an equation

An extra day off work +
cleaning the kitchen +
cleaning the bathroom +
doing the laundry +
vacuuming +
cleaning the fridge +
a clean dishwasher +
mopping +
folding the laundry +
packing +
six episodes of Gilmore Girls =
the perfect preparation for a vacation in Colorado.

Now that is my kind of math.


a high price

This morning when I put on the cutest shoes I've ever owned, I didn't realize that my work day would be a perfect storm of craziness that would involve countless trips up and down stairs carrying boxes full of unmatched Nikes.

I think I bruised the balls of my feet. I'll probably still limp a little tomorrow morning.

And yet that patent-leather ruffle gets me every time. Every. single. time.


domestic battles

One of the things I most love about post–college graduation and marriage is the time I have to cultivate domesticity. I love wearing aprons and baking and sewing and decorating. We know this.

Lately, however, domesticity has been giving me a run for my money. I've had a few successes, but I have also lost several battles. Please review the following case studies.

01. The grease-stained shirt, possible points: 1
I bought a new taupe shirt from DownEast Basics, and I was really excited about it. I've been needing new basics, and this was perfect. My first time wearing it I was cooking pork chops and butter splattered from the pan onto my brand new shirt (lesson: always wear an apron). I washed it right away (like, I left the pork chops in the pan as I stripped through the kitchen to get my shirt in the wash), but the stains remained. After I tried Mom's suggestion to treat the stains with dish detergent, I ended up washing the shirt about five more times before the stains came out. But, they came out. In fact, I'm wearing the shirt today. Success.

02. The wraparound skirt, possible points: 2
Mom directed me to this really cute wraparound skirt pattern that was advertised as a one-hour project. I found the perfect fabric and, after a trip back to get more fabric after a cutting mishap, I went to town. I learned to hand-hem, because I don't like the blind-hem stitch on my machine. Using a dress Mom made me as a reference, I taught myself how to hem by hand, I was very pleased with the results. Success.

Then I set out Saturday night to finish it, and the waistband was completely backwards. The skirt ended up even less finished than when I started working on it. (One-hour project? False.) Failure.

03. The Boston Cream Pie, possible points, 4 (because ganache counts as 2, obviously)
The first thing I said to Josh as we got in the car to go home: "I hate the cake." I don't even think I'll save the leftovers.

Part A. The cake
I don't even want to talk about it. But I do, because I'm so mad. I looked up a sponge cake recipe from Cook's Illustrated, because how can they lead you astray, right? The cake turned out tough and holey. Cakes elude me, readers, and I really wish I could figure them out. Whenever I make them, they don't rise very high, and sometimes—like in this case—they actively seek to do me in. Failure.

Part B. The custard
This part worked out fine. I like making custard, and so far, it's never let me down. If you can't find me, chances are I'm watching Gilmore Girls and eating the leftover custard by the spoonful to drown the rest of my Boston Cream Pie failures. Success.

Part C. The ganache
Don't even get me started. I think this counts as negative two points actually. Every single time I've made ganache it turns out thick and smooth and delicious. This time it was runny and grainy. I couldn't even look at it. Failure.

Final tally: Domesticity— 4; Me—3

So maybe I'm not losing by as much as I thought I was. Domesticity is sometimes elusive, I've learned. And when I get frustrated I have to remind myself that my mom and grandma have had years and years more of domestic experience than I've had. And really, catching up to domesticity shouldn't be so hard when I'm only one point behind.

Wish me luck. And maybe volunteer to clean up the Boston Cream Pie that I'm ready to smash on the ground. Thanks.


Friday five

:: I have a nasty bruise on my leg that's preventing me from wearing shorts or skirts. Seriously guys, it's been almost two weeks since I've felt confident in wearing shin-bearing apparel. I wore a skirt the other day and had a few comments about my gross bruise. I've reverted back to jeans until my leg no longer resembles a photo of the cosmos.

:: Sherlock. We found it on Netflix and are huge fans. It's a 21st-century take on the quintessential detective, and I find it delightful. Each season is only three episodes long, but each episode is 90 minutes. I read that BBC is airing another season in the fall. I'll be watching. Obviously.

:: I still haven't folded the laundry. And once I finally get that done it'll probably take me another whole week to actually put it away. And then I'll have to wash the dirty clothes, and the cycle starts over.

:: Colorado. Next week. Can't wait.

:: Floating shoes. In our office. If you've wondered what we actually do here, we do stuff like this. {Well, what I actually do is sign for packages and refill the Coca-Cola.}

Happy Friday, everyone, and let's hope that traffic on the way home isn't the worst. Because, honestly, come week's end, my patience for bad traffic and late buses is less than zero.



Somewhere along the way I've lost summer. And I really want to find it. I remember summers full of pool days and tag outside and afternoon popsicles. I remember the mosquito bites, the neighborhood bike rides, and the reading challenges at the library. I remember the barbecue parties and shopping for new sandals each year.

