Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dress Your Nest!

As you know, we're moving on Friday/Saturday to our new place.  It's MASSIVE and we just don't have enough stuff (or cool enough stuff) for this space.  I've been looking around online for inspiration for my new nest since I want to change up the decor from our current place...  (less bachelor-pad-ish... ahem...)



Dwell Studio Fabric
Apartment Therapy is making me drool.  It's inspired me to spend a little dough on some rad new pieces (new couch since we spend so much time on it) but also to go digging around at antique shops and thrift stores for cool older pieces we can spiff up.  Also, Dan's mom found some awesome old school chairs (4 of them - BLACK - with AWESOME backs to them) for us.  Someone was giving them away and she snatched them up knowing our taste!  I'm totally excited.

I also plan on buying a sewing machine (there's two for sale at the thrift store for $20 a piece) so that I can make my own accent pillows and curtains.  I mean, I'm not paying $65 fucking bones for a small pillow to throw on the couch.  Not happening.  And with the fabric I found at Dwell Studio, it will be cheap AND sexy.  Mmhm.

"KISS the Girls" Print Mafia
Anyway.  My new "adult" taste says neutrals with pops of color.  Same as my ever-changing wardrobe.  Dan and I have funky taste in artwork, so we have plenty of fun pieces to hang up (see: lots of prints from Print Mafia like my "KISS the Girls" print!), but I think we can be a little more grown up with our furniture and textiles to add a more grown-up edge to our place.

ALSO, if you know me, you probably know about my little secret websites I frequent for sweet deals on high-end shit (Gilt Group, Rue La La, Haute Look and Ideeli which all have tons of fashion and accessory deals, but also home decor stuff) but today I found a new one approaching for JUST home furnishings and decor.  It's called FAB and it sounds like it's going to be just that.  I'm stoked.

If the discounts on the furniture are anything like the discounts on my fashion sites, I'll be getting some sweet sexy stuff for supa cheap.  Awesome.

Anyway, I am getting amped up on getting to be creative and build a homey home.  Any thoughts or places I should be looking for affordable and rad decor stuff??  I'm all ears!

xo,
Rachael

P.S.
Speaking of ears-- Make yours happy by giving a listen to this Greenhornes song I added - "There is an End."  Man...  I love their sound.  My Pandora plays them a lot and I love them.  This song always reminds me of Jefferson Airplane for some reason.  I DIG DIG DIG!!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Vacation... Sorta.

I'm back home in CT after a nice week away from life.  I'm feeling that Sunday depression I've heard many people talk about...  It's hard going back to work after vacation regardless, but when you know you're walking into a shit-show, it makes it even harder.

Anyhoo, it was a nice vacation for the most part.  We made it down to Baltimore on Saturday for a great night out with tons of friends.  It was everything I was hoping it would be.  We started out at Rx Bistro for a quiet dinner with Whit, Randy and Emmy and Jello.  I was fond of the food.  Their wings were the best thing I had there, but apparently their pulled pork BBQ sammy was yummy enough to stab a hobo for.  After a nice dinner of catching up and lots of laughs, we headed to the old Waterfront where we met up with tons of faces I miss terribly.  I loved sharing the night with Justin B and Leah's Bday throw-down and got to see Kuntz and Soph (up from DC and down from Philly), Billy and Shannon came up and of course, all the Bmore regulars.  We moved on to Max's when it got too hot and finished out the evening there.

Lil' Miss Charlie
I had a BRILLIANT brunch on Sunday with Ms. Charlie Russel (and Em and J and Sara, but who's counting ;-)  GOD, she's grown.  I fucking adore this child.  She literally had me in tears over my omelette when she refused to swallow the food she was being fed, and instead created an eruption of sweet potato mash-- like a GEISER!  She's like a little Jackson Pollock-- the table cloth (luckily plastic) and Sara and I looked like one of his canvases.  I couldn't stop laughing...  I know it's bad to encourage that sort of behavior, but I couldn't help it.  I had tears streaming down my face.  I adore this child.


