It's Time to Confess

30 April 2014

So, today I was hoping to be able to share a post with an announcement, but alas, it is going to have to wait. So in the meantime, I'm going to follow Brooke and Jessi's leads and share my Wednesday confessions (hosted by Kathy).
Vodka and Soda

These are my confessions:

Sometimes I have really bitchy mental reactions to messages I get on OKCupid. One guy messaged me and asked if I was native to Portland. The ensuing convo was literally exchanging the towns we grew up ion and where we live now. And then he asked if I want to meet up. No, I do not want to meet up. If you can't come up with something more interesting to talk about based on my profile, then I have no desire to spend an hour and a half drawing answers out of you while sipping tea that you probably will make me pay for.

Continuing in that vein, don't ask me out and then ask me what I would like to do. I would like to know why you asked me out without having a plan. I'm bored now, moving on.

And seriously, how am I supposed to respond to this: 

Or this:

Or this:

No, no, no. Stop it.

I dread most of the dates I go on. Not only do I have social anxiety, but most of the time, the book I;m reading is way more appealing to me than getting a drink and making small talk with a stranger. 

I really hate being told that the fact I belly dance is sexy. No it's not. I don't want people to think of me as sexy unless I give them permission. Belly dancing does not equal permission.

I always assume a guy is two inches shorter than the height he lists on his dating profile. Tonight I have a date with someone who is 5'3" (and I'm 5'4.5"), so I'm kinda curious to see how that plays out...

Yeah, so Elaine kinda sums up how I'm feeling about dating right now. Good thing I have friends and family who I like to hang out with.

What do you confess?
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Rachel's Guide to Portland: Nonna

25 April 2014

Hello! I know Fridays are normally reserved for my Fabulous Fridays post, but I really want to share with you an excellent dining experience I had this Wednesday.

This week I met my mom for dinner at Nonna, on NE 30th and Killingsworth. I would categorize this spot as Italian comfort food, in a dark and cozy atmosphere. When I arrived, I was admiring the list of red Italian varietals that were available, and when the waiter came over to ask for my drink order, I explained I was looking at the list of red wines. He asked what I usually prefer, then brought me 3 different tastes to try. I ended up choosing a Montanegra (I hope that's right), which had depth and spice. A great choice to go with the food we ordered.

We started with 3 appetizers: grilled focaccia, olives, and beets with smoked ricotta. The portions were plentiful (we had leftover olives and beets), and all of the food was delicious.

For our main course, we split the manicotti. I plan on returning very soon to enjoy this very dish. The marinara is incredible- very garlicky and very homey. The pasta itself is sheets that are rolled and filled with the most delightfully smooth ricotta cheese filling. I don't know what all goes into it, but the texture is a bit like whipped butter, and the filling itself has a bit of a kick. This dish packs in the flavor.

Finally, for dessert we split the pistachio torte with rhubarb compote and the bread pudding. The torte came out first, and it was wonderful. The texture was like that of an oversized macaron, and the compote was a nice compliment- not overly tart, and the vanilla bean was a nice touch. As for the bread pudding, it was about one of the best I've ever had. Mom and I gushed over this thing- it came out sizzling hot, and tasted like the best French toast imaginable. It had rum, vanilla bean, and apples. Crispy on the outside, ooey gooey on the inside- like pudding (how it should be). I would go back for the bread pudding alone.

While we were eating, the waiter came over and asked how our days were and if there was anything special going on. I explained that I was celebrating something (I'll share next week, but can't quite yet), and he was very congratulatory. At the end of our meal, when the waiter brought our bill, he told us that he took care of the wine, as a gesture of congratulations. That right there sums up the service we had, and which I witnessed with the other patrons. You can be sure I'll be back, as this place feels like home.

If you're in Portland, or planning a trip, I highly recommend you get dinner at Nonna. You won't regret it.

