Back from Europe | Ramblings from Our First Day Home

After a month away, we got home late last night. This morning we’re already back to our regular routine. Funny how being away makes coming home fun, too. Making coffee and breakfast in our kitchen, playing morning Jeopardy, getting back on our bikes, and walking and jogging our same ol’ routes. It all seems extra special today. I’m grateful to be home after the flight, but I’m also not quite ready to let go of our trip. Really, I have so much to share with you guys! We did one of those whirlwind style Czech Republic-to-Spain trips that people either seem to love or hate the idea of. You already know on which side I fall.

DSC_0595

I kid you not, I am doing my best to journal the trip. I counted 86 handwritten moleskin (What? Don’t roll your eyes. Moleskin notebooks make me happy) pages and I still have a week of back-journaling that I committed to finish up in the next day or two. These doesn’t include any of my recipe notes, my art gallery and museum notes, or our hand-drawn maps.

vienna wine garden

I know that one month of vacation is supposed to make people feel relaxed. Jet lag and stiff airplane neck aside, I do feel disconnected from the weight of all the things that were unnecessarily stressing me out before we left. I feel I’ve been gone a long time. Long enough to forget what work felt like. Long enough to feel that I was really gone.

churros y chocolate

I feel like I have a renewed perspective, but I feel far from relaxed. Not because our trip was ambitious in the amount of geography covered and the number of stops. Not because traveling is always a little bit of work (Jordan is sooo over hearing me reference the etymology of the word travel).

I’m not relaxed. Instead, I’m so freakin’ inspired. My brain has been thrown into curiosity overdrive.

I came home with no fewer than nine books (mostly used 2 Euro paperbacks, but I’m still thrilled), and that was showing a lot of restraint on my part, I swear.

books french france

I ate new pastries, learned the history of chocolate-making in Bayonne, and learned where to eat the best Czech heritage beef cuts in the city of Prague.

trdlnek Czech spiral sugar pastry

I sat in on a Vivaldi, Dvorak, and Smetana concert in a Baroque hall, sipped champagne on the balcony of an opera house during the intermission, and visited Baroque libraries.

monastery library prague

I scouted markets for the best deals on truffle products and produce and I discovered new foods and experimented with them in the kitchen[s of others].

florence meal food cooking

I sipped new wines, learned the names of new-to-me varietals from several wine regions; I learned to distinguish a quality pilsner from those others. I navigated narrow city streets, changing the location twice a week or more.

le panier marseille streets france

I had frequent dates with this guy in coffeehouses, tapas bars, and bookshops. I maybe forced him to listen to my faux-Freud/Jung theory discussion in Vienna.

DSC_0998

I filled up on that art of the Renaissance masters, freaked out at the art of Alfons Mucha and Gustav Klimt, filled pages of notes about other artists I’d not known before.

thyssen museum madrid art gallery

We got to visit the home of our friend and see her parents’ place, which means I got a sauna/natural pool experience, we ate the home cooking of a German/Italian cook, and we hopped a ferry across Lago Maggiore.

DSC_0631

We marvelled at the crazy architecture of the Guggenheim in Bilbao and figured out the pintxo system in both the touristy and non-touristy parts of Donostia.

pintxos food molecular gastronomy spain basque

I reactivated my French, learned important phrases in Euskara from native speakers, used my podcast-learned Italian for the first time in the real world, mastered three words in Czech while consistently failing at the others, and reacquainted myself with the Spanish accent.

bayonne

I learned bits of the history of the Slavic people, finally learned to distinguish my Bourbons from my Habsburgs, saw Galileo’s fingers (for real!), and toured historic cathedrals and synagogues.

notre dame de la garde marseille

There was so much packed into those 30 days. So, no, after my month of vacation (Jordan’s month of workation), neither of us are quite relaxed. My mind is reeling.

And if you want to know the honest-to-God worst of it, I have a post-trip action plan/to do list. Some goals are easy, like buying two egg cups and making soft-boiled eggs for breakfast. Some are a bit tougher, like reading all of those classics I bought. Some are even longer term; I hope to actually pick that German back up someday. Some are silly; some are serious. Some will happen; some likely will not, even though I want them to. And that’s okay. I’m still going to try, and I’m still going to milk the trip for all its worth via my silly action plan.