After brunch, we headed down to my parent's house.  We had a fantastic dinner at home with my whole fam and my grandmother.  Sweet ass steaks on the grill.  Man, it was nice.  It's always great to see my fam, and it was really nice to have Dan there, this visit.  The timing kinda blew because it was during the week and my parent's had to work during the days, but we got to relax and bond with the amazing Mr. Petey.  He is amazing and tiny and wears himself out playing fetch, then passes out on anyone who will pet him.  He goes completely limp.  He slept with us each night.  It was nice to have company in the bed.

Petey asleep in Dan's arms

We got to lunch with one of my favorite ladies, Linsey Shelton (great lunching with a fellow foodie-- order like there's no tomorrow and weight doesn't matter), and grab drinks with another favorite person of mine, Mr. John Wall.  So much fun.  They are both the types of friends of mine that will always be there for me (and vice versa, of course) and no matter how much time has passed since we've seen each other, it feels like it was just yesterday.  We don't skip a beat.  I love it.  To fill one of our days, we headed to my mom's work to shoot some guns.  It was really a blast.  Dan and I aren't bad, by the way.  Pretty F'in accurate.


We headed back to Bmore Wednesday to have lunch and drinks with Patty (my savior) and visit all my old work friends and for Whit's bday.  We had a yummy din din and then went out and had a really fun night.  Especially playing dice at J-Rad's!  Super fun (for the most part - aside from one quite rude individual in the party).  We left Bmore on Thursday to head back to CT to pack after a nice brunch with Whitty.

Fuzzy wallpaper in the Regal Beagle bathroom


Friday, we headed to Boston to see glassjaw (which was kind of a let-down) and had a totally delicious dinner at this joint called The Regal Beagle (yes, like Three's Company).  Holy crap-- thank you, Yelp.  It was really really yummy.  It was my favorite part of vacation until today.





TRENTA!!
Today, I got up, went to the gym (soaking up the BEAUTIFUL sunny weather on the way there and back), then treated myself to a TRENTA black unsweetened iced tea (the new size is actually bigger than my head), showered when I got home, had a nice little sammy with Dan, then we headed to The Spa of Essex to cash one of Dan's V-Day gifts to me-- A couple's massage!!  It was a gorgeous 40 minute ride to the spa, surrounded by mountains.  I had a male masseuse who had magic hands.  I haven't had a massage in years and it was just as good as I remembered.  After the massage, they take you to the relaxation room that had these way over-sized amazing chairs that you just sink into.  I could have stayed there the remainder of the day, but we headed to Dan's parent's for a glass of wine, then to dinner for hibachi steak.  Mmmmmm.

The Spa at Essex view from the back
Happy me post-massage











Anyhoo-- I wish it were more of a vacation, but my work ethic and there being a million things piled on my plate at work made it very hard for me to relax and enjoy it...  Ah, well.  It all ends tomorrow.  *le sigh*  Hello, Sunday depression.

xo,
Rachael

Monday, March 14, 2011

Amateur Therapist?

For as long as I can remember, I've been exactly what my old therapist called an "emotional sponge".  Partly because I want to help as many people as I can  and really do care deeply about people as soon as I meet them and partly because I truly get satisfaction out of helping people get well or feel better.

I've learned--after a draining life of giving everything I had to give emotionally to people who had no problem taking it--how to take my overwhelming maternal instincts and superhero complex and keep them in check.  For a long time, I had to go cold turkey and pretty much blow off anyone that was in need.  I went back to therapy and learned how to sort out the people who were going to take advantage of my needing to be needed and the people who actually needed me.

It's been a much healthier life, but part of me feels like I have more to give.  I was a stupid girl once, and have always been almost obsessively in touch with what I was thinking/feeling/going through, along with what everyone around me was thinking/feeling/going through.  I have learned so much in my short 27 years, and feel like I could help people (especially young girls), so they don't feel alone like I once did.

