COFFEE WITH ME: 21-day cold shower challenge!

I can imagine having coffee with Kayla (at Espresso Royale) and telling her about my newest random pursuit:

Somewhere [online] I read that taking cold showers in the morning is good for you. There was some justification in the form of pseudo-science and motivational speech, but it did get me thinking that I take very long, hot, wasteful showers.

Thus, I’ve decided to subject myself to a 21-day cold shower challenge, which is basically what it sounds like. Every day for three weeks, I will take a cold shower in the morning. 21 days is supposedly the “magic” number of times it takes to develop a habit, so maybe in three weeks, the cold water will be so normal that I won’t want to die every time I bathe.

I tried it this morning. It was pretty bad for the first 30 seconds/until I turned off the water to shampoo my hair (water-saving measures!). I kept telling myself, “You are stronger than this!” and pretending that I was in some kind of intense POW exercise, determined to prove my mental toughness (to whom? Myself? Bodger?). Eventually, it wasn’t so bad. I lied. It was still bad.

That being said, it was the fastest shower I’ve taken in awhile! And when I got out, I felt super energized and ready to start my day. Plus, I was so cold that the added heat of blow-drying my hair didn’t make me sweaty, which is one of my biggest rages in life.

Speaking of my hair, I also read that washing your hair in cold water “seals” the hair follicle and makes it look shiny and lustrous. I’m not sure if that’s actually true, but I whipped my hair around a lot at the office today, being all like, “Oh heyyyy, you like these lustrous locks? I’m in a damn shampoo commercial!”

Wish me luck. Brrrrr.

Two things you should bake

First of all, check out the header image on this post. Isn’t that weird and sinister? We like to watch the Korean TV channels at home, and this bizarre masked singing competition came on last Sunday night. Can you guess what song they were singing? Oh, right, the theme from Phantom of the Opera. I don’t even know.

ANYWAY!

I had amassed a bunch of mouldering bananas, so I decided to make banana bread to take over to Jordan and Maria, who are in their first few weeks as parents of TWINS! (Because nothing say, “OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD, YOU’RE ADULTS!!!” like fruit-based quick breads.) The two recipes I had in my recipe binder produced pretty meh results–kind of dry and not that banana-y–and I wanted something truly spectacular.

I found this “ultimate” banana bread from Cook’s Illustrated and was intrigued by the process of extracting and reducing the banana juice for extra banana flavor. (Side note: I always forget about Cook’s Illustrated as a recipe source. I love how they have tested each recipe so thoroughly and give you justification for choosing various ingredients/techniques. I might subscribe to the magazine.) Microwaving the bananas was kind of a mess, but it did make for a very banana-smelling loaf.

The other advantage of microwaving the bananas means that you can just freeze bananas at peak over-ripeness and have them on hand to make bread. I never have the right number of over-ripe bananas, so I like that I can stockpile them until I have enough for a good loaf.

CI Ultimate Banana bread

I even used did the optional banana slice-layering for decoration. This was some serious banana bread.

I can’t actually recommend this recipe personally, but Jordan and Maria (and Jordan’s parents) said it was awesome: moist and banana-y. So I’ll try making it again soon!

Also over the weekend, I made these fabulous chocolate chip cookies. And, like, okay, I know it’s hard to get excited about chocolate chip cookies, but these are so good. I think it’s (1) the combination of bread and cake flour and (2) letting the dough rest for 24+ hours. They end up with this chewy texture and slightly crisp edges and deep toffee flavor. They’re sa-hoooo good. I think they might be my new favorite! chocolate chip cookies

The recipe recommends making them with 1/3-cup scoops, which makes awesomely huge cookies. I ended up making these to take the work, so I just used my regular scoop/portioning device, and they still turned out great, with just the right texture. The recipe makes a ton: I brought 52 cookies to work, and I made about 10 of the “giant” size ones.

cookies at work

We ate too much Korean food.

On Saturday, I was very, very hungry.

The Hus-friend and I decided we wanted to walk to get Korean food for dinner. Unfortunately, we live in a not-very-convenient location, so most of the Korean food is far away in the Richmond. No big deal, I thought–I typically amass a lot of steps on Saturdays.