I feel very fortunate.  Our trip was not relaxing, but it was so, so worth it.

DSC_0142

See you in the next few weeks with many posts about the trip. Thanks for reading!

Una Settimana Italiana | My Italian Week at Home

1910390_507352755016_2662_nA full decade ago (ahh!), I was in Italy for a total of four full days, two in Rome and two in Venice. We saw the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museum, the Roman Forum, rode a gondola, and gazed at the mosaics in the Basilica of San Marco all in that amount of time. It was probably too much, but at the time I thought that I might not ever have another opportunity to travel back to Europe and I wanted to see all the sights that I could. And no matter how rushed you are, the moment you climb that hill and see the Roman Forum is a moment you aren’t likely to forget.

Food, on the other hand, wasn’t really anything that interested me at the time. This is lucky, actually, because I left Europe with -7USD to my name, plus an overdraft fee. We survived by eating only street pizza and gelato. Not that either of us were complaining about the quality of those, either.

Now, I’m, well, a more curious eater than I was during our university years, to put it lightly. I’m also happy to have found people who don’t see my food interests as out of the ordinary and instead encourage me to learn even more.

Last week, my social life, my work life, my book club life, and my own personal reading life all collided into this ball of Italian food and culture. Really, I didn’t plan it that way.

On my own, I’ve been listening to a few Coffee Break Italian podcasts to prep for our trip. I finally read My Brilliant Friend for book club; I indulged in the light read of Under the Tuscan Sun. Our book club cooked accordingly, making for a night of delicious Naples-themed food. Then, I got to tag along as a server/assistant for an Italian cooking class through work.

DSC_1030

spaghetti with chilis and garlic DSC_1056 DSC_1057 DSC_1064

oxtail with vegetable italian style

I had a serious amount of fun for it being “work”. I sipped some wines, all of which were new to me, ate provolone and anchovy crostini, artichokes, endives, spaghetti, oxtail, and chestnut ice cream. All in the same night. And all while hanging out with some of my favorite peeps.

DSC_1072 DSC_1079

A couple days later, our friend hosted a dinner party (she also happens to be in my book club, woot!)–Italian themed as well. The weather was wonderful, and she has the perfect yard for al fresco dinner parties. As soon as I saw the tables in the backyard, I was thankful to have remembered my camera for the day. Even still, part way through meal, I failed as a photographer, simply eating my secondo (main), contorno (side), dolce (dessert), and digestivo without taking a single photo. That’s right, folks. You only see our starters and our first course below.

DSC_1081 DSC_1082 DSC_1083 DSC_1084 DSC_1086 DSC_1087 spaghetti outdoor dining DSC_1089 DSC_1091 DSC_1092

What a great week! All of the events, meals, books, and discussions made for a full, fun, and inspiring week. And it’s whet my intellectual and actual appetite for our upcoming actual Italian week.

I wish you all a happy week, Italian or otherwise 🙂

 

The 2-Year Nomad | On the Move in 2016

Two years ago, we had an epic year. I wrote this post to explain that we were going on a camping trip of Gaspesie, going to explore the great state of Wisconsin for one month, go on my South Dakota safari at Jordan’s parents’ place, “move” to northern Argentina for three months and use it as a base for exploration, and finally move to Vancouver (the post in which a person told me that blind dates aren’t scary, but my style of writing is, ha). We even ended up spending nearly two weeks in California at the end of the year. Compared to many, I know it’s peanuts. But for me, it’s the kind of whirlwind six months that makes me energized about life and reminds me how much I have/want to learn about this planet!

parc national de la gaspesie mont jacques cartier

4th of july meal wisconsin

san luis argentina hike

lost coast trinidad california

And then, somewhere along the line, Vancouver started to feel a little bit like home, just as Montreal had before the previous whirlwind. We’ve found “our” spots, created our routines and found our favorite activities.

vancouver harbor

But alas, our time in Vancouver is now coming to an end.

Though we’ve been told never to mention deadlines to PhD students/candidates, one has been set. Jordan has accepted a job offer, and therefore needed to set a clear submission deadline for his dissertation. This, naturally, has set things into motion again.

