Thursday, February 18, 2016

Blue Thursday

A photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on

So many thing on the list, so many things crossed off.  How I love those kinds of days.

Oh, and the forsythia are showing color! and the rogue narcissus are popping up on Montlake Boulevard.

Spring is definitely springing.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Loyalty gets you something

Everyone is treated like a king! December 2015, Park Hyatt Vendome, Paris.

Last January, Hyatt ran a somewhat targeted promotion that would guarantee their top tier status if you completed a challenge - usually a certain number of nights or stays within a period of time.  TH had by chance booked nearly the number of nights/stays that would make her eligible for this promo. The promo had been leaked by a blogger and then posted on several message boards and like with anything - people started to take advantage of it or thought they could.

TH called and asked if she was eligible. The agent on the phone couldn't even find the challenge (more on that at a later date), she was finally transferred to someone who told her that the challenge was targeted at guests who stayed a lot, but not enough to make the highest tier status, so she was ineligible.


She ended up moving all the stays to the Kimpton chain.

I fumed for a while, we could have lived like Queens on all our stays at the Hyatt - all the suite upgrades, the lounge access, the plushy bathrobes, the extra points! The truth be told, I was a Hyatt Diamond for about eight years and it was lovely. But the hotels that we stay at the most within the Hyatt chain already treat us well, we don't need anything else and that is what matters the most to us.

Sometimes I grow weary of all the things we read on the internet, scams, bonuses, gaming the system successes and hacks and wonder if I'm a rube for not taking advantage of them or relieved that I don't care enough. I wonder how people have the gall to game the system or spend nights coming up with loopholes to let them get away with paying nothing and getting everything.

It is a whole industry and people are happy to add their experiences and knowledge, but I'm not sure I'm game for it.

I'm looking forward to staying at two of the properties that treat us well in the next week.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Buying nothing, building community

Screw all this, we're getting things done.
It certainly doesn't happen here.

However, the buy nothing movement is something that I'm beginning to really dig.  I'm happy to part with the things I no longer need nor love (sorry, blue cashmere sweater with a stain I just couldn't get out).

I'm going through my belongings with a critical eye and trying to remember the last time I used something or even laid my hands on the object. There are things I'll never part with because of sentimental reasons. I'm not that ruthless.

My parents are starting to cull through their things - mostly things they have hauled from house to house - boxes of my artwork, toys, books they haven't opened and household goods.  My mom always tells me that the reason they do this now, is that they are saving us the pain of doing it later.

In the last week, I was able to share my Barbie furniture with some kids that just moved here from Finland.  My father's old computer chair went to someone whose husband was using a dining room chair for his computer. His spouse was delighted to get her chair back. I've been able to clean out my toiletries and some clothes I'm not likely to wear again. I've even been able to re-home some plants.

I haven't been on the receiving end of the movement - right now, I'm happy to give my stuff away and hope that it goes to a good home.  I'm amazed at what people ask and what people offer - not in a bad way, but the honesty, the humility and the graciousness of the community. Its not all about stuff- people ask for help - hanging shelves, moving things and people offer - extra soup they made, pies at the holidays. I was skeptical at first and now I'm loving it. It beats driving to the Goodwill station and watching my things get thrown in the back of a big truck.

Each Buy Nothing community is different - the guidelines are similar - nothing for sale, nothing should be illegal and you must live within the community boundaries to participate.  You can find your community through Facebook or through their website.

Monday, February 15, 2016

half assed

up in the air

My blogging feels half assed. My eating is much the same and apart from yesterday, my attempts at keeping up with a decent activity level also feels like I'm phoning it in.

I'm turning this ship around this week.

I feel a renewed vigor and I need do something (other than work and class work) to get some of this out of my system.

I had a great weekend doing a lot of nothing and something.  We left mid-day on Saturday to Orcas, where we ate good food and hung out with many dogs.  On Sunday morning, we took an inter island boat to Friday Harbor to see the Ai Wei Wei exhibit at the San Juan Islands Museum of Art. I highly recommend it.

As with many islandy things, the ferry went out of service and we were left with two and a half hours to kill.  We drank a lot of tea and coffee and read a lot of books.  This delay was nothing like the one we experienced in Greenland where we ended up chartering a boat to get back to the mainland to catch our flight. For what it is worth, chartering a whale watching boat out of Friday Harbor is not a cheap proposition unless you have forty people.

It was a small exercise in patience and one I keep on reminding myself is part of life.

This week is super busy and short. I spent much of the weekend creating lists - what I need to do, what needs doing and how we're going to do it. I hope to get a lot of it completed by Wednesday.