Portlanders- have you been? What is your favorite Italian place? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Fabulous Fridays: Good Friday

18 April 2014

Happy Friday, y'all! I don't know about you, but I feel like this week went by really fast (the year seems to be whizzing by as well). That said, I'm certainly glad it's Friday, especially since I have great things going on this weekend, including (but not limited to), friend time, a blate, a 3rd date, and Easter!

Confession: I love Easter. Growing up, it meant dressing up (usually my sister and I in matching dresses that my mom sewed for us), wearing fancy hats, getting lots of candy, going to church, doing an Easter egg hunt (and not finding all the eggs because dad could never remember where he hid them all- we could go months without finding some), and having a big meal (often with ham, which I never liked). Oh, and it also meant The Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town. Ok, it still means The Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town (what can I say, I always tear up when Gadzooks is surprised with a dapper Easter suit).

Nowadays, Easter means brunch with the family, lots of candy, and an Easter egg hunt. Last year, the adult children were allowed to participate (again, dad hides them in such a way that they're incredibly hard to find- so much so, that up until a few years ago, I was always aloud to start first because I had the hardest time finding eggs #handicap). Have I mentioned I'm really just a kid at heart? In any case, it will be a lot of fun watching the nephews have fun. Also, I'm making what I hope turns out to be a glorious 4-layer cake.

And now, some things that made this week fabulous:

Time spent at the park with my Lucy, and also with Fox.

Hiking with dad, working on my fear of heights (as well as kicking ass).

The second installment of Italian Sundays, which involved hearty vegetarian stuffed red peppers, boiled asparagus with eggs, breadsticks, and pinot grigio. Dessert was a lovely lemon ricotta cake.

Reading a good (funny) book while enjoying wine and cheese at my favorite wine bar.

Dinner with mom at Three Doors Down Cafe. The food was dang good.

Coloring eggs with my sister and nephew. I even got artistic and made one with polka dots, one abstract, and one as an egg person.

Now it's your turn- what has made your week fabulous? Are you into Easter? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
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Cultivating Self-Love: Life as a Late Bloomer

16 April 2014

I know you've heard of them, and maybe you even know one, but do you know what it's like to be a late bloomer?

I'm not talking about a girl who doesn't go through puberty til her late teens. I'm talking about the kind of person for whom things seem to happen way after they've happened to everyone else.

Confession: I am a late bloomer.

For one, I've never quite felt like I knew what I wanted my future to look like, beyond a few vague ideas involving travel, writing, and dance. I wasn't one of those kids who wanted to be an astronaut, or a CEO. I wanted to see the pyramids in Egypt, write a book, live on the Coast, run a bookstore, and dance in my free time. I also wanted to be a superspy. But nothing concrete.

I went into college thinking I wanted to major in theater (bet you didn't know that about me). I really wanted to make movies, but when it come to making decisions, I couldn't make the right ones for that to happen. After two years at community college, I had my epiphany: I would major in French. A year later, another epiphany came: I would minor in Art History. I took six years to get that degree, something most people do in four (granted, there was a move and varying graduation requirements).

Heading into the workforce, I still had no idea what I wanted to really do. Originally, I wanted to go to grad school and become an Art History professor. Fate stepped in and helped me change my mind, but that left me feeling a bit lost. I'm finally learning to accept that I still don't know where this career is heading, and that maybe I should look at it as a good thing (something that is open to possibilities).

And then there's the fact that I was a late bloomer when it came to my looks. I was a bit of an ugly duckling during my teenage years, no joke. I never wore the right brands, my hair was a mess, I had hideous glasses, and I was overweight and had to wear old lady bras (no such thing as cute full-chested bras back then). Things started looking up when I got my eyebrows waxed for the first time, and started wearing contacts. But I was still overweight, still dowdy.

I have a journal entry from my early twenties where I wrote that I hoped to be a hottie by the time I was 30. I actually felt like one at about 27- I was finally getting my hair under control, I was the thinnest I'd ever been, I was dancing, and running, and could wear dresses and look awesome. Perhaps the years of being and feeling unattractive made me appreciate what I've grown into a bit more.

