Laugh Lines and Good Times

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I got a really great message from my favorite Boston redhead, Melissa C., last night….so great she actually requested that I write a blog post about it, so here I am 🙂

In her message, she relayed to me an awesome moment that if you are oh so lucky, you have the chance to experience.  MC was walking down the street and came across two guys strolling along, laughing together and full of positive energy.  They had no idea anyone was privy to their conversation, but my lovely friend was able to catch bits and pieces of it.   However, it wasn’t WHAT they were talking about but HOW they were talking that caught Melissa’s attention.  If you’ve ever noticed, a lot of people bustle around every day, complaining to a friend on their cell phone, talking with a co-worker about a project over lunch or deep in conversation with a friend about personal issues.  How often do you actually witness two friends, walking with nowhere to be, laughing, smiling and enjoying each other’s company?  It’s always nice to be reminded that at the end of the day, it really isn’t where you are or what you have that matters – it’s who you’re with and how you choose to spend that quality time. 

It’s funny that Melissa is the person who left me this message because one of my favorite memories in life is the time she and I got out of work early on a sunny spring day in Boston, ate the BEST Indian food and ice cream cones the size of our heads, and just walked through the city and laughed for hours.  My best memories of Boston aren’t the most exciting clubs I went to or the shopping and site seeing I did…. My best memories are laughing with friends on strolls down the street and coming home to sit on my apartment floor and drink cheap wine. 

Good friends like that are hard to come by and moments in life when all you need to do is laugh to communicate are even more rare.  So treasure them… and remember that true happiness is just a belly laugh away.

 

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Sun Salutations in a Hot Phoenix World

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I know you have all been biting at the bit to hear about how Cinco de Mayo Southwest Style went…. Well it was fun – but probably nothing to write home about.  I am fairly certain the homemade mojitos and guacamole trumped our “out of the house” plans by a million, but we live and we learn.  The long and short oImagef it all is, once we got to the Sandbar (where we thought we’d be dancing the night away), the line out the door was about a half-mile long and the cover was $20 a person.  Call me crazy, but that seems like a bit much for a night of tequila and tacos.   So, we had a delicious dinner at The Island and salsa danced afterwards… in the living room 🙂

Next up to cross off the Southwest/life-long bucket list?  Glass blowing class!  Way to go, Groupon!  More to come on that after this weekend!  Hopefully we will make some fantastic paper weight or something. Image

Side note to all of the Southwest fun:  I took a yoga class last week that blew.my.mind.  I have tried yoga a handful of times in my life and, surprisingly, have not loved it (which is weird).  BUT, this class put me in SUCH a good place mentally and physically that I think every single human alive should try it.  It is a no-judgment zone for sure – everyone in there was at a different level and the instructor kept reiterating that there was no pressure.  “Yoga doesn’t hurt… yoga heals.” What a nice change of pace from normal fitness classImagees were people keep yelling to go faster and work harder!  I did another awesome rooftop yoga class this morning…  It was such a stress reliever – and as I have done a lot of eyebrow scratching recently (those of you who know me understand how compulsive I can be when I’m stressed). 

SPEAKING OF WHICH – check out this blog post I found! http://www.confessionsofaninsomniac.com/?p=167  Speaks straight to the heart… I can’t believe so many other people create their own baby bald spots when stressed!  Ahhh, there is hope for all of us yet! 

Oh one more fun fact – saw La Cage Aux Folles with George Hamilton last night at the Gammage.  Last set of tickets in our pack *tear.*   But another fun thing to cross of the bucket list – mini season at the local theater!

Last but not least…

Question of the day:  If you were to envision an 80’s all-adult prom, what would it look like?  Your feedback and ideas are more helpful right now than you could EVER imagine!

Changing Seasons.

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Well, it is certainly starting to feel toasty warm here in Arizona…. so to embrace the changing of seasons, I have a fabulous Pinterest find to share with you all:

I really love this because it is something that all of us struggle with at times.  We are so busy looking forward to what’s next that we sometimes forget how quickly our present will change… and it WILL change.  So whether metaphorically our literally, embrace whatever season you are in!

