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this is how it all went, part II.

White Converse

The camellias are popping, the daffodils are in full bloom, and my birthday is around the corner: there’s no denying that winter is coming to a close. I’m going to miss holing up in my kitchen, cooking hearty meals. Not that I can’t do that when it’s warmer, but it’s just not the same when there’s that nagging feeling that I should be outside. And I’m going to miss my sweaters and my tights and my boots!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s still chilly. We’re not quite there yet. Here’s how our winter went down during those long months after we got back from Maui:

 

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Clementine continues to be a ham. And she is our resident tech guru. Want to learn how to use Spotify? She’s your girl. Want to listen to the Spice Girls {my fault!} 24/7? She’ll hook you up. Want to find your phone filled with 40 of roughly the same selfie in a row? She’s on it!

 

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Annabelle was late to our family’s stomach flu ball game. It took us all by surprise right in the middle of her stretch of rehearsals for Charlotte’s Web. I thought it was bad when the rest of us had it at Christmas, but my big girl somehow managed to have it even worse. Skelator comes to mind.

I stayed home with her and we each managed to find a bright side. Mine was getting to see the sun come up, as I’m usually in my classroom at that time, where there’s no window, just a skylight. Perfect for film studies, but bad for my mental health. Annabelle’s bright side was watching one of her favorite movies, School of Rock, in between puking.

 

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When Annabelle is in a show, those rehearsal times are great for meeting a friend downtown. On one school night, Andrea, some lychee martinis, and I met at The Mark to catch up. We gabbed about all sorts of things, like our words of the year {mine: curiosity. hers: open.}, travel, and the awesome renovation happening in the upstairs of her book shop, Browsers. I left with a big smile on my face.

 

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We added a furry member to our family this winter, and I just sort of stormed in there and named her myself without asking my family. They keep reminding me of this. But I kind of don’t care. You’ll meet miss Gussy in a sec…

 

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The Mister and I enjoyed a very nice dinner out at Dillinger’s, where they have the fanciest Prohibition-era drinks. Such a hoppin’ place every single night, too. Dinner was a little faster than we’d expected, though, and we found ourselves with an extra half hour until our babysitter was done. And, so, parents – my gift to you: World Market is open until 9 pm!

 

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Clementine and I enjoyed a very snowy road trip to my parents’ place on the other side of the state to get our puppy. The ride was filled with her talking for over three hours before she ran out of things to say. She had intel on things like, “Hey, Mom? Do you know what density is? I do…blah, blah, blah.” She is like Buddy the Elf, people. There was also lots of road trip food and Coldplay.

It was a marshmallow world on top of Snoqualmie Pass! It was snowing hard, but we managed to stop to throw snowballs at one another. Then it was back in the car until Ellensburg, my college town. I promised to take her to the best coffee shop ever, D&M. I never would’ve dreamed back when I would study there that one day I’d stop in with my kid. It felt good to appreciate the quaintness of that little town on a snowy afternoon.

 

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And here’s our new girl. Meet Augusta Georgia. Or, as we call her, Gussy.

She’s not named after the location of the famous golf tournament, though they are one in the same. I mean, have you seen me play golf?! Instead, she’s named after the town where I went on my first date in ninth grade, just across the river from where I lived in South Carolina. She’s named after cheerleading, learning to drive, listening to Extreme’s “More Than Words” 50 zillion times, falling in love with “90210,” staying up all night after football games at my friend Shannon’s house, and guzzling gallons of sweet tea. The girls are mad still that I railroaded the entire name situation, but that’s a perk sometimes of being the mom.

 

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I loved this sign. It just felt like a triple-dog-dare.

 

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Snoqualmie Pass is getting way more hip. There is actually more than just a pancake house up there now. I totally recommend pulling off the road for some good beer and really awesome food at Dru Bru and The Pass Life. I am actually considering a family ski trip up there now that this is open – only I refuse to ski again. I just want to go sledding.

That’s what we did with Michelle & her guys. Michelle was my BABYSITTER, you guys! Our step-dads were on the same submarine when we lived in Connecticut, and our moms are still friends. It’s so fun that we each ended up in the PNW, one hour away from one another. We had a blast on the tubing hill, followed by cocoa with Bailey’s.

 

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Awesome pom pom heart, Bon Lemon!

 

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She’s a stunner. And she can shake “hands.” And she likes to sleep draped over my lap on the floor. What can I say? We are in puppy love together.

 

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For years, I have had zero luck locating any Babysitter’s Club books for Annabelle. I loved them in elementary school, so I was so bummed. But, lo and behold, they’re back as graphic novels. I bought Annabelle the first four for Valentine’s Day, and she read them in one day {!!}.

Also, I can now make London Fogs at home. This is thanks in part to stealing Annabelle’s frother and vanilla syrup that Grandma gave her for Christmas. They’ve both busted me on it, but I keep doing it…because y’all know I’m a rebel.

