Archive for April, 2012

My watercolor sketchbook is now full, and I’m taking that as a sign that it’s time to move into a larger format – I think I feel my next collection brewing…

raindrops (2012.04.09):

fisheye (2012.04.11):

tree canopy (inspired by influx_studio’s ‘urban oasis’) (2012.04.28):

We got back this evening from a quick trip down to Portland for some quality time with my brother and his family.  And oooooh, girlies, why do you have to grow so fast?  Morgan and Elise continue to surprise us with how quickly they change, and while I get so much joy out of seeing them develop into little people with strong personalities and opinions and adorable little mannerisms, I also wish I could freeze time between visits, so that I don’t miss all the sweet moments in between.

Elise is still the same funny, strong-willed, giggling kid, but she’s chatting so much more now, using words to describe feelings or memories or the wild contents of her imagination.  She was singing a song this morning with a lyric that contained the word “bask” – she paused after this line to explain to me very matter-of-factly that bask means “to sit in the sun”.  Quite the vocabulary on that girl.  And don’t even bother trying to do the secret spelling thing around her (should we go to the P-A-R-K, or let her watch a M-O-V-I-E?) – she wasn’t fooled for a second.  She loves books almost as she loves the P-A-R-K, and she spent much of yesterday evening bouncing between Shane’s and my laps while we worked our way through her stack of library books.  She also loves her Uncle Shane somethin’ fierce.  And I can’t blame her – he really is the best kind of playground partner.

And Morgan… sweet, sweet Morgan.  That girl has my heart wrapped around her little finger.  She does this thing where she shrugs her shoulders while tilting her head and wrinkling that little nose and you can’t stop yourself from scooping her into your arms and kissing those soft baby cheeks.  She’s already got an imagination to match her sister’s, as she was pulling invisible food out of her toy car last night, holding it up to my mouth and making smacking noises with her lips as a cue for me to eat whatever kind of tasty meal she had prepared in her mind.  Our cuddle sessions are fewer and farther between, as she wants to constantly be on the go, but when she holds her arms out to you and lets you cradle her against your chest, you feel like the luckiest person in the world.

I suppose I can accept that growth and change and the loss of baby-hood is inevitable – the big brown eyes on these little ladies will still forever win me over.

Shane and I are often told by people with children that we should savor every minute of this phase of life that we’re in.  And I know that it’s true – there is lots of freedom that comes with this dual-income, kid-free thing we’ve got goin’ on.  We can go out for a fancy dinner at a moment’s notice, we can stay out late drinking cocktails and seeing shows, we can jet out of town when we’re feeling antsy.  And yet, many nights I can’t think of anything I want to do more than put on my pajamas and hole up at home with a glass of wine and a good book or movie.  Tonight was a classic case in point:  we at least ventured out of the house to stuff ourselves at our neighborhood burger joint, but we were home by 7:30, I was in my sweats by 7:35, and my nest of blankets and pillows had been properly arranged on the couch by 7:40 for the optimal Giants-viewing experience.  I haven’t really gotten up since then, except to do a little drawing and brew a cup of tea.  And to give Buster Posey an air high-five for that homer he just hit.

Call me boring.  Call me a homebody.  Call me the 75 year-old trapped in the 30 year-old’s body.  But hot damn, this was my kind of Friday night.

Tonight I’m basking in the glow of a fabulous California weekend – 48 hours of catching up with the girls, seeing my high school bestie walk down the aisle with the man of her dreams, and soaking in the Central Valley heat has left me feeling happy as a sun-tanned clam.

Shane and I left rainy Seattle on Thursday evening in search of warmer, sunnier skies.

And two hours later, we arrived at the land of sunglasses, sandals, and In N Out burgers.

We settled into Amanda and Josh’s place that night and were up early on Friday morning for a run through our old stompin’ grounds.  I did a short loop around the college while Shane ventured farther out into the countryside to watch the sun come up over the orchards.

(photo by Shane)

By 9 am, it was warm.  By 11 am, it was downright hot – six years in the Pacific Northwest has caused 82 degrees to feel absolutely sweltering.  And so we hopped in the car and made the drive out to Knight’s Ferry to lay in the shade and put our feet in the water.  It’s easy to poke fun at the Central Valley, because it smells like manure and is full of Wal-Marts and bad chain restaurants, but it’s also stocked with some pretty scenic little gems.

It’s also stocked with amazing Mexican food, so after leaving Knight’s Ferry, we grabbed a table at Las Casuelas and indulged in margaritas and tacos.  Shane didn’t acquire a taste for Mexican food until after he’d moved to Seattle, so he’s making up for lost time with each trip back to California (this was taco round 1 of 2).

We caught up with Marco and Lisa over drinks on Friday evening, and then I spent the rest of the night working on centerpieces with the ladies for Amanda’s upcoming wedding.  We cut up piles of ribbon for her polka-dot bouquets, listened to pop music, and talked about old times.

I spent Saturday morning drinking coffee with Amanda and Kelly, doing more updating and reminiscing (I hadn’t been back since last June, so we had a lot of ground to cover!).

And then Saturday afternoon was devoted to shoe shopping with Amanda – every time I’m home, we set aside a couple of hours to wander the aisles of MJM and engage in the kind of bonding that comes only with fashion-related brutal honesty.  We talked each other out of some brightly colored wedges and instead walked away with just a couple of pairs of flats.