Now I know we (M + C) spoke of the bucket list we have been working on for our time here in Scottsdale and I think I have something to add and fulfill all at once – Cinco de Mayo in the Southwest!  Sadly, I don’t think I’ve ever really gone wild with the tequila and tacos that this “holiday” often brings – part of that is because I am usually busy that day and the other part is that the inner Spanish/Latin American Studies major in me knows it’s a pretty gringo-ized “fiesta.”  BUT, I am bound and determined to find a watering hole where we can dance to our hearts content this Saturday. So far this is the most concrete salsa dance party I could find.  Not sure…..

Turning to my Arizona friends now…

Where should we go to ring in the 5th???  All suggestions welcome!  Pictures to follow!

“I like to call them blue heron legs.”

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It’s going to be a hot one today!  Highs in the 90s…. friends, we have officially started the summer slide and pretty soon triple digits will be upon us.  So glad there is a trip to Maine plugged in for June!  MMM… lobster.

A few interesting things to share:

1)      Heather and Brian came for a visit (just left yesterday – boo hoo!!!) and we had SUCH a fun time.  There was certainly plenty of sunbathing, a hike up Cholla Trail on Camelback (first time for all of us) and lots of yummy food and drinks.  Very thankful for spin class last night that hopefully rid my body of the many toxins and calories consumed over the weekend. 

2)      I think that I have developed a complex living on our campus, I mean, complex.   Sometimes I look around and wonder where Snooki’s hiding.  No but seriously…. Saturday night I dreamt that I was in an adult beauty pageant on a track (with my mother no less) and we were forced to speed walk until we were taken out of the running.  Well, I made one lap and the models tried to throw me out.  I refused to stop speed walking and on lap two they tried to pull me out again, blaming it on my terrible eyebrows.  Psychology majors out there – please turn this into a case study and let me know how to ignore the girls who walk by me each day with the legs of a blue heron. 

3)      Adam Richmond and Andrew Zimmern, two of my favorite TV personalities, will be here at the Scottsdale Culinary Festival this weekend.  If Chris and I can find a way to get there, I believe this will be Arizona Bucket List item #1.   More to come on that.

 Also – just going to throw this out there… I have a strange hankering to go to Vegas.  And I have NO idea why.  I don’t have money to gamble, I am not single and it’s probably just as hot there as it is here.  BUT.  I would not mind stealing Mike Tyson’s tiger.  Or finding a sweet baby named Carlos to strap on my back and take for adventures.  If you did not get those movie references, go rent The Hangover immediately. Alas, that might have to wait…. Weddings abound this summer and fall so that might be a trip for another time 🙂

XO.

Bucket List Bliss

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I love buckets…. I love filling them with sand at the beach, with treats for a birthday and with beer at a party…but the best thing to a fill a bucket with is a list.

A wise Pinterest post once told me, “Just because something isn’t happening for you right now doesn’t mean that it will never happen.”  I love that quote because it’s so very true.  I have spent so many hours of my life looking ahead or not being fully content with where I am at that I sometimes forget that dreams don’t always unfold all at once.  And much like any anticipated event in your life, you don’t want all the excitement at your feet on the same day because then what have you got to look forward to?  I mean honestly – would you want to get married, have a baby, close on a house, land your dream job and win the lottery all on April 10th?  Probably not.  But separately?  Each of those things could bring you great happiness.

Chris had a brilliant idea the other day – to create an Arizona specific bucket list.  We LOVE writing down fun goals, but we have never done one for one particular state.  And what better way to hold yourselves accountable to get to know a new place than by writing down all that you want to accomplish and starting the process?

So, in honor of the beginning of an exciting new bucket list {keep your eyes peeled for a post} I’d like to take a moment to share with you a few personal goals that have lingered since, ohhhh, college?  Maybe high school?  Maybe childhood?