Our walk to dinner was five miles, about an hour and a half. Since we walked across the city, we had to fight our way up some hills, and once we crossed the mid-line ridge of the peninsula, the sun was replaced by dense fog and wind. At about the halfway point, I started flagging, and the Hus-friend started saying things like, “I didn’t eat enough today. I’m really excited to eat a lot of Korean food when we get there. I’m so hungry.”

After walking for seemingly an eternity, I said, “Oh, we’re at 4th street. What’s the cross street of Han Il Kwan again?” The Hus-friend hesitated before mumbling, “19th.”

“AJKFLDSJKLF:DS I’m not going to make it. Leave me here to DIE!!!!!!” I said, completely without drama.

Right as the sign of restaurant, Han Il Kwan, came into view, I noticed a giant Korean tour bus had pulled up in front. “Oh, that’s a thing,” said the Husfriend, “Yelp said that giant tour buses of Koreans come here while visiting the city. We have to run so they don’t get ahead of us.”

…so we ungracefully speedwalked to the door to beat a [I shit you not!] gigantic bus of Koreans. It didn’t end up mattering because they apparently had reserved a huge room.

Han Il Kwan is apparently a popular choice for dinner (We tried to go there unsuccessfully with Mitzi last year.), so we had to put our name on the list and wait a few minutes. While we were waiting, I kept seeing servers busing the tables with food still left in the dishes: bits of uneaten banchan, half-bowls of rice, bulgogi left on the now-lukewarm iron plate. “These people are fools,” I thought, “How could you leave any food on your plate??? Om nom nom, I’m going to eat it all!”

When we sat down, I couldn’t decided what I wanted. The server came to take our order, and the Hus-friend matter-of-factly ordered bulgogi. When she turned to me, I panicked and screamed, “Um CAN I HAVE A HAEMUL PAJEON AND DUK MANDOO GUK?” (Seafood and scallion pancake and dumpling-ricecake soup). Giving no indication that we had ordered too much food, she nodded and left.

Two minutes later, a huge array of banchan came out.

banchan at Han Il Kwan

“Um, I think I ordered too much food,” I said, as we started shoving banchan in our mouths.

“I’m so hungry! I’m going to eat all of this,” said the Husfriend, between mouthfuls.

“No! Don’t,” I cried, “You’ll fill up, and I ordered so much food!”

Just then, a server came out with a sizable plate of bulgogi and a bowl cauldron of duk mandoo guk.

“I did a bad thing. Maybe we can ask her not to bring out the scallion pancake,” I said…just as she brought out an enormous plate of scallion pancake. Oops.

Sometimes, I try to slow down and savor my food, but because I was 1) the hungriest I could remember being ever in my entire life and 2) worried about not finishing all the delicious food we had ordered, I decided that the best course of action was pure and shameless gluttony: eating it ALLLLLL.

The way Han Il Kwan is set up, the people waiting for a table are just huddled at the entrance, watching you eat your food. I’d hear groups murmuring, “Ooh, that’s good, what she’s got” as our food came. Initially, I worried about their looks of interest turning to looks of disgust as I chewed and swallowed mouthful after mouthful of food, but eventually, I just decided to give zero fucks about it. Korean food is delicious and made to be eaten with full cheeks, and I wasn’t going to slow down enough to fill up.

Fortunately, I am super-good at using chopsticks now, so utensils did not get in my way. I shudder to think how this looked to an outside observer: two people at a table for four, covered with dishes, shoving soup, dumplings, pancake, and sidedishes into their mouths with reckless abandon. When I think about it, the word that comes to mind is “bestial.”

[I didn’t get a photo of the three main dishes because I jumped on them and begin inhaling their contents. SorryNotSorry.]

Long story short, we managed to take down almost the entire table of food between the two of us. We did not eat all the sidedishes (potatoes, bean sprouts, regular kimchi, rice.), and we took about half of the pancake home. Still, by the time the server came with some shikye-as-digestive, the table looked destroyed.

IMG_4871

Yes, we took down an amount of food fit for five people. I’m not even sorry.

[Hilarious/embarrassing epilogue: I decided I was going to buy a donut for dessert while we were in the Richmond, so we stopped at a nearby donut shop. Unfortunately, there was a $5 minimum for credit cards, so we had to order, like, three donuts and a ginger ale. Whoops.]