Somewhere, though, I lost it; as I grew up I imperceptibly disconnected myself from the magic of it all. I started working summers, my summer days being defined by how much money I have to earn for the next school year. I'd spend all day in an air conditioned office sorting invoices or, in the case of last summer, writing magazine articles. I'd get bursts of summer when I'd leave work for the day and walk out into searing July heat or eat burgers on the grill at Grandma's.

I don't know why I let summer slip away from me. Now here I am in 2011, the day after the first day of summer, wondering how to make summer summer again.

My goal this summer is simple: find it.



I brought in the leftover apple donut muffins to snack on this morning. There used to be six before I took that picture. Now there are zero.


always the dad

One of the hardest moments on my wedding day was saying goodbye to my dad as we left the reception. I think I rushed it so that no one would see my bittersweet tears welling (because who wants to see the bride cry as she leaves the party, right?).

He's always been the dad, and I was afraid that getting married would somehow change that.

But it didn't. Not at all. I'm still his little Charlotte, and he's still the dad. I still need him, and I always will. He'll always be the dad, and I love that. Happy Father's Day, Dad. I love being your daughter.


those days

You know those days when you wake up and already have a bad-itude? Those days when you're discouraged by the lame-o economy? Those days when you're overwhelmed by uncertainty? Those days when all you feel up to doing is DPAD (drinking Pepsi all day) and watching a trusted TV show? Those days when you can't stand another zit on your face?

I was having one of those days.

I've spent much of my day in a royal funk, counting the hours until I check out of here for my weekend. I don't know exactly what changed; I talked to Josh on the phone for a few minutes, we hashed out our weekend a bit, and I just felt better.

I mean, not 100-percent better. There's a lingering funk here. But it's not as funky as it was.

Here's to the weekend, readers.


a coast post

We made our way to Jeff and Karen's Saturday morning and packed up the car to head to Cannon Beach. Josh's grandparents were also along for the weekend, and this trip coincided perfectly with Karen's birthday celebration! After stops at the outlet mall and Quizno's for lunch, we were on our way to the Oregon coast, and I couldn't have been more excited.

When we arrived we unpacked and promptly made our way down to the beach to enjoy the clear sky and 70-something-degree weather. (We stayed in Josh's aunt and uncle's beachfront property, so the beach was a three-minute walk away!)

While I walked around barefoot and took pictures and dozed and read my book, Josh spent three full hours flying a kite.

I found this display of boyishness completely invigorating.

That night we all went to Mo's for dinner. Josh requested some crayons so he could enjoy the kids' place mat he'd also requested.

The sun stayed out until 9:00 or 9:30, and we all stopped what we were doing to watch the sunset. Then we ate birthday cake. Obviously. (I can't believe I forgot to get a picture of the chocolate angel food cake I made for the occasion.)

Sunday morning we walked along the beach for a hour or so and this time enjoyed a chillier, cloudy coast.

What I loved most about this coast is that it reminds me strikingly of the mountains. The Oregon coast is just that—a coast. Not a beach. You don't find boardwalks, bikinis, or Sno-Cone machines here. Instead you find washed up kelp, driftwood, and sea-smoothed rocks.

The constant ebbing of the tides and the slate gray ocean expanse contrast beautifully with rocky cliffs and forest. It's so wild. It's that wildness that reminds me so vividly of the Rocky Mountains. The briny air is clear and crisp and cleansing. We saw whale spouts, seals flipping out of the water, and faraway fishing boats.

On our walk Sunday morning, I made my way to some mussel-covered rocks hiding pools of anemones. At one point I stared transfixed at the tidal dynamics directing the water crashing on the rocks. I felt suspended in the liminality between what's familiar and all that I don't know. I felt removed from my comfort zone and placed on the edge of untamed, beautiful, wild nature.

We finished up the weekend with napping, movies, card games, and more birthday cake. The Oregon coast is one of my new favorite places, and I'm pretty sure that we'll be planning many more coastal excursions.


12 of 12: june 2011

01. Reading in bed
02. Josh and his walking stick (that he brought home he loves it so much) heading down to the beach
03. Mussel-covered rocks
04. Karen seeing if she can rock climb the beach rock
05. Exploring the other end of the beach
06. Pirate's Booty—like tasty Styrofoam peanuts
07. Card games
08. Fantastic Mr. Fox—delightful movie
09. No wind for stunt-kite flying
10. Diet Dr. Pepper—a road trip necessity
11. Post-beach laundry
12. Cereal for dinner

I loved being on a mini-vacation for my 12of12 this month! I'll be posting a more thorough recap of our weekend tomorrow. I took so many pictures my camera contemplating explosion. 

I'm linking up here, if you'd like to play along!



