Writing down priorities

Five days in the wide open space, relaxing with my family, getting in touch with what matters. I really couldn’t have experienced a better quick holiday.

Part of the process of grounding myself in priorities has been to write them down. New notebooks with pretty details always help that! Here’s to prioritizing what matters – all that I love and cherish. This especially includes my family who all too often fall to the back burner amongst other obligations.

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My other home for the Holidays – Georgia

The place that I run to when I need a break from the real world is a little southern wonderland tucked in the hilly lands on the outskirts of Atlanta. While I couldn’t spend everyday in Georgia where my parents live, it is my favorite place to vacation to when I really want to get away. I love waking up here and going to sleep here – a full rejuvenation happens a few times a year in these woody hills. 

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Spending Christmas here for the past – what is it four years now? No, three – is an absolute joy! I’m obsessed with the little black creatures that wake me up every morning and from long naps by the fireplace.

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Cooking with my dad is always a favorite – and this Christmas Day was no different. We made German Pancakes (thanks, Robin, for an amazing recipe that was a huge crowd pleaser) and thick cut bacon from the butcher on my dad’s new cast iron cookware, a gift from yours truly. And check out those egg-making skills from earlier in the week at home! The man has multiple pans to make eggs in whatever style desired. Over-medium for me, sunny-side up for him and basted for my grandma. Whatta champ. 

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The coffee consumed and the time spent shopping with my mom is also a favorite memory from this holiday. We go to stores and laugh, laugh, laugh, catch up on life and enjoy each other’s company. Then we run home and wrap everything! I didn’t shop for a single gift prior to landing in Georgia and I’ll be following that method of gift shopping from this day forward. It is way more fun and I get to spend time with my mama!

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Somehow I don’t have a single picture of my mom and I from Christmas…that’s going to have to fixed next year! But I’ll end this sunset on my last full day at home to remind of the place I’ll return to in a few months. 

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and cheers to the New Year!

New traditions: Christmas Eve Party

Can’t help starting this post with the latest addition to the family, Ms. Maggie and her pretty Christmas bow. 

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My parents explained to my brother and I that the Newc family (dad’s family, see where I get my blog name from?) had a wonderful Christmas Eve party every year. Thinking back on my childhood, I remember getting all dressed up and going to grandparents in Wilmette on Christmas Eve and hobnobbing with my family and their friends. Mixing of memories or my true youthful Christmas Eves – not sure…

My grandfather owned a boat with a wonderful man that taught himself seven languages who I remember being fascinated by as a kid. My grandmother is a silhouette artist and the house was always full of her work and sailing antiques. We would change the ink in the barometer (maybe? Papa – correct me here!) and eat cheese and crackers and drink rootbeer – soda was a treat we didn’t have often at home. Haven’t thought of these things until my parent’s Christmas Eve party this year!

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There is something wonderfully relaxing about spending the day before Christmas with friends, new neighbors and old, and family, sharing in family food traditions and holiday cheer without the pressure of a format sit down dinner. Crowd favorites were baked brie with orange marmalade, homemade Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches, spiral ham and Waldorf salad. Cheesecake from the store and homemade brownies rounded out the evening and everyone left full, happy and in good spirits for the holiday ahead. 

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Now possibly the best part to all of this — Christmas Day had zero pressure. No rush to get ready for fancy dinner, no rush to do anything except reading the books left under the tree by Mr. Clause. This is the first year that I can remember that we didn’t have my dad’s famous lasagna on Christmas Day, but he made it the day after so all is forgiven. This might be my new favorite holiday tradition – a Christmas Eve party followed by a relaxing Christmas Day spent in pajamas. 

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We’ll wrap this with Mr. Calvin, the king dog in the house. What are your favorite traditions? How are they evolving as you grow up?

A very merry cat lady Christmas

It’s the second week of January and I’m procrastinating putting away the tree and decorations. So instead, I’m sharing my family’s Christmas pictures – starting with a cat-nip-fueled photosession with my favorite cat, Tibbles. Drug-induced haze before 9 a.m. on Christmas morning? Making my drug and alcohol therapist mom proud.

