Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Finds: Bohemian Beach Babes

Friday Finds: Bohemian Beach Babes

This time of year always makes me a bit homesick. Having spent half of my life at the beach, once the weather warms up I want nothing more than to grab my beach chair, a big bottle of water, and some yummy snacks to keep me company while digging my feet in the sand. Add some teeth rotting salt water taffy and some sea glass searching, and I'm a very happy girl.

This week I'm getting back to my bohemian roots and daydreaming about packing up this weekender bag from Nena and Co. for a little getaway to my parent's house. I'd love to start the day by doing some early morning yoga on this cool Magic Carpet Yoga Mat, followed by a nice big green juice. I just might splurge on this Aztec print towel from The Beach People, called "the Roundie," because life is too short for ugly beach towels. I don't typically wear jewelry on the beach, but I might make an exception for this gorgeous ring (which happens to be on sale right now FYI) from Satya Jewelry. Or maybe I'd just save it for dinner on the bay. I've also been coveting one of Satya's malas for the past couple of years, which would pair nicely. I've been in love with this dreamy Caftan from Emerson Fry since forever (well, at least since her last colorway), and I just can't say no to it in blue. This Bobbie Brown Beach Body Oil would be great for some post beach relaxation while getting Oswin dressed in these adorable Ikat Harem pants from Cleobella.  And even though this SHABD x Sakura Bloom sling sold out in under twenty minutes, I can't help but obsess over it and hope they choose to do a second collaboration (pretty pretty please). I'd use it to take Oswin out for a little early evening stroll on the boards and watch the sun set with a nice cup of fig leaf tea, made from the fig trees in my parent's garden. And since I'm never without my camera, an updated camera strap would a very happy mama make.

What are your favorite bohemian picks? I'd love to hear about them! 

A la prochaine friends...


Thursday, July 24, 2014

...and finally, Levanto.

I guess it's high time I wrap up talking about our June trip to Levanto, Italy, now that it's almost August, huh? Yeah, probably a good idea.

Our trip to Levanto (and Vernazza, Cinque Terre) was a short one, but it was so worth it to get away for a few days. Levanto is such a gorgeous city in the Liguria region, and we'll definitely be returning. We rented a huge-for-us-apartment in the new part of town, but were able to explore the old part of town on our last day there. The Old Town felt like something straight out of a Hercule Poirot know, the ones where Jane Birkin plays a simple and ugly girl (as if!), but then actually ends up being some sexy femme fatale who was behind the murders all along? 

(I honestly feel like that happens in every Hercule Poirot movie. Or maybe I've just seen the same one a million times.) 

In Levanto the cliffs are steep, the beaches are a combination between sand and rock, the mansions in the old part of town are massively impressive...

...and the water was just exquisite. The Mediterranean is typically a cold body of water, but it was certainly the warmest I had ever felt it to be on all of our past dips.

Both the private and public beaches were really nice, and each came equipped with lifeguards, which doesn't always happen on free Italian beaches. We found Levanto to be a really family friendly city, and there were kids playing soccer (everywhere) and fishing off of the rock getty.

There was also one particular babe getting her first taste of the Italian Riviera.

She loved it. I swear.

We were there just before high season, so it wasn't overrun with people yet, which was nice.

Next time I hope we can stay for a longer period. Maybe for forever. I kid, sort of. I'd love to stay long enough to get a few lazy beach days in, and still be able to hike in Cinque Terre. We hiked on our first trip back in 2010, but didn't get very far as the trail was closed between Corniglia and Vernazza. Maybe we'll even try to start in Levanto, as there is a trail that takes you to Monterosso, which is the northernmost of the five villages.

Until then, I'll just keep looking back at our pictures and daydreaming about the views and foccacia. 

A la prochaine Levanto! We miss you so!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What we've been up to lately...

I've taken a bit of a blogging break this past month to focus on some projects here in SwitzerFrance, the main one being the process of baby proofing and de-cluttering our space. 

It's been an amazing feeling to find ways to preserve and display our sentimental treasures, organize our important paperwork, and find objects at the back of closets that we thought were forever lost to the armoire gnomes. 

I've often heard people talk about how once you have kids, you start to accumulate SO MUCH stuff, everywhere. Maybe Oswin is too young for that to happen yet, and only time will tell, but so far I find that the complete opposite has happened. If anything we're paring down what we own to make sure that it's deserving of the "real estate" that it possesses, because we just don't have the room for things that don't. I'm essentially going over everything that we own with a fine tooth comb, and as can be expected, it's taking a long time. I'm also not great at saying goodbye to things, which is where Dan has really been a big help. This process has helped me to put into perspective those things that are important for us to hold onto, and those which can be disposed of or donated, sometimes with a little nudging from him. 

