Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Packing for Ireland

Let's be honest with each other. We all have our faults. Mine is procrastination...among a few others. I get excited about a big trip, research all about it: what I should bring, how I should pack, etc. Then the procrastination sets in and I just don't pack. I think about it. I fantasize about it. I just don't do it.

We packed the day before leaving for our trip to Ireland. This caused me quite a bit of stress but I just couldn't bring myself to do it before. I kept going back and forth about whether I should use one of the larger checked bags or just try to do a roll-a-board. I don't know what I was thinking. I'm not high maintenance by any stretch of the imagination but I do want to wear different clothes each day. I also don't have a lot of clothes that you can wash in sinks and line dry by the next day, so it's not like I could pack 2
t-shirts and a pair of pants for a 10 day trip.

I packed:
     9 undershirts/tanks
     8 t-shirts/tops
     1 dress
     1 jacket
     3 bras
     9 pairs of underwear
     2 sets of PJs
     8 pairs of socks
     1 colorful scarf
     2 pairs of shoes
     Meds, including motion sickness Rx in case either of us didn't do well on the flight (we didn't need it)
     Castile soap (if we needed to sink-wash anything, for body wash, and face wash)
     Moisturizer & eye cream
     Eye drops
     Evian Mister to wake me up on the plane (this sounds just stupid but honestly, it was really, really nice to help me feel human again on the plane)
     Makeup (I wore this about half the time)
     2 pairs earrings
     Q tips
     Body loofah (I had read that many hotels in Europe don't have wash clothes because it's thought of as too personal. We encountered the same thing, only one of our hotels had them)
     Shampoo & conditioner

Packing lessons learned:
1) Make sure you don't leave anything hanging over the shower rail. This is how I ended up with only 1 pair of jeans (the one I wore to the airport).
2) Yes, your outfits deserve thought but if you're going somewhere where the weather necessitates wearing a jacket, make sure you like your jacket. I'm wearing my jacket in pretty much every picture.
3) If a beauty product doesn't work for you at home, it probably won't work for you on vacation. I always think those face wipes will be great (and I don't think they count as liquid) but they almost always break me out. I tried taking them to Ireland and guess what? They broke me out! I ended up using the castile soap and making sure I moisturized well.

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Coastal Getaway

Sometimes life gets taken over by routines. By tasks. By things that have to get done. Even though I work 3 days a week and T works from home, we have still found ourselves needing to be purposeful about spending time together. I mean real time, not just sitting on the couch "watching TV" with each of us on our respective laptops.

How do you make time for each other? We've been talking about planning fun things as well as being more spontaneous. A recent Wednesday was just what we'd been looking for. We woke up, lazed around in bed a bit, and then I found myself saying, "Why don't we go somewhere today?" T had recently found some hotels/B&B type places that he had emailed me to check out, so I asked about them. Laying there in bed we picked a place and made a reservation for that night. All we had to do was pack a few things, put out more munchies for the cats and get gas. We were set!

We made our way to Manzanita, Oregon by way of Route 30. We stopped in Astoria for lunch at the Rogue Brewery where the Idaho buffalo chips were super yummy, the rest...not as much. I was really excited to try their own brew of root beer but it was terrible! For some reason it had a very iron aftertaste. Who wants to drink something that leaves you with the taste of blood in your mouth? We wound through other little towns until we made our way to our destination of Manzanita, a town of about 600 on the Oregon coast.

We stayed at Manzanita Costal Cabins with our own hot tub and sauna, hung out on the beach, and getting our paws sticky making smores by the fire pit. Loved our time together. There's just something nice about getting away, even if it's just for a night.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Joy of Massage

One of my favorite pleasures in life is a massage. The only way a massage can get any better is for it to be a) longer or b) a hot stone massage.

Today I got to have an hour and a half hot stone massage. Heaven! It really helps me relax and de-stress. You can chat with the massage therapist if you want or just lay quietly. Usually, I'm pretty quiet. I use the time to zone out and focus on my body- how it feels on its own and how it feels when the muscles are being worked. It's sort of like meditation for me.