Backing up a bit, though, we we’re making some plans even before our next official life step came into being.

At the end of this week, we’re boarding a plane to Prague. (Eek!) Jordan is attending a conference for the first week, but post-conference, we’ll be continuing on for three more weeks on the Continent, flying out of Madrid. For him, it’s still a working vacation, as he plans to spend quite a bit of time writing, editing, and analyzing, and even has a couple meetings set up. But hey, that’s what cafes and cute Airbnb stops are for, right?

heart coffee portland

Me? I’m planning to hit up the markets, cook with what I find in the evenings, and soak in as much architecture and art as possible.

knoxville.farmers.market

After returning, we’ll have just over another month in Vancouver to soak in all of the great summer days this city has to offer. People, I know you think that it’s only rain in Vancouver all the time. I’m not sure how this city gets away with that reputation when the summers are as nice as they are.

vancouver seawall

Mid-July, we’re shipping out to Puerto Rico for Jordan’s sister’s wedding for a week and a half, splitting our time between Old San Juan and Vieques, a smaller island not far from the main island. We’re very much looking forward to seeing everyone while there and sneaking in a bit of snorkeling!

caracas beach vieques

Then, we return to Vancouver for one final month or two, until Jordan submits that final draft sometime in August.

Here’s where Jordan’s new supervisor is already gaining points with me 🙂 He wouldn’t even let Jordan start right away, but instead told him he had to at least take a few weeks before starting. And so we’re going to Asia. The details are still very uncertain at this point, but we know we’re going to China, and probably Vietnam and Indonesia, depending upon time.

Chinese Lanterns at Shop

Finally, Jordan will head back stateside and start that job in October. I’ll hang out somewhere until he returns to meet me for another conference in Beijing. Together, we’ll return to the next place we’ll call home, the great city of Boston, just before the start of November.

For the first time in a few moves, we’re moving to a city that both of us have actually visited before, which is a nice feeling.

boston lobster

Thinking about the year we have coming up, I alternate between freak outs of bliss and freak outs brought on by the logistical nightmares we’ll have to try and tackle. It’ll be quite a ride. I’m thankful for all of our opportunities to come, sadder than I thought I’d be to leave Vancouver (how does that happen each and every time we leave a place??), and very much looking forward to having photos are stories to e-journal here for you.

Thanks for reading and thanks for following along through all of life’s surprises.

south and central american road trip

Mount Tacoma | 2 Days in Mount Rainier National Park

Just looking through the photos for this post is making me want to go back pretty badly. The worst part? I know that we have a busy summer ahead of us and probably won’t make this happen. I feel I need to admit to myself that Mount Tacoma (Mt. Rainier) and I were just a summer fling. There could have been something great between us, but we both knew we were moving in different directions (okay, Mount Tacoma isn’t exactly leaving). I’m really, really glad we met, and our time together really was great.

mount tacoma/mount rainier

Like I’ve said, I really did love/thoroughly enjoy/do highly recommend all the other parts of the road trip that we took last August, including our Portland, Hood River, and Bend time and our Oregon Coast time. But the two days that we spent in Mt Rainier National Park easily win.

mount tacoma/mount rainier

We had the most gorgeous day for our “long” hike, as you’ll see in the photos. After eight days of campfire bans in state parks, the two nights/mornings with campfires seemed entirely too fun. Camping mid-week meant we even got to enjoy a ranger-led storytelling program, something that we haven’t done before. Everything about these two days was perfect within our little worlds.

mount tacoma/mount rainier

Our hike, the ever-popular and easily accessible Skyline Trail, might be on the beaten path, but was nevertheless lovely. So lovely, in fact, that it actually brought me to tears at one point. I just had to cry at how beautiful everything was and how happy I was in that moment. I know you’re assuming I’m a softy right now, and you’re maybe not entirely wrong, but this sort of thing doesn’t happen that often to me. Clear little streams with tiny wildflowers in the foreground and that towering, glacier-covered Mount Tacoma in the background. It’s hard not to feel blessed beyond measure when you’re placed in this setting. (I didn’t ask the twelve-year-olds who were forced to hike this with their parents, ha).