 

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In part I of this post, I mentioned that this year I got the best Christmas present ever. I was not exaggerating. Matt got me a food writing class taught by Molly Wizenberg {Molly! Wizenberg!} up at The Pantry in Ballard. I was so worried I would totally fan-girl it, but I think I did okay. Even when she sat by me the first day. Even when Ashley Rodriguez of Date Night In walked in right before things got started and took a seat. Phew!

Molly gave us some different bits of her favorite food writing pieces to study up on ahead of time. Some were beautiful, others were funny, some just weren’t my bag, but I learned something from each of them. I met ordinary women with extraordinary writing talent. I got called on a few times as the resident English teacher of the group {!!}. I gave Molly an essay that Clementine wrote for her about her podcast. She was delighted and shared it aloud with everyone. I wrote two pieces that I loved and got to share them aloud – something that always terrified me in the past. Now? Not so much.

I left feeling more than ever just so fortunate that I have a tiny little flame that I get to feed within me.

Between classes, Emily and I ate at Essex {and drank!}. And we ate {and drank!} at Le Pichet late in the afternoon and it was magnifique. We walked and walked and got seduced by Anthropologie and that crazy evening winter light at Pike Place. I bought treats every morning at Honore. It was such a gem of a weekend.

 

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My walk to work most mornings this winter has been shrouded in this kind of fog. I’ve loved it. I’ve been listening to one of my favorite Podcasts, The Simple Show, with Tsh Oxenrider lately.  I always learn something new and cool, even when I think I won’t. I am spending a lot of my {rare} quiet moments pondering episodes 20 and 23.

 

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I had my first Moscow Mule! I loved it! It didn’t make Friday come any faster, but for a half an hour it felt like it could.

 

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I am so confused by this poster in my school. How do today’s teenagers know the words to Walk on the Ocean by my boys Toad the Wet Sprocket?! And what year is it? When I walk by this each day, I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone.

 

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This guy was sort of Lloyd Dobler-ing it on Valentine’s morning. Very cool.

 

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These are scenes from a day I claimed as my own over our mid-winter break. After a morning at Whole Foods in Tacoma {I came prepared with my cooler!}, I went to the Grand Cinema to see Spotlight, then grabbed a treat next door at Corina Bakery for the drive home. It’s one of my favorite little outings.

Speaking of Spotlight {reviewed here}, it has stuck with me. I can’t help but remember how badly I wanted to be an investigative reporter when I first got to college. The desire to dig in and do the hard work and tell the world about the stuff they should hear is still very much there, it turns out. It’s just a little thread, but I feel like it’s going to take me somewhere.

 

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Loved this “snow moon.” And I loved that it was not raining so I could actually enjoy it.

 

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I call this my “polka dots on polka dots” outfit. I love it more than I should.

 

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I have the best new para-educator helping me for 1/3 of my work day. She is absolutely perfect at what she does. She has made my professional life much easier. And she made me these kick-ass flowers.

 

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Annabelle’s been devouring her Food Network Magazine each month. She subscribed with her own moolah, and she cooks so much from each issue! Loved these banana split parfaits! {We have had many, many versions of parfaits lately. Thank you, Food Network.}

 

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Mama Nature ain’t messing around, people. Spring. It’s real.

 

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Best idea for dinner after a busy day: antipasto platter. All the odds and ends save the day! So does a glass of wine! It’s not pictured because it was in my hand. Which reminds me: Vito Corleone: “I like to drink wine more than I used to.” Michael Corleone: “That’s okay, Pop. It’s good for you.”

That’s right, Mikey. That’s right.

Drinking wine.

Sometimes it gets me from winter to spring. Almost there. Now go smell some daffodils.

xo, Mrs. Fresh Scratch

this is how it all went, part I.

Fresh Scratch, Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

It’s hard to believe that I broke my leg over two months ago and that the holidays have already came and went. I swear – you blink…and you know the rest.

I’m feeling a good 97% back to normal – last week I put my FitBit back on and started walking to school again. I know. I am practically Wonder Woman for healing up so fast ;).

Here’s what the first part of winter looked like for moi:

 

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Moms, take it from me, having the universe give you a solid week off from everything is equal parts just as amazing as you think it’d be and massively frustrating. It’s hard to be waited on. It’s hard to count on everyone else to do all the things. But, dang, sitting on the couch for a week looking at the Christmas tree and indulging in all your guilty pleasures while everyone else is at school and work? Not gonna lie. It’s a beautiful thing.

And so was getting back to my students. I was so happily surprised by these banners when I got back, along with the TWO MINUTE clap-a-thon from my favorite class: 4th period senior English. I might fail them all so they can’t graduate and have to stay with me forever.

 

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I couldn’t let a little thing like a broken fibula keep me down for long, though. A week after it happened, I was hosting my cousin’s baby “sprinkle” {we called it that so it wouldn’t sound like such a fuss – it was lovely and low-key and had NO GAMES! Yes!} because she is beyond worth it. And isn’t it nice to be the one hosting and the one who is all done giving birth forever?!