1.  Own a chocolate shop in the Swiss Alps.

2.  Sing in a smokey night club…on top of a piano…. in a red dress.

3.  Publish a children’s book.

4. Marry the man of my dreams…. barefoot on a Maine beach.

5.  Raise children and raise them WELL.

6.  Own a tiny teacup pig.  Or a puppy.  Or any lovely animal pre-approved by my darling significant other.

7.  Learn to play the guitar.

What would you put on your bucket list?  I would LOVE to know 🙂

Happiness Is….

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… a week with your parents full of hugs, laughter and good conversation

…. sun-kissed skin from a southwest sky

…finding an a cappella group in your city that *fingers crossed* might think you are just what they need

….a spring and summer full of visitors

…the determination to make each day whatever you want it to be… and realizing you have been the only person in the way of your own happiness all along…

….the fact that airplanes exist

….the invention of Pinterest

….making a difference. having a job of purpose.

…faith

 

And with that I will tell you that after quite a few months of conflicted emotions between my brain and my heart…. I am bound and determined to make this year better than the last.  To push the boundaries, try new things, take chances and work on achieving goals and reaching for dreams.  This is going to require patience, sticktoitivness (sp), faith in the future and a strong heart, mind and personality.  But I think – no, I KNOW – it will all work out.

Three tips for those juggling love, a career, distance and all the curveballs that your 20s throw your way:

1-a)  It’s OK to compromise.  It’s OK to choose love.  It’s also OK to expect that you can have love, your dream job, a family.

1-b)  Compromise is give and take and as the root of the word is PROMISE, it requires the belief that each party is in it to win it.  Many times in life we feel that it in a compromise, one person must always give and the other must always take.  But that is not the case… and the only person who can advocate for us is ourselves.  So SPEAK UP… have uncomfortable conversations… be willing to cry, get mad and laugh about the insanity of it all.  But don’t give up.  Whatever you do.

2) Remember that nothing in life is permanent.  And I say that in the most positive way possible.  When things are uncertain and you aren’t sure what will come next, remember that nothing uncomfortable lasts forever… and nothing comfortable does either, so LOVE AND EMBRACE those moments with all your heart.

3) Believe that you deserve and are capable of the best.  That your brain doesn’t ALWAYS have to give way for your heart and that your heart doesn’t ALWAYS have to give way for your brain.  Make THEM compromise as well.

And just be happy 🙂

 

 

 

Maybe Just a Stroke of Luck?

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The irony in this title is literally screaming off the page at me… I wouldn’t say this month has necessarily been one of great “luck” but with a rich Irish heritage and the ‘rents FINALLY coming to visit in a week, I’ll choose to pretend as much 🙂 

Let me start by saying that we really did it up on St. Paddy’s!  With a warm Irish Soda Bread baking in the oven Saturday morning and a hilarious viewing of The Leprechaun, we got our party started early.  By 5 pm, we were decked out head to toe in green garb, headed to Tempe Beach Park for a St. Patrick’s Day Party with Flogging Molly headlining.  It was a cold day for this part of the world {Mainers, I know I know}, but the concert was awesome and the beer was plentiful.  Not to mention we had a DELICIOUS crepe with Nutella and strawberries… we’ll be making those at home this weekend, that’s for sure! 

I’m not actually in the mood to yak on and on about everything we’ve done in the past month (terrible blogger that I am), so instead I will bullet point:

* Coyotes Game
* Suns Game
* Spring Training Game
* Hike up Camelback Mountain
* Book club with YNPN (super fun!)
* A few fun happy hours 🙂
* Babysitting little baby B!
*First haircut in over a year for me. HOORAY!

All good stuff… which can for the most part be googled!  So google on, little friends.

In exciting news, T-5 til Peg & Kev get here!!!!  Then just a few weeks til Brian and Heather….a trip home to Maine in June…. weddings galore this summer…. and visitors from the Northeast sprinkled throughout (Mimi, Ash, Erika, etc.!)  So so happy to be inundated with some home grown love in 2012. ❤

In not-so-exciting news, I must say that I am beginning to feel like I live in the land of Oz.  In the crazy, is this really happening, gosh I wish I had a lion for a friend (and a cute, cuddly dog) type way…. but life ebbs and flows and we must take the good with the not-so-fabulous and so off we go….blah blah blah, you finish the song.

