behind a bear.
You guys, I'm a bad blogger. Actually, I'm just a bad award-receiver. When someone bestows an award upon me, my instinct is to make like an ostrich and bury my head in the sand, just pretend I'm not here. Case in point: in my Art Appreciation class in college, my teacher made an award for the top 2-3 students who did amazingly on the midterm. Unfortunately, I was one of those students. Also unfortunately, the award was a pencil protector with a pencil, a pen, and an old school eraser. I was mortified, so I just pretended I was not there- it was a big class, after all, in a small auditorium. I may have been seated in the second row, but there was no way in hell I was going to stand up in front of everyone to claim my pencil protector.

Sadly, the professor tracked me down and made me claim my prize.

Which brings me to the Liebster Award. Granted, the winning of this award is a bit...shall we say, involved? It involves writing, answering questions, picking other winners, and creating questions. So of course, when I won, I panicked. All 5 times. 

Yes, I was nominated 5 times. 

Allison, Erika, Erika, Christina, and Melyssa each nominated me for this award. What's really cool, though, is that I love these girls! So when they nominated me, I was all, oh, how sweet! And then I buried my head in the sand.

But no more. Melyssa's Liebster post gave me the kick in the pants I needed (or just a dose of inspiration, as her blog always does). So today, I am finally writing my Liebster post. You can hop over to Melyssa's post to read the Liebster rules, I want to get straight to business here (took me long enough already).

Facts About Me:

  1. I hate the combination of chocolate and fruit, excepting bananas and pears. Sometimes dried cherries are okay. 
  2. I have a scar on the top of my left foot from falling forward and sliding down stairs. As an adult. Not drunk (I was actually at work).
  3. I won third place at the state fair in the obstacle portion of the horse-driving competition. Nerd alert!
  4. I think Pee Wee's Big Adventure is highly underrated. Why don't more people quote this movie?
  5. I wanted to learn French because of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Little did I know as a ten year old that I would major in French in college.
  6. I went stag to the prom. I didn't go on my first real date until I was 28 years old.
  7. In high school, one of my close friends and I kept notebooks that we would trade with each other, writing stories and anecdotes, and drawing pictures and pasting magazine clippings for each other. Blogs did not exist in those days.
  8. My first favorite song ever was What's Love Got To Do With It. As a wee one, I'd go around singing "what's love got to do, got to do." It's now one of my go-to karaoke songs.
  9. I was the "popular counselor" with the fifth graders when I counseled outdoor school for a week at age 16.
  10. I love hugs.
  11. I have a horrible nervous tic where I twirl my hair, especially my bangs.
11 Questions from the Bloggers:
  1. What was the best thing that happened to you this week? I got a postcard from Melyssa, who lives in Japan. And her note to me was so sweet. Technically, the note is from Melyssa and Monja, who is probably my favorite dog I've never met.
  2. What is your favorite thing about yourself? I do the things I want to do, even if it means going solo (except for when solo is unsafe).
  3. What are three qualities that are mandatory that your friends have? My friends must have patience, kindness, and a sense of humor.
  4. What's your favorite part about blogging? Besides feeling like I can be 100% myself here, I love the connections with my readers and other bloggers. I have cyber-met some amazing people so far.
  5. What is the best memory you have with one of your relatives? I have had a strained relationship with my mother's mom, mostly due to a long-held grudge on my grandma's part that I only became aware of at age 27 or so. But I will never forget how proud my grandma was the first time she saw me bellydance. She hadn't originally wanted to see me perform, but my big brother convinced grandma that I was not a stripper. He explained the cultural aspect of the dance. And so she came. And she loved it.
  6. What three words do people describe you as the most? Intelligent (or smart, or sharp, or witty), sweet (don't know where they got that idea), and quiet (shut up).
  7. Without thinking about obstacles, what is the biggest dream you would like to accomplish in your life? I would like to write a book, and see the pyramids in Egypt. Both have been life-long dreams. Besides, I already owned a pony.
  8. What would you do if you stepped in dog poo on your way to an important interview? I would find the closest spot where I could wipe it off my shoe- some grass, the side of a building, some garbage- I'd McGuyver the heck out of that situation.
  9. Which decade (or century) would you like to have lived in and why? The late 1800's in Paris, no doubt. I'm fascinated with that time period, especially artistically. I would have loved to join the Impressionists for a luncheon, and discuss the fleeting nature of time.
  10. What is something you've achieved this month that you're proud of? I finally made it into wheel pose in yoga. This has been my goal since April.
  11. Favorite guilty pleasure TV show? My Fair Wedding with David Tutera. Can I plan a horrible DIY wedding so that he can be my fairy-godfather and make it all amazing? Please?
And I'm spent.