Ay, okay, I’ll stop my blabbing and leave you with our photos for a bit.

skyline trail, mount rainier national park, mount tacoma

skyline hike mt tacoma/mt rainier national park

skyline hike mt tacoma/mt rainier national park

skyline hike mt tacoma/mt rainier national park

skyline hike mt tacoma/mt rainier national park

As you’ll notice, I look like a gomer person who is actually hiking while we’re hiking. Have you read this article about beauty/travel yet? And yep, I guess I do post photos of myself relatively often, huh?

Mount Tacoma | 2 Days in Mount Rainier National Park

skyline hike mt tacoma mt rainier

skyline hike mt tacoma mt rainier

skyline hike mt tacoma mt rainier

skyline hike mt tacoma mt rainier

skyline hike mt tacoma mt rainier

skyline hike mt tacoma mt rainier

skyline hike mt tacoma mt rainier

skyline hike mt tacoma mt rainier

skyline hike mt tacoma mt rainier

skyline hike mt tacoma mt rainier

skyline hike mt tacoma mt rainier

After hike one, we spent some time stopping at overviews, visiting waterfalls, and reading at the campsite before prepping our last campsite meal for the trip.

waterfall near mt tacoma

campsite food mt tacoma mt rainier

Like I said, I know that for the foreseeable future there will be no more Mount Tacoma in my life. But golly, even the thought of being able to return later in life makes me giddy. (I do seriously hope that there are glaciers galore remaining). Until we meet again…

skyline hike mt tacoma mt rainier

 

 

Camping the Oregon Coast Part | Sand Dunes, Rolling Waves, and Lots of Seafood

oregon coast short hikeSometimes I’m still awed at how new places can still feel so wonderful and make me feel so small, particularly after I have researched the places I am visiting in depth during the planning stages. I love poring over photos; planning is fun, and neither of these take the wonder out of the actual travel for me. Ahh, vacation, I miss you.

I loved our time in Portland, Hood River, and Bend. But because of forest fires, voracious hunger interest in eating as many things in Portland as possible, and wanting to simply enjoy the company of Leah without rushing around, we didn’t hike too much, even though we spent plenty of time outdoors around campsites and picnic tables.

After leaving Bend and reaching the coast, our trip seemed to open up a little, allowing more time for hikes, morning beach coffee and even beach yoga! Yeah, I know, I’m totally that person you saw while on your vacation.

oregon covered bridge

Our first stop was near Florence, Oregon. We stayed in Jessie M Honeyman Memorial State Park. The campgrounds here are large, and while that means your campsite might not be completely isolated, we still really enjoyed it and found a nice site easily. Trees that large between your site and your neighbors’ tend to help.

campsite and tent

coffeemaker on campsite stove

Our first “real” hike of the trip was the delightful John Dellenbeck Dunes Trail. I still, for the life of me, cannot figure out how there was no one hiking this but us. Well, on the way back, we did see one other hiker, but the dunes were spectacular, and we had the ocean all to our selves at the midway point. For a girl who has never been to the world’s great deserts, I was enamored. If I had known what was in store, I might have packed some Moroccan tea, desserts, and had a real, proper desert picnic. 🙂

The trail starts out as pretty unassuming. You’re still on dunes from the get go, but the vegetation has grown in.

John dellenbeck trail

Then, you reach the expanse.

John Dellenback Dunes Trail Oregon

And it gets just a little more surreal.

John Dellenback Dunes Trail Oregon

John Dellenback Dunes Trail Oregon

John Dellenback Dunes Trail Oregon

John Dellenback Dunes Trail Oregon

sand dunes

plant in sand

man walking on sand dunes trail

Then you reach vegetation again.

vine tunnel on sand dunes

Here’s that ocean we had to ourselves.

John Dellenback Dunes Trail Oregon

At this point, we snacked, watched birds, and read for a bit before heading back. The afternoon winds had picked up, making it harder to see the tracks we’d left in the morning. Thankfully, the trail is marked with posts throughout, so our return trip didn’t end with getting lost in the dunes. As I said, for someone who hasn’t had much desert exposure, this hike felt otherworldly. Loved it!