As a teen, I went through depression, insomnia, lots of problems with my girl parts (endometriosis) and lots of relationship horrors.  I learned how to get through them with the help of my mom and therapy (and at times, medication).  I became so interested in psychology and why we're all different (mostly men and women) and I ended up studying those differences in college and also doing my senior thesis on teen depression.

I found shoeboxes full of old letters friends had written me in middle and high school.  They were hilarious, sad, heartbreaking, and borderline insane.  I was an emotional sponge back then and that's how it all started.  The saddest and most traumatized kids seemed to find me like a moth to a flame and in between the letters (that got progressively more serious and terrifying), I cut interviews with my mom and little sister describing me as a teen.  My mom found me to be overdramatic at times and always seeking acceptance and attention from boys I wanted to love me.  My sister said the same.  It was hard to hear, but the whole point of the piece was that I wasn't being over-dramatic.  It was that dramatic to me, as a teen.  It was all I knew.  To adults, it might seem silly, but it truly can be very real and depression needs to be taken seriously, not laughed off.  I was lucky enough that my mom took notice and stopped seeing me as dramatizing things and started seeing me as someone who needed help.

Anyway, long story short, I've always second-guessed my decision to pursue the career I chose.  There are many careers I'd like to try my hand at and being a counselor or therapist is one of them.

I started using StumbleUpon the other night while I was bored.  It's awesome.  It took me to a page called The Compassion Pit.  Wow.  There are venters and listeners.  You can be on either end of the chat, but it's one on one, totally anonymous and people can talk about whatever they'd like.  I've ended up helping two different girls who were going through very similar situations I've found myself in and learned from.  They were so grateful after we spoke and thanked me and it made me feel...  fulfilled.  Needed.  Appreciated.

It's been really fantastic.  It's like people who have real jobs and paint or take photos on the side, but reversed.  I don't mean people's problems are my hobby, but hobbies are something people do that make them feel good and they enjoy and are interested in, right?  So far it's been nothing but positive.  As of now, I see it as another way to spread positivity and keep myself looking up.  Thought I'd share in case there are any other listeners (or venters) who can get something out of the process.

There's always someone you can talk to!  Even if they're on the other end of a chat room...  Sometimes that may even be better than talking to someone in person, no (especially if you happen to get me ;-)?

xo,
Rachael

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Moving on.


Today I was talking to a co-worker about moving.  It hit me.  It’s less than a month away.

 
I’ve been in Connecticut for half a year, and our cute little railroad apartment has done its job wonderfully.  Dan had to move up before me, I didn’t know where I would be working once I did move, and Dan needed a place he could afford on his own while I was still in Baltimore.  Our little apartment did all of those things for us.

It also was the place we fell deeper in love and strengthened our friendship and relationship.  It’s the place where Dan became my best friend (without question) and the place where I finally found the happiness that I’ve been searching for most of my life.  A place that was terrifying at first and I saw as, “Dan’s apartment,” slowly became our home.   It’s a place where I grew up more than I have in all my 27 years.  The first place I bought real furniture for.  It ended up being the place I’ve become most comfortable in my own skin, and the place that I’ve come to realize I’ve made all the right decisions thus far.  Bold statements, huh?

Built in cabinet full of our toys


 It’s also the place with no dishwasher, a coin-operated (tiny) washer/dryer that I have to go OUTSIDE to get to, no AC, steep driveway I can’t get my car up in the snow, an upstairs neighbor with bass that rhythmically vibrates my bed til the wee hours in the morning (weekend or school night, alike), and hardly any counter space in the kitchen but I digress…  (I have to keep reminding myself of these things or else, I’ll never leave!)


"Summer Slashers" Series by Electric Zombie
This apartment will always hold so many memories for me.  Good and bad, but mostly good.  I have shed so many tears in this apartment, but they have all dried up and I’ve settled into my new life nicely.  From the artwork collection we’ve established lining the walls, to the dark brown carpet, I’ve come to know this cozy little place as “home”, but we’ve grown up a lot in these past 6 months.  We now know where we’re working, we know what we need and want, and for both of us, it’s still each other, so we’ve decided to move on.