I've been getting massages for several years. I have a membership at a popular chain. Once you sign up, they automatically take $$ from your account each month and put that toward a massage. The benefit of signing up for a membership is that you get a lower price, usually the "introductory" price. However, if you're not going to use the massages, they could either go to waste (BAD!) or in my case, just sit there and accumulate. For example, before going today I had 6 (six!) prepaids. The hot stone counts as 2, and a 2 hour massage counts as 2 at my place.

I know that for some people, the idea of getting a massage is sort of confusing and uncomfortable. They may have questions about it that they don't feel comfortable asking anyone, depending on how shy they are. I've put together a few Q&As based on my experiences.

Q: Is a massage a massage? What kind should I ask for?
A: Not all therapists do all kinds of massage. According to the Mayo Clinic these are the most common types of massage:
  • Swedish massage. This is a gentle form of massage that uses long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration and tapping to help relax and energize you.
  • Deep massage. This massage technique uses slower, more-forceful strokes to target the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, commonly to help with muscle damage from injuries.
  • Sports massage. This is similar to Swedish massage, but it's geared toward people involved in sport activities to help prevent or treat injuries.
  • Trigger point massage. This massage focuses on areas of tight muscle fibers that can form in your muscles after injuries or overuse.
My favorite is a combination of Swedish and Deep with a sprinkling of trigger point thrown in on my glutes

Q: What benefits does massage have?
A: I'm all about evidence based stuff. Evidence has proven that massage helps reduce stress and pain, as well as muscle tension. Then there's the stuff that needs a bit more research but many people feel is helped by massage- for me that's TMJ and headaches, for others it's anxiety, depression, and even insomnia.

Q: Am I supposed to get naked? In front of a stranger? What will my husband/boyfriend/significant other think??
A: Most massage therapists will ask you to undress to your level of comfort, then they should step out of the room, telling you whether you should lay face up or down. I always strip to just my underwear (bra comes off, too). They will always keep any body parts they're not working on covered up. Yes, it's a little strange the first time but you will likely be so focused on how good you feel that you will forget about it. Explain to your S.O. that nothing sexual is happening. They don't see any of your sexy parts or touch you in that way. It's very professional! And if you or your S.O. are at all concerned, you could request a therapist that you're more comfortable with.

Q: I have a rash/bacne! Can I still go?
A: I would wait until it clears up if it looks contagious at all. They usually have the option of wearing gloves but I'm not sure that would really feel all that great. Save your money and just wait until it's gone. There are also some serious things that you should check with your primary care provider about before getting a massage like- healing wounds, blood clots, being on blood thinners, etc. Also, if you're pregnant, make sure to check with your PCP first and tell your therapist.

Q: What about my period?
A: Go, girl! Seriously, you will feel so much better. Just keep your underwear on and wear a pad if you're at all nervous. So worth it!

Q: Am I supposed to tip them?
A: Yes. I my tip usually works out to about 25% but should reflect how long your massage was and how good the therapist was. The clinic I go to has "tip suggestion sheets" up but I really don't agree with them. Maybe the membership costs more out here (I joined in Kansas) but if I tipped what they "suggested" it would be about 50%, which just seems crazy to me unless they healed you or something.

Q: Am I supposed to have bruises afterward? Why did it hurt so much?
A: In my opinion, massages should not leave you bruised. But this has happened to me. For my very first massage, I was still in high school. I just lay there, cringing and trying not to cry out as she worked her elbows up and down my back. The next day I had a line of bruises on each side of my spine. She was the professional, though, right? Surely she knew what I needed! Eh...yes, to an extent. Therapists rely on you to give them feedback. A good one will ask you before hand what you're looking for: a relaxing massage or a deep tissue and then ask during the massage how the pressure is. I'm usually clear as mud and tell them "somewhere in between." They will usually start out with a lighter pressure, then intensify it as your muscles warm up. Once they have gotten to a pretty consistent pressure, I tell them "That pressure's perfect" or "Maybe a little less pressure there" or "Can you do a little more pressure?" I feel like those are nice and to the point. Just remember, it's your body. Yes, if you tell them you want a deep tissue, then they start working out all those kinks and you're in misery, just tell them. Every massage therapist I've ever met was pleasant and polite. That said, however, remember that a deep tissue will feel less "relaxing". The whole point is to work out the knots. You can't do that with a light touch.
Not everyone is going to be interested in getting rubbed down and that's okay. My husband, for example, will probably never be comfortable with it. But if it sounds like something you'd be interested in, put it on your Valentine's Day/Christmas/Birthday wish list or go sign up for a membership. You deserve it!
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Friday, January 25, 2013