My mind is pretty much all over the place today. I credit that to Friday. My focusing abilities are pretty much zero. I'm having a hard time even deciding what to post in my un-focused list.

:: I got mail this week from one of my all-time favorites, Sister Katelyn Schwanke. She's been on her mission for about a year now. I miss her terribly, and I'm so inspired by her love and dedication to her calling. Getting mail from her is one of my favorite, favorite things.

:: I see this cooler all day everyday. And sometimes it's really hard not to drink a million Coke Zeros.

:: We're going to the coast this weekend, and I am seriously stoked. This will be my first time to the Oregon coast, and I've heard nothing but wonderful things about it.
:: The biggest fringe benefit of heading to the coast? Not having to teach a Primary lesson.
:: I have lots of pregnant friends (plus more who don't blog and aren't linked), and it's entirely wonderful.
:: We've had lots of flies around the office lately, including a swarm of flies in our doorway. I have a serious fear of accidentally swallowing one.
:: Can you believe it's already June 10? I hardly can.

:: I found a documentary on Netflix streaming about Helvetica. Yes, the font. Seriously, guys, I'm super excited to watch this.

So, this weekend, I'll go to the Oregon coast and you can meet me there. Okay? Okay.

And don't forget—Sunday is the 12th. We all know what that means. Can't wait to see your grids!


right now

:: sore backs
:: Icy-Hot
:: even some Percocet
:: heated rice pack
:: homemade spaghetti
:: sundress
:: the library
:: maybe a library bike ride
:: clean laundry
:: crowded fridge
:: giveaway entries
:: breeze
:: angel food cake pan


so, I bought a bike

The last time I owned a bike I was ten. On top of that I can't remember the last time I even rode a bike. But I bought one.

And really, how could I not when it came in such a perfect orange?

So we picked it up on Saturday in Jeff and Karen's Explorer. Then when we got back into Wilsonville, we decided to ride our bikes back home instead of having someone drop us off.

It had been a very long time since I'd ridden a bike. Like, really. And so I thought that when my legs had to work so hard to pedal that the burning muscle in my thighs was just manifestation of my out-of-shapeness (despite my workout dates with Jillian). So I kept pedaling (most of the time in the lowest gear), lagging behind Josh as we took the back way home.

Soon I had to stop every couple of minutes to catch my breath, because I was heaving so bad. And by then I was feeling stupid. In the extreme. My thoughts went something like, Who was I kidding when I said I could ride a bike? I'm probably the biggest wimp in the world! Let's just return the damn bike! Is this entire ride uphill? And I ended up crying. All my dreams of biking to and from the library all summer were fast disappearing.

Josh was kind and stopped when I needed to and waited while I caught my breath and summoned almost nonexistent strength to keep going. He kept giving me pep talks the closer we got to home and reminded me that we were coming up on the final leg, which was largely downhill. He stopped me, though, when he realized that I was having to pedal downhill. Need to reread that? I had to pedal downhill.

And here's the thing: it had been so long since I'd ridden a bike that the possibility of something being wrong with the bike didn't occur to me. It turned out that one of the break tubes was stuck under the front reflector. So I'd been riding the whole time with my front wheel fully braked. At that moment I would have laughed if I hadn't still been crying. Don't worry, though—I laughed later. Lots of laughing. You can laugh too, if you hadn't started laughing three paragraphs ago.

And really, the last half mile home was a breeze. Because, you know, I wasn't pedaling a bike that should have been stopped.

Wondering how to recover from such an inaugural ride? Shower, put on stretchy pants, and laugh about it over and over while eating a brownie–ice cream sundae.


a summery saturday

Saturday had an 80-degree forecast. So we planned a full day outside. Obviously.

Portland Saturday Market and food carts.

Street performers.

The waterfront.

Brownie blast ice cream.

The Japanese gardens.

Bonsai trees.

Lots of lovely, outside, sun time with Josh and Jeff and Karen and Ian and Marie. (Contrary to how I look in this picture, I am not with child.)

Summer has arrived!

You know, for now.

Next up: Inaugurating the new orange bicycle.


Operation Superhuman Reader: May 2011

May was a big reading month for me! I just get giddy when I think about all the books there are to read.

To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I hadn't read this book since high school, and I felt it was time for a re-read. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite coming-of-age stories ever. It's hard to write this review, because I feel like I'm still digesting it (even though I've read two times before). I want to talk about Atticus, Aunt Alexandra, Mrs. DuBose, the Ewells, Tom Robinson, Scout, Jem, and Boo Radley. Anything I write here, though, would likely be disconnected and loaded with disorganized emotion. So you'll just have to read it yourself, if you've managed to get through the public school system without studying it already. And even if you did read this in school, read it again. Just do it.

