Weekend in the woods

The theme of this weekend at the Saltey Homestead was ice cream and goats. And it was lovely. 

  
Despite my love for Boston, I have to get out of the city every now and then – to a place where a few cars on the road is “a lot of traffic” and a $3 breakfast sandwich is expensive. Where a 40 minute drive to a BBQ is a no-brainier and the stars glow more brightly than the streetlights back home. Where chores involve checking hooves and not emails and you get a t-shirt tan if you don’t reapply sunscreen every hour (whoops!).

  
I got my fill of seedling shopping, maple bacon ice cream, and woodland wandering (including a hike today with about 10000 mosquitos for companions). At the end, I decided that I could maybe be a plant farmer but I’ll never be good at handling livestock (I’ll make an exception for a photo op though!). 

 
(This dude is five days old! And his maaaaah is the cutest thing nature ever invented.)

Now back to my concrete jungle with my heirloom tomato plants in tow!

A breath of fresh air

I’m spending my long weekend in the country, visiting my dear friend Katey on her farm in Connecticut. I can tell I’m out of the city because I’m sneezing more (hello plants and puppies) and because an ice cream sundae costs a meager $2.25. Is this 1950?

  
Expect more updates from seedling sales, goat feedings, and other rustic adventures before I return to Boston! 

How are you spending this official kick-off of summer?

Reflections on being 29-and-a-half

I started this blog on my 25th birthday, with a set of goals I wanted to achieve before I turned 30.  I had been in Boston for two years (a “long” time), had a fun and easy life, but also knew that there was more out there, just waiting for me to grab it.

I wasn’t wrong – but in the last four and a half years, I’ve reevaluated a bit.  Maybe I don’t want to be president anymore (thanks, House of Cards, for showing the dark side…).  And maybe dividing my time between a million things – scheduled far in advance – is not the route to happiness.  I’ve seen a lot of friends make similar evaluations over the last few years – one, quitting her creative/business job that related to her degree to become a dog walker and then moving across the country. Another, leaving the corporate world entirely and moving to Europe. Still others going back to school, dropping out of school, choosing love over location and location over love. It’s fascinating to see my peers come to their own conclusions about how to live this weird and wonderful part of our lives.

And it’s time for me to make some new plans, too.  So I’m retiring some of my original goals from 25 year old Sally.  Here’s what, and why:

Visit South America / see the Grand Canyon

Mark my words – I will do both these things. But not in the next six months. I blew all my travel-related savings in Europe this fall. Having the flexibility to get up and go on a grand adventure is amazing, and I have no regrets.  But I’ve also realized that just because these two places didn’t end up being on my list for these last five years doesn’t mean I’m a travel failure – just that I found other adventures. I do want to keep going on big and small trips without feeling like each one requires a year of planning – but as I’ve learned again and again, the people I’m with are more important than the places I see, so my focus this year is on hanging out with my friends and family, even just in our own hoods.

Find a place to do some steady volunteering / Run for public office

I work from about 8:30-6:30 each day. On weekends, I cook, play softball and volleyball, hang out with my friends, run, take classes, go to shows, etc etc etc. I also volunteer on an Institutional Review Board at Dana Farber and volunteer at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp almost every summer. Oh, and I am web communications chair for my college class for the next five years. So why, oh why, do I think I’m not doing enough? My goal here was to make some new connections and serve my community – both valid concepts. But I don’t think 25 year old me gave myself enough credit for all the work I already do. I almost applied to be on the historic commission in Somerville, and then I looked around and realized how much more work can be done in the areas where I’m already involved, and stopped myself (not a moment too soon). Instead, I’m chilling out for a minute, and being ready to carve out time in my life for the right opportunities when they do exist, because I’m sure they’re ahead.

Stop saying “yeah” in public settings when I really mean “yes”

Modern English is changing, y’all – this is no longer a priority anymore.  Instead, my goal is to understand the proper usage of the phrases “YAS QUEEN”, “on fleek” and “legit AF”.

Get certified in something – massage, Zumba, crepe-making?