Have you ever been nominated for something? How do you react?

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Getting Out: Wahkeena Falls Trail

25 June 2013
Multnomah Falls Oregon Waterfall hiking
Multnomah Falls
Have you ever done something and immediately regretted it? Something stupid/silly/regretful that is 100% irrevocable? Do you ever wish you could go back in time and just undo something?

That is how I felt on Sunday after I accidentally deleted all of my beautiful photos from this hike. This trail was the most scenic I've hiked yet, and I had some pretty pictures to show for it. I even took probably the best picture ever of my dog. But you'll never see them. They're gone. I erased them.

When I looked for the photos and realized that they were completely gone, I was deeply disappointed. How is it that in this infinite universe, where every action has a reaction, something can disappear into nothingness? Why can't I just zip back in time to that one second to not push that button? I don't have questions to these answers- none of us do. It's just the way it is. And sometimes, the disappointment I feel is a hard pill to swallow.

I don't handle disappointment very well. I've been known to cry when someone cancels their plans with me (especially when it was something I was really looking forward to). Last Thursday, my sister in law texted me to tell me she couldn't go roller skating with me Friday night, something I'd been looking forward to for weeks, and I felt really let down. I sulked. And then my car freaked out and I had to call a tow truck. There were lots of tears involved.

Then there's the disappointment in myself. When I don't say the thing I meant to say. When I'm too nice, without even thinking (like doing way more for a person than they would do for me, to my own detriment). When I mess something up, big time. When I mess around with my camera and end up deleting a bunch of pictures from my beautiful hike.

I try to stay positive when I face severe disappointment. I try to reframe it. But there are times when I just feel so sulky it's hard to come out of it. That's when I need to reverse the feeling with a better positive experience. Sometimes, that means a trip to VooDoo donuts. Sometimes, it's curling up with a comfort movie (does anyone else have those- like comfort food, but in movie form?). Sunday night, post-incident, I curled up with some hot cocoa (which I under-cooked, making me sulky again) and the season finale of Mad Men. It didn't make it better, but it did take my mind off of my disappointment.

Now that I've said all that, I do want to share my hike with you. The pictures here are from my friend, Katie's, camera. Notice the picture of me taking a picture of Lucy. The picture. Ah, well. 

We hiked the Wahkeena Falls to Multnomah Falls loop, starting at Wahkeena and ending at Multnomah. This was a tough hike, in that I still don't have hiking shoes and given the rocky terrain, there was a lot of ankle rolling (and now, soreness). The first half is all uphill, so we took tons of wimp breaks, and I began to worry about my water supply (note to self: you're gonna need more than 20oz of water for a 5-mile hike). This may have been quite the workout, but it was so worth it. 

We followed along a creek and saw plenty of waterfalls all along the way. There were times I thought of Lord of the Rings, and times I thought of LOST (okay, I probably reference LOST at least once during every hike). There were cool rock formations, water cascading over fallen trees, and bits of creek without any stepping stones to cross (Lucy just braved it by padding through the water). The last part of the trail followed along Multnomah Creek, taking us to the top of Multnomah Falls. Let me tell you, it pays to go this way. By ending at Multnomah Falls, you can get past the crowds pretty quickly (and feel like a badass after completing 5 miles and the tourists are complaining about the .2 miles they've gone), and then you can get ice cream at the snack shop. I totally scored me some swirl soft serve- I earned it!

How do you handle disappointment? Do you have any tips?

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I Like to Read: The Book Thief

24 June 2013
Have you ever read a book, and as you approach the end of the book, you try to slow down your reading so that you can delay the end? That's what I tried to do with The Book Thief (tried because it was really hard to not keep reading).

I'm probably a little late to The Book Thief train, but I don't care. I loved it. I was hooked by Markus Zusak's writing. This book is classified as young adult, and I'm beginning to think that maybe YA books are the best, because they are so imaginative. What made this book so interesting is that it was narrated by Death, and it takes place in Germany during World War II.