Better Late than Never!

Yes, it's late but I thought you might want to see our Christmas card picture. You know, in case you didn't get one in person! And if you wanted to know where we got our sweaters so you could get one for yourself, sorry. We made them!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

I Have the Best Parents

     At the risk of hurting anyone's feelings, I have to put it out there: I have the best parents. Seriously, yours may be great and all but mine top the charts :)

     My mom is one of the most caring and understanding people I have ever met. My dad is a hoot, with whom I share a scary amount of traits.

     My mom and dad just left after visiting us for almost a week from St. Louis. My mom has only been to Portland once (which was probably kind of a bummer for her since I had pneumonia and felt like crap the entire time) and my dad has never been here. We had grand plans. One day we would go to the coast! One day we would go to the mountains and have delicious hot chocolate with whipped cream while lounging by the huge fireplace at some lodge and watching the glistening snow fall outside. One day we would tour downtown via public transit. Le sigh. Perfection.

     None of these things happened. The first let down was finding out that, by law, we would need tire chains to go to the coast or the mountains. We don't have tire chains and honestly, I have no clue how to put them on. I thought we could just rent a car but Travis said we would likely still have to have our own chains. Sniff. We did go to Powell's City of Books, which was really fun. I never get tired of that place. In fact, my dad, a card carrying bibliophile, wanted to go back the next day! When it came time to tour the rest of downtown however, it was pretty windy and the air had a chill in it. My parents didn't look exactly enthused about the idea of bracing themselves to look at buildings at that particular moment, so we headed home. Later in the week went to OMSI- the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry. That was a ton of fun! We saw an Omnimax movie about dolphins, toured an actual submarine, and then played with the exhibits. Pretty much every day we took a nap, which was heaven for me and gave Travis time to nurture his introverted side. That kid never takes naps. What is wrong with him? We also played Apples to Apples, which was a blast. According to my dad, lightening is just fancy electricity :) He won all three rounds!

     Yesterday it was back to the work grind. I love my job but it sure is hard to go back after several days off. It's not just having to go back to work but having to switch back to night shift that makes it harder. Oh well. Life goes on :)

The Blueback

Making crayon rubbings of dinosaurs

Learning about different types of energy

The Tram

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Monday, December 24, 2012

It's Christmas Eve!!

Christmas Questions 

Borrowed from Upside Down Grace
When do you start decorating for Christmas?
Usually right after my birthday, December 3rd. My husband isn't a huge fan of all the hoopla but he puts up with it for me.

Christmas attire, casual or dressy?
Casual. I'm really not that big of a fan of dressing up in general. I think it looks weird on me.

Best gift you ever received?
Best? I'm not sure I could say one was the best. But some memorable ones are my scrubs and nursing gear for nursing school and my Nikon.

Worst gift you ever received?
Hmm...gosh, probably just clothes when I was little and didn't like getting them. Now? Gimmie the clothes!!

Snow, love or hate?
LOVE. I can't help it. When it snows I just get giddy. Now that we're in Portland it doesn't really stick to the ground. I miss the crunch you can feel and hear when you walk in freshly fallen snow.

Favorite Christmas song?
Silent Night. It was my Grandma's and I inherited it.

Least favorite? 
Santa Baby. By far.

