Tag: staycation

Pied-à-terre

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This weekend I am getting a little break.  A break from work, waiting, life and hopefully headaches. Tomorrow begins the 2014 LDS Storymakers writing conference in Layton, ,UT.  This is my second year attending and I am so looking forward to it.  I write more as a hobby than a career but I think I’d go even if I was just an avid reader.

I’m such a nerd that I actually miss taking classes and learning new things in college.  If I could think of something I wanted to study and had the money I would totally go back to school.  Yes, it is challenging but also very rewarding.

And yes, I could learn all of these things on my own without a conference or a degree, but I have found I always do better with such support in place.  That’s why I still take voice lessons because I know without them I wouldn’t sing and singing is important to me.

But I think even more than the learning I am grateful for the break.  I’ve taken  my fair share of long vacations and those are great too but there is something nice about a long weekend that gives you just a breather from ordinary life.

I think that is why I like movies, they are just a little break from life.  A novel or a TV show are a  a serious time commitment where a movie is just 2 hours to devote to a story.  I love that.

I’ve always liked the concept of the pied-à-terre.  This is a  word  (french for foot on the ground) that in real estate means a small second home that is meant for temporary stays and trips.  A lot of times you will see these types of homes in the cities like businessmen in Tokyo may have a pied-à-terre in the city when he works late while his primary lodging is a 45 minute drive home.

Ideally for me these types of homes are bare-bones, simple places that you wouldn’t want to live in full time.  The house my grandparents had in Hawaii was a good example (especially the cottage).  It wasn’t fancy, had no air conditioning and provided simple basic features.  It would be a challenge to live in that house full time but as a stop over to sleep and eat it served the purpose very well.

Granted most pied-à-terre are owned by very rich people and are not the type of places I am referring to.  This is more my idea of what I would want, what appeals to me.  I’d love to have a place that is simple, easy, and a break from everyday life.

It’s not a vacation but just a chance to change scenery for a day or two.   It’s organized, similar whenever you go, and easy, that is what I want in a break.  I don’t want to sweat or have sore feet or any of it.  I just want to rest, learn, swim and reflect.

My boss Kelly lives in Portland and they go up to Bend Oregon frequently and from what I can tell it’s a pretty simple place.  She works the whole time she is there but it still feels like a break for her and her family.  That’s what I want. That’s my goal. I’d like for my regular life and vacation life to flow naturally together without the sense of loss I feel after a fully immersed vacation.  This is just a natural part of my life, making the planning and recovery easy and the experience all the more rejuvenating.

It’s interesting because I used to have such a desire for travel in my early 20s and it has basically died out.  One time I was talking  with my brother and he said ‘I’m over traveling’  and I thought he was nuts but now I find myself thinking the same thing.

My Dad and sister are in Germany right now and another sister is going to Europe for a month in June. On one hand, I am a little jealous of the exciting experience they are having and on the other I feel tired just thinking about it.  The appeal is gone.

But a pied-à-terre? That sounds appealing.  Someday I would love to own a place by a beach somewhere.  That’s my goal- the tinier and simpler the better! For the moment LDS Storymakers and staying in a Hilton Hotel for the weekend will suffice.   It is just the pied-à-terre I need while I wait, worry and work.  I’m so excited!

I’m also very excited for my trip to Tampa coming up next month!  Thanks to my friend Kim for inviting me.  To relaxing, learning, resting and starting afresh!

What about you guys?  Have you found your desire to travel diminish over the years?  What about a pied-à-terre?  Is that concept appealing to you? Let me know.

relax

 

 

 

Box Month: Escape Box

Forgive me for writing quickly.  I am so tired today.  I stayed up to late and ended up getting around 4 hours of sleep.  I hope I can crash tonight.

Anyway,  I am down to my last two boxes for box month 😦 .  The mail won’t be the same after this month and I still haven’t decided which one’s I’m going to keep.  Which one’s have you liked or been interested in?  Once box month is finished I will give the blog a rest and only do periodic updates but you will be able to find photos and such on my instagram.

Today I received a brand new box.  Meaning this is the inaugural box. (This also means they are eager to get it out there so contact them if you have a blog with hits or a youtube channel).   You can get 20% off using code ESCAPENOW.  With this discount the box ends up being $39 and while that is a lot for the box you will find the value is there.

So the idea behind this box is you get all the stuff to get to know a vacation spot, including a guidebook if you decide to travel there.  They also have a contest and give away said vacation with each box.  There aren’t a ton of subscribers since it’s new so I think you chances are higher than in other sweepstakes.

The box this month was on Napa so unfortunately for me it had some wine/tea items I will not be able to eat.  However, my friends will or I will use them for topical applications.  Fortunately even with those items removed I still save $20 on the contents of my box.  Pretty good.

Escape box.  Pretty good, right.
Escape box. Pretty good, right.