We may not be the most exciting married almost-thirty-somethings, but we can eat. Om nom nom nom.

(We took a car home and passed out on the couch, watching movies on HBO. Saturday win.)

Finished: Deer & Doe Plantain t-shirt

I probably won’t become an expert garment-maker any time soon, but I still find the idea of sewing my own wardrobe staples appealing. Paying for cheaply made t-shirts always bothers me, so I wanted to try sewing my own long-sleeved tee. I love 3/4 t-shirts because 1) they don’t make your upper arms look like hams and 2) they’re usually the right temperature for San Francisco!

Deer & Doe Plantain
Look at Bodger being aloof.

Last week, I made the Deer & Doe Plantain t-shirt, having had good luck with the robe Sureau earlier this year. Plus, it’s a free pattern! I actually tried this shirt last year with a very lightweight, stretchy knit, and it was a true disasterbox. The ends curled horrifically, and the neckline ended up all misshapen and stretched out.shoulder seam, Deer & Doe Plantain

For this version, I made sure to use a thicker jersey. The pattern calls for jersey with 40-50% stretch. The Fabric Outlet doesn’t mark their stretch percentage, so I just manhandled all the knits until I found this stable green one. Those thin, super-soft  jerseys look cute, but I find them unbearable to sew because the edges curl so badly. (Plus, they pill like no one’s business, and pills make me so stabby.)

Deer & Doe plantain

Another upgrade for this version, I made the good decision to sew with some direction. I actually found a “sewing teacher” online. Yes, I searched for someone offering sewing lessons on Craig’s List, and fortunately, my new sewing mentor Barbara turned out not to be a murderer. I didn’t get a picture of her, but trust me, she’s a very nice person and experienced sewer. She gave me some tips about how to keep the neckline straight and smooth and how to pin efficiently. It was helpful to have some hand-holding when working with knits. We didn’t do the whole shirt together, but she got me to a good point so that I could finish up the sides on my own.

overcast seams

Even though knits don’t fray, I took the time overcast the seams with my machine. I prefer the more professional look, and I know that the raw edges would have made me think, “Meh, this looks so homemade!” and would detract from my overall enjoyment of the shirt. Who knows why I want my clothes to look factory-made. Maybe because I like the exactness of batch-processed clothing….

Deer & Doe plantain tee

I’m really pleased with the final product! It has waist-shaping, and I appreciate the scoop neck, especially since the neckline isn’t all wonked out. It takes a surprising amount of time to sew something as simple as a 3/4-sleeve t-shirt, which gives me some appreciation for my clothes. I’ll probably make some more and add them as wardrobe staples, at least for weekend lounging.

Thanks, Bodger, for being part of my photo shoot.

Bodger attack

Details:

Pattern: Plaintain t-shirt by Deer & Doe

Size: 38

Materials: Emerald green jersey from the Fabric Outlet

Alterations: None

Year of Style: The daily uniform

The Year of Style continues!

Have you seen articles like this one floating around Facebook about how successful people wear the same thing every day? Not like a business suit, but the same casual (or stylish) ensemble every day. Mark Zuckerberg does it, so it must be good!

Maybe I’m just swept up in whatever the Internet trends are these days, but the idea of a daily uniform is supremely appealing to me. It’s pretty similar to the concept of the capsule wardrobe that I aspire to…but it’s even better!

I was already enamored of the idea of adhering to a handful of style “formulas” (formulae?) to make daily dressing easier. (This is what made packing for Montréal so easy.) For example, I tend to wear one of the following five ensembles to work every day:

  • Chambray button-up + camisole + trousers
  • Fluid blouse + skinny jeans + statement necklace
  • Sweater + collared button-up shirt + skinny jeans
  • Fit-and-flare dress + cardigan + belt
  • Jacket + V-neck tee-shirt + skinny jeans.

So I guess wearing a daily uniform would be picking just one of those formulas and sticking with it.

The more I hang out with my stylish friends, the more I realize that they are a) really good at dressing themselves and b) enjoy style like a hobby. For them, it’s worth spending a lot of conscious effort on. It was liberating to realize that I don’t enjoy fashion and clothes in the same way so I don’t have to berate myself for not looking “as nice” (whatever that actually means) as they do. Armed with this new sense of empowerment, I feel like I should approach my personal style the way I approach most things in my life: with ruthless efficiency, clear-cut boundaries, and the need for a “system.” A uniform is like a system, right? RIGHT?