It's also meant that we get to a do a bit of redecorating, which is a lot more fun when you can really breathe and relax in your space. Our bedroom has never felt quite right, and we're trying to change that. I'll make sure to do a "house tour" once we're all done, because I think this is going to make our already awesome alpine chalet that much cooler. 

The hardest part of this has really been the baby proofing. We have a lot of breakable treasures, and trying to find a locale to hold things that we use everyday, like coffee mugs, crystal glasses, and cast iron pots has been a very big challenge. And then there are things like our first floor's marble steps, and the second floor's wooden ones. And the windows without screens. And other things that have started to keep me up at night because I have no idea how to make them safe for our little adventurer. Luckily she's only just starting to move around on her own: she can crawl backwards, and sometimes take a "crawl" or two forwards before face planting, but I know that won't last long. Before we know it she'll be off and running...probably for the china, if I can't work this situation out.

Part of me wishes we could just hang 15 shelves all at about five feet in the air. The other part of me knows that Oswin would probably be able to eventually problem solve how to get to said aerial items. No, it looks like there is no way to avoid the "what stays and what gets wrapped in storage until she's a teenager" stage for our kitchen goodies. 

So how did you do it? Are there other options aside from turning our home into a factory storage area? Have any of you had luck with being able to teach your kids that there are some things that they just do not touch? I'm all ears over here!

A la prochaine friends...


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries: Understanding

As many of you may recall, Dan and I have each been chosen to be sling diarists for the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries Volume V: All the Love. This is my second of six posts that I will be sharing here on the blog (you can find my first post here), and Dan will be sharing his over on Instagram a little later on. Today my post will center on the theme of understanding. Thank you all, new readers and old alike, for following along on this journey with us.

My sweet little Oswin,

I am often not understood. I wouldn't say that I'm misunderstood, as this would point to some level of understanding between the two conversational parties in question. No, I would lean more towards the path of being not understood.

As an expat, I've found myself butchering the French language for the last 4 and a 1/2 years. Sometimes I get on these streaks where I do really well, and can actually have conversations with native french speakers...most of the time I'm just barely getting by. 

Why? Because for me, French is a difficult language. I try very hard. I study. I sing the french nursery songs with you. I can read you some french board books and read them well. I haggle well at the flea market, here known as les puces. But, the rest of the time is a struggle. The pronunciations for me are incredibly difficult. I find that in French it seems that for every word, there are three different pronunciations for the same spelling, and one of the possible pronunciations is a curse word. Somehow I always manage to say the curse word. 

Like that time I asked for an "assful of olives" at the market. 

Mon dieu.

I've found that where my verbal skills often lack the ability to be understood, I've been fortunate enough to be met with immense understanding from those who don't understand me. They see the struggle and still, to this day, the palpable nervousness that is felt when I am left to the ordering of things in French. Or asking for directions. Or simply trying to hold a simple conversation about how big you've gotten since our neighbor saw you last. And yet, rather than scoff at me and treat me poorly for not being fluent, or for being a foreigner, they appreciate that I'm making an effort to assimilate, and they are kind. And patient. And will play the game of charades that often results by trying to have my needs met or be conversationally understood. They sympathize and empathize with my moment, and as a result, I feel empowered to try again the next day, even if it means a little pointing at the particular cheese I'd like from the counter. 

I've learned a lot from the French, in particular from our wonderful neighbors. I've never been made to feel like an outsider in our teeny tiny town, even if I am embarrassed by the low level of French that I can speak. People still include us and greet us with open arms, well, actually more with bisous, despite the fact that I can't hold a lengthy conversation with them. Lately I've been thinking about how this translates back to you Oswin, because we are often trying to understand what your different sounds, cries, and actions mean. Just when we think we've gotten you figured out, you go and grow up just a little bit more, and we are sent back to the drawing board. I often look at these instances as reminders of myself trying to make it as an expat: we're both trying to speak a new language, trying have our needs met, trying to put ourselves out there so that others may get to know us. I want to empower you to find your voice, just as my daily encounters with those in our small flower village continually help me to find mine. I want to show you the same patience they have shown me, as we continue on this journey together.