What is on your list this week?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Day in the life

A photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on

Mine is pretty boring. I recommend you follow my instagram feed tomorrow to see how boring I really can be - with documentation and maybe a picture of Ernest thrown in.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Scratch and sniff

This blog post sums up my feeling about Blaise Mautin and how one person can be so in love with scent that they seek it out.

I have tiny bars of this soap squirreled away in my smalls drawers and nestled within my t-shirts.  I would follow you to the ends of the earth if you smelled like the Park Hyatt Vendome. A few years ago, they reformulated the scent. I was heartbroken.

The new stuff is fine, its better than fine, but it isn't the same. It has a lot of citrus overtones and less sandalwood.

I can't wait to immerse myself in the scent in a few weeks.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The waiting game

Way out London, December 2015.

Vacation head is starting to overtake my consulting head and my class head and mostly, my kon-mari and get my life organized head.

When you start counting down the days until you escape your hamster wheel of life to do something different, it can be hard focus.

I have six days to really focus - phone calls, spreadsheets, stuff to "thank and let go" and dogs that need walking don't give a hoot about if I should reroute myself through LAX nor where I should eat in London.

How do you cope with vacation head?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

To the North

I love watching the change of seasons as I pass through the Skagit Valley.  Fields that are flooded this week will give way to thousands of snow geese and then to daffodils in a month and potatoes in five months.

I'm still unearthing bulbs that have been smothered by mulch and fallen leaves. I am hesitant to remove all the protection that the leaves provide, but it really does feel we've turned a corner.  President's Day is the start of the seed planting at Casa Ernest.  Sweet peas and lettuce will be sown next week followed by other cool weather crops.  I'll put in seedlings as well. I know that is cheating to some, but I'll take anything that looks like it is living.

It makes me hopeful.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Goals and giving up

💙💙💙💙💙 #nmnm2016 #theyearthatis2016 #2016yip #2016.017

A photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on

I wish I could tell you have a slew of goals for the month. I'm just going to be delighted by making it through with healthy parents and a few nights of decent sleep.

I have been tracking my food.
I have been keeping better track of what I have accomplished.
I have been feeling much better because I am tracking my food and realizing that I do accomplish quite a bit each day.

I'm not Catholic, but in the past I've given up something I liked or spent too much time doing during Lent. I guess I could do it anytime of the year, but we talk about making these changes or sacrifices either at the beginning of the year when we're loathe to repeat old habits or patterns, or this time of year, when some believe we should suffer.

A friend posted something about the things we should really consider giving up - for Lent, for life, for whatever.  A few things that struck home for me were the following.

  • Fear of failure (trust me, everything fails, get over it)
  • impatience (learning this the hard way with my parents)
  • people pleasing (I'm learning this from the dog)
  • distraction (what? No, listen, really listen)
  • bitterness (see no. 1)
  • busyness (Say YES to No)
  • resistance to change (be the change, and I don't mean that in a Bernie Sanders way)

I believe these things are much harder to give up than chocolate or Facebook.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Monday Inspiration

How I wish I could be this organized - Purl Soho, May 2015. 

Getting more productive is my goal.  I look to leaders like Nir Eyal to keep me motivated.

This is a great post to help you become more productive by just changing a few things in how you work and organize your information. Less stuff to see on your desktop, tablet, physical desk, phone - the less likely you'll be distracted and hopefully more productive.

I'm afraid to show you my desk, but I might just have to tomorrow.

Sunday, February 07, 2016


There is something about the first day you realize that 5 pm has passed and it is still light out.  That day where you decide at 4 pm that you'll go outside and rake and weed for a bit before you start making dinner.

Then there comes a time when you can barely stand being inside to make dinner let alone eat it. It is that time when all you do is look around the garden and see a hundred things that need to be taken care of NOW.

Today was one of those days.  The bulbs are going crazy in the lawn, perennials all need be cut back and every leaf needs to be carefully removed from the beds.  It is a slow process bringing the garden back to life in the Spring.

There are a lot of big projects that need tending to in the garden, just like with life, but I'm taking it slowly and savoring the stolen moments with my secateurs, the trowel and the millions of dog tooth violets emerging from the ground.

Happy Sunday.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

The New Normal

Somewhere in the 11th. 

We skipped our usual November trip to Paris in 2015.  We ended up eating in the Bastille - very near where the horrific events at the Bataclan and the cafes happened. It was heartbreaking to walk by the cafe and see the flowers and cards piled up in front of the barricades.

