Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 -- week 42 of #projectlife -- noche blanco!

noche blanco, in its third year in tucson, is a night of food, new friends, and white clothing. it's a pop up dinner of epic proportions. hundreds of people participate and everything is brought in: tables, chairs, plates, cups, silverware, food, drinks, decorations, everything. the way it works: whoever organizes the whole event finds people to be table leaders, and those table leaders find the people who'll sit at their table. then each table organizes itself: participants determine the menu and who'll bring what (plates, cutlery, cups, etc.). the day of, table leaders are informed of the location, which they disseminate to their table mates, and everyone meets up, with their stuff, to eat, drink, and socialize for a couple of hours. once everyone's had their fill, everything is packed up and taken away, like the dinner never existed. it's an amazing example of teamwork and camaraderie and despite the fact that pop up dinners aren't unique to tucson, noche blanco is very tucson: it's quirky and friendly and everyone knows someone. if you're lucky enough to get invitation, be sure to make room on your calendar; the food and the company are totally worth it.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 -- week 41 of #projectlife -- honeymoon planning starts now!

every year, this week's (week 41) post is about tucson meet yourself (2012, 2013), and with good reason: the food is spectacular. but this year, i'm going to switch it up, because even bigger and more fabulous things are on the plate: our honeymoon! we spent all summer trying to narrow down where we wanted to go (southeast asia), but we were having difficulties pulling the trigger; it costs a lot of money to fly half way around the world! but we did it. we bought our tickets and we've started to map out the places we'll visit. so far, our itinerary includes three weeks in southeast asia visiting vietnam, thailand, and cambodia. the plan is to spend about a week in each country, seeing at least two different locations and spending a significant amount of time on a secluded beach. now we just have to plan out the details: what cities to see, where to stay, what to eat, etc. stay tuned!

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 -- week 40 of #projectlife -- rcg is honored!

rcg doesn't like being the center of attention, we have that in common, but sometimes it's impossible for him not to be. he has this magnetic personality -- he's personable, intelligent, and interesting. he doesn't see it, which makes it so much better, but it's definitely there. teach arizona saw it when they accepted him to their program and they saw it when they asked him to speak at the donor breakfast for the college of education. his speech wasn't long, but it was humble and moving, talking about his path towards teaching, and hopefully, it inspired some hefty donations to the college of education.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014 -- week 39 of #projectlife -- dance like no one is watching!

i don't dance enough, do you? i wish i did. i met these two fabulous ladies in november who dance at every opportunity. they dance like no one is watching, or rather, like everyone is watching and they just don't give a shit. it was so liberating to watch; i wanted to join in, desperately, but i didn't. i was terrified and embarrassed and nervous. and i absolutely hate that about myself. i'm convinced, as i think many of us are, that i'm doing it wrong, that others can do it better, and that i'm being judged by everyone with eyes, but it's simply not true. and that realization is something i have to repeat to myself over and over again. sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. this week though, it worked, gloriously and unapologetically. i went to a drag show, got a little tipsy, and danced. it felt so good, so freeing. i let go of all of my insecurities, realized no one cared about my dancing but me, and let myself move to the music. i came home breathless with my ability to leave it all on the dance floor, to let myself be the me i want to be, and eager for the next opportunity to dance like that.

ps. need some dancing inspiration? check out this poem by jewel mathieson: we have come to be danced.

read more about our glass blowing date and the amazing arizona state museum.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

2014 -- week 38 of #projectlife -- eating insects!

it's dumb, but I'm kind of terrified of eating bugs. I know there are places all over the world where bugs are regularly eaten, but something in my brain goes wonky when I have to do it. I'll do it, you can't claim to be a fatty and not at least try what's put in front of you, but it's still a little yucky. luckily, I've had plenty of opportunities to try insects, and each time I've walked away a little less afraid and a little more appreciative of the deliciousness of our creepy crawly friends.

ps. each fall the university of arizona hosts an insect festival on campus. it's an amazing opportunity to learn about caterpillars, scorpions, spiders, moths, and more. and it's a great family activity with tons of hands on exhibits, food demonstrations (made with real insects), and craft tables for kids. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

2014 -- week 37 of #projectlife -- boys and girls learn differently.