Don't forget that as you learn to find your voice, that you should reciprocate the same respect that understanding is built upon towards others. Be kind, always. Be kind, but know when to stand up for yourself. You can be kind and strong in this life. Learn to listen. Truly hear people. You don't have to agree with everything someone says, but listen and respond accordingly. Your Papa is very good at this. Having varying opinions and ideas is the spice of life, though too often it's seen as something more vile. A conversation can still be a conversation of varying opinions, if those involved let it be just that. Empathize, put yourself in their shoes, and help others when you can. Spread goodness and sunshine everywhere you go, even when rain clouds are present.    

You are learning so much all the time, from the English we speak in the house, to the french that you hear when we're out and about, to our "cooking lessons" while I make your lunch, and Papa reading you his favorite Calculus Book for Infants (maybe that's why you sleep so well at night?). As you get older, you'll not only be trying to be understood and understand others, but to understand yourself as well. Understanding yourself can come in different forms, and doesn't always come easy. I spent so many years going down the paths I thought I was supposed to take, that when I realized they were not my true desire I felt completely lost. What I didn't realize at the time was that feeling lost is sometimes that best thing that can happen to you. When someone is lost they often wander, and when we wander we often find new interests and experiences that lead us to truly know whatwe want out of our one precious life. I didn't feel like I began to truly know what I wanted for my future until a short period before meeting your Papa, and then it all seemed so natural to me. I found the things that were interesting to me, I pushed away the ones that no longer served me, were no longer positive for me, and things fell into place. If you had told me seven years ago, when I was still in graduate school, that I wanted to spend the rest of my life teaching yoga, planting fig trees, and being a stay at home mama, I wouldn't have believed you. I hope that as you get older you learn to listen to that little voice inside of you that says, "Yes! Do this!" You may not know why, but if it peaks your interest and passions, learn more about it. Educate yourself on the topic. Learn all you can. Integrate it into your life. Try it on and see how you feel. Because understanding yourself, and the things that will get you out of bed in the morning, is one of the most beautiful gifts that we can give to ourselves. Create a life that you love. Make it yours. And everything else will fall into place.    



Sling pictured: Simple Linen Baby Sling in Driftwood by Sakura Bloom

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Baby's First: Trip to Vernazza, Cinque Terre

On our most recent trip to Italy, we stayed in the Ligurian town of Levanto, just a few kilometers north of Cinque Terre. Levanto is connected to Cinque Terre via the train, and is only about 5 minutes away from the northernmost town of Monterosso. However, if you stay on the train for just one more stop, you find the village where my wanderlust heart lives: Vernazza.

Or at least, we thought it was only more stop. In a real universe where logical things happen, it was only one more stop. But this is Italy after all, and Italy is sometimes it's own kind of universe. A universe where train schedules that are posted for all to see are deemed incorrect by the conductor once you get on the train, and half of the train finds themselves en route to La Spezia, instead of making stops in the other four villages. And did I mention that the conductor makes it like you read the schedule wrong? The universe that Trenitalia lives in is a strange one indeed.

But I digress. After making it's first stop in Monterosso our train sped on to La Spezia, and then a short time later it sped back in the direction we wanted. We got off in Vernazza hungry, thirsty and eager to revisit the village we love so much.

We also had some work to do while in Vernazza. We took the pictures for my first Sakura Bloom Sling Diary post, (which happened to be on the theme of strength), while we were there, because why not? This place is built out of the cliffs, both the homes and the agriculture, and is continually battered by the sea, withstanding sun and sand and is a testament of strength.

But besides all of that, everyone knows I love a good photo op.

We took the majority of the pictures on a once-hidden-to-us beach, one that I think may have been hidden to a lot of people, prior to the massive storms and landslides that hit Vernazza in October of 2011. I always seem to remember this cave looking underpass as being partially full of water, and I only ever saw one person walk back there. It was a remote rock beach, with scattered sea glass and terra cotta pieces that have been molded and shaped by the Mediterranean. The cliffs were there for all to feel how tiny we actually are in comparison to nature. And the cold Mediterranean was there to wake up our tired feet. It's fun to have visited a tiny town such as Vernazza for the fourth time in about three years and still find new things to love.

After taking our pictures and a snack break for Oswin, we headed down to the beach and Piazza Marconi.

Oswin has been going through phases of teething pretty badly (but still no teeth to show for it), and one of those phases happened to be while we were in Italy. Foccaccia worked wonders on her little gums.

Our trip to Vernazza was short this time around, but it was worth it to see the town up and running again. The last time we had visited was in January of 2012, when the town was still in ruins after the October storm. The restaurants and shops are open, and it made my heart so happy to see a bustling Piazza Marconi. Next time I hope we can grab dinner at Gambero Rosso (above), as their Frutti del Mar risotto was the best I've ever had in my life. Until next time Vernazza!

A la prochaine friends...