But then there's the bigger way that I'm a late bloomer. In the romantic department. Have you noticed I don't talk a whole lot about my love life on here? I tend to prefer to keep that part of my life under wraps- it's too vulnerable, and it's bad enough to have my feelings hurt and be let down, but to have them hurt and let down in front of other people is too raw for my liking.

Through junior high and high school, I was not focused on boys at all (granted, I had seen examples of teen pregnancy which kind of freaked me out- a kid would totally ruin my future travel plans).  I also thought boys were kind of awful- they tended to tease and torment and threaten to kill (true story: a boy in 8th grade threatened to kill me in Art class). Or pester in a very uncomfortable way. Boys were bad as far as I was concerned.

One time, in 9th grade, I think, a boy asked me out while we were in the library for English class. I turned him down, fearing that his friends put him up to it as a joke. I really, truly believed no one ould ask me out for real. Looking back, I think it's possible that may not have been the case- we had been sort of friends in 5th grade.

Did I mention I went stag to prom? One of the prom princes pity-danced with me during one of the last songs, which was sweet. I had never met him, never known who he was before then, but he was friendly with me and I appreciated the kindness. Pretty sure one of my friends who was a prom princess put him up to it. He went on to be a firefighter, which I thought fitting. Sometimes princes turn out to be good guys.

In college, I was focused on getting straight A's. I didn't get them (hard to when you get a B in Drama 201 the first semester), but I did graduate summa cum laude. Needless to say, dating, and most socializing (though I managed to make some great friends) was not a concern of mine. I also still felt like an ugly duckling.

So when did I start dating? Age 28. Some people think that's weird. I call it being a late bloomer. There's a reason Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen. I also love stories about people finding love later in life, because it means it could still happen for me.

That's the thing: all along, I've wanted to be loved. I've wanted someone to fall in love with me- I just never really thought it could happen to me (in the past, I've had a hard time believing good things could happen to me).

And here I am, 31, with only one relationship under my belt, still wondering if it will ever happen to me. I've yet to hear the magic words, and still have so many firsts to uncover. Just this week, I faced yet another rejection, and I can tell how far I've come by how well I handled it.

See, that's another way I'm a late bloomer- I'm 31 and just now learning how to love myself. Rejection doesn't mean there's something wrong with me, that I'm ugly, or that I did something wrong. It just means that it wasn't a good fit. I'm finally feeling good about who I am and what I have to offer, and yeah, it may have come later in life than it did for others, but it's here now, and it's growing.

That's right, guys. I'm blooming.

Cultivating Self-Love
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Cultivating Self-Love: A Question of Age

15 April 2014

How old do you feel? I'm 31 but I don't really feel much older than 23. Sure, I've been through plenty of grown-up stuff since 23- I've lost loved ones (to suicide, cancer, Alzheimer's), I've moved a ton, I've lived and worked abroad, I've dealt with taxes, I've opened and closed bank accounts, I've had my own apartment, I've changed jobs, I've dated, I've had my heart broken, I've traveled alone, I've bought a ridiculously expensive pair of shoes (every girl should have a pair of Louboutins- they're an investment), I've bought big-girl clothes (like blazers and high heels and sheath dresses), I've paid multiple medical and dental bills, had surgery, and I've even had a mammogram.

But then there is the part of me that still loves throwing an impromptu dance party in my living room on a weeknight, who wears flats with sundresses, who gets really excited about going out for ice cream, who still gets a kick out of spotting rainbows, who loves swinging on the swings at the playground, who jumps up and down any time she's really excited (half of the time, it's food-related), and who still sees life as something full of wonder and possibility.