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I spy a cat in the presents. 

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I spy a cat running away from the scene of the crime. 

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I spy a high cat.

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This mouse will not survive.

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Yum. Mouse tail. 

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I spy a cat coming back for more.  

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And then this lady shows up ruining all the fun and stealing the mouse toy. You win some, you lose some, according to the cat. 

{trip report} Day 3: Mission Santa Barbara

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On day three of the Highway 1 trip we headed to a town that my mom told me was her favorite in California. As she reminisced her own family’s roadtrip in the 60s, I knew this place was going to be special. Santa Barbara is magical. The hilly land with blue as far as the eyes can see – the sky and the ocean. 

We went to the Mission Santa Barbara and, while I’ll reserve my opinions on colonial rule and it’s impact on the “New World,” I’m happy to report those Spanish friars make some great looking buildings. 

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Ready for some unintentional porn?

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Yep – I’m mature…taking pictures of this in the middle of the cemetery in a Mission. With skull and crossbones looking over me. Good, Eliza, good.

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There’s this massive tree in the middle of the grounds and under it are some 4,000 people buried over the course of the years. The energy there isn’t sad though, it was just plain calm and beautiful.

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The chapel had incredible acoustics and my mom belted out a song in the middle of it!

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The art hung on the walls was dark, but very pretty. It was really dark inside compared to the beautiful light everyone else around the grounds. And there were some great features hidden throughout. The warm building designs meshed nicely with the darker art on the walls. 

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The fountain in front of the Mission had stunning flowers, these pictures don’t do them justice. 

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How cute are they? Shortly after this picture was taken, I was pooped on by a bird. Good luck, right?

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Mission Santa Barbara is a must visit in Santa Barbara, but doesn’t need a full day. We could’ve done the entire thing – museum, church, grounds – in about an hour or two max. Afterwards, walk around down town Santa Barbara and work up a good hunger.

Once you’re good and hangry, head to the harbor. Seriously. More to come on that. 

20-something care package

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My lovely mom sent me some goodies on Wednesday. They totally made my week! Included: 

  • Canvas purse with faux ostrich leather, perfect for carrying a book, some sunscreen, a water bottle…or wine…to a park. Already used it to go out this week! In Denver, it gets crazy cool at night, so I always need a sweater. Big purses are put to good use here!
  • Sports bra and cotton shorts, perfect for lounging around the house during 100 degree heat waves. FYI: 100* with no humidity > 80 with 80% percent humidity. Don’t miss that part of Chicago.
  • Cotton dress, perfect for a summer BBQ.
  • Cotton loose fitting tank, ideal for summer nights at a bar with a sunny patio.

Last night we went to a local spot, the Fainting Goat, which I’ve heard raves about since we got here, but I’ve never made it. Our guy friends go there for happy hours weekly and I’m going to make it priority to make it to them after seeing this place. The patio is on the top of the three story bar and is gorgeous and allows attendees to enjoy the sunset over the mountains. White shorts with the light top hit the spot for each of the 100 degrees we were enjoying.

Huge thanks to my mom for keeping me stylish and in tough with the light cotton hippie wears. She’s the best and I can’t wait to see her next week in Georgia!

What’s in your ideal 20-something care package?

Love #5: The People that Make you Shine

My family is my rock. No ifs and or buts about it. Beyond being the folks that raised me, they are my constant supporters in everything I do. Today’s post is all about my dad and what he’s taught me. I’ve written about our family history and if I could figure out hyper linking on an iPad I’d totally link back…sorry, but his family is fascinating. My post earlier this week was about my mom and many of her wonderful traits that I see in myself, but today, this story is about my dad.

He taught my brothers and I curiosity – in my opinion, a core tenet in the life of successful happy people. Life isn’t boring when you are curious, there is value in learning something new, anything new, and curiosity didn’t kill the cat, it just taught him something new – he has nine lives, not one as previously thought before curiosity. Along with that curiosity, we got into tons of trouble: a burning boat at a Venetian night on the lake I grew up on, learning how many fireworks it takes to successfully blow up a Ft. Dearborn model made from pretzels, the basics of engines – steam and internal combustion, how to use power tools (safety first), how to build a lofted bed and not hit your head, mastery of tedious handmade pasta and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies… we learned a lot.