From here, we hiked and camped our way up the coast, stopping at bakeries, craft breweries, and all roadside attractions. We hiked short stints at Cape Kiwanda, Cape Lookout State Park, and Cape Meares. We saw the Haystack Rock plus a couple other haystack rocks. We stopped for seafood lunches and made purchases at fish shops for campfire/campsite meals. Every lookout seemed to be a must-stop. And it was hard to put the camera away…

oregon coast

oregon coast

oregon coast camping trip

oregon coast camping trip

oregon coast camping trip

oregon coast camping trip

oregon coast camping trip

oregon coast camping trip

oregon coast camping trip

oregon coast camping trip

oregon coast camping trip

oregon coast camping trip

oregon coast camping trip

oregon coast camping trip

oregon coast camping trip

We all have hiking skirts, right?

oregon coast camping trip meals

oregon coast camping trip

oregon coast camping trip

oregon coast camping trip

oregon coast camping trip

bird with baby birds

oregon coast camping trip

oregon coast camping trip crabcakes

berries in pancakes

oregon coast camping trip buoy brewing

oregon coast camping trip mate at beach

After a few days of coastal living, we wandered back inland. We didn’t reach our last stop of the trip until just after sunset, so we were surprised in the morning to see this giant waiting for us.

mount rainier mount tacoma

But I’ll save this beauty for another post. As always, thanks for reading.

*******

Here’s a list of the places we visited along the way and would recommend to others for camping, eating, imbibing, or stocking up on interesting foodstuffs.

Camping

Restaurants/good places to buy fun food

Stops for Beer Pilgrims

Biscuits, Breeze, and Brews | A Trip to Portland, Hood River, and Bend

For months I was certain I was going to stop blogging. I was planning to just let it disappear into the web oblivion. My computer had crashed, and I thought I’d–at least temporarily–lost my motivation for blogging. I wasn’t really sure why I was doing it. Sure, I like to have a webspace to track my learning, but I could do that off-blog too.

Portland Guest House

Then a friend asked me about Sevilla and I was able to easily look up our photos from any computer. And then Jordan and I wondered what we were doing for his 30th birthday and we could track it down. And then someone asked me about my home state and I was easily able to share snippets from home by accessing the blog. Friend 1 convinced me I should renew, just in case I wasn’t 100% sure I wanted to stop blogging.

And somewhere along the line, although I am still computerless, I decided while I like sharing about excursions but feel a bit sheepish about doing so, I do like having an accessible digital travel and learning journal 🙂

So I’m back. And sharing about our trips and excursions from last year. The good news? We’ve been quite the homebodies in the last six months because we’ve been quite busy, so it won’t take me too long to catch up.

——————-

Last August, the mister and I rented a car and took ten days off to explore the Pacific Northwest of the US. He’s been to Seattle and Olympic National Park before, and obviously we’ve seen a bit of BC, but otherwise, neither of us had really had a chance to explore this area of the continent before. We took off to Portland, met up with our pal Leah (you might be able to see a bit of family resemblance, too), and then explored Columbia River Gorge, Hood River, and Bend together.

Our time in Portland was more limited than we wanted it to be, but we also wanted to save as much money as possible by camping as much as possible. That means we squeezed as much eating and brewery visiting into 36 hours as possible. For the record, the visit to Pok Pok did convince us to buy the cookbook (okay, I used store credit…) upon return.

Portland didn’t disappoint. It was as tasty, as hilarious, as hipster as we had expected. The brews as varied and delightful. The bookstore as great as I’d hoped. The coffeeshops were as pretentious (but still as good) as we’d hoped. I couldn’t hold the giggles in!

portland food truck court
DSC_0444

waffles portland

powells books portland

powells books portland

heart coffee portland

biscuits and gravy portland

pearl bakery portland

After getting our Portlandia on, we headed to the gorge, saw Oregon’s most well-known waterfall, and kept on moving to Hood River. We camped just north of town across that wee bit scary bridge in Hood River. We hit up Pfriem and Double Mountain breweries in the afternoon, took out our bread and charcuterie at the campground and had a mini feast while checking out the scenery.

multnomah falls

mulnomah falls oregon

pfriem brewery

columbia river gorge

pfriem

camping hood river

Before heading to Bend, we stopped a lavender farm (about a month too late for too much purple) for a picnic. The farm was surrounded by orchards as well, so we stopped by one randomly to stock up on some fruit for the road.