I never realized it until I read this book, but much of the culture that I have been exposed to that deals with World War II has mainly been about the Holocaust. Most people read Anne Frank's diary in school, and so we learn a lot about what life was like for Jews under Hitler's reign. But what would life have been like for a little German non-Jew during that time? This book gives you an idea.

The book starts out when the main character, Liesel, is nine years old. She is sent to live with foster parents shortly after her younger brother's death. Liesel starts off as shy and afraid, but with the help of her foster father, Hans, she turns into a brave little girl. Liesel arrived at the Hubermann household completely illiterate, but with a stolen book. Hans makes sure that Liesel learns how to read under his tutelage.

When a Jew, Max, comes to hide in their basement, Liesel really blossoms. Liesel was plagued by nightmares, and when she learned that Max had nightmares too, she felt like she was not so alone, that she had found a kindred spirit. Eventually, Max writes for Liesel and encourages the writer within her, asking her to describe the world outside to him.

This is a book-lover's book, showing the power of words. It is about a book thief, after all. And words certainly held sway in Nazi Germany. Given how much I love words and books, I couldn't not love this book. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone.

Have you read The Book Thief? Have you ever read a book that you did not want to end? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Rachel's Guide to Portland: Nostrana

22 June 2013

There once was an Italian restaurant called Nostrana. It resided in Portland, east of the Willamette River. Nostrana was known for negronis and pizza. And it was visited by a woman named Rachel.

Rachel loved Nostrana with all her heart (or, more like, her stomach). The ambiance was just right for her- enough space so that she felt she had privacy, open enough that she could watch the buzzing room around her, and friendly enough that she felt at home. She particularly admired the bar that reached way up to the ceiling, and she enjoyed watching the pizzas cook in the brick oven.

On this particular visit, Rachel was dining with her father. Her dad had instilled in her a sophisticated love of wine, and so the two ordered the flights that were available that evening: she the wines of the Ligurian coast, and he the wines of the Langhe region. Her flight began with prosecco (which was dry, fruity, crisp, and bubbly), was followed by a lovely Pigato, and finished with a delicious Vermentino. His flight began with a dolcetto, was followed by a barbera, and finished with a nebbiolo. Rachel's love of Italian wines deepened that night, and she made a mental note to get back out to the Marchesi vineyard in Hood River.

Rachel and her father started out with a raddichio salad and a tuna and cannelini bean dish. The raddichio salad was a lot like a Caesar, with raddichio in the place of romaine. The tuna dish, however, was unlike anything she had had before. It was comprised of flaky white tuna, fat cannelini beans, thinly sliced red onions, giardiniera, and olive oil. Giardiniera, Rachel learned, was pickled vegetables- in this case, celery, carrots, and radishes. Rachel loved the dish so much, she vowed to recreate it (hoping to do so for the 4th of July).

The main course was a funghe verdi pizza. Rachel and her father both enjoy mushrooms, and this pizza had lots of them. It was also topped with lots of fresh arugula and pecorino cheese. Rachel was so giddy to snip into the pizza (the pizza is served with a pair of scissors for cutting), that she forgot to take pictures of the virgin pizza. Food waits for no man, not even Rachel.

Finally, Rachel and her father topped off the meal with dessert for her and cheese for him. Rachel was in a chocolate mood and the budino was right up her alley- smooth, rich, creamy. Her father enjoyed the sheep's milk cheese, which came with honey, crackers, and figs. Both Rachel and her father were happy with their meal, and left the restaurant with smiling tummies.

Have you ever had a restaurant experience that brought you such delight? Portlanders- have you been to Nostrana? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Fabulous Fridays: Summer Solstice Edition

21 June 2013
You guys, it's officially Summer! I don't know about you, but I think Summer should always start on a Friday- it makes it way more fun and official, right?

So today is not exactly off to a fabulous start; my car is in the shop and I am waiting to hear how much it is going to cost me... But this week isn't a total loss (lemme tell ya, getting towed is weird). Below, see my list of what made this week fabulous.

PSU Farmer's Market! I am always amazed at how I can buy pretty much anything for a meal at the market, and all of the fresh strawberries were so amazing.

I made my first jam! With passion fruit!
Bowling for father's day- and I wasn't terrible! I think I only bowled a 0 once!

I discovered how delicious fresh fried potatoes and mustard greens are together.

We worked on veil movements in belly dance class and it made me feel like a fairy.