Of course none of these adventurous things play a role in my day to day life (but I’d be happy to build furniture and engines all day), the curiosity for everything remains. Flying used to scare me a tad because I didn’t get it – large metal objects don’t fly. Until you learn physics and it all makes sense….well, it makes sense to a PhD, but the basics of physics make me feel safe, you get the point. Learning will help you conquer all fears – real and rational or those other kinds of fear (ahem, irrational anxiety).

My dad taught us to question things, my mom taught us to trust our emotions, and together they taught us about the importance of love in a home. They are the people that make me want to shine brighter, go further, be smarter, and laugh more. Day five of love! Tomorrow will be about my girlfriends. Unless of course we drink too much wine at my bestest’s annual dip party and I postpone the post until Saturday.

Love #1: Celebrating my Mom

This week is Valentine’s Day, so to celebrate I’ll be posting seven days of Love.

Today is dedicated to my mom! She’s my best friend, she’s the one I call after good days and bad, and she inspires me to be a better person. She is smart, pushes me to always be smarter and push harder – most of all, she is compassionate! She also helps me balance my emotions with logic and always gives me the best advice. She’s the shit.

My mom knows me better than anyone and makes me laugh all the time. Last week, she sent me an early Valentine’s Day present that is 100% me. This little bottle of perfume from the Harajuku Lovers is hilarious. I laughed when I opened it because I knew my mom was trying to cheer me up. She’s good like that! When my dad lived in Japan, I picked up a habit of loving all things Japanese, and have a super soft spot for Hello Kitty and Japanese packaging. And superheroes named Super G? That are blonde and wear glasses? Yep, this is one of my alter-egos in a jar. My mom lives far away but she knows how to make me smile and always reminds me that she is never too far away.

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Another great thing about my mom is that I see a lot of her in me. A few of my favorite characteristics – sensitivity, intuitiveness, kindness, passionate and compasionate – are directly from her!

Day one of Love goes to my mom! How do you celebrate the people you love?

Family, Pride and Antiques

What happens when your father’s family has been in the country since the 1600’s? (It is traceable, I’m assured by my dad.) Really old stories. And really old furniture. One of my favorite pieces of furniture in my parent’s house is a desk from the late 1800s…so that’s what this post is about. 

If you are bored by someone’s family history (that isn’t your family), stop reading. 

Not a lover of antique furniture? Stop reading. 

Interested by people that invent stuff and really old tables? I like you, and you should continue. 

I come from a lineage full of engineers, inventors, patent attorneys and sailors. I lovingly call them tinkerers – they tinker with stuff to make it work. Example of this prowess? My grandpa, Captain (we sailed with him as children on Lake Michigan), had the caption, “I’ll fix that!” under his high school year book photo. As his engineering hobby progressed (and he learned that advertising just wouldn’t pay the bills, smart man) he became an inventor. Can you hear the pride? Yep, it’s boiling over in this post and I don’t care! 

We have a series of old tables each with a crazy story – I’ll try to stick to the truth, although there are some fishermen in my family history as well. 😉

Not a fan of poorly taken photos? You’re already this far, might as well finish up the post.

First off – this drafting table. It was created in Worcester, Mass. before the turn of the century and all of the mechanics of the table still work. It currently lives in my parents informal dining area behind the kitchen table. It’s purpose? To hold binoculars, look good and start interesting conversations.

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Now, the cool part.

 

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Inside one of the drawers (above), my great-, great-, grandfather signed it C.L. Newcomb 1890. Besides being an awesome table – absolutely beautiful in design and engineering, it has his lead-written signature in precise cursive. Doesn’t get much cooler than that. Or does it? Stay tuned for another table story later this week.

Do you have any family pieces that make you proud of your heritage/lineage? 

 

– E.G.S Nukem 2011 — doesn’t have the same ring as C.L. Newcomb 1890