mt hood lavender

picnic oregon

mt hood lavender farm

lavender

mt hood lavender

DSC_0510

If you remember all the way back to August, you might remember that the news was full of information regarding forest fires. Our intentions were to hike a few lovely hikes in Bend and then head to the Crater Lake Area. Sadly, the hikes near Bend weren’t exactly easy breathing nor complete with their normally beautiful views. The most convenient entrance into Crater Lake National Park was also closed. Still, we made the best of our time, taking a bit of time for hanging around the campfire pits that we weren’t allowed to use due to the burn ban, visiting Deschutes Brewery, and hiking some easy hikes. And since I’m like referring back to these posts for birthday info, it’s worth noting that I turned 30 years old in Bend 🙂

bend oregon camping

bend oregon hike

bend oregon hike

bend oregon hike

bend oregon rapids

bend oregon

bend oregon lava

bend oregon lava

Sadly this is where we had to part ways with Leah. We were so thankful and grateful that she was able to take the time and meet us for this leg of the trip. Being with these two is always full of laughs and fun 🙂

bend oregon lava

From Bend, Mr. and I headed west, hitting the coast, but I’m most certainly not going to bog you down with all the photos in one post. Happy to be back. Hope it’s for a while 🙂

Looking Back at 2015 Resolutions and Setting My 2016 Learning Resolutions

Looking Back at 2015

Sometimes, you have to agree with your reader comments. Sometimes, you need to admit that you maybe overstretched a bit. I had the best of intentions for 2015 and I detailed all of them in my 11 Month of Focused Learning plan. In general, I fell short, ha.

DSC_0666

But as I always like to remind people, setting a goal and making any sort of progress toward it is its own sort of success. It’s progress that you may not have otherwise made at all. I don’t like to waste time beating myself up about what I didn’t do, as long as there was a lot of good stuff that did get done.

Despite not meeting many of my goals, I still find it useful to look back and compare how I made out in comparison to the goals I set. Here’s a quick breakdown of how I met/didn’t meet my learning goals last year.

Learn more about Canada, Vancouver, and British Columbia

Well, I certainly did, though much of this was through the sort of geographical intellectual osmosis that occurs while you’re living in a place. Earlier in the year, I read a couple great books about Canadian history, which always came in handy when people assumed I knew nothing about it. Still, I definitely meant to learn more about the province than I did. Compared to the time I spent in Quebec or Tennessee or Maryland learning about my new homes, I haven’t put in the time here.

Music

Here’s my biggest failing. Practicing the harmonica in our tiny, thin-walled apartment wasn’t the best idea. As for the guitar, I never made this happen either. I did work my way through a classical music class on Coursera. Jazz, nope. I do really mean to focus on this more in 2017, but 2016 will not be the year of music for me either.

Food

South China Seas Granville IslandHere, I actually stuck really close to my learning goals. My sourdough starter has died and been reborn a few times throughout the year and between teaching and working at the shop and some other projects, I didn’t do quite as much bread-baking as I’d have liked, but I still make a couple loaves a month. Is my sourdough loaf perfected? No, but I’ve definitely continued to learn about yeasts and flours through making cakes and loaves.

Pearl Project 2.0 (a month-by-month exploration of selected cuisines around the world) was pretty well followed, actually! From January through August, I stuck to my schedule, learning a ton about food. The job which I started in January last year has helped with this immensely.

I didn’t get as deep into Moroccan cuisine as I had hoped, but still managed to make a few dishes during the month. I got back into the swing of things for October and November, but then December was a bit lost, as I concentrated more on Christmas cookies, fudge, and things to take to Christmas parties 🙂 My favorite months were Thai month and Mexican month, which probably comes as no surprise to those of you who hear me talk about food regularly. We also have made Korean-style stir-fries regulars in our kitchen.

Reading

I was a little relieved looking back my reading goals. All year, I thought that my reading goal was one book per week for a total of 52 books. I ended the year with 42 completed books, so sure, I didn’t meet either of these goals, but in the end was only 3 short of the goal I originally set. If you’ve got a loose definition of a classic and include “new classics” in my count, I did have 20 on my reading list. Oddly, enough, none of the three classics I mentioned in last year’s post made their way onto the actual list.

camping breakfast with bookMy foreign language reading list goals were attained in French, and I was half a book short in Spanish (so, okay, one short). German, well, that leads me into the next section.

