A Traveler’s Terrene

You only live once. What are you going to remember the most?

A Wonderful White Washington Christmas December 29, 2008

It definitely was a white Christmas this year in Washington. The first snowfall was beautiful as I curled up on the couch with a steaming hot cup of tea, reading a book and watching snowflakes fall from the sky covering the ground like a soft down blanket.  And, you would think that as the snow continued to fall, leaving me snowed in at my brother’s house for over a week I would have had ample time to write on my blog, but what can I say….my nephew is a great distraction!

So, to catch you up with how life back in the States here is just a snapshot of favorite moments over this past week:

–Catching up with all of my childhood neighborhood friends at the Davenport Neighborhood Christmas Party my brother hosted at his house. He even creatively decorated the front entrance with old High School year books and Davenport memorabilia, it was quite the night!

–Bonding with my brother Mark’s girlfriend Lindy (of all names!) and discovering in our drunken state that

Cindy + Lindy no Whiskey= Vodka

Needless to say, we (and especially me) had quite the hangover the following morning.

–Reuniting with Suzanne, a.k.a. Sister Zesma, after 2 months of separation!

–Jordan and Cliff’s delicious home cooked dinners paired with soothing Jazz music

–Mark and Cliff re-teaching me how to properly snap a kitchen towel. Gotta love big bros!

–Spending the night at my friend Marie’s house during a winter storm. We cozied up with drinks inside as the snow fell listening to Steve, Brian and JB play music and around midnight we all piled on our snow gear and did penguin dives down the city street hills, socialized with people sledding, played a game of football in the park, made snow angels and constructed a  jungle gym obstacle course.

–Watching the Seahawks game at the Schrecks and learning how to play Apples to Apples, one of the funnest board games out on the market right now!

–The whole Swain Gang driving back to Davenport listening to Christmas music–my brother Mark and I sitting in the back seat entertaining Thomas with goofy faces, books, and cheerios.

–Walking through the front door of my parents house for the first time in over 10 months. They had redecorated many of the rooms, so although the house look different, it still invoked in me that same sense and feelings of “home”.

–Seeing Thomas in his adorable little suit and tie for Christmas church service

–Opening presents with the fam and watching their faces light up with smiles when they opened my gifts

–Spending Christmas day with the Rambos, Olsons and Hergerts–my second family.

–Driving back to Seattle with my good friend Micheal and catching up on the past 10 months

–Making incredible memories at the Annual Christmas Party! About 20 of us get together each year, cook up a Christmas dinner feast, play a white elephant gift exchange and go crazy until the early rays of the morning sun peak it’s way into the windows of the house. This is an event that I look forward to all year, knowing that for one night all of my closest friends who are now spread out all over the U.S. are together for one night of new memories and laughter. Although we may not see each other as frequently as we use to, in the first greeting and hug–we are back to where we left off  like nothing has changed. Good friends are hard to come by and I feel truly blessed to this group of intellectual, funny and amazing people in my life!

–Hanging out at the Shay’s house after the Christmas party. It’s so great to relax in comfort of good friends.


Daily Challenge: Get in the Christmas Spirit! December 5, 2008

Filed under: Daily Challenge — italicana kitchen @ 11:52 am
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Christmas comes only once a year, so why not enjoy everyday soaking up all of the fun festivities that envelope this holiday! Today is the 5th…you have 20 days left! Get a piece of paper and write out the next 20 days, and be sure to do something Christmas-y on each day! Whether it be something little…like listening to Christmas music in the car, or big like going to a Christmas play!


1 Week Countdown! December 4, 2008

One week from today I will be flying over the Atlantic Ocean and returning home to Seattle after 10 months of globetrotting the world!  This past 10 months has been an experience of a lifetime but there has been many people and things I have missed dearly while being away:

1. My adorable nephew Thomas who was born 2 weeks after I left on my trip and whom I still haven’t met. One week Little Thomas and I will be holding you in my arms! I love you!!!

Thomas smiling

2. My family: Dad, Mom, Cliff, Jordan and Mark…a.k.a. The Swain Gang. I am SO SO SO SO SO excited to see you all. Thank each of you for every smile you bring to my face when I think about you.

3. My second family: Rambos, Olsons, and Hergerts–I can’t wait to see you all over Christmas! Terra, Kayla, Josh and Kyle…I probably won’t even recognize you kids because you will be taller and bigger than me by now!

4. Friends: To all my wonderful, amazing friends…I have missed you all and am ecstatic to catch up with each of you when I am home!!!

5. My former co-workers: I miss the cube talks, energetic environment and your creative minds. It will be wonderful to see you all again!

6. Morning talks with my Dad

7.  Family Fun Nights

8.  My BBCB

9.  Little Thomas

Thomas having fun in a bag

10. Chicken quesadilla’s from Peso’s, chicken salad from Purple Cafe and Rojos salsa

11. My down comforter

12. The views of Lake Union and Mt. Rainier driving South from I5

13. My snowboard

14. My wakeboard

15. My MAC

16. Il mio nipote

    Thomas rockin' a hilarious face

17. Girls nights out

18. Boating on Lake Roosevelt, Lake Union and Lake Washington

19. My clothes, high heels, jewelry and jeans

20. Northwest microbrew beer

21. Sister Zesma

22. Watching the Seahawks in my Seahawk scrubs on a lazy Sunday afternoon

23. Beer Pong

24. My perfumes

25. Throwing dinner parties for friends

26. My blue-eyed munchkin

Thomas eating cheerios


Daily Challenge: Happy Decorating November 18, 2008

Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away…and seriously how amazing is this holiday: a table full of friends and family, fresh slices of roasted turkey with all the trimmings, the roar of football on the television and pumpkin pie and spiced tea for dessert. Oh man…I am missing out on all the goodness…yet again!

Well, there is one good thing about living in a country that doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving (although I think every country should include a “thanksgiving” type day…as everyone has something to be thankful about…even if it is just thanks for a delicious meal) is that Christmas comes early! That’s right, all of you suckers have to wait at least two weeks to decorate the house or listen to Christmas music because with the underlining rule, you just can’tget into the Christmas swing until after Thanksgiving, right? Me on the other hand? I am basking in the glow of twinkling Christmas lights from the tree, bows of holly on every door and candles lit with the smell of cinnamon spice in the air. Oh, man…I am in a state of nirvana, I am in decoration bliss.

It’s amazing how the ambiance of a room can have a significant effect on your state of being…state of happiness. How great do you instantly feel when entering a spa or a room arranged in feng shui?

My challenge to you is to create a room or even a small corner of space that is specifically decorated with things that make you happy, that make you feel that, “wow–I feel great” buzz. Your thing may be Bob Marly posters and a beanbag, bamboo plants and wild flowers or an antique collection of postcards.  Whatever the case may be, don’t forget to surround yourself by things you love.  In life, it’s the small doses of pleasure that truly make a difference.

And if Christmas arrangements are you’re thing, why not! You have the green light…go ahead…decorate early!