if you've lived  on this planet for any period of time, you know boys and girls are different. it's as obvious as cherry pie is delicious. but knowing that and being able to comprehend that, especially in the education field, are two totally different things. luckily, I had the opportunity to attend a conference that specifically discusses the differences between boys and girls and their learning. at the gurian institute, run by michael gurian (pictured above), they look at learning through a gender lens, conducting research and educating teachers about best practices. I walked into the conference a little skeptical, it was being hosted by a church, and I walked out amazed (and still a little skeptical, they're trying to sell you stuff, after all). but the big thing I learned was: schools are much more suited to girls' education than boys'. girls are much more verbal creatures (duh) so, as a result, many schools are doing a disservice to their male charges. since boys brains are more spatial and logical, as opposed to verbal, the whole education system needs to be turned on its head if we want boys to succeed. currently, girls are outperforming boys in most subjects, not because they're smarter, but because of the way schools are set up, and boys are starting to get left behind and fall through the cracks. as educators, we need to do something about this. I'm beyond pleased that girls are (generally) doing so well in schools, but we can't forget about the boys. we have to make sure we're doing everything in our power to help boys succeed too.

if you want to find out more information about this there are plenty of resources available at the guruian institute, as well as other places, but I haven't read any of them. when I do, I'll be sure to recommend them here. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

2014 -- week 36 of #projectlife -- tribe pride and a wedding!

it's official; we're all grown up.

my sophomore year of college i studied abroad in england. the first day i showed up on campus, i unexpectedly found out that there were two william and mary students, me and another guy, and we were living in the same flat. we introduced ourselves and immediately headed to the campus bar. (yeah, in england the universities have bars on campus as part of their university center. it's spectacular.) we spent a couple of hours getting drunk, telling each other our life stories, and becoming besties.

the next year found us living in the same dorm again. i introduced him to my friends and he introduced me to his. for a year, the older, cool kids let me tag along, and somewhere along the way they accepted me as one of their own. ever since, we've celebrated together and gotten drunk together; over the years we've gone to each others' weddings and shared in our good news. this past september, we did it again; we got together for one last wedding. we celebrated, we danced, we sang at the top of our lungs, and we exuded tribe pride. and even though we're adults now, and there are no real excuses to get together and party, we will. because that's what friends do.

read more about our apple picking date and our quick trip to brooklyn!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

grandfather & sugar mountains, north carolina

when we started driving into the blue ridge mountains we had a goal: grandfather golf and country club -- we were going to take pictures there. but in the course of our meanderings, we discovered something much more spectacular: snow! it was a freezing 16ºF, but it was so crazy beautiful driving up sugar mountain in search of the sunset. there was a light dusting of snow, abandoned roads, and the most fantastic pink sunset reflected on grandfather mountain. it was a magical evening.

if you're ever in asheville, try the tupolo honey cafe; it's phenomenal.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014 -- week 35 of #projectlife -- another eating contest triumph!

remember when i competed in a hot dog eating contest? well, this time it was rcg's turn. we were visiting the hatch chile festival in hatch, new mexico, enjoying some fantastic mariachi music, when they announced a chile cheeseburger eating contest. to win you had to be the first one to finish three chile cheeseburgers, but, and this was the best part, if you participated, you won a goodie bag filled with salsa, a tshirt, and a can of hatch chiles. so even if you don't win, you win. fabulous. he didn't win, but we're now the proud owners of a neon yellow tank top and we both ate delicious burgers for lunch (i was able to eat his remaining burger after the contest ended). win-win. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

mountain city, georgia

my first epic road trip was across the country, from vermont to arizona. it was pretty badass, but it was very scheduled -- we had to be in a certain town each night because we had a deadline, we had to be in arizona by a certain time. so we had no time to mosey and explore. don't get me wrong, we stopped all the time, to eat mostly, but also to check out the scenery and other cool things we spotted on the way. but for the most part, we had a plan and we stuck to it. as a result, i've always wanted to go the kind of trip that has no plan. you know where you're going to start and when you need end, but everything in the middle is up in the air. 

this freelance job isn't quite like that: we have sets we have to find or create and pictures we have to take but there's also a lot of freedom to see where the road takes us. we can follow the light, or the fog, and find the perfect shot, or we can drive straight on through. in this case, we followed the fog.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

2014 -- week 34 of #projectlife -- happy birthday tucson!

august 20th, 1775: the day tucson was born. 239 years later, it's still going strong.