Here’s the breakdown of the box:

Escape
3.95 luffa
3.31 cookies
9 white tea
4.49 dead sea salts
5.98 rose candles
4.48 napa soap
0.5 suki body butter cream
2.99 detox mud
7.89 lavendar body scrub
0.7 Clearly natural bar
3.39 mixture lip balm
13.19 Moon Guidebook
50 Wine card
109.87 subtotal
7.69 sales tax
117.56 total
58.56
59 value I can use
39 cost of box

Rachel Eat Pray Love Day 1

So I know I say things like this all the time but it doesn’t make it any less true- today was one of the best days of my life!  It was so wonderful!  Its hard to believe that I ever contemplated doing anything else and that I could be the same human being that was so miserable on Tuesday.  I wish I wasn’t such a spazz and had a constant, even tone to my days but alas that’s just not my style.

The one thing about an insanely hard week with a seemingly impossible deadline and a near-panic attack is that everything can only go up from there and boy did it.  I’m so glad I decided to spend the money (and it wasn’t too bad actually) and treat myself to a weekend  of rehabilitation and rejuvenation.  I needed it so badly!

For starters I finished the month end in time!!!!  I still can’t believe it!  Hurray!  Heavenly Father really does answer prayers and help you do the impossible when you have faith.  Seriously.

So done with my Friday free (hurray!)  I set out for a massage at my gym.  (Would have asked my dear friend Jill but she had to take a 9 to 5’er for insurance 😦 ).  Anyway, got a one hour massage and it was heaven. Seriously if I was rich I’d have a massage every week.

zen achieved

Oh I forgot I got to the massage late because I was cleaning my car because my folks are using it this week and guess what I threw into the recycle dumpster?  Yes, my keys.  It was quite the endeavor to get them out climbing up on a laundry basket that was in the dumpster and hurling myself into the cardboard.  It actually hurt and I have bruises but I got the keys!  Nothing was going to get me down!

found the keys. Dumpster diver extraordinaire!

After the massage I got the car wash and then headed to the hotel.  I am staying that the City Center Marriott in Salt Lake. I stayed here once before when in 2007 I along with 4 of my friends celebrated the last day of a job I hated and the beginning of a happy Rachel.  It is honestly one of the happiest memories of my life. So, naturally I have a special fondness for the hotel and its luxurious accomadations (amazing robes, tons of pillows, soft sheets, thick curtains etc).  Just look at the pillows!

Is that not heaven

They weren’t ready for me right away so I went off to have some lunch.  At first I walked the wrong way and so I asked these businessmen if they knew of any good lunch places. “There’s Carl’s Jr” they responded.  Isn’t that rude?  For all they knew I was a visitor to their city.  I would never do that.  Anyway, nothing was going to get me down so I headed the other way and went to wells fargo to deposit a check and asked the teller if he knew a good place “The Robin’s Nest” he said.   It was just around the corner so I went and checked it out.

I figure in lunch places it is always a good sign when the line is long and the tables are full.  This was the case at Robin’s Nest.  Everything was delicious from the bread to the orzo side pasta.  I got the gobbler (turkey ‘thanksgiving’ style sandwich with cranberry relish, mayo, lettuce ect).  The half was huge and the lunch combo came with drink (fresh squeezed lemonade no extra), orzo pasta or chips and a dessert bite (I got the lemon square although everything looked fabulous).  I heard Bobby Flay say that ‘delicious’ was passe as a food adjective so I’m not sure what word to use.  It was scrumptious.  Perfect lunch.

Love a good sandwich

Once I checked into the hotel I read for a little bit on my fluffy pillows and then napped for about 30 minutes.  Feeling great I headed up to the pool/hot tub and had a great swim.  As a Masters Swimmer (I was going to say competitive but I don’t know if last in every race really counts as competitive) I naturally always wear training swimsuits.  So, it is nice to occasionally swim just for fun and wear a suit that feels a tiny bit more attractive.   Is that terrible to say?

Love this photo. Feeling pretty!

At the pool they had this sign that made me laugh.  Kind of a challenge to the whole weekend in a way!

Oh you better believe I’m swimming alone and dining alone, going to the movies alone, whatever. I’m having a spectacular time alone and breaking all the rules!!!

After a refreshing and relaxing swim/soak I came back and read some more and worked on my novel.  It’s just a silly thing I’ve toyed with over the years.  I am going to finish it for the national novel writing month in November.  If I don’t I have to do a polar bear swim! (Its a bet with my friend Abby).

Next up I went headed to dinner.  My friend Heidi had recommended The Copper Onion to me and as it is minutes from my hotel I thought it’d be a perfect fit.  Boy was she right.  I have never been to such a nice restaurant in my life.  Everything was beautifully presented and tasted sublimely good.  Best restaurant meal I’ve ever had.

