Our trip to Newport Folk Fest has become an annual tradition — and this year its arrival was especially welcome.
As it stands now, the guest bathroom is stripped down to drywall and plaster, the floors are sometimes still carpeted, sometimes stripped to the subfloor… to say we’re living in a construction zone would be an understatement. And the weekends are short.
We watch those home renovation shows now with more than a little envy of the team of construction workers and designers somehow able to finish a whole home renovation in 6 weeks. Right now our little two-person team is shooting for something north of 6 months…
But it’s coming together, piece by piece. Our kitchen is organized, our garden is growing, we seem to have won at least the first few battles with the bugs, and the boxes are slowly beginning to disappear – replaced by newer, more exciting boxes filled with tile and vanities and the gosh darn prettiest wood floor I can’t wait to put down. So, we’ll get there.
But I won’t lie — this little excursion provided a welcome escape.
I love to think of a birthday as the start of the next great year… one more chance for reflection and resolutions, and not necessarily the kind we might make at the turn of the calendar year. This time around, I feel like I have many and none… but I find myself marveling at how much can change in just a short time.
I don’t want to imply that I’m feeling entirely at peace… there’s always a restlessness inside me. Something that pushes me to tweak, pick, search my way to a better version of myself. But I feel much more at peace than I have.
And I’m working on feeling even more… trying to take some time to slow down, take care of myself, and enjoy a little more time with my guys.
Which is not to say I’m good at it. We’ve spent the last two weekends traveling and the weeks in between sewing napkins and delivering pies.
… add a fair amount of home renovation and a demanding new job to the mix and there’s barely a moment to breathe.
You might remember that a few weeks ago, I had the chance to spend the weekend with some awesome (and seriously badass) ladies camping in the woods — and the rain, sleet, and snow — in PA. The trip was organized by the Philadelphia-based company United by Blue, and today I’m excited to share not just the official pictures (and a beautiful film to go along with them) but also a special discount to celebrate!
All day today and Tuesday you can get 20% off of the Camp Like a Lady collection with the discount code CAMPLADIES. And that’s just for you — the code won’t be going out in the email to UBB’s followers, so take advantage!
… maybe get something for a certain special badass lady on your Christmas list?
Just sayin’… she wouldn’t complain if one of those nice warm wool beanies showed up in her stocking on Christmas day.
A few weeks ago, I was excited to find a unique invitation in my inbox from United by Blue. A group of ladies from the brand wondered if I’d be interested in joining an even bigger group of ladies from around the area for some hiking, campfires, and of course, s’mores… basically all of the things I love most.
This wouldn’t be glamping, they wanted to do it up right… and I was ecstatic to join.
So what do you get when you put a group of lady bloggers out in the woods for a weekend of roughing it in the rain, cold, and snow?
Well it turns out you get a pretty badass camping trip. More badass than I even could have imagined.
… it’s possible that you might also get a pissed off park ranger, but neveryoumind.
Of all of the places we visited this summer, I feel the deepest connection with Ireland… which should come as no surprise. My grandmother was Irish, and I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. Ireland feels like home.
That said, I have to admit that the place I was most excited to take Mark to was Paris. As a little girl, I always wanted to visit, but as a teenager, my mind wandered off to more exotic places… feeling certain that the Paris everyone carries on about would let me down. Then, in my early 20s, I found myself there…
And in many ways I mean that completely.
I actually had a terrible experience on my first trip to Paris and a huge falling out with a relative that’s never been fully repaired…
But in the moments before and after, I wandered the city by foot and by train, to the catacombs, the streets of Montmartre, and all the way out to Versailles. I sat in Marie Antoinette’s garden and cried for the mess my life was at that moment, and felt hopeful for what I knew it had to become. I sipped wine, smoked at cafes (part of the mess I left behind…), and indulged in the beautiful food and the beautiful shopping just down the street from my tiny hotel on rue Saint-Honoré.
Our experience in Nice was both better and worse than expected.
The city is gorgeous, of course… a level of gorgeous that’s hard to comprehend, with the charm of Provence and the grit of a bygone Atlantic City Boardwalk all rolled into one.
We spent days lazing on the beach, diving in the turquoise waters and stuffing our faces with out of this world food that is as much Italian as it is French.
But Nice is also a huge city, with all of the accouterments.
Normally, we wouldn’t mind… but something failed us in our planning (a myopic focus on the family portion of the trip, maybe) and we didn’t have the time to really do the research… we just wanted a romantic getaway, and the Nice of Old Town (the one in the pictures) seemed like the perfect place.
So we hopped a train and headed north, toward Monaco, without really having a plan. We’d spent the majority of our planning time on our road trip, wanting to make it the best it could be for the family. So we decided that this time, we’d just wander, and stop in whatever town struck our fancy along the way.
On our last full day in Ireland, we visited County Cork.
It wasn’t so long ago, probably right there in Cobh, that my great grandfather stowed away on a ship bound for the United States, and the course of our family’s history was changed. Patrick O’Shea settled down on a little hill in Oregon without a real road. He walked where he needed to go, and there in that house without the real road, he raised my grandmother.
Eventually she moved to the bottom of the little hill, over the river and through the woods, and a new home, my home, replaced my great grandfather’s house.
I grew up in a small town on the coast of Oregon that, according to family lore, my great grandfather chose to settle down in because it reminded him of home.
Technically home was County Cork — so I can’t account for the logic here — but even just looking at these pictures, Dingle makes me long for my own. Maybe it’s because in many ways, Dingle is more like my most perfect, utopian vision of home, with picturesque fishing boats in the harbor and beautiful windy beaches at the shore.
In reality, Coos Bay is perhaps a little more depressed, suffering from a downturn in shipping activity, with too many hard-working loggers and fishermen struggling to make ends meet. Though Ireland’s economy has seen its share of sadness in recent years, Dingle is a thriving town with a bounty of delicious food, beautiful sights, and one famous dolphin that keep the visitors coming back for more.
Perfect little cheese shops, bustling bars, and the nicest people — I dare say the nicest even in Ireland, where the competition is fierce — are just a few of the many things that make Dingle one of my favorite places in the world.
Maybe in another life, if I’d been the one to stow away on a ship (as my great grandfather did) and sail off to Ireland I might have chosen Dingle as the perfect place to settle down.
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