Probably the best pie I've ever made, which is saying a lot. Strawberry Rhubarb. I have one slice left.
Spent some morning time with my nephew when he woke up before his mama.

New Mad Men and True Blood episodes were on in the same night. I was in Heaven.

Dinner at one of my favorite places in Portland. I love their bar!
And finally, all of YOU have made this week pretty fabulous. I'm always happy to read your comments!

So friends, what made your week fabulous?

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Jealousy and Envy

20 June 2013
envy quote jean vanier

Jealousy: resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another's success or advantage itself.

Envy: a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions, etc.
Source: Dictionary.com

Have you ever found yourself in the grips of jealousy or envy? Do you disdainfully look at other women whom you perceive to be better-dressed, thinner, stronger, richer, or more confident than you? Have you ever though that you were more deserving of someone else's job, their car, their home, their followers, their significant other? If so, then you're not alone.

Feelings of jealousy and envy strike the best of us. You can be perfectly content with your life, but when faced with someone who seems to have something more, you feel like you come up short. Or, as is common with women, we turn a very critical eye to other women in public when they seem to have more status than us. She may wear tight pants (and look good in them), she might have a hot boyfriend, she might have a huge rock on her hand, or she might be driving a nice shiny BMW. What causes us to feel so inadequate when we see someone like that?

For me, it's because I still judge myself very harshly. I know I'm smart, but I feel like I've gotten myself stuck with entry-level type jobs, a stagnant love life, and a frumpy look. I look at a woman who seems to have it all together, and I am overcome with envy. I want what she has. Sometimes, especially if the woman seems mean, jealousy takes over and I wonder why nice old me doesn't have all of those wonderful things. It's not like I don't try.

When not kept in check, these emotions can cause me to downward spiral into anxiety and depression. But I've learned two mechanisms for coping with envy and jealousy, and I'd like to share them with you.

1. Gratitude. I cannot emphasize enough how important gratitude is. Be thankful now for what you have, because it can always be taken away. Nothing should be taken for granted. As an exercise, I will make a list of what I am grateful for. Doing this when jealous feelings creep in is very beneficial. 

An example:

  • I am thankful for my adorable dog.
  • I am thankful for my health.
  • I am thankful that my breasts are the size they are (I get boob-envy very easily, so this is an important reminder to myself).
  • I am thankful for my hips and my waist.
  • I am thankful for my calves.
  • I am thankful for my beautiful eyes.
  • I am thankful for my intelligence.
  • I am thankful for my sense of humor.
  • I am thankful that I have a good relationship with my family.
  • I am thankful for the time I spent in Europe.
  • I am thankful for my literacy.
I could go on, but these examples serve as a counterpoint to the things I find myself becoming envious of in other people. Which leads me to mechanism number two:

2. Recognize what it is that you are envious about, and consider how you might be able to make that quality a part of your life. For example, if you are jealous of someone's recent trip to Hawaii, ask yourself why you are feeling that way? Is it because you've never been and would like to go? Figure out how you can make it happen, even if it means you have to save money over the course of three years. Are you envious of how beautiful another woman looks? Think about what it is that you see that makes her beautiful, and figure out how you can apply that in your life. Do you wish you could pull of red lipstick? Find a shade that suits you and start rocking it (it's scary at first, but the only way to get used to it is to do it a lot). Do you wish you had her nonchalant confidence? Practice good posture and meeting new people.

I know that with this coping mechanism, there are some things that can't be changed. I tend to get jealous of any woman, big or small, who has a flat stomach. Because of my weight loss, I will never have a flat stomach without surgery. This is where an extra dose of gratitude comes in. Acceptance is very hard to do, but it is the first step. I accept my tummy as it is. I accept it will not change much. And I am thankful that this extra skin and the stretchmarks I have remind me of the long way I've come. This part of me is a souvenir of another me, one that I left behind long ago, but who is equally deserving of love.

But here's the thing about jealousy and envy: both are a  construct of the mind. That woman who seems to have it all together? Chances are she doesn't. She might be plagued with debt, or riddled with anxiety, or maybe she even has body dysmorphic disorder and wished she were even skinnier. The outside does not always reveal the inside. So next time you find yourself jealous of someone you don't know fully, take it with a grain of salt.