I decided to try different things.  Be bold and daring because that’s the kind of day it was!  So here are the courses:

For appetizer crispy pork belly salad with pickled vegetables.  I’ve always wanted to try pork belly and it did not disappoint.  The salad was rich, decadent, salty, sweet, spicy (pickled jalapenos).  So good!

pork belly salad. Yum!

Then I got the duck which I’ve never had before.  I’ve always heard it was too fatty and I hate eating chicken fat.  Figured wouldn’t like duck fat any more than chicken.  But this was perfectly cooked.  The fat was completely rendered out with a crispy skin, cooked medium rare.  Then underneath the duck breast was duck confit (holy cow yum!) and a baby portabello mushroom that was the best mushroom I’ve ever had.  All accompanied with a butternut squash puree that was like butter and a mixed green salad with roasted peppitas.  (Salivating yet? Wait until you see the photo).

Most amazing entree I’ve had at a restaurant. Can’t wait to go back and try more things.

Then for dessert I had a chocolate pudding that was divine.  It was rich with a crunchy topping and whipped cream.  It had sea salt or something sprinkled in to counter the sweetness.

chocolate pudding. This costs $4. Isn’t that insane?

I cleaned my plate in every course but the great thing is I didn’t feel stuffed or even overly-full.  I felt perfectly satisfied.  The food was not overflowing like at chains but it was all delicious and memorable, which I’d take any day over quantity.  I got all of that delicious food plus a drink for $40.  Doesn’t that seem like a pretty good deal?  You’d pay triple that in New York or San Fran.

The thing I appreciated the most about the restaurant was how accommodating they were to me as a single diner.  I’ve tried to eat at nicer places by myself and felt literally singled out and that I was an inconvenience for a busy waiter wanting more tips.  This is why I usually get take out not because I’m afraid of being alone at a meal but because it isn’t a pleasant experience as a rule.

Tonight was totally different.  First of all The Copper Onion has a bar (a suggestion I often give single diners as it easy to find someone to talk with and does not feel so isolating as a big empty table) with a separate bar menu but they also have what they call the counter.  This is like a separate bar area that faces the chefs.  It was so much fun seeing everything get made and smelling all the dishes!  My waitress was wonderful. Kind, accommodating and extremely knowledgeable about the entire menu (she was partly responsible for my bold orders!).   See the smile on my face!

Happy Rachel (I also wore eye make up for the first time since the surgery. Hurray!)

The meal was sublime and when I finished it was 6:50 and as I walked past The Broadway theater next door to the restaurant I noticed that Perks of Being a Wallflower was playing at 7.  Perfect timing!  The Broadway is one of the only independent theaters in Utah and while many of their choices seem a bit dreary for my tastes this was a film I’d been wanting to see.

It is definitely not for everyone but I loved it.  Its funny, sad, different and the dialogue is perfect.  I think it is one of the few movies I’ve seen that gets the feel a high school experience right.  Most movies about teenagers feel like the show Glee that is mostly starring 30 year old actors in high school.  This was much more authentic.  I don’t know if I totally bought some of the darker elements but still very emotionally satisfying to see something original and different.   I felt inspired!

Here’s the thing that made today special.  I have obviously lived alone for many years of my adult life.  I’ve gone to movies alone, eaten alone, even went on a cruise alone, but I don’t’ know if I have ever spent a day with basically no companionship and had such a spectacular time.  It is really gratifying to know that I can be that happy all by myself.  I think I have to remember that when I’m feeling lost and out of control.  I have the power to feel happy all by myself even without all the luxurious trappings to prop me up.

I feel proud of myself.  I did something that  nobody else I know to my knowledge has done.  I spent the whole day by myself and had a spectacular time. Granted most everyone I know doesn’t even have that option but still its nice to know I can do it.

Even more than that, its nice to know I can relax like a real human being.  Feels like forever since I’ve relaxed. Since Hawaii for sure.  And how great to have achieved my Hawaii zen right in my own hometown for pennies on the dollar of what I’d spend on any trip, anywhere.  What a freeing concept!  I look forward to many more adventures!  It’d be great if some of my friends joined me but also great to do it alone.  How freeing is that?

Most importantly I feel like I can conquer the world again.  I wish I didn’t get the anxiety and I am getting better at dealing with it but I’m grateful in a way for it because it forced me to take action and create happiness for myself.   I learned that making a decision is a freeing experience and then planning for joy is the only way to really get it.  Rarely is it presented to you for free.

I’m grateful to God for giving me this day.  In the world of billions of souls going about there day He proved once again this week to me that HE KNOWS ME and HE WORKS MIRACLES!   I can’t wait to hear Him speak through His prophets tomorrow.  I will have notebook in hand and am confident I will receive instruction and inspiration.   I am so blessed. I am so grateful. I am so inspired. I am so HAPPY!