Lots of love to you all on this warm and sunny Thursday:)
XO.

Question for the day:  What is your favorite way to de-stress?  When you are LITERALLY at the end of your rope, what do you do to pull yourself up by those boot straps?

Sleepless in Scottsdale

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Profound thought for the day: What’s it like when a beach baby becomes a mountain woman?  I will tell you what it’s like.   The ocean for me has and always will represent vast tranquility, comfort and an escape.  It represents warm Maine summers and sunset swims and cold Maine winters bundled up in Bean Boots and a scarf.  It is the one place from home that goes unchanged and does not become overdeveloped, sold or torn down.

The mountains, in contrast, represent a new kind of comfort.  They are different and exciting and challenging.  They surround you and make you feel small and insignificant… until you climb to the top of their peaks and feel larger than life again.  When I think of the ocean and I think of the mountains, it feels like a direct metaphor for life as I know it.  The cozy, familiar comfort of the Atlantic blue versus the exhilarating, challenging and rewarding climb to new heights.  I digress….

…It’s been a busy few weeks for M & C.  After getting back from our wonderful trip to Sedona, we’ve been taking time to get to know our own backyard better and rest our suitcases (and our wallets) from all of our holiday travels.   The greatest accomplishment (for me at least) was hiking to the TOP of Piestewa Peak!  {See profound thought above.} It’s a little crowded and overstimulating if you are looking for a peaceful morning out in nature, but there is a great energy of hungry hikers and a beautiful view at the top. The first time we tried to hike it, I quit halfway through and was horribly disappointed with myself.  But on Presidents Day, I gave it another try and was so happy that I completed the trek.  Definitely check this one out.  Takes about an hour to hike round trip (if you are moderately – or barely – athletic like I am).

A few new restaurants to add to the list as well!  The top of the list belongs to Hiro Sushi (which I was taken to on Valentine’s Day…. so fun!).  Oh my word, I grew up in an Irish Catholic household in Maine so to say I know what authentic Japanese food should taste like is a big fat lie.  But trust me on this – it is AMAZING.  Hole in the wall in appearance and hidden within a strip mall in Scottsdale, it’s not a place that you drive by and notice.  But hunt it out and give it a whirl; your taste buds will NOT be disappointed.   By far the best sushi I/we have had in Arizona!

Two other restaurants to try out:  Grazie, an Italian pizzeria in Old Town with a Nutella/Banana desert to DIE for and Scratch, a healthy, gourmet bakery and restaurant.  I loved my seared tuna sandwich, but the Mogador dark chocolate mousse with raspberry was the highlight of my experience.  Do yourself a favor and throw calorie counting out the window when you have the chance to visit these two hot spots.

One place I would not recommend for those uninterested in reliving their WILD college nights is Martini Ranch.  Chris and I popped over there last Friday for a G Love & Special Sauce concert and it took 45 minutes to get inside (with pre-purchased tickets, mind you) and was one huge drunk fest.  Concert was musically fabulous, however.  Way to go G Love!  AND, the Strong Beer Festival in Tempe that we hit up the next day was tons of fun… nice and warm and PLENTY of beer to drink.  Except be careful – you get 14 tastings and we each only completed 7.  And THAT was pushing it.

Next on the list is going to have to be Spring Training…. Can’t wait to lie on the grass with a hot dog and beer and bask in America’s favorite pastime.  More to come soon!

XOXO

Sleepless in Scottsdale

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Rocky Road… No, Not The Ice Cream

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If you have never experienced the magical vortex of Sedona…well, I can’t recommend that you do because I have not either.  But I will say this – as much as we poke fun at the people who talk about their “spiritual” red rock adventures, there is something to be said for the majesty of the mountains in that little town.