Best Christmas movie?
The Christmas Story. But I also love National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, The Santa Clause, and Home Alone.

Probably Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, just because I think it's kind of boring.

Christmas tree, real or fake?
Growing up, all but one were fake. This year, our first Christmas in our new house, we put up a real tree. I did a whole post about it!

Do you have a favorite ornament?
I guess I would say the ornament for our first Christmas together (married).

Family traditions?
Well, we're not able to do my favorite tradition anymore. Every year we would go to my mom's parents' house. Since we lived out of town we stayed there. They had a big party Christmas Eve with the whole family. The kids exchanged names and opened those presents then. The adults split up into men/women and played the steal-the-gift game. My grandparents have passed away and now my brother has a wife and daughter, so we have been doing Christmas at my parent's house. The only traditions I can think of that we do is open a present Christmas Eve, that's always PJs and then on Christmas morning, you can open your stocking when you first wake up. I can't wait to have my own traditions.

The easiest and hardest people to buy gifts for?
I'm just going to say that everyone is hard to buy for. I'm not a great gifter. It's kind of hard for me. Especially because when I go shopping I tend to have tunnel vision for things I want!

Do you open presents Christmas Eve or Christmas?
Just the one on Christmas Eve. Everything else is Christmas day.

Clear or colored lights?
I used to like both equally but I'm on a clear light kick right now.

Travel or stay home?
Usually travel. This year we're staying home.

Themed or homey decorations?
Um, themed? I just like what I like :)

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Tree Debacle

Real tree or fake tree? It's a question that every family who celebrates Christmas (and puts up a tree, I guess) has to answer. I had never really thought about it, honestly. We had a fake tree all but one year when I was growing up, my grandparents had a fake tree, it was just what people did. Sure, in all those Christmas movies they go to the tree farm and pick one out, cut it down, and haul it all the way home on the roof of their cars but that was just Hollywood, right?

Since graduating college five years ago (Oh my gosh has is really been that long??) I've been away from home every year. One year I put up a mini fake tree but the others I didn't bother. I mean, if I wasn't going to be home it seemed kind of silly. This year is the first year that I've stayed in my house for Christmas. The first year without seeing my family. When I found out I wasn't going to see my family for the holiday it was rough. Christmas is my favorite holiday and I have a lot of preconceived notions about how it "should be". That was hard to take. So, needless to say, a tree was a MUST have this year.

I started looking online for fake trees and found that there was a large selection of pre-lit trees. That's a whole other story! I immediately knew I didn't want one of those because what do you do it your lights go out? You have these lights on your tree that don't do anything and then you have to buy lights anyway. I was just going to get a normal, plain-o, unlit tree. Then my mom asked me how the cats would do with a tree. I was in such a tizzy to make my house Christmas-y that I hadn't actually stopped to think about that part. Oops.

We ended up deciding to get a real tree to see how they did with one before shelling out a ton for a fake one. So we spent $30 on a real tree over a $300 fakie. I figured that if it didn't work out we would only be out a few bucks. So how has it worked out, you ask? Not as bad as I thought it might go, actually. Pepper has totally left it alone. Penny, who we were really worried about just climbing inside and making a home, has just been curious. She liked to lie under the tree and watch the lights, swat at the low hanging (shatterproof) ornaments and garland and occasionally nibble on the tree. She's drank the water out of the tree holder a few times and played in it but she has never tried to jump up into the tree or knock it over. I would call it a success!

We got our tree from a lot, not a farm but it is real nonetheless. We read online that you're supposed to saw off the end of the stump, then put it in the tree stand with water. Travis hadn't banked on that and wasn't exactly excited to have to try to find his saw. But he succeeded and we moved the tree inside to the living room, shedding pine needles the whole way. That was fun to clean up!

So if you find yourself asking the age old question- real tree or fake tree? I would tell you, honestly, either. The smell is divine but the needles are kind of a pain. My cats seem to be doing relatively well with it.

What do you think? What do you have to do to make it seem like Christmas in your house? Do you put up a tree? And of course- real or fake?

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