Hanukkah fell during my time of being laid-up, too, but we still managed to light the Menorah every night – just sometimes way later than sundown. And I wasn’t up to standing around in the kitchen for long periods of time until after it was over, so I made our big Hanukkah meal between the broken leg and before the stomach flu hit {because, yes, we hadn’t already had enough time lying in front of the Christmas tree being unable to move!}.

 

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And speaking of students, I love it when they come home from college and see me! When I ran into Hannah {first photo} in Trader Joe’s, I totally freaked out. Matt was a little embarrassed. She and Carolina {middle pic} came to Europe with me a couple of years ago and we bonded. Chloe {bottom pic} used to have lavender hair! I just want to put them in my pockets and bring them home with me.

 

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The holiday window at Browsers gave me all the winter vibes. Olympians: buy books at Browsers! It is the best book shop around and truly gives you the book shop experience. Every little thing Andrea does is magic.

 

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This year Annabelle didn’t want me to buy her a pretty Christmas dress. Instead, she wanted an ugly sweater and leggings to match. It will happen, people – they will start to grow up and get their own ideas of what is cool.

Their Christmas concert involved a song about UGLY SWEATERS! And can I tell you that nothing gets me into the spirit faster than kids singing Christmas songs at school?

 

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I drank more than my fair share of rosemary Meyer lemon drops over the holidays. And this Bouche de Noel my in-laws surprised us all with at their Christmas dinner totally flipped me out. I was excited in a very nerdy way. I think these are the coolest, but I’d never eaten one. It was delish, though you almost don’t want to cut into it and mess it up.

 

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When the girls camped out beneath the Christmas tree, I swear Natalie Merchant was singing “These are Days” somewhere very close. It broke my heart in all the best ways. These are the traditions they will talk about when they are big and I am more wrinkled.

 

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With the broken bone, the annual post-Thanksgiving cinnamon roll baking happened Christmas Eve this year. Whew! Just in time. I use PW’s recipe, btw. Works like a charm.

 

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The morning after Christmas we flew away to Maui for a beautiful, quiet week. I pretty much took zero pictures but the ones your see here – my big camera saw absolutely no action. It was glorious.

We’ve been traveling to Maui since our honeymoon – I think this trip marked something like our fifth or 6th time to that particular island together. The first time that we brought Clementine, she was 3 1/2 months old, but this time she was body surfing like nobody’s business and not even afraid when there was a shark sighting by yours truly literally right in front of us. Dang, girl.

Since we’ve been a few times, I wanted to give you the skinny on our favorite spots.

Best Shave Ice: Local Boyz. There’s one in Kihei and one in Lahaina – both are amazing. Get Kaui Cream and mochi balls and vanilla ice cream every time. There’s a fun koi pond in the back of the shopping area at the one in Kihei – we have logged many hours sitting there, eating shave ice.

Best Place to Watch Surfers and See Turtles: the beach just past Mama’s Fish House in Paia. We call it “Jaws,” but I have no idea what it’s really called. I wouldn’t advise swimming in that water unless you want to get thrashed by waves and drown.

Fave Beach: That’d be Po’olenalena. I call it our Boho Grove, as illustrated in the pic above with all our sarongs, etc, hanging off the roots. There’s a dirt parking lot just past all the fancy hotels in Wailea. Pull in. Do not go to the big beach you see before you. Instead, take the trail to the right of that beach, heading to what they call the north beach. Follow it til you get to another beach. This beach itself is awesome. Not a lot of people come there, the sand is a perfect brown, and most people you do see are couples getting married or naked old people. But… walk as far down the beach as you can until you come to some rocks that seem to be the end of the beach. They’re not. Climb over them and you will be rewarded with the best little beach ever. Seriously, we maybe shared it with one other group each day – usually the seven women I called “the bikini crew” whom my husband commented on more than once. If you park it right in the back left corner of the beach against the tall rock wall, you will have shade until 3:30 pm!!! Yes! It was a glorious feeling knowing the only two kids on the beach were my own. Makes it much easier to watch them. And the snorkeling out to the rocks on the right? Phenomenal. Tons of turtles. Watch for Tiger Sharks. First hand experience, yo.

Best Shopping: Sales abound at the GAP and Banana Republic at the Shops at Wailea. Massive, crazy deals on winter clothing every time.

Fave Restaurant: While we love our old standby of Maui Taco, we were blown away by the rad fusion cuisine we had at Star Noodle in Lahaina. Wow. Get a reservation or else be prepared to wait an hour in their parking lot. We took the girls, and even they loved it. I recommend trying a bit of everything and just sharing it all, especially the bacon and eggs, the pork buns, and the malasadas. Oh, and get a lychee martini because you know you want to. You won’t be disappointed at all!

So that’s how my holidays all went down. In Part II, I’m going to tell you about the best dang Christmas gift this girl has ever gotten! But that’s going to be next time, as y’all have got to be in need of a break from me at this point, if you’ve made it this far…

xoxo,

mrs. fresh scratch