Monday, August 10, 2015

Taking no prisoners

A photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on

Imagine if you stopped watching TV or surfing the net - you could do this to all your books!
I'm on the war path against my own complacency.

In the past, I've been willing to let a few dollars slide here and there because I couldn't be bothered to deal with the Customer Service reps or pushy salespeople desperate to upsell my already shoddy telecommunication services.  After my 2013 experience with Megapath cutting our DSL service because they just couldn't be bothered to deal with residential customers and neglecting to tell us this crucial bit of information until after they cut our service.

Four tiers of support tickets over one week to find out that they had just decided to disconnect our service and leaving us without internet.  Here's a tip - don't bother with Megapath.

We finally bit the bullet and installed cable.  The deal sounded good at the time (TV and moderate internet speeds) for about the same price we were paying for shoddy DSL.  We never used our cable to watch TV and the internet was faster than with DSL.  Over time,  our promo expired and our good deal went to a meh deal and then month after month, our bill crept up until it was approximately 100% more than our initial price for the same features.

Meh indeed.

I'm now toying with cutting the cord or dropping Comcast in favor of a new DSL provider. We are not in an area that is going to give us good DSL speeds, so no matter what we pay, we're limited by our phone line.  We never use our tv for real-time entertainment and stream most everything we watch using Amazon, Netflix and Hulu on Apple TV.

Ditto for our cell phone coverage - our bill has gone up over the years - partially because TH switched to a smart phone and partially because my work phone subsidy no longer exists.  I am using different sites to compare plans and pick one that will save us a few dollars without giving up too much.

My warpath may end up saving me 80 bucks a month or nearly 1000 bucks a year (you do the math) and that may just be worth all the deep breaths and polite conversation that it will take.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

The lost weekend

Ever had a weekend that seemed like it was going to be full of excitement and just ended up meh. 

One would think with the amount of sun and fun we're having here in the 98105 that this weekend would be no exception.

It was.  Thanks to a lovely set of clouds and precipitation that did not appear.

I'm talking a lot these days about the weather and it seems to be taking a toll on my patience.

I did get two books read - neither of which I will recommend, my vexing needlepoint completed and a lot of big pruning done. At least my once very sunny back yard beds will be more like partly shady beds.

 I heard a little of this on NPR this morning and I'm putting this book on hold stat.

I'm fascinated by the connection with how trauma, triggers or emotional distress earlier in life causes people to hold on to things both physically and mentally. It also makes me wonder if the KonMari will only work for really happy people who have no issues or think they don't. In any case, Mess looks like an awesome read.

The upcoming week seems to be much of the same old, same old and I'm getting tired of it.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

In honor of National Cat Day I present to you Ernest basset. He'll stay out of your cat's way today and everyday. #respecttheclaws

Friday, August 07, 2015

I am whomped, so I can't really say anything coherent. I was already to post about memory triggers and then poof - I lost it. Ha ha. I drafted it, but it is just going to have to wait. The weekend does not wait - gardening, dog walking, parent wrangling, knitting, some thinking and as always the to do list. Have a great one. love, nm and e.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Foodie Fraudster: The diary of a vegetable avoider

This summer I've craved approximately four foods and could  do eat them day in and day out just like a four year old.  My diet consists mostly of peanut butter filled pretzels, hand tossed margherita pizzas, cold watermelon and ripe peaches.  For someone who waxes poetically about eating locally,organically and keeping things healthy, this seems like a pretty lame and not very balanced diet.

Why is it that I can't seem to get into cooking or eating anything that I have growing in my garden. Is it like the cook who can't eat her own cooking after being in the kitchen all day? Is it that the soil prep, tending the crops and then harvesting them turns me off of all the vegetables we have grown?

I don't know.

I feel like a foodie fraud.

Tomorrow is another day and I'm out of peanut-butter filled pretzels, so I'll eat carrots instead.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

The sounds of silence

A photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on
If you are ever in Ketchum, Idaho and have a hankering for a decent glass of wine and flatbread (what is it with flatbread?), do stop by Enoteca.  You won't be sorry. 

I'm sitting here listening to rain on the roof. Yay rain! It rained on our walk home from dinner tonight. I love the smell of first raindrops hitting the pavement, the promise of our rain barrels filling up and our poor lawn getting a drink it so richly deserves.

One of these days lawn, one of these days.

TH passed this article off to me today and I am glad to see that others are not willing to put up with the  noise/din in restaurants any longer and are getting up and walking out.

Diners refuse to be silent about noise.