I hope that you find these tools useful, and I am curious to know if you have any other methods for dealing with jealousy and envy. What things trigger these feelings in you? How do you cope? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Whatever Wednesdays: My First...

19 June 2013

Today I'm linking up with Alissa and Shay for Whatever Wednesdays. I found these ladies through the blog every day in May challenge, and it turns out, they wanted to keep the fun going. So for the first Whatever Wednesday, they asked us to talk about firsts. 

So, instead of writing about my first something, I am coming to you with my first vlog. In this vlog, I share two other firsts...but you'll have to watch to find out what they are. I apologize now for not being more presentable in the vlog- I had just come from bellydance class after a long day at work.

Let me know what you think. I'm not sure if I'll vlog again. I think it's a medium I'd like to work on, but we'll see. It takes a little more planning than I had time for this go-round.

How do you feel about vlogs? Do you have a confiscation story?

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Songs to Remind You You're Awesome

18 June 2013
I don't have a hiking post for you this week, since my regular hiking day was Father's Day. I spent the morning bowling with the family, and I was lucky enough to not have the lowest score! But, if you factor in that the lowest score came from a 5-year-old, then, well, I at least bowled my average!

So, today, in lieu of a hiking post, I bring you a music post. I'm sharing with you my Spotify playlist of songs that remind me I'm awesome. Sometimes you just need a little pep-talk. For me, music s a huge mood-influencer, so when I feel myself getting a little bit down on confidence, I play these songs.

If you have Spotify, I encourage you to follow me. Feel free to copy this playlist and play it when you need a boost.

What are your go-to confidence-boosting songs? Any ideas for songs to add to this list? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Rachel's Guide to Portland: Little Bird

16 June 2013
You know how some types of cuisine make you feel comfortable and nostalgic all at once? For me, that cuisine is French food. I've lived in France twice, and during my first stay, my host family made a point of educating me about good French food. At the time, I was an omnivore and willing to try anything. Now, as a vegetarian, I don't get to eat many of the foods that I once loved (choucroute garnie, anyone?), but I still love the atmosphere of a French restaurant, and the kind of love that goes into French dishes.

My local favorite is Little Bird. It's a fancy little spot in downtown Portland, and appears to be frequented by business-types and couples out for a special evening. For me, it's a nice place to eat with my parents.

The wine list is very French-centric (as it very well should be), and they have a rather nice French-inspired cocktail menu. On this visit, I opted for the "La Vie En Rose," named after my favorite French song. Featuring pisco, Lillet rose, and pamplemousse liqueur (grapefruit liqueur for you non-French speakers), it was an absolute delight. I love grapefruit cocktails, and this one was perfectly chic and refreshing. I felt like a skinny French woman sipping this cocktail as I waited for my mom to arrive.

As a starter, my mom and I ordered the sheep's milk cheese of the day: Le Berger Basque. The Basque Shepherd. I adore sheep's milk cheese, all thanks to my French host parents. They had recently returned from visiting the Pyrenees when I went to live with them, and they had brought back some sheep's milk cheese with them. It was love at first bite. I love the earthiness, the nuttiness. Le Berger Basque was no disappointment. It was technically a hard cheese, but it had such a smooth, creaminess to it. Paired with the accompanying rhubarb jam and candied hazelnuts, it was a match made in Heaven. I was definitely seeing la vie en rose.

For the main course, I ordered soup and salad. The soup of the day was a cream of celery root with waldorf salad on top. I forgot that waldorf salad includes bleu cheese, but luckily there wasn't too much of it to ruin the soup for me. The soup itself was very creamy, perfect for the rainy day we had been having. My salad was a butter lettuce salad with mint dressing, radishes, and pecorino cheese. I don't think I've had a fresher salad in a restaurant before this. They might as well have picked the greens from the garden right before putting them on the plate. The dressing was light, and it was all so crisp, I had to feel proud of myself for eating so healthy in a French restaurant where rich foods tend to be de rigeur.

My mom ordered the Sherry-Glazed Pork Shoulder with roasted corn, fingerlings, manchego and padron peppers. My mom said that it was delicious, and given how big it was, she took the rest home and said that the leftovers heated up very nicely.

Dessert was a tough choice, but I ordered the strawberry ile flottante and my mom ordered the chocolate profiterole with cookie ice cream and mint. I think the pictures speak for themselves. All I can say about these is that they were both delicious.