we hadn't been to the presidio since we got married there in may, so it was nice to pop over, celebrate the old pueblo's birthday's, eat a piece of cake, and live a little southwestern history. there were reenactors shooting off canons and flags galore; one flag for each period of tucson history: spain, mexico, the confederate flag, the 28-star flag of the mormon battalion, and flags from the tohono o'odham and pascua yaqui tribes. it was quite the shindig. 

see more pictures from our visit to the sonoran desert museum here.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

watson mill bridge state park

the second part of my freelance gig took me to athens, georgia, a cute little college town with a lot of personality. the people were sweet, the food was delicious, and the views were amazing. one day we drove out to watson mill bridge state park, home of the longest covered bridge in the state of georgia. the park is beautiful and the perfect place for a picnic or a canoe ride. and the bridge is stunning and at 229 feet long, it's a real feat in engineering.

if you're eating in athens, try taqueria del sol, momma's boy, the national, or 5 & 10; you won't regret it. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

2014 -- week 33 of #projectlife -- tres leches experiment

one of my all-time favorite dessert memories is sitting at a restaurant and asking the waiter if i could buy an entire nutmeg tres leches cake. he laughed at me, thinking i was joking, but i wasn't. that cake was so magnificent that i have dreams about it. but i have never been ballsy enough to make my own tres leches, until now.

i'm the type of person who uses a recipe as a general guideline rather than a rule book to follow, so i'm always surprised at how easy it is to bake from scratch. i know it's just chemistry, put in the correct amounts of each ingredient and don't over/under cook it and you're good to go, but it's always seemed easier to bake from a box. but in the spirit of stepping out of my comfort zone, i decided to give it a shot, baking this tres leches from scratch. luckily, it was a total success.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

alpaca love in old chatham, ny

i have a secret place in my heart for alpacas and llamas. my love affair began during my senior year of high school when we were allowed to ditch school and visit a llama farm for a biology project. i was such a nerd that the idea of skipping school and visiting a farm was too much for my brain to handle: i was in heaven. ever since then i've had mad love for llamas and alpacas. they are just so darn cute and soft. so it's no surprise that i was over the moon to visit spruce ridge farm in old chatham, new york.


ps. do you love llamas too? this amazing sweater could be yours! (i definitely already own it.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2014 -- week 32 of #projectlife -- on finding your calling

nine days after our wedding, rcg started out on a new adventure to find his calling. for three months, he took education classes and prepared for the day he would reinvent himself as a high school teacher: he learned all the jargon, prepped lessons, and picked out his first day of school outfit (which was adorable and professional, obviously). and he totally rocked it. his teachers at UA expected this and i expected this, but i'm not sure how much he expected it. because, if we're being honest, finding your calling is hard work; it takes time and perseverance,and it's often daunting and disheartening. but after years of searching, i think he's found it: he's meant to be a high school teacher. 

i'm so proud of him. he took a chance on something and has been incredibly successful, not that i'm surprised. he's a constant inspiration. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

leaf peeping in upstate new york

living in baja arizona, we don't always get the benefit of seasons. we're supposed to have five seasons, the four normal ones plus a rainy season, but sometimes it seems like we only have three: spring, summer, and monsoon. of course, you can drive an hour or less and see the changing leaves and snow, but down in the valley it's sunshine and blue skies. that's not the case on the east coast. on the east coast, from september to november, it's red, orange, and yellow season. it's crisp weather, campfire season. it's apple cider and butternut squash season. it's hats, gloves, and scarves season. and, most importantly, it's leaf peeping season. that wonderful time of year when you drive slower with your nose to the car window, oohing and aahing over the colors and views. there are few places better suited for this behavior than upstate new york. thanks for obliging me hudson, ny.

Monday, December 15, 2014

hudson, new york

last month, i had the amazing opportunity to accept a freelance job producing a road trip photo shoot with a major car company and some pretty rad instagram photographers. it was totally out of my comfort zone and something i had never done before, but it was such an amazing learning experience. the first part of the photo shoot was set in upstate new york and included beautiful locations up and down the hudson river. 

our first stop was hudson, new york -- the cutest little town you ever did see. on a a delightfully crisp autumn day with the leaves somewhere between green and gone, we visited the hudson farmers market, which runs saturday mornings from may to november, and enjoyed the most beautiful and delicious produce. we also had the opportunity to frequent some pretty top notch restaurants, which i definitely recommend you try too: grazin' diner, helsinki hudson, red dot restaurant, and hudson food studio