The new apartment is far bigger, with tons of room for visitors (a WHOLE massive guest bedroom - ahem), dinner parties, hell, even roller-skating if we wanted.  The kitchen is massive and there’s SO much space everywhere.  New space for new memories. 

Most importantly, the apartment is within walking distance of lots of fun bars and restaurants and a big beautiful park with a stunning rose garden.  The surrounding area was truly the biggest factor when we decided to move.  I need city life breathing around me, not a dishwasher.  It’s really about location, not amenities (though the dishwasher is definitely a plus, and I’m sure my nails will agree).

We will continue to grow as individuals and as a couple no matter where we live, and this new apartment will easily become our new home since what makes it our “home” is really us, but leaving our first apartment together behind is bittersweet.  It’s a good thing we’re taking all the best things about our first apartment together with us.

Xo,
Rachael 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Endometriosis Awareness Month


March is Endometriosis
 Awareness Month
If you know me, you probably know about my experience with, or at the very least that I have, endometriosis.  It's a painful condition which the tissue that behaves like the cells lining the uterus (endometrium) grows in other areas of the body, causing pain, irregular bleeding, and possible infertility.  The tissue growth (implant) typically occurs in the pelvic area, outside of the uterus, on the ovaries, bowel, rectum, bladder, and the delicate lining of the pelvis. However, the implants can occur in other areas of the body, too. (definition from PubMed Health)

The cause of endometriosis is unknown.  March is endometriosis awareness month.  I highly suggest heading here to find out more about the disease and who it's affecting (8.5 million North American women and teens, and totaling 176 million worldwide).

I have recently joined a group on facebook to be of support and to be supported, and have been hearing what sounds mostly like hopelessness.  I wanted to share my experience thus far, to give some sort of optimism, at least.  Reading the stories of the group made me realize how lucky I've been in my situation.  I know all of our stories are different, but maybe someone can be comforted by my journey thus far...


I'll put the rest under a jump.  **WARNING:  There will be one (not graphic to me) picture of my "franken-belly" after my first surgery and talk about girl parts and periods after the jump, so boys-- feel free not to jump.  :)



Thursday, March 3, 2011

Spring is in the air...

It's in my bones.  I can feel it.  I was driving home yesterday and snapped these few pictures at my favorite moment in my commute.  The trees part, there are mountains in the distance and to my right is the sunset that casts  beautiful neon pinks and oranges that dance along the edges of the clouds.



I'm fighting these last few weeks of cold.  We'll have a day like yesterday, where I ripped off my scarf after work and declared "Spring is here!!"  I cracked my windows, blared my "girl rock" Pandora station and sang with my wayfarers on all the way home.  I caught myself with the goofiest smile on my face.  Then I went to the gym and when I walked out and hour later, I thought I was going to die of hypothermia.  It's such a tease...


Regardless, that little glimpse of what it soon to come is just what I needed.  I am a different person when it's warm and sunny out.  I appreciate life differently-- for all the good there is in it.  When it's dark and gloomy and cold, I still try to be appreciative, but find myself looking at it from an "I'm lucky to have these amazing people in my life to drag me through these times" kind of way.  When it's beautiful out, I can appreciate having those same amazing people in my life to celebrate each day with.  It's just different and very welcomed.

So, come on, Spring.  I know you're there.  Don't be scared.  Come on in.  The water's fine.  ;-)

xo,
Rachael

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My First Connecticut Visitors!

This weekend was as lovely as my Friday (as expected).  We have had visitors to our CT apartment, but none have come further than NY, and most (truth be told), are more of Dan's friends.  It's been a long and lonely winter, and I'm thrilled that Spring is on it's way.  I'm also thrilled that I have two friends who refused to wait for winter to die before coming up to visit me.

