Saturday, January 18, 2014

Beginning Again

From Snowshoe in Buena Vista, CO 

 After an absolutely l.o.v.e.l.y. time at home in the states and a difficult return to the UK (Literally. It was physically difficult to get home.), it's time to try and reboot this blog.

For some people the new year is a time of reflection, reevaluation and contemplation of the year that lies ahead. For me, it's the darkest, and possibly coldest time of the year and I'm usually deep in survival mode. But this winter (so far) is rather mild and we've had the sun break through on occasion so I'm feeling less like being deep in hibernation and more like making some goals for the future.

In the past when I've made goals around the new year they were broad, wildly generalized and hard to determine if I'd actually completed them or not. For example, I'm pretty sure one year a goal was to "Look Up More" because I realized when I'm out in the world I tend to look at the ground in front of me, or at the horizon line and I was missing lovely things like tree branches against a blue sky. Did I look up more? I have no idea. I'm hoping this year I can come up with a few goals that are simple, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time oriented (for those of you who are familiar with Life Coaching, you might recognize this as the S.M.A.R.T. goals method).

Outside the cabin in Buena Vista, CO

We've been in our new home for just over four months now and my goodness we love it here.
The proximity to town. The second bedroom/study. Being on the ground floor again after a year of living on the 4th floor. Who knew how much we'd missed simply opening the door and stepping outside onto terra firma? A living room large enough to host gathering of 14 people for Thanksgiving dinner. Knowing your mailman and your neighbors. Walking to a grocery store or cafe. Meeting friends in town at the drop of a hat and only having to cycle for 10 minutes. The sound of songbirds waking you up each morning because your neighbor has a large bird cage next door (no really, it's nice). A covered and secure shed to lock your bike in. Having all the mod-cons (modern conveniences) I associate with being a proper adult.

All of these things make for a lovely place to call home. Giant apartment living? Hopefully never again.

Driving home from BV to Littleton, CO

Our apartment is 100% furnished by the owners so this means the bed we sleep on, the couch we sit on, the drawers we put our clothing in and the rug we walk on are all things we didn't pick out on our own. None of it is particularly our style, and most of it though completely tolerable, isn't something we'd ever buy for ourselves. In some ways this is a pretty freeing experience because you don't really worry about spills on the carpet, or whether or not that mattress you just bought is something you can stand to sleep on for the next 10 years of your life.

Do I miss having a place where everything is ours and we can decorate just as we please? Do I long to frame and hang images we love on the walls knowing they will stay hung there for more than a year and a half? Am I visually editing the gardens and the floor plans in my mind thinking what I'd do to the place if it was ours? Yes! Emphatically YES to all of these things. And yet it's going to have to wait. Pinterest will be my virtual home for the next few years as I puruse home design blogs and drool over color palettes and textiles.

Bonita Springs, FL

In the meantime while these nesting urges are on hold I'll try to channel this energy into the things that are worth putting effort and money into and make the rest of our time England feel like time well spent. And for those of you wondering how much longer we'll be in England my best answer for you is until September - December 2015. Put it in your calendar because I'm kinda tired of answering that question.

The question now becomes what projects are worthy of undertaking when you only have a limited amount of time in a space that's not really your own? Luckily for us, we now have two, count em, TWO yards! The English insist on calling them gardens despite the fact they are only squares of grass surrounded by a fence or a hedge. While it sounds lovely to say, "Yes, we have two gardens", the reality is we have lawn. And that's it.

St.Petersburg, FL

That is to say, we have a lawn! Two of em! Two giant blank grassy palettes that are ripe for the tearing up or tilling under. What ever will we do with so much space? It's the first time in our joint lives together that Devin and I have had so much space to play in. We've only talked very little about what we want to do with the space (the landlords are totally on board with whatever we feel like doing) but one thing is for certain, we want to plant things. Veggies, flowers, and herbs, oh my!

Luckily, the English are kinda-sorta known for being a wee bit into gardening so I think we're in the right place at the right time. We've already decided what section of the backyard will be the best for the veggies and herbs so once the time is right we'll start to kill the grass in that section and prepare for tilling it under in the early spring. As for the rest of the yard, we'll have to decide where we would plant flowers, if we should invest in a few pots, and when to have our first BBQ!

I'm hoping we can do a lot for a little in the yards, as I so love going out on a nice day to putter around, pull weeds and water plants. It can be such a meditative and peaceful past-time. I used to spend hours in our wee "yard" in Berkeley so I can only image how much better this proper garden will be. I guess the next step in creating the garden will be to make a budget and then plan how we want the project to go. Guess I'd better start an Evernote note and outline my S.M.A.R.T. plan!

St.Petersburg, FL

For other goals, I've got less of an idea what's right for me so I'm not going to expand too much on that for the moment. I know one goal will involve maintaining exercise at least 4x a week which isn't hard to do seeing as I still cycle at least 20 miles a week. Perhaps something around cooking and finding a few more staple/go-to recipes that I can whip up in a hurry? Get back on a regular meditation schedule? Power forward with learning new knitting skills? Who knows. Better stop while I'm ahead.

A garden. We're going to plant a garden.

How about you all? Have any goals for the new year? Willing to share them with me here in the comments? 

Happy Saturday everyone and thanks for reading.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Happy New Year From The O'Congel's

Happy New Year!

Devin and I had a pretty amazing 2013, and are hoping for an even more exciting 2014.
Wishing you health, happiness and all good things for the new year.

Clockwise from top right:
Bonita Springs, Florida
Cologne, Germany
The Peak District, England
The Norfolk Coast, England
Tenerife, The Canary Islands, Spain
O'Congel's At Home In Cambridge