I also still have plenty of milestones ahead of me, if they are in the stars. I've yet to find "the one," have kids, own a home, go to Istanbul, lose my dearest loved ones (and still pray that maybe I don't have to know what that is like), have a major health scare (which is always at the back of my mind given a family history of breast and colon cancer), make some investments (and hopefully see them pay off), and start buying granny panties and relying on Depends (not to mention going through the "big change").

But really, I'm happy with my age right now. I spent my 20s feeling time slip through my fingers. I spend time with other 20-somethings because I thought 30-somethings were too mature, had been through too much, and just wouldn't get it. Now that I'm on the other side, I want to tell 20-somethings to befriend every 30-something they can, because those are the folks who've been there and will get it and then some.

So really, what age matters more? The age you are or the age you feel? In the end, I don't think either mean much at all. In the end, they're just numbers, but they have no way of conveying the truth of the person behind the number.

Tell me- how old do you feel? Is age just a number to you? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
Cultivating Self-Love

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On Grief

13 April 2014
Me and my little brother with grandpa.
I had a post mostly fleshed out that I intended to finish this weekend to post today. But Saturday morning, I received some sad news, and just haven't had the energy for blogging the usual. On Friday night, my grandpa was finally released from Alzheimer's grip into eternity.

So today I need to talk about grief, spirituality, and empathy. I've struggled with grief in the past- it's something I've tended to have to deal with on my own, and so I'm still not quite sure how to grieve. I end up spending time being sad, and I wonder if that's effective.

So here's what I'm feeling, right now. I am sad that my grandpa has passed away. I am sad for my dad that neither of his parents are alive anymore. I'm sad for what my aunt Becky must have gone through as grandpa's final caretaker. I'm also sad that I did not get to know my grandpa as well as I would have liked, and that Alzheimer's took my true grandpa years ago.

Spiritually, I know that my grandpa is in a much better place. He and my grandma were church-going, God-fearing folk, and I am at peace knowing that they had that faith to rely on. I also believe that grandpa is reunited with my grandma in Heaven, whatever that may mean (not so sure it's a place, perhaps is more of a plane). And there's a part of me that feels relief for my grandma, knowing that she is reunited with her true love once again.

This is what love looks like.
If there's anything I know, it's that grandma and grandpa were full of love. Not all the time- they're regular people with their quirks and quarrels. But they both had a twinkle in their eyes- they loved each other, loved their kids, and loved their grandkids. They loved to laugh. I'm thankful that the memories I hang onto of the both of them are of their smiles and their laughter.

As I process my grief, I also consider empathy. Sometimes I've felt that some people in my life haven't cared about my grief- like the person (or dog, let's be honest- I was heartbroken when my sister's dog passed away last year, far too soon) wasn't a close enough relative for my grief to be acknowledged. Or perhaps it's because they did not have a good relationship with that relation of theirs, so they cannot empathize with my grief. Which makes me wonder- isn't empathy about thinking what the other person must feel in a situation, not how you would feel in a situation?

I'm sure I'm just exaggerating and feeling a little sensitive. I was a bit stunned to hear the news, despite knowing grandpa had recently taken a turn for the worse. But you guys, loss sucks. So I'm just trying to figure this one out.

How do you grieve? How do you deal with someone you know is grieving? Please let me know in the comments.
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Fabulous Fridays: April 11 Edition

11 April 2014

Here we are, another Friday already (if you know the secret of where the time goes, please share). I'm thrilled that it's Friday, not just because it is the weekend (as of tonight), but also because I have a second date tonight. So, let's get on with what has made this week fabulous:

Had another Ladies Who Brunch Book Club meeting on Saturday. We ate at Tasty n Alder and discussed Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. It's always wonderful having girl time to discuss books and life, while enjoying some delicious brunch food.

I'm not gonna lie; Saturday was kind of epic. I treated a friend and myself to Ruby Jewel ice cream. I had the Grasshopper and it was my dream ice cream: chocolate mint with marshmallow creme and cookies.