This past weekend happened to be right around my 6 month anniversary of moving up to Connecticut, and I got to see two of my dearest friends.  Mr. Don Boots drove all the way from Ohio to Pennsylvania where he met up with the lovely Adina and they headed all the way up to little old me in Connecticut (making RECORD time, by the way - go, speed racer!).  I hadn't seen Don since my going away shindig in August and hadn't seen Adina since Emmy and Jello's (amazing) wedding in October.  When I sat and thought about how long it had been, I was surprised.  It didn't feel nearly as long since Adina and I speak daily and Boots and I keep close tabs on each other and call each other whenever something new is going on or just to make sure all is well (as friends do), but I was still over the moon to see them in person.

Just when I think my eyes are blue,
here's Boots to kill that theory.
It was so fun to make a (loose) plan for the weekend to decide where I wanted to take my new-to-CT visitors.  I've had half a year to find a few hidden gems and knew right away where a few of our destinations would be.  As soon as they arrived, we scooped them up, put them into Dan's car and took them to Eli Cannon's Tap Room.  We love this place for the amazing selections of microbrews on tap.  One thing New England has going for it is it's delightful breweries in the area.  They keep their beer menu on chalkboards because of how frequently they change out the beers.  Delicious.  They also have great taste in music.  I always find myself singing along to some 90's song I haven't thought about in years and reminiscing about my old CD collection.  We had great food (boots loved his maple marshmallow dipping sauce for his sweet potato fries), great beer and wonderful conversation (after Boots finally was allowed in after forgetting his ID at home).  We came home and went to bed after making a pact that we would try our hardest to sleep in until 12pm (we kept it...  Or at least Don and I did.  Dan and Adina kindly kept quiet so we could be lazy).

GLOW PIRATE MINI GOLF!!



The only other solid plans I had were for dinner on Saturday night and brunch on Sunday.  We collectively decided to head to a local diner to grab some lunch which is where we decided on our next activity.  Glow in the dark-indoor-Pirate themed-mini golf.  I didn't even know this existed in the world, much less 10 minutes away.  It was pretty fun.  I learned that I am very bad at mini golf.  As Dan put it at the end of all 18 holes, "I won, Adina and Don tied for a close second place and Rachael...  got a little less than the rest of us."  Nicely put.



Then the REAL fun began.  The part I was maybe looking forward to the most-- getting ready to go out!!  I rarely get "dolled up" anymore and when I do, it's just to impress Dan, not really for the fun of being a complete and utter girly girl.  Adina and I tried on our outfits for one another, gave advice on what to wear, did our make up and hair and chatted away while the boys played Rock Band.





Then it was off to BAR in New Haven.  If you know me well, you know I'm not a big fan of pizza.  I'd rather have pasta.  I'd rather have a salad.  I'd rather have a calzone.  EXCEPT when it comes to BAR's pizza.  Holy god.  It's the thinnest crust, the freshest ingredients and the yummiest beer.  I love the actual bar itself, too.  Reminds me a lot of the Red Star in Baltimore.  It's big with high ceilings and 2 full bars and tables scattered across the place.  The front of the restaurant has massive windows from top to bottom, so you can watch the "whore parades" late night and all the Yale students running about.  Anyhoo, we all had a great time and headed to a small little bar down the street with live music for a nightcap, then headed back home.  Dan and I sang Violent Femmes all the way home.  It was wonderful.


That's where Adina broke out Just Dance 2 (Wii game) and this happened:


video

Yeah.  This is when I found out I'm also bad at dance video games.  Just awful.

Brunch was lovely the next day at Huxley's, the library-themed diner close to our house, then we sent off our first visitors with big hugs and much love to head back to their shitty states (we live in the trifecta of shitty states, we decided).

Really made me feel loved to have friends come and see me.  It was just what I needed to kick into this amazing mood I've been in since Friday.  I'm a lucky gal.

xo,
Rachael