What’s in a label? I’ve tried some awesome things over the years – Indian cooking classes, all kinds of yoga, trampoline gyms, salsa dancing, painting, guitar. I would still love to be a teacher eventually, but for now I’m letting myself be taught.

You might see a theme here: it is the same as what I’m telling my cousins who are embarking in summer between years of college. And it is this: chill out. Nothing is so serious that we need to be so strict about it and hold ourselves to a list. I don’t think that being ambitious is inherently a problem, but it can make it harder to embrace the moment, and damn if this moment isn’t worth embracing. I’m going to be working on living my life and checking off the boxes as they come, rather than tracking them so far in advance. It will all work out in the end.

What do you know now that you wish you could tell your 25 year old self?

Hiking homework

This week was my first lecture as part of the Boston chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club spring hiking course (say that five times fast!).  I expected the class to consist of 30 people who would all become my fast friends over six weeks as we shared stories of blisters and dreams of windy peaks. 

Erm, not so much. 

When I arrived at the AMC office on Beacon Hill, I was one of a dozen people all rushing in slightly late. I paid my $65 fee and was handed what can only be described as a brick of a guidebook, as well as a carefully curated handbook. Maybe this is actually kind of serious, I thought to myself as I looked for any open seat in the room that held more than 125 people. 

The goal of week 1 was to terrify you into never wearing running shoes or cotton in the woods ever again, and it definitely worked. The clothing workshop also made me realize that I need to spend about $500 just to get my basic gear up to snuff – gulp. But everyone was nice and encouraging even as they called cotton the devil. I can’t wait to see what part of hiking I’m woefully unprepared for next! 

 

(Trying not to read too far ahead in the book to keep the suspense alive!) 

Hello sunshine

Spring has sprung in Boston and not a moment too soon. The air is fresh, the snow piles are shrinking, and the Red Sox season opener is Monday. 

  

What more could you want in life? Give me an iced coffee and call this heaven. 

Euro Top Ten : #6 – A weekend in Paris

#6 – A weekend in Paris

There’s nothing quite like meeting Paris for the first time.  Or being there when your friends do, which was the case for half our party on this recent adventure.  Yes, it’s touristy and such.  But it’s also beautiful and truly romantic and steeped in so much history that you can hardly breathe.

Shakespeare and Company - a tribute to the famous ex-pat bookstore beloved by Hemingway, Stein, and Fitzgerald

Shakespeare and Company – a tribute to the famous ex-pat bookstore beloved by Hemingway, Stein, and Fitzgerald

My favorite moments in Paris this time around were the moments, not the big scenes.  We didn’t go into the Louvre or Notre Dame (though I kind of regret it).  Instead, we walked down small streets and into old courtyards.  We hunted down the best chocolate shops.  Katie and I arrived and immediately ate one of the best three-course meals of my life, from the salad to the boeuf bourguignon to the crème brûlée (parfait!).  We walked by the Seine, even getting to a place where we saw more than a few rats and realized we should probably turn back…. but couldn’t find a staircase to exit the embankment. (Don’t worry mom, there were a few other people around!)  We picked “our cafe” and ate breakfast there multiple days.  We navigated ourselves around our neighborhood based on our proximity to an iPhone 6 sign posted on the side of the police headquarters.

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Our breakfast spot (we managed to avoid Paul, since they have that here in the US!)

My friends did indulge my touristy side a bit by agreeing to go on the Sandeman New Paris walking tour with me – I love this company and have been on their tours in Berlin and Amsterdam too.  I think it’s a great way to see a small slice of the city within a set structure – no one needs to worry about watching the time or holding the map (though we did get totally separated at the end and almost have to just go home without each other…).

Kate at the Louvre - please note the people behind her posing for the exact same photo!

Kate at the Louvre – please note the people behind her posing for the exact same photo!