A uniform is appealing to me for the following reasons:

  • I don’t like worrying about what to wear in the mornings. [My work wardrobe is basically the same as my weekend wardrobe, just a note.]
  • I hate shopping for clothes so-so-so-so-so much.
  • It stresses me out to own more clothes and shoes (=things) than I need. I constantly think, “Ugh, is my wardrobe maximally efficient? Can I get rid of something?”
  • I still can’t really distinguish between what looks good and bad on me. Boxy things are bad because they hide my curves…but everything is boxy right now?! What? Clothes are confusing. Instead of worrying about multiple flattering silhouettes, I think I could just handle knowing I look good in one outfit and workin’ it.
  • I derive, like, zero joy from assembling a stylish outfit to reflect my personality. As such, I end up looking “fine” most of the time but not great. Style isn’t a hobby for me.

Still, I’m not sure I’m ready to take the plunge and wear the exact same uniform every day, as in, buying up all of the grey heather V-neck tees at the store. I am not particularly interested in calling attention to myself through what I wear, so I’m not ready to answer the question “Why do you wear the same thing every day?”

For now, I am going to continue with one (or a few) style formulas and see how that works out. The idea is not to purchase anything (Hahaha, like I’ve bought any clothes this year….) that doesn’t fit into one of my basic ensembles. Maybe one outfit will stand out amongst the rest and that, THAT will be my uniform.

Or who knows, maybe I will be struck by inspiration and become a fashionista. But probably not.

(I hate taking photos of what I’m wearing, so this post has no photos. Haha, a style post with photos. Yes, I did that.)

Weekend cinnamon rolls

For my birthday, Tina gave me Kamran Siddiqi‘s beautiful book, Hand Made Baking. I don’t typically like getting cookbooks because I’m particular about the kind of dishes I want to make, but Tina has been spot-on with her last two cookbooks-as-gifts. This one has mostly fudgy, decadent recipes and not a lot of delicate things that will stress me the fuck out. (Swiss cake roll, I will one day conquer you.)

Hand Made Baking cover

I mentally bookmarked several recipes that I wanted to try. Then I didn’t cook out of it for two months. Whoops.

When out with Ashley and Kyle last week, I passed by a particularly long line of 20-somethings, mimosas in hands, waiting to be seated. I decided I wanted to make something fancy for Sunday brunch-at-home, a kind of Fuck all ya’ll; Imma’ do it myself! to overpriced brunch culture.

Yeasted things scare me a little because I can never get the timing right, and I would never recover from the shame of failing to get a real rise out of my dough. (Dramatic much?) Fortunately, I had the forethought to plan this one out. I made the dough and did the first rise while the Hus-friend and I went on a Saturday Italian dinner date. After we got back and I had put on my TV uniform (yoga pants and a tech tee), I made the filling, assembled the “log” and cut it into individual rolls. These sat proofing for an hour while we were homebodies, and then they went into the fridge overnight.

Proof cinnamon rolls

I really appreciated Kamran’s instructions for making/proofing the rolls ahead of time. That part always stresses me out, and I don’t know why more recipes don’t include this helpful information. (Maybe everyone else always knows how to do it.) Seriously though, who has, like, five uninterrupted hours to make bread with a double rise? Not me. I’m a productive weekender, and I’ve got shit to do and places to be.

The Hus-friend runs long on Sundays, so I had ample time to get everything ready for our at-home brunch. After a leisurely hour of deciding if I should keep slogging through Outlander, I took the rolls out to come to room temperature while I went for a short run. Then it was a quick ~20 minutes in the oven, and I had these:

fresh-baked cinnamon rolls

Ooh, they got so puffy! (The middle one didn’t cook as thoroughly because of pan crowding. I think next time, I’ll make them on a jellyroll pan.)

(I also followed Kamran’s recipe for cream cheese frosting, but I was too excited to eat my cinnamon roll to take a picture. It would have looked ugly anyway.)