And then I got my hair chopped off. I'm still getting used to having short hair again, but I gotta say it's a lot less hassle.

On Sunday, my sister and I began a new tradition: Italian Sundays. We made a big Italian meal with new-to-us recipes from some of my Italian cookbooks. Cauliflower penne and chickpea salad were decidedly good choices.

And then I had pie with my mom at Pacific Pie Co. Black bottom pie. It was delicious.

That's all for now! I can't wait to enjoy the sunny weather this weekend, and I'm hoping to get in my fist hike of the season. Now you tell me- what has made your week fabulous?
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Cultivating Self-Love: The Ghost of Haircuts Past

08 April 2014

Have you ever had a haircut that made you want to cry? A style so terrible you felt you couldn't show your face in public? I've been there, believe me.

In fact, my hair has seen all kinds of styles, good and bad. As a kid, I really wanted Stephanie Tanner's hair (of Full House fame). I was born neither blond nor curly-headed so I had to make do with Sun-In and a perm. Sadly, my hair is so stick-straight that my perm tended to have some flat spots in it.

There was also a time when my mom cut my hair so short that the kids in my class called me a boy. I began first grade with long, thick hair, and ended it with a weird short style. In school, our class would march to lunch in two lines: boys and girls. Boys sat on one side of the table while girls sat on the other. After my terrible haircut, my classmates made me sit on the boys' side of the table. Kids are cruel.

As I got older and my coloring changed, I couldn't pull off blond any more (who knows- maybe I never could). When I was 15 I decided I wanted to try highlights in my hair- and had my mom do it. She used one of those kits with a cap and lets just say she pulled way too much hair through the cap. I became a blonde (pictured above). I was horrified and mortified, even though everyone was much nicer to me about the change. After a few weeks, I had my mom dye my hair back to brown. Which just turned my hair black. Jet black. No going back.

Thankfully, several long months later, my mom took me to a professional who corrected the color of my hair. I no longer trust anyone outside of a salon to cut or color my hair.

I've even come to associate some haircuts with certain periods of my life. I tend to go through phases of growing my hair long and then chopping it all off (my own personal flair for the dramatic). I've had both short and long hair while living in France (my hair grows really fast), and short and long hair in high school. In junior high my hair was a horrible rats nest, so you won't be seeing those pictures here. For the past couple years, I was working on growing out my hair so I could have long, luscious bellydancer locks.

As it turns out, my hair fantasy does not match my hair reality. I'd love to have gorgeous long layers that curl perfectly. The reality is that my hair is slippery and stick-straight. It's hard enough keeping it in a ponytail let alone adding some curl (which will disappear after an hour).

So, after some serious thought (come one, I know I'm not the only one who thinks seriously about her hair), I decided to chop it.


I can accept all of the trials my hair has been through in the past, for I've learned some valuable lessons. The biggest one? Stay true to who you are and what works for you. Sometimes reality is better than the fantasy.

Have you ever had a horrible hairdo? I want to hear all about it! Share your story in the comments below.

Cultivating Self-Love
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Fabulous Fridays: April 4 Edition

04 April 2014

Happy Friday! Oy, it's been a crazy week. So ready for this weekend.

I feel like time has flown these past couple weeks, and I'm wondering where it all went. Work has been crazy. And my dating life has blown up (much to my surprise).

So, what are the highlights of my week?

Wine tasting with the parents on Sunday. One winery even had a wooly mammoth statue.

Co-hosted the Love Your Body Linkup with Alicia (which is open til Sunday, BTW).

Played with my long hair because as of tomorrow it is quite possible I will have long hair no more...

Coffee has been a necessity.

I've been enjoying my homemade hummus and pita, as well as Life After Life.

I had an awesome first date last night. The kind that left me with butterflies. The kind that leaves me hoping for a phone call, as well as feeling scared to be excited about someone new lest I get hurt again.

What has made your week fabulous? Any last-minute hair suggestions? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
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