The HelpThe Help by Kathryn Stockett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love a good Southern novel. This has been on my to-read list for almost two years, and I'm so glad I finally picked it up. I loved the history aspect, and I loved how real the characters became to me. I loved how attached I became to even the peripheral characters. I loved the emotions I felt while reading, and I loved the ultimate message that even though we may think we're too different from others, we share so many more things in our human experience than we realize. In so many different ways we all experience love, disappointment, pain, triumph, fulfillment, anger, and it's in that way that we're unique as individuals and united as people. If you're looking for a down-to-earth, compelling Southern novel, you've found it.

Unbearable LightnessUnbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I finished this book as fast as I did not because it was so compelling but rather because I wanted it to be over. De Rossi's detailed account of her years battling an eating disorder introduced me to a dark world. We all have moments when we feel bad about how we look, and I found that I related to some of de Rossi's sentiments, a connection that scared me because of how destructive those mentalities proved in Portia's own life. I felt weighed down reading about the self-loathing and destruction and simultaneously grateful that I have never experienced such intense self-hatred. Her self-acceptance in the end is undoubtedly redemptive, and I liked her approach to healthy and mindful eating. Given, however, the depth of pain and darkness recounted in this book, I wish that her recovery had been more thoroughly explored.

What's Up Down There?: Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best FriendWhat's Up Down There?: Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend by Lissa Rankin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I stumbled on this book a while ago and was intrigued. I thought Yeah, I'd love to have some questions answered! The author takes a candid, frank, entertaining, and comfortable approach to all things potentially uncomfortable. I came away from this book not only feeling normal, I came away feeling better about my body, convinced that it's beautiful just the way it is.

Water for ElephantsWater for Elephants by Sara Gruen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Firstly, circuses kind of freak me out. I wanted to like the characters more than I did, and I wanted to care more about what happened to them. I was interested enough in them to finish, but I didn't really care about them. I enjoyed the twists at the end, and Jacob's elderly self was endearing in a crotchety way. The writing quality didn't stand out to me and was sometimes unnecessarily sexual. Okay writing, okay plot. I wish I liked it either more or less so I'd have a decided opinion. But I don't.

TallgrassTallgrass by Sandra Dallas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tallgrass was published four years ago, and I'm surprised that I didn't stumble on it before now; Sandra Dallas is always a good read. I enjoyed the time period of this story and have always found our nation's history with Japanese internment camps fascinating and very sad. I loved the protagonists, who all dealt with issues like rape, murder, and bigotry with dignity and grit. Even amidst intense hate and abuse, the characters in this book can love and move forward. Tallgrass emphasized that even if being a good person isn't easy, it makes you strong, and even though life gets hard, things will work out. I love that.

I Still Dream About YouI Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is a light, easy read that didn't change my life. And sometimes, it's nice to read a book that doesn't change your life. The characters were likeable and the plot simple. I found some aspects unbelievable, but I could let those reservations go in lieu of everything working out exactly as it should. It's nice to read a book that ends up in a perfect happily-ever-after way. Sometimes, that's just the kind of book you need.

View all my reviews


difference of opinion

The weather is a little unsure of what season it's supposed to be.

My color combo today, however, is fully aware that we are supposed to be entering summer.



loving on nonfiction

Remember my nonfiction realization back in 2009? I had never been taught to appreciate nonfiction as cultural or literary. Since graduating, though, I've gravitated more toward nonfiction media, and I'm liking this extension in my media choices.

I've read more nonfiction books like this one, this one, and this one, and I am currently in the middle of this one. Josh and I love to watch earth-based documentary series together like Planet Earth and Blue Planet. We've learned about the different ecosystems in our oceans and recently watched a fascinating documentary on the colossal squid and the squid invasion in our oceans.

And to top off all that nonfiction my friend Laura recently introduced me to some delightful podcasts, my favorite being Stuff You Should Know. Thanks to the delightfully engaging hosts, Josh and Chuck, just in the past two weeks I've learned about grassoline, lame duck presidents, altruism, Nazi war criminals, sympathy pregnancy, antibacterial soap, human survival biology, crime-scene clean-up, crime-scene photography, how mirrors work, octopuses (yes, octopuses), tone deafness, jealousy, innovation, kissing, migraines, the mystery surrounding Amelia Erhart, homelessness, acupuncture, volcanoes, the world's deadliest animal, fossils, igloos, traffic, Munchausen Syndrome, the Scooby-Doo phenomenon, tickling, and decapitation.

After college graduation I used to wonder if I'd seek out learning anymore. I mean, it was handed to me for almost 20 years, and whenever I was on break, I vegged and indulged in all things fiction. I can't tell you how glad I am to know that just because I'm not in school that doesn't mean that my brain shuts down. I am just loving nonfiction media right now. For all of you who think that learning has to stop after school, you are oh so very wrong. And you should be glad to be wrong. So, so glad.
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