Yum, yum, yum! I don’t normally like cinnamon rolls–probably because I’ve mostly had stale ones from the grocery store. These, however, were awesome: moist and fluffy with lots of filling, but not so much cinnamon that you’re like, “Wait, am I just eating sticky black tar?” I’ve been holding back a bit on sweets during the week so I can enjoy my weekend indulgences more, and these were so worth it.

The recipe makes 18 rolls, which Kamran said feeds “4-6 hungry people.” Yeah, no, I would have died. The Hus-friend and I managed to take down…three rolls. I resorted to putting a sign on our door telling our neighbors to knock if they wanted to help us finish the cinnamon rolls. Only one person (someone we didn’t even know who lives on another hallway) took us up on the offer. The rest we gave away!

Following some online instructions, I parbaked one pan of cinnamon rolls, thinking I could finish baking them later. I think they dried out a bit too much, so in the future, I’ll just bake them all at the same time and wrap them up tightly. The engineers at work will gladly eat any day-old pastries I bring in, ha.

Now I’m inspired to make more yeasted things on the weekend. Vive le brunch chez soi!

Ashley & Kyle visit SF!

I was really looking forward to Ashley and Kyle’s visit to SF because they were staying for a whole week. Since they had visited before, they were already familiar with the city, so their most recent visit was a good opportunity to show them some new sights, revisit memorable places, and just hang out together.

Racking up the Fitbit steps, we walked around the Mission and got snacks at Curry Up Now. When I worked at an Indian restaurant in college, the other servers and I always felt so awkward telling customers about our dessert selection. They would ask about gulab jamun, and we’d say, “Um…it’s fried balls of cheese…? In rosewater syrup? It’s good, we promise!” Ashley always thought this was hilarious.

Whatever, balls of cheese are awesome.

Ashley with gulab jamun

We confirmed that ranunculus are like “crappy peonies.”

Ashley with ranunculus

Inspired by Pitch Perfect 2 (Eh, not as good as the first one!), we went to Korean karaoke and “sang our hearts out.” (Seriously, almost every review on Yelp of the different karaoke places in SF say this.)

Ashley and Kyle at karaoke

Points to the Hus-friend and Tina for a highly emotional performance of Wrecking Ball:singing "Wrecking Ball"

No points to the karaoke room for the deficient tambourines:tambourines at Do Re Mi

Tina is a really good artist and drew this self portrait in the shared notebooks at Straw (which serves “Carnival-themed comfort food”). Worried that future customers would think we were racist, we clarified that an Asian drew this.

"Asian girls" drawing
“drawn by an Asian”

Not to be outdone, Ashley drew a “family portrait.” You can tell me and Tina apart because I have swoopy bangs.

Ashley's self-portrait

 

For Memorial Day, Tina and Ben hosted us at their apartment for a “cookout,” which in the city is more like a “cook-in.” We ate burgers and hot dogs while watching Game of Thrones.

This was actually my first time seeing Tina and Ben’s apartment, despite living in the same city for almost two years! I’m not sure why–I guess we mostly hang out in restaurants and see movies together. They still haven’t seen ours yet…let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Maybe that’s a goal for 2016.

on the couch

Ashley and Tina picked out my favorite cake for dessert: The “celebration”cake from Susie Cakes. It is so rich and delicious that we barely made a dent in this mini cake. (This is the custom message that they put on the cake. Apparently, the employees’ suggestion for a “good cake pun” was “Happy Meat-morial Day,” which doesn’t even make sense.)

celebration cake from Susie cakes

Tina and Ben have roof access from their unit. Despite it being chilly and foggy, the view was pretty great. We took a GSGIS alumni photo to encourage people to donate, and also because I love everyone in this photo.

GSGIS alumni

And we can’t forget Kyle! We took a very special self-we.rooftop selfwe

Because SF is such a cool city, I feel like I need to show visitors EVERY COOL THING IN THE CITY, but that puts a lot of pressure on me. The goal shouldn’t be to rack up every sightseeing attraction, after all. When I go visit friends, I’m primarily there to visit and spend time together. I assume people who visit are the same way and want a mix of SF sights but also quality time, and I’d say we got in a good mix during Ashley and Kyle’s visit. Until next time!

Bay to Breakers 2015

Last week, the Hus-friend and I ran Bay to Breakers, where you run from the bay across the city to the “breakers” (the ocean). Since it’s such a goofy event, I didn’t feel any pressure to run quickly, which was good because we had gotten in late the night before from the beach.

