Packing up and Leaving Again: Zen and the Art of the Unconvential Lifestyle…

                   Source: via Jose Ernesto on Pinterest

Well, it’s packing up time again here.  Sorry about the extra small font by the way.  It always does this after I post a Pinterest photo because it’s copying the font of that “source” link above, and I’m not WordPress-savvy-enough to figure out how to fix it.  Just thought I would give a quick update on what’s going on here.  We have less than a week left before we leave the country and it’s snowing like crazy.  10cm due today and more coming tomorrow.  I can’t help but worry a bit that my flight going out could be delayed.  But I guess there is no point in worrying about what I can’t control.  Anyway, as I’ve mentioned in a few forums before, I’m slightly stressing about the size of my backpack.  I’m dealing with a much smaller bag than I used to travel with and it is the same backpack I took to SE Asia.  Difference being, when I left for SE Asia, I needed SMALL things: tank tops, bathing suits, t-shirts etc.  Now I’m heading into countries experiencing winter and I need all my heavy, winter clothes.  Someone suggested to me just fitting what I can, and buying sweaters second-hand as I need them.  That might be the right idea.  I’m getting very excited to leave, but also very nervous.  I remember being this way before the last trip, so I know it’s normal.  The fear of the unknown.  The indeterminate travel time.  The not really knowing where we will end up.  This is the fun stuff we sign up for and we do it because we love the freedom, but I always need practice embracing the uncertainty.  I’m working on this.  This requires a lot of BREATHING.  A lot of LETTING GO. I’ve spent a lot of time during the past week,  trying to justify to other people my lifestyle choices, which is always annoying because no one can understand why we do the things we do.  We’re mid-thirties, no mortgage, no kids, no assets and everything is in boxes, pretty much.  We’ve spent the better 1/3 of the last ten years abroad and we prefer it that way.  We are happy with the way we live our lives but it makes other people uneasy and makes other people question their choices and makes them get defensive.  I met a perfect stranger on Saturday who gave me the typical, “Must be nice…” when I told her we’ve only been back in the country since May and we’re leaving again.  I immediately reacted, in my mind, defensively, and then I tried to tell myself that she didn’t mean to sound ignorant, but she’s jealous.  To these people, I try to respond in a manner than makes them see my life from a different perspective.  Yes, it is nice.  It is very nice to live my life of relative freedom and to not be tied down to a house or children.  But this came about by a series of choices and sacrifices.  These choices and sacrifices are the same choices and sacrifices and RISK that are out there and available to any person.  I did not come from a wealthy background.  I do not have a lot of money.  I am not “lucky” as some people like to tell me.  I DO NOT have some of the things that you have.  These are some of the things you CHOSE to have.  I CHOSE to have other things.  One day I will CHOOSE to have other or different things.  If you have been reading my blog for a while, or if you know me personally, you will know my life is not stress free, or without worries or challenges as some people seem to think.  Backpacking is not the same as resort travel.  Sometimes it’s hard.  Sometimes it’s tiring and there are bedbugs and missed buses and delays and waits.  But I love my choices overall.  I love my husband that I get to share these beautiful and amazing experiences with.  And I am not going to apologize for them.  I am trying to learn to meet criticism with kindness.  To realize that when people criticize my life, it is coming from a place of fear and misunderstanding and a longing they have inside them.  I am working on my compassion.  So I hope I don’t sound too cold.  I understand that some people’s choices may come across to them as accidents, or being pushed in a corner, or that some people feel they may have limited choices in their life.  That’s a conversation for another time I think.  I know what these feelings are.
I have learned, in my limited experience that we are capable of more than we might think and that choices are there that we may not see and that no one is going to make them for you, or rescue you, or help you.  I believe less in luck (although I do believe in chance and opportunity!) and more of making the best of the situations that you have.  This might not mean traveling, but escaping and embracing change in the small ways you can, in your house, with your children.  Starting a home business.  Doing something creative.  Making something, taking a class.  Reading.  Growing something.  We have this latent need to stretch and grow within us.  It’s up to us how we feed that. See y’all in a different time zone.  xo


This is the exact same thing I’m going through right now-getting ready to leave for an indeterminate amount of time…what to pack, what to pack…HOW to pack??


Little cherry red Vintage suitcase with Cath Kidston Decoupage

I am a procrastinator. Big time, when it comes to packing.


It’s like I could do everything BUT put those darn clothes in my suitcase.

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Fig and Anise Irish Soda Bread…


Hey guys! Just wanted to share a recipe with y’all.  I was inspired to make a Fig and Anise bread by my longing and missing Terra Breads in Vancouver.  They make the most amazing Fig and Anise loaf and I wish I could get it here.  This recipe, by Kristine Kidd is from her Williams-Sonoma Cookbook and is, as she mentions, an Irish Soda bread recipe and therefore really nothing like the Terra Breads loaf.  I modified it further by adding pumpkin seeds (I wanted to add walnuts like the Terra Breads version but I didn’t have any!) and I used soy milk + apple cider vinegar instead of buttermilk.  This bread is so good with a slab of cheddar or just toasted with some butter. Enjoy!

Fig and Anise Quick Bread from
For a memorable finish to a company dinner, offer a plate of assorted farmstead cheeses, such as a fresh goat’s milk cheese, a bloomy rind cheese, an aged hard cheese, and a pungent blue, with thin wedges of this aromatic round loaf. A glass of Port is a perfect accompaniment.
Makes 1 round loaf
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole- wheat flour
3 tablespoons firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon aniseed, lightly crushed in a mortar, plus more for sprinkling
½ teaspoon baking soda 
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature 
1 cup (about 6 ounces) coarsely chopped dried figs
¾ cup buttermilk, plus more for brushing 
1 egg
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. In a large bowl, stir together the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, 1 teaspoon aniseed, baking soda, and salt. Scatter the butter over the top. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the figs. 
In a small bowl, whisk together the ¾ cup buttermilk and the egg until blended. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the buttermilk mixture into the well. Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients just until blended and a soft dough forms. 
Transfer the dough to a well-floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 20 turns. Form the dough into a ball. Place in the prepared pan and flatten to 1½ inches thick. Cut a large cross 1/3 inch deep into the dough. Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with aniseed. 
Bake until the bread is light brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, about 40 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack and then turn right side up to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into thin wedges.

I have been following this gals blog for years and years. Realistic viewpoints of living in Japan AND she’s hilarious. We must always remember that no place is perfect and make sure we don’t romanticize the idea of ‘living abroad’. I can relate to a lot of what she says.

Sound Princess Diaries

Gaijin are so introspective. We love to talk about ourselves and are equally fascinated with our own uniqueness as that of our hosts. We can talk about cultural assimilation and share our gaijin badges of honor for hours. There are even diagrams plotting out the stages in one’s career as a gaijin; all of them inevitably start with the green wide-eyed newbie and after a series of radical ups and downs, end with the jaded expat, derided by all for any number of things from bitterness to condescension to having made the choice to settle here forever. At any point along the gaijin spectrum, really, you open yourself up to criticism and who best to judge you but a jury of your peers: other feckless outsiders.

As someone who is fresh off the plane (FOP), you can make all kinds of rookie mistakes: declaring Akihabara is cool, squealing over “crepes”…

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New Items in my Etsy Shop…

I’ve got  a few new things in my Etsy shop that I’m trying to move before I leave the country…check them out if you’re in the market for some cozy Fall accessories or early Xmas presents!

Tiny little handfelted bunnies…

Baby Bunny-Front 2


Cowls and Headbands for fall…


Check out my shop online for more items and photos.  I should have a few pairs of armwarmers up soon as well!