Chris and I rolled in late Friday night, had a quick bite at the little restaurant inside the Hilton and hit the sack to rest up for our weekend.   When we woke on Saturday and pulled back the curtains in the room, the sight that greeted us was nothing short of breathtaking.  Huge, iron-rich peaks surrounded us and the cloudless blue sky stretched across the horizon in this awesome, ethereal way.  I immediately felt a calm and sense of peace unlike anything I have experienced in over a year.

We made our first stop at Wildflower Bakery, a Panera-like chain that we love, for juice and pastries and then headed on down to our Pink Jeep Tour.  Now let me tell you… I am not a big risk taker.  You couldn’t pay me enough money to sky dive or swish down a black mountain.  But off-roading in a crowded little jeep with total strangers?  Loved it.  It’s amazing how much I trust people I have only just met.

We zipped across the rocks, holding on for dear life, and were able to take in some of the most picturesque views I have ever seen.  Chris and I marveled at the fact that such a place exists right here in the United States.  So often we travel far and wide, seeking out these take-your-breath-away moments, and we were able to find one 2 hours north of our new home.  One of my favorite (nerd alert!) parts of the tour was walking along Submarine Rock and learning about the formation of the mountains and how the iron turned them red.  We were also able to see a really neat shift in the ground where an earthquake that impacted forty miles of land had occurred.

After our tour, we took a moment to indulge in some true Western grub at the Cowboy Club.  Sipping prickly pear cocktails and munching on cactus fries with a side of pulled pork sliders and sweet potato waffle fries was fab-o.  The wait staff was friendly and accommodating and each of them donned an awesome pair of cowboy boots and a (be still my Maine girl heart) flannel shirt.  I would definitely go back to this fine establishment!

In an effort to counteract our caloric intake, we strolled around Tlaquepaque shopping center and admired the craftsmanship of local artisans.  A little too expensive for our taste, but beautiful and interesting in its own right.  My favorite part of it was how it resembled an old Spanish villa.  You don’t see that sort of architecture just anywhere.

Totally exhausted from our morning, we took a quick snooze (because hey!  you can do that on a mini-vacation) and then got ourselves ready for a night on the town… and by that I mean, a dinner at Oak Creek Brewery and Grill.  We were hoping to try Elote, but the wait was over an hour.  Maybe next time!

Anywho, the brewery was great.  We each had a cup of the spicy, rich tortilla soup and shared a Broken Arrow Barbecue Pizza.  The pizza, heaping with creamy smoked gouda, mozzarella and sweet BBQ chicken was only made better by the generous portion of cilantro on top.  This might sound like an odd combination of food, but the extreme flavors and combo of sweet, salty and savory played off each other like instruments in an orchestra.   Highly, HIGHLY recommend it.  Sunday morning (last day, tears) was just as lovely as the rest.  I woke up a little earlier than Chris, grabbed a heavenly cup of coffee at Red Rock Coffee and drove a few miles up the road to the Chapel of the Holy Cross.  This chapel, my friends, is nestled into the side of the rocks and I don’t care if you believe in God, Buddha or the trees, it is truly unbelievable.  I snapped a few photos with my phone and made my way up the winding road by foot to take a moment of silence inside.  The views from the top of the hill were just stunning and the chapel itself was sweet, understated and divine.   What an incredible way to start a Sunday, huh?

After that, I swung back by the hotel and Chris and I began our day of wine tasting.  Our first stop was at Javelina Leap, a tiny tasting room and vineyard where the staff never stop smiling and the wine is only sold from their shelves.  We took a brief tour of the property and teased our palates with samples of Cabernet and Petite Syrah.  The place had loads of charm.  Our next and final stop was at Page Spring Cellars & Vineyard where we took an hour and a half long guided tour (really informative and fun) and sipped ten different types of wine (shared, I mean) while listening to a local musician serenade us on his guitar.

The night was rounded off with a glass of the Vino de la Familia (red version, of course) and a yummy cheese platter and bruschetta, shared on the porch with new friends.  Plenty of laughter ensued and I tell you what, I did NOT want to leave.

If you have the chance, GET TO SEDONA, STAT!  You will not be disappointed.