We didn’t run in costumes, sorry to disappoint.

tortillas, bay to breakers

At the starting line, people throw tortillas in the air. I got hit with a few, but it was worth it to see tortillas flying through the air.

While I was waiting, the couple next to me started taking selfies, so I photobombed them by smiling broadly at the camera. When they inspected their photo, they must have noticed me. They looked over at me, frowned, and then turned away from me to take another selfie. Whatever. I would have enjoyed being photobombed by a random stranger at a race full of naked people. (There was definitely also a guy videotaping his junk at the start. At least I wasn’t that guy.)

starting line, bay to breakers

It’s pretty hard to run Bay to Breakers for time because it’s such a party. I had to dodge and weave around drunken revelers, slowly walking five abreast. And I definitely got a splash of pee on my legs as I ran by some guy just urinating in the middle of Howard street. That was great. Not.

The biggest challenge for me was the Hayes Street Hill. I made a point not to walk, so I ended up running v-e-r-y slowly. It was a struggle, and I was definitely out of breath by the end! However, I do think I’m getting better at running hills. Thanks, SF. (Apparently, I ranked 536th out of 1426 participants in the “Hayes Street Hill Challenge.” Okay.)

Still, it’s more of a family-friendly event than you would expect given the amount of nudity (Dick count: 15+) and recreational drug use. It’s hard to imagine an event with both old naked guys and families pushing kids in strollers all just running together anywhere but San Francisco, and that makes it really special. For example, I saw some pre-teen boys passing out water in Golden Gate park as two naked guys ran by. The boys glanced over and then just kept passing out water cups; they didn’t even point or say anything. I was impressed. I bet their parents made a point to teach them acceptance and open-mindedness.

Despite the nudity and drunkenness (or perhaps, because of that has made the race a big deal now) Bay to Breakers is a very corporate event. I got no fewer than five pre-race emails from Zappos telling me to download the app or buy branded swag. The post-race party was full of swag and samples and…people. I did appreciate the free potato chips I got though.

post Bay to Breakers

Just look at that sunny California beach!

After meeting back up, the Hus-friend and I walked back through Golden Gate park, which was a fun way to see different costumes. I really enjoyed the “jellyfish,” though decorated umbrellas seem like such a pain to carry for 7.5 miles.jellyfish, Bay to Breakers

I’m glad that not all races are that crowded or crazy or full of drunk people, but I’m also glad that Bay to Breakers exists. (Full disclosure: I used my wellness stipend from work to cover most of my entry fee, so that made it a lot more “worth” it to me.) I’ll probably run it again next year!

I really didn’t care at all about my time, but here’s the breakdown of my race. Man, I love downhill miles.

Bay to Breakers data

Party plane with Roommate Tina!

To get back to the East Coast for our beach trip, a red-eye was the easiest and most cost-effective option. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a direct flight, so the Hus-friend scheduled the longest leg first so that we could get some sleep. This meant a long flight to Philly, a layover, and then a short flight to Richmond.

While at dimsum, I mentioned to Tina that we were flying to Philly en route to Richmond. As it turns out, she and Ben were going back to Virginia for his brother’s graduation that weekend, and we were on the same flight to Philly!

This meant that we got to hang out at the gate beforehand, which made me really happy for some reason. Maybe because I’m normally just traveling with my boring, old husband (Haha, no, just kidding.).

“Let’s take a picture together, Tina,” I said.

“Okaaaaaay,” said Tina.

MICA & TINA

“Wow, we look really Asian,” said Tina.

So we took some more!

IMG_4640

MICA & TINA

IMG_4643

IMG_4641

(Notice Ben in the background, actively ignoring us.)
(Notice Ben in the background, actively ignoring us.)

Party plane forever!

party plane

Tina and Ben’s flight from Philly to Richmond was supposed to leave before ours, but it got delayed. So we ended up in Richmond before them and actually saw them as they were arriving!

It’s really cool that Tina and I have been friends since high school. And she, Ben, and the Hus-friend have known each other since middle school. Isn’t that crazy?

I was actually going through my old external hard drive last night and found a video of us (inexplicably dressed the same?), singing a song from the movie Slackers.