I know it is cool and designerly to have hand hewn tables made from the wood of a million buildings that have been demolished in the name of progress in one's restaurant, but tasteful soft furnishings do make for quieter restaurants. One of my favorite rooms, Restaurant Nora, in D.C. hangs lovely handmade quilts on the walls to keep the noise levels to a moderate level. I am glad restaurant reviews in the NYT are now rating restaurants based on their noise levels and online reservation sites such as OpenTable allow you to select dining spots based on their noise levels (hint: search for restaurants with quiet conversation).

As much as I detest carpets in restaurants, it makes things so much more quiet. We recently ate at ABC Kitchen in NYC. I loved the food, but by the time we left, I was completely hoarse from having to raise my voice to be heard. What is it about this frenetic pace and level of noise that makes dining seem so cool? I'm not sure it helps my digestion and it certainly doesn't make me want to stay longer and eat more. Maybe that is their intention.

If you have to text your dinner date to tell them something, you best consider finding somewhere else to eat.


Tuesday, August 04, 2015

The hard thing about hard things

A photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on

Hardships come in many forms, this is definitely not one of them. 

This may seem like a ridiculous post, but I've been thinking a lot about what makes something "hard".

Is it a relative thing? Is one person's hard different from another person? I think yes.

Is hard something that might solve itself? If you are lucky.

Is hard something that might get resolved or made easier if you ask for help and admit that you are struggling?  Yes, but it is difficult.

 Is it worth enduring something hard or instead decide that it is easier to take the easier way out?  Maybe.

What compels someone to take on someone else's hardship? Don't let me take you there.

What does it mean to be hard on yourself?

For the last few months, I've been asking myself all of these questions and more.  I wish like heck I could find the answers.

Monday, August 03, 2015


A photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on

I 'm beginning to dread Monday and for the opposite reason that most people dread them.  I expect to be getting up and going to work and instead I spend my Mondays job hunting, networking and hoping that this is the last Monday that I have to job hunt.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

Routines help - gym, dog walking, endless watering, writing lists, acting on the actions on the list, trying to stay upbeat and not let the negativity crawl into my head.  I'm not a Pollyanna, but I do believe that what you set out to do at the beginning of the week impacts how the rest of week goes.

This Monday started out well and went downhill fast, most of it self-inflicted and through all the outside feedback I received and a little self-reflection I did while WATERING, I've decided to ask for a do-over for this Monday.

Tuesday has got to be better.

On a happier note, my winter coat arrived and it was only 83F outside and 76F inside when I tried it on. I love it and it matches my new blue Vans.

Over and out.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Sunday wrap up

A photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on

For five seconds it felt like we were starting to a cooling trend in the 98105. Alas, we're back to a muggy 86 degrees for our high today.  It was a good day to stay inside and edit book chapters and read a few books.

I picked up a Kindle Paperwhite last year and I really like it, especially for travel. I do miss the feel of a book. Thumbing through a kindle via the notes is just not the same as thumbing through a book to find that bent corner or that check mark by something that you wanted to remember.

Books are also awesome places to stash boarding passes and receipts, try doing that in a Kindle.

You can judge a book by its cover and you will likely remember what you were reading if you could see the cover and it will spark your memory - the why and how you came about to select the book and when if you were to physically handle it.  My memory is often jarred by place and tactile sensations and the Kindle doesn't give me that pleasure.

My reading these days is all over the place - I'm reading a little about vegan main courses to get inspired for the fall,  a bit of gardening how to and lots of fiction.  This weekend I read a book that was a fast read but my guess will stay with me for a long time - Alex Shearer's  "This is the life" is an amazing and short read about the relationship between brothers and how it changes as the younger one takes care of his older brother as he undergoes cancer treatment.  It isn't a Jodi Picoult kind of book, but it will make you learn to accept that life is what it is - you can work to make it better, but sometimes you just have to accept your choices and make do.

Read it.

And after that, go visit my favorite bears fishing for salmon at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park, Alaska. They are pretty busy right now.

What are you reading this summer?

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Staying Alive - or how I spent July

A photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on
Welcome to the new reality, weather forecast for Seattle, late June 2015. I'm not going to sugar coat it - it is August 1st and I'm over Summer.  I love the long days, waking up to the early morning light and being able to walk the dogs late into the evening. I enjoy seeing neighbors out watering, walking, weeding and visiting with each other.  What I am definitely over, along with millions of others in the Pacific Northwest is the relentless temperatures over 85 F.

