Friday, June 30, 2017

Wabi Sabi Welcome

The arrival of Wabi - Sabi Welcome, by Julie Pointer Adams, couldn't have landed on my doorstep at a better time. Just as we are settling into this new space, still getting a feel for the direction we want to go (design & structure wise) while feeling slightly dizzy with indecisiveness, this book serves as a kind of compass for those embracing home decor that leans on casual, imperfectly arranged interiors. Which is exactly what we are seeking this time around. An easy, relaxed, worn beach vibe inspired by our natural surroundings that will hopefully become the basis for a space that feels bright, warm, eclectic, and personal. One that openly welcomes friends and warrants plenty of reasons for entertaining, which is pretty much the basis of wabi-sabi mindset. 

The book is not strictly a visual reference though, rich in text it explores "what wabi-sabi looks and feels like" around the globe. Highlighting specific areas in Japan, Denmark, California, France, and Italy. With Pointer's intentions being to write a book for anyone "hungry to share his or her home and life in a simpler, less perfection -seeking way." With delightful recipes, tips on clearing out clutter from the Danes, how to set a table in Japan, and plenty other resourceful aides aimed at helping create a sparse but homey house disconnected from the want of more and better things. Offering instead - a stripped down alternative to the sleek, perfection seeking images we see in so many home interiors these days while scrolling through social media on the daily. Where the majority of what we come across tends to be more or less a recycled variation of the same thing. Tossing all personal style aside for more trendy safeguards. 

Another perk I really love in the book, and found helpful, is the addition in back where a list of resources are named and arranged in categories such as:

Food Blogs, Cookbooks, and Magazines 
Go-To's for Home Basics
Inspiring Interior Designers
Further Reading on Wabi-Sabi

I found quite a few new sites worth late night delving in this section and have since bookmarked many of them for further reference.

In short, wabi sabi is about clearing out the crap, honing in on the things you truly love, finding beauty in the imperfections, and creating warmth in the house you keep. And JPA does a lovely job at  convincing us to give it a go.  

You can purchase it here on Amazon. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Paring Down

These days I try to pay more attention to the "in between" periods in life. Embracing them because they usually entail major life lessons that come attached to loss, change in general, or unexpected circumstance that arise randomly throughout our life. Be it in the form of death, job loss, money issues, personal conflict, depression, relationship problems, you name it. Whenever circumstances falter, and the frame of routine starts to dissolve, experience tells us the best we can do is learn from it. Surely nothing new in the land of self help philosophies, I know, but worth the reminder from time to time simply because we ( ) need help keeping it in mind.

I'm alluding specifically to the past two months, where we up and sold our home without any clue where exactly it was we were headed next. Because my intuition told me it was time. And promoted a move where even people like us - who cling to the grand notion of spontaneity in just about every aspect of life, couldn't help but stress the impending outcome. Partly for reasons I noted here in previous posts - regarding us being tossed into a seller's market in an endlessly hiking So Cal real estate bubble, combating bidding wars that tend to overshadow what should be a pleasant hunt for a new house. Where it ends up being a very easy place to feel defeated. But I also worried about all the typical things that go along with a big move - finding new (good) schools (the one we pulled them from was amazing, so I knew the replacement one had to compare) a decent neighborhood, a warm, welcoming home, as well as a hundred other things I worried about late night on long nights I couldn't sleep along the way.

What I didn't anticipate though, during the 2 month period in which we were fortunate enough to shack up with the in laws while searching for the "perfect house," was the accidental enlightenment that arose under such circumstances. How I would wake to realize - inside of this strange, fleeting & chaotic period - that we could live, and thrive, and be perfectly content without a huge percentage of the possessions we owned. That a small selection of "stuff" was really all any of us even needed. Without much consideration we left most of what we have in storage and decided to live similar to how we do while camping. For as long as it took. Leaning solely on the bare necessities to get us by: a select & minimal wardrobe for the entire family, a few favorite toys, books, computers, and a couple craft bins to get us through. What became quickly apparent as the weeks passed was just how easily the boys were entertained by what surrounded them. Minimal as the options were. And how much we adapted the same way. Wearing a handful of items over and over again in what ended up becoming a refreshingly basic rotation. Easy and unthought. Me, having but a single pair of shoes I wore for weeks on end without much care. How freeing it proved to have to keep track of and consider so much LESS on a daily basis.

It was the kind of awakening that would coincided perfectly in this next chapter of our lives. Just when we needed it most. Seeing how we were facing fact of a major downsize, square footage wise, in whatever home we could find in our budget, in the cities we were seeking. The thought of which honestly stressed me slightly, imagining such strict storage space, and having to be smarter and more practical about what and how we accumulate things from here on out.