Tina & Mica, HS talent show

And also, this really cool photo of us from college:

studyingishard

Ashley are coming to visit tomorrow, so it’ll be a mini-reunion (+Kyle) in SF for the long holiday weekend! YAYAYAY!

Are you still in touch with any childhood friends?

Dunemaker 2015

The Internet was spotty down in Carova Beach, NC, but it was better that way: I got to spend my “beach week” doing off-the-grid things. I caught up on sleep, knit two hats and most of a pair of socks, read some books, and went for long walks and found, like, a bajillion whelks.

whelks, moon snails, keyole limpet

I’m a really picky shell collector and only pick up ones that are “perfect.” It makes it more of a challenge that way! (Or maybe I’m just neurotic.) The limpet I found in the photo above is called a “keyhole limpet” because of the shape of its top opening. Also, did you know whelks are “right-” and “left-handed?” I didn’t!

While looking for information about dextral vs. sinistral whelks, I stumbled on some lady’s shell collecting blog. For a hot second, I considered becoming a shell collector hobbyist, but in the end, collecting is so anti-minimalist. I did giggle a lot about the get-togethers I found called “Shell-and-Tells” and referring to one’s finds as “beach bling.” Would you still be my friend if I were an obsessive shell collector?

The Outer Banks (OBX) are so neat, and the area where we were staying is accessible only by 4×4 driving on the beach. This remoteness means that there isn’t much light pollution at night. And best of all, you’re staying where the wild horses (descended from shipwrecked Spanish mustangs) live and roam. I mean, right when we got there, we were greeted by these two horses, silhouetted by a DOUBLE-FREAKING-RAINBOW on the beach.

wild horses & double rainbow

You don’t even have to go looking for the horses. They’re just there, walking around in your driveway:

horses by cars

Or, perhaps, finding some grass to eat in your backyard:

wild horses, OBXIt’s funny how quickly you become accustomed to their presence, but it’s evident that they are still wild animals. Visitors are required to maintain a 50′ distance from the horses, so often, I would have to run in large arcs around them on the beach. This year, they were pretty crazy, apparently due to mating season and biting flies. A few times, we were run off by a stallion that deemed us too close to his “harem!”

The Hus-friend’s favorite part about this beach vacation is the fact that there are so many people in the house at once, so you’re basically never lacking for interaction. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage of staying in a remote beach house. For this week, we tend to switch roles: he is more social, while I’m content to sit by myself, reading or knitting. As the house’s only Modern Face of Temperance, it gets to be overwhelming for me when everyone is jolly and imbibing. I jokingly said that next year, if we get a bigger house, there should be an add-on “Temperance Cottage” where people can come visit for quiet reflection and old-lady crafts.

Because it’s a 20+ minute drive into town, we bring in most of the food for the week, and each night, one couple/family is responsible for dinner. On our night, Mom and I made macaroni and cheese, pork tenderloin, and a big green salad.

Mica & Mom with salad(I also baked  oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, cheese biscuits, and keylime pie.)

On our last night, we had a “juggle off,” after discovering that Teddy is an officially trained (and card holding) clown named Wrinkles.

Teddy balancing broom

The Hus-friend was the dark horse of the competition, much to everyone’s delight. I didn’t capture this in the photo, but Mitch (my step-sister’s father-in-law) was in the background, arms raised in the air, yelling, “WHAT? CAN EVERYONE IN THIS HOUSE JUGGLE?!?!?”

jugglingWe did escape the Dunemaker madness for an afternoon, going in to the town of Duck, NC (also on the OBX) with Dad and Pat. They come down to visit with us but stay in Corolla, NC (also on the OBX). This, of course, meant that we needed a coastal Carolina selfie.

selfie with Dad

Question: Does it count as a “selfie” if you take it with a digital camera and not with your phone? The Hus-friend says that a true selfie is taken in the spirit of sharing it from your phone on social media. Dad insists that a selfie is any photo taken of yourself.

Now that we live on the West Coast, the trip to Carova Beach is not insignificant in terms of time, energy, and money. Still, my love for the Outer Banks is boundless, and it’s a good way to see family outside of the holidays.

family shot, OBX

I love-love-love the beach, I’m so special! Except really, I love the Outer Banks. Hopefully, you’ll come visit me in my Temperance Cottage next year. 😉