One of the things that makes Little Bird special is that when they bring you your bill, they also bring you enough mini macarons for each person at the table. They make them there in the restaurant, and the flavors change constantly. This time, they were carrot cake macarons. Such a wonderful way to end a nice meal.

What kind of food makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Little Bird Bistro on Urbanspoon
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Friendship and Frances Ha

15 June 2013

Thursday night, I scheduled a Meetup to go see Frances Ha with other women my age at Cinema 21 here in Portland. I'd never been to this theater before, and it was pretty great. They serve wine (and beer, I think, but I prefer wine so that's what I saw), and the (only) theater is pretty big. They show more indie-type films, a fact that, right there, makes me think of my good friend, Adrienne.

So Frances Ha was awesome. And it made me think of Adrienne. You see, what I got out of this movie was the friendship that it showed between two women in their late 20s. Most of the time, Frances is kind of awkward and flailing in life, but there are moments where she really shines. There are times where she seems to care way more about a person than they do about her (or vice versa), and I could relate to that. But in the end, Frances is always there, always caring about her best friend.

I wanted to cry at the end, but felt a little awkward since I was there with some women I had only just met. When we came out of the theater and talked about the movie, I couldn't help but actually start crying because I said that that friendship between Frances and her best friend, that's me and Adrienne. And Adrienne lives far away. And that's hard.

At the Oregon Brewers Festival last Summer. We may or may not be inebriated.

Like Frances and her best friend, Adrienne and I have had our fair share of ups and downs. In all honesty, it's a miracle we ever became friends. She's very science-minded, and I'm very arts-minded. She was a bit of a tomboy, and I love glitter. She's a morning person, and I'm more of a night owl (when I manage to stay awake long enough). She's getting her PhD, and I have a BA in French. But French is what brought us together.

We met in "French Club" at OSU- I was vice president and she was secretary. I call it "French Club" because we honestly didn't do a whole lot. All I really got out of it was this friendship, based solely on the fact that we both were going to be studying abroad in the same town the following year. We booked our airplane tickets together, still not really knowing each other. We really got to know each other on the plane rides over to France (PDX>Chicago>CDG). I was a blubbering mess, heading into the unknown. She was a chatterbox with way too much luggage. Somehow we clicked. I helped her get all of her suitcases down the escalator, and she helped me keep my mind off of how scared I was.

That year in Poitiers cemented our friendship. We traveled together several times, despite the fact that she hated my travel style (plan everything, see everything). Sometimes we argued, but any argument was easily forgotten over some tiramisu and some wine.

When we returned to the states, right before school started, my uncle killed himself and Adrienne helped me get through that time. We supported each other through our reverse culture shock (it's real and it's hard). Then that January, when my grandmother passed away, Adrienne brought brownies and a Hitchcock movie to help me feel better (it didn't, but it was another thing that enriched our friendship).

After college, our paths diverged, taking me to France while Adrienne finished up at OSU. When I came back home, it was Adrienne who was moving around- Monterey for her Master's, Australia, Texas for her PhD. Now, in a good year, we'll see each other twice. And every time, it's like no time has passed at all. We still can crack each other up with a simple look. And it's that quality of our friendship that I saw in Frances Ha.

Do you have a close friend like that? Have you seen Frances Ha? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Fabulous Fridays: June 14

14 June 2013
It's that time again! T.G.I.F.! When I was little, I lived for Fridays, in particularly Friday night sleepovers involving my favorite T.V. shows on T.G.I.F. Those days (and that lineup) are long gone, but that doesn't stop me from creating my own grown-up version (wine and a movie, anyone?).

Anyway, I've been feeling in a little bit of a funk lately (perhaps in part due to Junuary weather in PDX), and Fridays are my antidote. So, I'm back with some of the fabulous things that made this week great:

My (mostly) daily plank breaks at work. I try to remember to do them daily, but I get a free pass on yoga days. I'm starting with holding forward and backward plank for 30 seconds each, and holding side plank on each side for 25 seconds. Gives me a much bigger energy boost than coffee.

Dinner with mom at my favorite local French restaurant (post to come this weekend).

My birchbox arrived on Wednesday! Yay for new nail polish and bright pink lip crayon.

Got my hair and makeup did for a photo shoot.

My hike on Sunday was pretty spectacular.

Finally got to see my free portrait!

Taught my one-year-old nephew to give me a high five.