And yet I know now that we can. Because we have to. Because it feels quite liberating to own a lot less. And because it doesn't necessarily entail the sharp sacrifice I envisioned. So we continue to weed though what we have. Eliminating furniture. Donating clothing, editing the array of knick knacks and clinging to a new sense of freedom in the sparseness of new beginnings. Nearly two weeks in and we're still without Internet. Or television. Or clean laundry, or excessive toys. And yet blissfully happy in it regardless. Waking on stiff mattresses plopped on the floor. Seeing dim layers of fog painting our windows white in the morning. Consumed in the endless possibility this new dream house brings. Wearing the same overalls and frayed denim shorts to the beach early morning before the crowds pile in. Boys caught playing with orange peels in the slow roll of a mid week afternoon nap. Building towers out of blocks in the sun spilt corner of the front room, where the blue glint of the harbor boats hang in the corner window, day dreaming about the beauty this new house will eventually encase. New beginnings, paired down. Slowly, steadily, with nothing but our own hands here to shape it. Living simply, minimally, gratefully, here all summer in the meantime.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Cooking Up Trouble / Recipes to Nourish Women

When Anne first told me she was cooking up something special, to benefit Planned Parenthood I never guessed she was speaking literally. Then a couple months later it arrived on my doorstep - a beautiful spiral soft cover cookbook titled "Cooking Up Trouble / Recipes to Nourish Women" a labor of love created by a handful of talented ladies seeking to combine their efforts towards meaningful ways of donation.

The result is perfection. A uniquely styled collection of healthful recipes and delightful cocktails broken up into the following Categories: Drinks, Breakfast Things, Soups & Sides & Snacks, Mains & Stuff in Bowls, and Deserts. The salads are fantastic and the "Bowl of Plenty" is the first dish I plan on attempting.

It's the kind of book you buy for your friend or roommate, teacher, sister, mother, neighbor and kin. And it's only 30 bucks. So it's almost silly to even consider against it. And they're selling like hot cakes so get yours while they last.

Purchase info HERE


When the good folks at The Cambria Beach Lodge invited us to their hotel a couple months ago I worried first (like I do anytime we get an invitation of this nature) they maybe they don't realize how many kids I actually have, but figured eventually - once I realized they were ok with us all, it was the perfect excuse to get out of town just as the school year came to an end and the stresses of escrow appeared to be wrapping up as well. Plus the lodge boasts a low key surf friendly vibe which seems easily suited to our crew. The fact that in all my years road tripping up the coast, I'd never been to Moonstone beach, made me that much more exited to head up there this season especially. Which I adore because the blanket of fog covers the coastline and I can drive all day long in that scenery with a good soundtrack on my side. Which is what I did. Along with my niece who tagged along and always seems to bring a calm balance to the bunch whenever she does. 

A few things I learned about Cambria during the three days we were there is:

- Moonstone feels like a little slice of heaven with all those stunning rocks scattering the beach and staggering wood stairways taking you from the cliffs to shore.

- The driftwood (in addition to the rocks) is prettier than any other beach else I've met (we brought home buckets full of both) and they are currently piled on our mantle in the new house. 

- The town is small but inviting and the sandwich and ice cream shops downtown do not disappoint.

- Lobster bisque, while delicious, is too rich for me. 

- The Nitt Whitt Ridge house back story is worth the read, and visit: "Purchased by Arthur Harold Beal in 1928, this “castle on a hill” was perfected using only a pick and shovel. Beal made good use of his job, as a garbage collector, taking natural minerals that were tossed away and beach debris to accentuate the Ridge.

- Population in town is approximately 6,100

- The seal lions down the road at San Simeon are far stinkier than they are cute. But the picnic benches on site by the beach are an ideal place to park a picnic. 

- The Beach Lodge being across the street from the beach is even more convenient than I expected. Mostly because the air is so cool and brisk up there this time of year it allows you to dart into the lobby for some hot chocolate or to warm our hands by the fire place when you need a break from the cold. 

- The name Cambria, chosen in 1869, is the Latin name for Wales.


In short, it was a lovely trip, briefer of course than I'd prefer, but isn't that always the case when it comes to these gorgeous coastal beach town visits? Good news is we'll be back. And when we do, it'll be at the lodge. Where I know know we can count on good rates, friendly staff, buckets full of moonstones, and hot chocolate at brunch with a hazy, brooding ocean view in June.