It took us all over the city, to the monuments and bridges and parks.  We learned about the kings and queens and the French government’s attempt to keep their culture intact through actions like trying to come up with a French alternative to “selfie” (good luck!).  We also visited the Pont des Arts, which was made famous by Carrie and Big’s kiss in the final scene of Sex and the City and which has essentially been destroyed by tourists since then.  The idea is to add a lock to the bridge to symbolize your eternal love for your sweetheart and throw the key in the river (dozens of vendors sell locks nearby in case you didn’t plan ahead) – but our guide pointed out all the combination locks, which he said were from coy French lovers who make promises to women, then come back and collect their lock again the next day to re-use it on their next date.

Locks on the Pont des Arts

Locks on the Pont des Arts

It was a whirlwind trip – I think I could stay in Paris for at least six months and not get tired of it, even though our Airbnb was the size of a small camper.  The bubbling fountains and historic buildings – the late dinners and uneven streets – the artists and bookshops and museums galore – and these friends by my side, at sunset at the Eiffel Tower.

Best friends in Paris!

Sunset at the Eiffel Tower

What’s your favorite part of Paris?  I’ve still never been to Sacre Coeur and could spend an entire week in the Musee d’Orsay, which I’ll aim to do on my next trip back!

Katie and I also took a detour to Versailles – read about it here!

The #6 is brought to you from the street of our Airbnb in Paris.

All photos are my own unless otherwise stated.

Click here to read the other posts in this series.

Euro Top 10: #5 – Barcelona’s beaches

No-5-Paris

#5 – Barcelona’s beaches

This was originally going to be #9 because it was definitely one of the top moments of the trip, but after the month we’ve had, I needed some sunshine a little earlier in my life.  Boston has been walloped with more than seven feet of snow in the last three weeks, making this the snowiest month since weather was first recorded in the city in 1872.  Let that sink in.  But don’t get frostbite while you do it – the temps are so low that you can be at risk of losing fingers in just 10 minutes.

It’s hard to believe that just a few months ago, I was lying on a beach in Spain.  Yes, it was fall.  Yes, we had about 10 total hours of daylight each day to work with. But coming from New England, I was more than satisfied with the mere moments we were able to spend on the warm sand.

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Le Barceloneta

 

This is the beach in Le Barceloneta.  We walked all the way down to that harbor area with the ships, where there was a concert going on, including food truck and a DJ, whose smooth jams we heard up and down the beach all day.

We lay on the beach on the two small towels we brought with us, and Sara told us about how in Valencia, people give massages on the beach.  Alas, here we “just” saw people selling mixed drinks out of coconuts, big beach blankets, bottles of water, etc.  We liked to watch the drama unfold and see who else on the beach was giving into these passing temptations.  And I declared that if Sara could materialize a masseuse for me, I would be the happiest person who ever killed her back lugging a suitcase for a month.

Then, behold! Someone did come by.  An older woman who Sara was able to negotiate with in Spanish.  She gave me one of the best massages of my life, and it only cost 5 euros for about 15 minutes.  Ridiculous.  It was a surreal, lush experience, to be lying on a blanket with my bare back to the sky, my friends sitting next to me, getting my shoulders rubbed.  I would like to go back there right now, pretty please!

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Barcelona beach stones

 

The other amazing thing about the beach was the sand itself.  It contained so many large, beautiful stones, unlike any beach I’ve been on before.  They were all about the size of your fingernails, and the most beautiful colors (the photo above has had zero editing!).  They hurt to walk on after a bit, but Katie and I had a blast digging through them and filling our pockets with treasures.

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Le Barceloneta with the W Hotel in the background

 

Because October is the off-season, we didn’t have to share the beach with many people, which was perfect for us.  But getting here at all was a good reminder that even though we might not think of ourselves as beach people, even though we love the culture and history and gourmet food the actual city has to offer, we all need some time on the sand every now and then, whether or not we know it in advance.  This has already played a big part in planning my next trip to Hawaii with my sister, where we’re trying to limit what we book ourselves for and instead leave ourselves lots of time for just soaking up the sunshine.

And next time I go back to Barcelona, I’m aiming to get a massage AND a drink out of a pineapple.

The #5 is brought to you from a sign in the Barcelona metro.

All photos are my own unless otherwise stated.

Click here to read the other posts in this series.