Saturday evening was reserved for the big event – we headed out to the country and grabbed our seats at the Lavender Farm to watch Jody and Travis begin their life together as husband and wife.  Jody and I go waaaay back, as she was one of my very first friends when my family moved to California in 1993.  Through much of junior high and high school, we had a standing date for Friday night sleepovers, where we’d paint our nails and flip through Delia’s catalogs and stay up late talking about the boys that didn’t even know we existed.  We were inseparable.  And slightly awkward.

But those days are gone…  We’re all grown up and my best friend with the side ponytail is now a lovely, elegant bride.

The wedding was beautiful – classy and cute and so wonderfully “Jody”.

And the night was filled with so much catching up and laughing and dancing and soaking in the comfort that comes with being around people that have known you for ages.  Gosh, I love these gals (and guys!)…

We were up early this morning to return to home sweet home – but I think I left a little piece of my heart back in California.

Goodness, I love me some Seattle sunshine.  And this weekend was full of it.

I ran outside and actually got hot after a mile or two, we Happy Houred on a patio in Leschi, I wore sunglasses and loaded up on sleeveless shirts at the outlet mall today, we ate fish tacos and drank Coronas while overlooking Lake Union, and I sat in the backyard and let my toes see the light of day for the first time in I-don’t-know-how-long.  It was glorious.

The forecast calls for cloudy skies and rain tomorrow.  But until then, I’m going enjoy the warmth of my ever-so-slightly pink cheeks and pretend summer is just around the corner (self-delusion is a beautiful thing).

It’s Springtime in Seattle!  Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and the sun is streaming through our windows as I type.  It feels so good to be in a home full of daylight…until that daylight starts illuminating dust on the floors and scuffs on the walls and crusty char on the stovetop.  And so it’s been home improvement month at Chez Schnell (insert sympathetic sigh for Shane here).  I’m cleaning with a vengeance, scrubbing the oven and repainting walls and generally sprucing things up in this little abode of ours.

Our downstairs white walls received a fresh coat of paint (next time Shane suggests we hire someone for all those hard-to-reach places, I think I might cave…).

The air plant that Mitch and Kathryn gave me for Christmas found a home in our dining room, along with a couple of new friends:

The white pot that’s been sitting empty on our table for the last two years was finally filled with a fresh green succulent:

Our bookshelves have been “West Elmed”…

Our bathroom received new art on the walls and a fresh zig-zaggy bathmat:

And our front yard was just planted with a row of newly blooming flowers in cheery shades of purple.

And with all that, project spruce-up is nearly complete – we’ve still got windows to wash and dust bunnies to evict from under our bed, but things are shaping up around here*.  Shane has been dreaming about this little lake-view plot of land for sale in Mount Baker, but I don’t know – I think we’ve got a good thing goin’ on in this place…

*This post was sponsored in part by our good friends at West Elm.  Ok, not really, but they owe me one, right?

Happy Easter! I’m especially joyful this special Sunday, after a weekend full of sunshine and friends and meaningful time at church. The Good Friday service at Quest was just what I needed to put the work week behind me and shift my focus toward reflection, rest, and the redemptive power of the God I follow. “Good” Friday has always sounded strange to me, considering the fact that it marks a day of such unimaginable suffering and pain, but it’s true that in the midst of sorrow over knowing what Jesus endured, there is deep, deep goodness and comfort in knowing how loved I am. And there was certainly goodness to be found in sitting in the sanctuary and wrestling with sadness and hope and repentance and gratefulness. The Easter “story” felt so abundantly real to me that night.

I was eager to get out of the house on Saturday morning, but feeling a little low on energy due to a cold I’ve been fighting all weekend, so I skipped my morning run and instead settled on brunch at bright and cozy Tilikum Place Cafe. Shane and I were both coming off a full week, so it was good to sit down and focus on genuinely catching up with each other. In the midst of a full calendar, I can forget how nice (and necessary) it is to sit down and pour my heart to that guy, and then to hear him do the same with me.

We spent the afternoon errand-running and doing some things around the house, I baked my most favorite mint chocolate brownies and threw together a pot of soup, and then we headed over to Brian and Nicole’s for dinner with them and precious little Stella. At four weeks old, she’s already a heart-stealer. I restrained myself from holding her due to my sniffles, but got a lot of joy out of Shane’s proud grin as he bounced her to sleep. I expect these two will be great buds someday.

After church this morning, we went to Jason and Nancy’s for festivities with our Seattle family. We watched the little (and big!) kids collect chocolate filled eggs, we ate burgers and bratwursts hot off the grill, and we all chatted and laughed, giddy with the beauty of a springtime Easter day.

We sang these words at church today and my heart was so full of conviction and thankfulness and perfect, boundless peace:

I’m running to your arms
I’m running to your arms
The riches of your love
Will always be enough

Yes, He is enough. And yet, He has given me so much more.

I’ve been missin’ my family mucho lately, so I was thrilled when my parents arrived Friday afternoon for a weekend visit.  We ate burgers and walked in the park, we watched basketball and cooked dinner together and crowded on the couch to watch movies and eat ice cream.  My mom and I shopped and drank tea, my dad fixed a pesky leak in our downstairs sink (is fixing stuff the universal love language of dads, or did I just luck out?), and all of us reveled in the goodness of just hanging out with family.  Far too soon, the weekend came to an end as my parents pointed their car toward Oregon and hit the road this morning.  And dang it, here I am missing them again…