I feel like I spent the whole month of July just keeping things alive - running hoses to newly installed plantings, checking on dogs, my parents and trying to stay as sane and calm as possible given that we all feel like limp rags by the late afternoon.  Planning an out of town trip - two days to Orcas or four days at a conference had us cringing at the seven day forecast and writing long detailed notes to our awesome house sitters on what needed water, and when and hoping that they (the house sitters) would be willing to come back after all we put them through.

Unfortunately, this is the new reality. This shift in climate regimes means we're going to have to learn to mitigate and adapt to adjust to this new reality.

I am coping by escaping to the garden early in the day to get in a good deep watering of our vegetables.   I try and get to the gym before it gets hot. I encourage  and coax E to do walk early in the day as well.  We try and get all the things done (errands, writing, job applications, editing and chores) before the heat of the day. Our work your butt off and through lunch culture in the United States does not lend itself well to the siesta - a chance to recharge and rest before taking on the rest of the day.

Maybe this is where we're going to have to start adapting.

Ditto for the garden, ditto for home energy efficiency and definitely to how we eat and function.

I see more watermelon for dinner and  planting garden succulents in the near future.

Stay cool and pray for rain.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Get Lost

A photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on

It can clear your mind and remind you forgot to use anti-perspirant this morning. Go do it.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

On the Selfoui

A photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on

I realize I'm being sort hypocritical here by posting this photo of these women taking a selfie, but I do try hard to blur out faces as much as possible, sue me. 

I'm of an age where I am starting to feel bad about my neck and for a long time, just felt bad about how I looked. I'm over that now, although I'm thinking investing in a few turtlenecks might not be a bad idea.

So, imagine how I really feel about selfies. I'm happy that others love taking them. I'm glad that is how others rejoice in friendship, impromptu gatherings, visits to the chiropractor and document each and moment by placing yourself in the picture.  I do a similar thing every day when I post a picture to instagram remember both the good and the bad that transpired. What I don't love is when your picture taking means that I'm also in your picture.

My friend Jess has a fabulous post about photographing people while they are eating, but in this case substitute me talking, bending over weeding, turned at an unflattering angle or just not in the mood to be captured in your need to be captured. I'm more than happy to pose when you ask me to pose, but I hate to be caught off guard.

There are truly some amazing photographers who have taken gorgeous candids of friends and family at events, even the most recalcitrant of victims party guests. It is also a given that at an anniversary party or graduation, there will be the family shots and these lovely folks realize that the events are to be documented and either prepare (Xanax anyone?) or are happy to comply. I'm not sure if this is a generational thing, but always think before you snap.

Friday, May 15, 2015


A photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on

I'm feeling about 60% of normal. I still can't go to the gym. I barely managed to get halfway packed today, walked the dog once and read a book. I'm glad I was an Energizer bunny early in the week because had I any notion that I was going to be out for two solid days, I would have wept into my chia flax flakes on Monday.

Yay Friday.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wednesday wrap up

Pretty good day around here if you discout the fact it rained (poor Ernest).

I managed to get some paperwork sorted,  made it to  Dress For Success to drop off donations including some lovely dresses that no longer fit me but will make some petite woman very happy. I struggled with letting them go. I realized that other than a few occasions where photos are used to document events, I could wear a paper yard waste sack with a nice Hermes belt and no one would remember what I wore to x event.

The same thing goes for shoes. I really wanted to buy a new pair of sneakers for an upcoming trip and went to Nordstrom to try them on for size (really, for size as the do run large).  The shoes were cute, they were not in the color I wanted.  I had to leave to attend a lunch honoring Nora Pouillon and on my way back to the car struggled with going back in the store to look for a substitute shoe.  When I got to the entrance, I turned back.  I took five seconds to think about why I wanted the shoes to match a skirt perfectly.while the ones I had in my closet were not perfect, they would do and no one would remember what I had on my feet.

It is more important to be remarkable and memorable because you are articulate, interesting and attentive. That is what people should and will remember about you no matter if your shoes don't match your skirt.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Road food

A photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on

I'm all for packing snacks to take on the road. You never know when you'll end up stuck in an airport or wake up in the middle of the night starving.  I usually pack a few Larabars which never seem to get eaten, a package or two of m&ms (don't judge), turkey jerky (in the day), a few apples and satsumas if I know my upgrade isn't going to clear and I'm going to be hungry.

The April 14, 2015 New York Times food section was devoted to the sandwich with many different recipes and ideas to spice up your sandwiches.  Martha Rose Shulman suggested making a goat cheese and roasted pepper sandwich which doesn't get soggy because the peppers are placed between the goat cheese encrusted bread.  This sounds like a great idea, but I still wonder if the goat cheese is going to be okay after 12 hours in transit.