Saw Frances Ha. More on that tomorrow.

Any time I see an article that promotes positive body image, my insides feel happy. This article made me smile, and I hope that more brands move in this direction. Side note: the untouched curly hair is way cuter than the retouched.

What made your week fabulous? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Getting Out: Angel's Rest

11 June 2013
Do you have a phobia? A fear that is so intense that it fills every cell of your body with fear, causing you to lose your breath, your heart to pound, or making you feel faint?

At the top! I'm kind of freaking out- too close to the edge for me.
Mine is acrophobia. And arachnophobia, but I'll save that one for another day (I've got several stories I could tell there). Today is about my acrophobia.

Mini strawberry!

One of my goals this Summer is to get back out to Hamilton Mountain and hike all the way to the top. About 5 years ago, I hiked it with my family, but we didn't make it to the top because I could not get myself to go beyond a certain ridge, probably 200 feet from the top (the total elevation gain on this hike is 2100 feet, to give you an idea of how high we'd already climbed). I wasn't the only one in our party with a fear of heights, but I was really feeling it in my body. I totally get vertigo, and I feel just like Jimmy Stewart in the movie. I've learned to never look down.

Little creek.
My acrophobia hasn't exactly held me back in life. I've done plenty of things that I wanted to do, keeping in mind my fear (and learning to deal with the vertigo). One of my absolute favorite things to do during my travels in Europe was to climb church towers and bell towers. I remember having a major freakout in Giotto's bell tower in Florence when the bells started ringing while my friends and I were at the top (oh god, this thing is going to crumble below me), and another major freakout two years later in the bell tower in Brugge. I love to climb the stairs, but I need to never look down.

The magical, mystical forest.
View looking back from Angel's Rest.
So this past Sunday, I took my friend Katie out for a hike up to Angel's Rest in the Columbia River Gorge. It's very easy to get to, about half an hour from the airport. Every source I looked at suggested getting there early in order to find parking before the crowds showed up. Here's my peeve with those recommendations: not one of those sources indicated what they meant by early. When is early? I know my early is different from someone else's early. Is early 6am? 8am? 10am? We got there at 9am and made up our own parking spot, but there were by no means any crowds yet. I'd say 9am will suffice as early.

Mini waterfall!
So, Angel's Rest. Elevation gain: 1700 feet (roughly). Total distance round trip: 4.6 miles. What doe
s this mean for us? We got a really good workout on a Sunday morning. It's pretty much all uphill, with few spots that level out along the way. There's a nice little creek and waterfall where it makes sense to take a break, but those come up early in the hike. Katie and I are in decent shape, but there's nothing like an uphill trek to set you huffing and puffing and make you believe you're a wimp.

Sorry for the fuzz, but this gives you an idea of what the forest was like.

The view west.
The trail itself was lovely, lots of forest and plenty of views of the gorge (I never tire of those views). Up toward the top, there comes a point when you are walking through a very rocky terrain. It's not so bad going up, but on the way down, there was a lot of wobbling on my part. If you're prone to sprained ankles, be careful here. Up toward the very top, there's a part where we had to climb some rocks to get out to Angel's rest, so be prepared for that as well. People brought their dogs and older children, so I guess it's not so bad.

This climb takes you to the top!
What is bad, though, is the feeling I got in my stomach when I had a view of just how high were were toward the top. Remember how I'm supposed to not look down? Sometimes that's easy to forget. I took many deep breaths at the very top, trying to slow my heart rate so I could enjoy the view (and resist the temptation to look down). It truly is an amazing view at the top, and there are boulders that jut out over the cliff, providing what must be an incredible view. But I stayed away from the edges, only daring to get out a little for a photo op. I took my deep breaths, took my pictures, then plunked down on a rock just like the other folks at the top. We were greeted by a cute little chipmunk up there, meanwhile other hikes came and went, and still others enjoyed a picnic on the rocks. This place was happening.

While it took us an hour to reach the top, it took less than half an hour to get back down to the bottom. I was feeling pretty jazzed for confronting my fear of heights, yet again, and also for actually making it all the way to the top. I hope to continue my Summer by gradually climbing higher peaks, in order to prepare myself for Hamilton Mountain. It will happen. I'm sure of it.

Yeah, I'm kind of freaking out right here.
Are you afraid of heights? Have you ever looked your fears in the face? Share in the comments below- I'd love to hear from you!

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