Eugene -> San Francisco

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I moved.

Crossing the Oregon-California border I could feel the familiarity of my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood – 25 years of life – slip away. But the nostalgia quickly passed. Perhaps naively, all I could think about were the new opportunities I’d have at my fingertips.

Working remotely, I’ve found myself hunkering down in coffee shops during the day, and exploring as much of the city as I can during the evenings and weekends. And for the first time in a long while, I’m making a conscious effort to explore and really get to know who I am and what I want. I’m focused on doing things that have long been on my list to tackle, and actually doing them. Writing more, bringing my camera with me wherever I go, studying CSS, and making the time to unplug and read are just a few things enabling me to be truly content and satisfied in this time of transition.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since moving to San Francisco, it’s this: inspiration doesn’t grow on trees. I can’t sit idly by and expect it to come to me. I have to seek it out, move fearlessly down avenues uncharted. Recently, someone very dear to me said, “you have to mine for life’s gemstones.” Full of cheez and spot on.

So much more to learn, see, do, and observe.

M

Backpacking Through the Badlands

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A few weeks ago I found myself in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness. High desert country. My hiking legs tend to gravitate towards bodies of water, but I was eager to break out of winter hibernation and trudging through feet of snow in the Cascades wasn’t an option. We drove east optimistically, excited to explore new territory on a sun-kissed weekend.

Shortly into the hike we came to understand why the area received its designated name. Sagebrush and juniper trees for miles, eery stillness except for the occasional airplane passing overhead, dry sand as far as the eye could see. Land not fit for lush growth.

Climbing a giant rock outcrop near our campsite we could see the sun cast its final glow on the Three Sisters. The evening was spent writing and reading via the beam of our headlights. I fell asleep reading Mary Oliver’s Winter Hours, falling in love with her words all over again.

It was a weekend of quiet hiking, story telling and pushing our limits. And left us hobbling out of Bend’s Deschutes Brewery dust covered and sore to the bone. Mission accomplished.

M

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Learning to Embroider

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I recently came across Jessica Marquez’s Stitched Gifts: 25 Sweet and Simple Embroidery Projects for Every Occasion. Her designs completely won me over and have inspired me to learn to embroider. For a while now, I’ve been drawn to certain types of embroidery and simple compositions featured in small round hoops. I’m looking forward to learning various stitching knots and a new craft.

Do any of you embroider?

Stitched Gifts

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M

The Best Challah

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A couple of Sunday’s ago, Joey (my roommate and partner in crime) and I decided we’d try the impossible: make Deb Perleman’s fig, olive oil and sea salt challah bread. How were we going to get the dough right? How in the world were we going to be able to do THAT braid? Two people who had never made bread before said screw it, and rose to the challenge. What resulted from our feat in the kitchen was the best challah I’ve ever had.

Deb, my friend! You never let me down.

Below are a couple of photos I snapped with my phone during the process.

M

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M & D Visit Los Angeles

Mom and Dad Ward joined me for a weekend in Los Angeles a few months back.

It was one of those gloriously flawless weekends that remind you how awesome life is and why you should appreciate everything around you.

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We spent Saturday afternoon at the Getty, looking at fine impressionist paintings, strolling through gardens, and enjoying the (clear!) views of LA.

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Dad found particular interest in the imported stone materials used to build the museum itself…Geology majors never quit!

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It was a beautiful day to spend outside, catching up and sharing stories.

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Our evening was spent dining at the Manhattan Beach Post, a post office turned social house, with long wooden tables and a modern earthy vibe. Dinner started out with bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits with maple butter, and was followed by several small, family-style dishes that were unique and delicious. MB Post cocktails do not disappoint either, mine consisted of Chopin, grapefruit, basil, raspberry, and pink peppercorns. Definitely check this place out if you’re in the LA area!

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Los Feliz welcomed us for breakfast on Sunday, followed by a short visit to the Griffith Observatory. Though 48 hours isn’t enough time to really experience LA, I was happy to show the rents a few of the places I’ve come to love the most, and I can’t wait for the next visitors that come my way!

L

Sound Advice

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“Husbands and wives should have separate interests, cultivate different sets of friends and not impose on the other. You can’t spend a lifetime breathing down each other’s necks. We are very, very different people and yet somehow we fed off those varied differences and instead of separating us, it has made the whole bond a lot stronger.” - Paul Newman

This is one of my favorite quotes from a gem of man (and my all-time favorite actor). He and  Ms. Woodward certainly seemed to have something special.

M

Do you cook for each other?

There’s nothing better than bringing people together through food. And while I enjoy throwing dinner parties and sharing my favorite recipes with my favorite people, sometimes it’s pretty damn awesome to be on the receiving end of a wonderful home-cooked meal in an intimate setting.

photoLast year, Josh and I decided we’d like to spend more time exploring new cooking techniques and recipes…and came up with a (brilliant?) plan. Each week we’d cook one meal for each other. The catch? We had to explore foreign land and create something we had never attempted before.

We’ve carried this plan into the new year, and I must say it’s pretty rad. Each week I get to improve my skills in the kitchen and look forward to having someone cook a delicious meal for me. What’s not to love?

M

(photo: one of the first meals we made together after we started dating – roasted rainbow carrots, hasselback potatoes with spinach cashew pesto, and seared pork chops au poivre)

This Season’s Style: Ankle Boots and Booties

Let’s talk about boots, baby! Boots are one of my favorite wardrobe elements. I love their versatility, and the way the perfect pair can tie outfits together to create a unique style. Here are some of this season’s loveliest pairs:

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1. Classic leather ankle boots made in the USA by the Vintage Shoe Company.

2. These Italian-made leather and suede booties are of the latest additions to the Madewell boot collection.

3. The Zipcode Boot. Meg and I each have a pair of these ankle boots, and couldn’t be more pleased with them. Wear them with tights and skirts, dresses, or skinny jeans…or for a more laid-back look, a slouchy pair of denim. In addition to black and brown leather, these boots also come in four shades of soft suede.

4. Camp boots, hand-crafted in Maine. For sale right now at Creatures of Comfort, one of my favorite online clothing shops.

5. The Greyci Bootie by shoe style-icon Aaron Osborn. Osborn shoes are hand-made and use textiles and patterns from South America. Check out the Greyci, as well as many other colorful booties, oxfords, and flats here.

What are your favorite boot styles?

L

The Klettersack

I’ve been admiring TOPO Designs for more than a year. Their bags are made of Cordura and lined with coated pack cloth to protect gear against adverse weather conditions (bonus: they are handmade in Colorado). I recently received their classic Klettersack as a gift, and couldn’t be happier with it. It’s the perfect size for toting school books, office necessities or everything you need for a long day hike. Heavy duty Cordura paired with buttery leather – it’s a modern take on a classic design. I’ll be using the Klettersack for years to come.

Topo BagIt looks like they’re currently sold out of the Navy/Leather color combination, but check out these other awesome options (and these sweet tees)!

M

Wild & Scenic Film Festival

Nevada City Today I’m leaving rain-soaked Eugene for five days and heading down to Nevada City, California for the Wild and Scenic Film Festival (and the gorgeous High Sierras). Five films my organization co-produced will be featured at the festival, along with dozens of other amazing works (like this!). I’m stoked to hang with talented individuals, do a little hiking and see what the nation’s premiere environmental and adventure film festival is all about.

Look for photos next week!

M

(photo from Liz Rusby)