XOXO

And Then There Were Two

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You know why I’m happy today?  Because it’s Friday.  And because tonight I am taking a road trip with my sweetie to Sedona 🙂  After using him as my personal punching bag  last night (not literally, figuratively) due to a day/week of stress, it is time for us both to relax and enjoy the beauty of the red rocks and all the charm of the Wild West.   [Insert apology to Chris here]

Long and short of all of this?  Look for great pics and reviews of our favorite places and spaces in Sedona come next week… and surprise!  We are soon going to have Chris, the “semi-pro” photographer, join the Paint the Desert Red staff (ahem, me) in this blogging endeavor.  We have decided that I love writing, he loves taking photos and we both love traveling and trying new food… so why not come together for this project of life in the Southwest?  Brilliant, I say.  Hopefully you’ll notice these exciting changes in the coming weeks.  And before long, we’ll be zipping around the world a la Anthony Bourdain (at least we hope).

Now I’m sure you are just chomping at the bit to hear what we’ve been up to (I flatter myself, I know).  Well, I made a brief mention of Melissa’s visit to Scottsdale two weeks ago and I neglected to go into exciting detail about what we did! Three great new places for you guys to try –

1) The Mission

Oh my lord, divine… between the roaring fireplace, walls of layered Himalayan salt bricks, twinkle lights and spectacular Latin cuisine, I was beyond thrilled (and stuffed).  With a unique and rather bizarre variety of drink specials, it was hard to choose but I ended up taking our server’s recommendation and indulged in an avocado margarita.  Now let me tell you, I love avocados more than most things in life but even I was a bit skeptical at the idea of drinking one with tequila.  HOWEVER.  There was something about the light, creamy texture and savory sweetness of it that meshed oh so nicely with the salty, lime drink.  I would highly recommend it – especially to you more adventurous folk.

For dinner we all shared the tacos – a variety of pork shoulder and mahi mahi.  The pork shoulder was so tender that you didn’t even need a knife to cut it.  The mahi mahi was wonderful as well, but meat won best entree award at this dinner.  And, of course, the tortillas were homemade and warm… oh and might I add, delicious enough to eat a stack with nothing on them.

We wrapped things up with a round of desserts including chocolate churros with espresso ice cream, fried plantains that melted in your mouth, and warm, sugary, ooey gooey bread pudding.  Please note, I am the girl with the “Heart Healthy Tuesday” addition to the blog who has also been on Weight Watchers since October.  Worth the points and guilt, you ask?  Absolutely.

2) Kazmierz World Wine Bar  

Ok, when I say to you all that this place is my #1 favorite new bar in Scottsdale, that is not an exaggeration.   Modeled after a speak easy, it’s hard to even know where the entrance is.  Roam around an alleyway in Old Town and you will find a sign on a camouflaged door that reads “The Truth Is Inside.”  And it is… in the form of a Moscow mule and out-of-this world jazz.  Don’t blast through the door and expect to chug a beer and leave; let your eyes adjust to the dim lighting and cozy candled alcoves and belly up the bar… if you can.  This place is the perfect location for a romantic date (guys, your girlfriend will think you are a stellar human being for sure if you take her here)… kick back, relax and transport yourself to the era of passwords, quartets and fedoras.  This is NOT to be missed.  (NOPE, not giving you any pictures on this one… you need to get there and see for yourself).

3) Rita’s Kitchen at Camelback Inn

This would appear to be yet another restaurant critique, but let me throw a curve your way… while the food at this fine establishment is delightful, it is the ambiance that gets you every time.  Imagine filling your belly with delicious Southwest cuisine and then heading over to snuggle on a big comfy chair with a large fire pit warming your toes as you sip a cocktail and listen to live music under a blanket of stars.  This places sets you in the “there is nothing better in the world than this moment” trance and is such a fun place to hit up on a date or with good friends.  Relax and enjoy 🙂

Alright, my loyal readers… like I said, check back next week for exciting new photos and features and welcome Chris on as the newest member to my team!  (Gosh, I am kind of ridiculous).

XOXO and all sorts of good stuff.