I remember the terrorist attacks of the 80s that resulted in lots of the measures that are just part of today's Paris - the gendarmes policing the streets, the clear garbage bags in public places and the tacit understanding that everyone needs to be vigilant in crowds.  I also remember queuing up in the French embassy in London to get a visa in order to visit France.  I was traveling by myself from London to Germany via Paris.  The hassle of having my bag searched everywhere I went along with the humidity and heat of August made it a no-brainer for me - I was going to Germany sooner than I had anticipated.

Paris in December felt different. It was quieter than usual.  The shops were emptier. The streets were not as hectic.  The shopkeepers we talked to said that the bombings scared Parisians from going out. Acts of violence have a long tail.  It is not just the sharp shock of the event, but how it plays out - in the media and in our psyches.

Do we feel safe? Can things be the same? Is this the new normal?

The new normal is not something I ever expected to have to experience.

Friday, February 05, 2016


I'm not sure I believe this to be true, but I'm willing to consider it.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Oh the places you will go!

Campo de Fiori - Sunset

I miss Rome. I miss it a lot. My friend Jennifer, who lived there for many years calls it Romesick. We had plans to go this winter, but it hasn't panned out.

There are few places on my list for this year that I've never visited that are on my list for 2016.

In no particular order:
St. Louis
Little Rock

They are all in the U.S.

Why? Some of these places are important in terms of development of the U.S., others because they are just intriguing to me.

Places I'm likely to visit this year that I go to on a regular basis (heavy rotation):
Santa Fe/Albuquerque
Salt Lake City
Washington D.C.

I'm not even going to stray from the familiar when it comes to international travel - it is a well worn path these days for various and sundry reasons.  I'm okay with that too.

For now, I'll live vicariously through friends and acquaintances gorgeous images and make plans for another day.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016


Chelsea Physic Garden - a great place to see urban snowdrops.

I'm in the midst of planning my next attack on the snowdrops of England. I had such a blast last time that I convinced TH to come along with me.  Like last time, I'm going to be depending on the fine UK transport system - trains mixed with a few regional buses and some long walks.

So far it looks like I'm hitting the ground early on a Saturday and going north to Stevenage. The following day I'm heading back up north to Retford and the following day I'm going towards Crawley and then to Brighton.

That is a lot of moving around. I wish I had a week.

I'm tweeting to the various gardens in hopes of getting some snowdrop updates and grateful when each place updates their websites and Facebook status with snowdrop reports. It was bonkers last year and I want it to be the same awesome experience this year, especially since I've gushed about my trip and don't want to let TH down.

Somedays I wish I could just not plan and let the chips fall where they may, but I feel like there are so many places and gardens I want to see and not enough time to enjoy them all.

Here's to a colder few weeks in England to keep those snowdrops from blooming early and to fine weather to experience their beauty.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Communication Breakdown

It was truly a beautiful day even if I was stuck inside for most of it.
Things that just shouldn't happen - telling someone that they are out of a job via a text message.

This happened at the salon I frequent, 7 Salon in downtown Seattle.  It was uber convenient when I worked a block away, now not so much. It was also getting really expensive for just a haircut.  My stylist rates had gone up nearly 20 bucks in one year, so I started to space my cuts out a little further apart because I just couldn't justify that much money every six weeks.

There is a Facebook page to link up stylists with their clients and that is a great use of social networking - connecting people. I'm not sure if I'll end up doing using it, but I'm delighted to see so many stylists connecting with their clients and to see the offers of jobs come in via Facebook  and Reddit.

Getting laid off sucks, getting laid off by phone is hard (trust me), but getting laid off by text is not only tacky, its illegal.

What really saddens me is that the owner of the salon is no slouch in this area.  She comes from a family that has deep roots in the arts and business community. She should have known better.

Now, I'm in the market for a new salon and maybe a new haircut.

Monday, February 01, 2016


Happy New Year. I seem to say this a lot, even now.

January was not the best of months. There was illness, there was drama, there were few naps and I'm happy to say that it is over.

 February is my least favorite month. I'm not sure why. It is my birthday month, but I still don't like it. I do love the spring bulbs that are way too early this year. I love the fact it is light until 5 pm again. I love the fact that after 28  29 days the month is over.

 I'm subbing February for January this year. Instead of making lists of all the things I wanted to accomplish in 2016, I'm focusing on finishing the relevant tasks of 2015 that are overdue and adding in a few things where I can fit them in.

 I'm still thinking about how my workflow has changed now that I'm working from home again. I'm back to using my large monitor and sitting at a desk instead of plopping down anywhere and writing/surfing/working. I'm blocking sites that I find both time and attention sucking. If I find something that works, I'll pass that along.

I think 2016 will be a year, much like the rest with a few good things tempered with the bad and sad. I'm going to continue to say "no" more than "yes", but with a little more patience than before.