Languages

Hmm, I think that I probably held strong in French comprehension and well, we did have a nice boost of Spanish in the summer during our two-on-one Spanish classes. I could still use a solid boost in French to feel as comfortable speaking as I did when we left Quebec.

As for German, well, for a couple months I was DuoLingoing pretty regularly. After that, well, somehow things got away from me and my German has been all but forgotten. Mandarin? Yeah, that didn’t happen either, but…more on that in the future goals.

Hobbies

I kept my usual pace on projects. A couple finished, but no real pickup.

Computers

Mine crashed. I’m waiting on buying another. Even finding time to get a post up is a real challenge.

Oregon Coast Summer 2015Nature

Pretty good on these. I did sneak in the Coursera curriculum. And we did make a point to get into nature regularly 🙂 That said, my birdwatching skills pretty much stalled out.

2016 Learning Resolutions

After reading all my resolutions for last year and considering that this year will be much more hectic than 2015 (I’m sooo excited to update on what’s in store for us this year!), I decided I needed to keep things a bit simpler. Well, rather, a lot simpler.

Starting May 6, my sourdough starter will be no more. I’ll not be around long enough to water any patio garden herbs and tomatoes. I won’t have enough regularity in my life to set geographical food themes for the month. You get the idea. Alas, here are my pared down learning resolutions.

quebec city bookstoreReading

Read an Average of 1 Book per Week | This is my big goal for the year. I will hit 52 this year. Classics or restrictions on this? None at all. I did participate in a cross-continental book club at the end of the year and am hoping to do so again in 2016, but that’s about all for the planning.

Languages

I’m still hoping to/working to maintain French and Spanish at their currentish levels. I do hope to write more about how to maintain current language skills later.

Back to that Mandarin business. I have some China travel plans coming up this year, so this is going to happen. I am planning to take the Coursera Mandarin course in June, and maybe do a couple language exchanges in the month of July, just to make the travel a little more manageable. At least I hope it will help a bit!

Nature

My main goal is to get into greenspaces/beaches two times per week. This includes our Stanley Park excursions and bike rides along the seawall or picnics at city parks. Even being in nature this little bit helps me note the changes in the seasons.

Food

crab cakes camping mealMy food goals are three-fold.

From January through May 6 this year, and then again in July and early August, my goal is to purposefully make a point to continue to challenge myself in the kitchen. When I stumble upon new ingredients, I intend to try to make a dish with them. I try to add at least one new technique/recipe/etc. into my weekly routine.

Eat new stuff. Because we’ll be doing a bit of traveling, I’m allowing myself an out. I know I won’t be cooking regularly for a few stretches this year, so I’m just want to eat new things that can give me ideas to squirrel away for later in the year.

Cook my way through Europe! From May 6 to June 6, the mister and I will be traveling. And because I suffer from want-to-see-it-all travel tendencies, we’ll be hitting about seven different regions of Europe in the month. In all but two stops on the trip, we’ll be staying in apartments with at least small kitchens, so I intend to spend much of my time going to markets in the morning, grabbing a lunch/coffee/going to museums in the afternoon, and then cooking in the apartments in the evening. Silly, maybe, but cooking while on vacation is one of my favorite activities. Eek! So excited!

Hobbies

Here’s kind of a weird one: I want to start purposefully curating my knickknacks. I think I am a natural-born knickknack collector. I just like them, okay? Buuuut, I would like to make some sort of effort to “curate” my collection of oddities. This plan needs to go into effect as of May 6.

TESOL Progress

In the fall of 2015, I started taking classes to receive my TESOL Certification. And though I don’t know my exact end date yet, this is something I most definitely will finish!

Vancouver Island Beach in rain———————

That’s it! That’s all I’ve got!

It feels like a freeing list compared to last year. And it feels much more manageable. So far, I’m nearly on track with all and don’t see anything in the future that would prevent these from progressing.

How did you manage with your learning resolutions for last year? Did you make any for this year?