My sandwich choice is the solid peanut butter and marmalade sandwich - Paddington style. It is a sandwich that holds up to being smushed in the bottom of my bag and can be eaten any where. If you are concerned about nut allergies, you can sub out sunflower butter, but don't skip the marmalade.

A photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on

I have to admit that I'm in awe of the English and their fascination with the sandwich - I've had many a meal of the cut rate sandwich eaten on the train or in my hotel room late at night.  They seem to cram so many things in the sandwich and because they are British, they seem so exotic.  My favorite sandwich was the cheese and celery sandwich from Marks and Spencer.  There was something about the crisp and mineral taste of the celery mixed with the mature cheese and mayonnaise that was comforting to me.  I haven't been able to locate them recently, but I would break my dairy embargo to have one soon.

I can't wait.

What is your favorite traveling sandwich?

Monday, May 11, 2015


A photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on
Marie Kondo advocates for socks standing up in the drawers, I would rather see skunk cabbages stand at attention.  

I am a pro at overthinking things - airplane routings, hotel loyalty strategies, dinner options and now - where to donate my stuff.

A million bloggers have written about Marie Kondo and her best selling book about how tidying up can change your life and release unicorns. I know I have piles of things that do not bring me joy, but I'll be pretty pissed if I go looking for something specific and it is gone. The truth is that I don't need four gray cashmere sweaters and six pairs of chinos that really do nothing for me better than before butt.  I do need to keep at least two pairs of Prada flats, one pair of Jimmy Choo pumps and a few purses because I'm not going to spend money to replace those.

So, the letting go is hard for me. I have memories associated with many things - shoes that I instagrammed to death in Paris and Rome, a slightly tight sweater I bought because I was cold somewhere and promised myself would look great if I took off 10 lbs. and never wore again, a hard backed sketchbook I bought in Boston that I never used to write my deepest thoughts because it was the wrong dimensions.  Some of these objects are captured through photos so I can refer to them if I want such as the shoes, but others (tight sweater and sketch books) serve to remind me that I did not follow through with my goals.

What vexes me the most now is the actual disposing of the piles of unloved goods. It seems that most places (shelters, hygiene banks, help centers) are not as interested in your stuff, no matter how awesome it is and want money instead. I really can't blame them - money is easier to handle and can be used to provide directed services, but it is getting more and more vexing as a person who would love to see her stuff go somewhere.

I was happy to see that YWCA's Dress for Success Program is taking career clothing - which I have a bunch of as well as barely used casual jeans and tops which I am also happy to donate. I found an organization in Seattle that teaches young kids how to write and communicate that can use my many sketchbooks and who knows who will get small kitchen appliances and thousand orchid pots that we keep on accumulating.  I'll probably take this to Goodwill which has kindly opened a donation center on my daily ant path of errands.

To me there is no joy in the art of tidying up my stuff, it makes me realize that I do a lot of impulsive buying and not knowing what I leads to duplicate purchases.  While I'm not going to spend a lot of effort inventorying my closet, I have a better grip on what I have and hopefully will find some excitement in putting on those Choos to go to lunch with the girls.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Reading List

New Releases, Dec. 2011

I've been a terrible reader of late - mostly reading blog posts and short form pieces on leadership, growthhacking, personal growing, plant growing and what to do if you have six hours in Bratislava. I'm trying to get back into regular before bed reading.

Last year I bought a kindle Paperwhite - it was super on sale and I figured it would be a great thing to have for traveling. Our library has a great e-book selection, so I haven't bought a ton of books unless I really needed them, so the recurring costs have been minimal.

I have a love/hate relationship with e-books.  I love that there are no library fines and that they take up only virtual space. I hate that I have no idea where I am in the book and sometimes I can't even remember what I was reading.  I also love that I can sync what I am reading across all my devices - so what I read on my Paperwhite I can then pick up on my phone.

I do love that they are light, easy to transport and that I can throw a ton of stuff on the Kindle and it doesn't change the weight.

I just finished "Euphoria" for my book club and the "Power of Habit" is up next.

What is on your reading list?

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Happy Saturday

A photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on

Today must have been the hottest day of the year to date. This is probably why I decided to spend two hours or two back episodes of "This American Life" pulling up morning glory, quack grass and trying to figure out what to do with a million other perennial weeds in my ppatch.

It was probably a really good day to sunscreen the back of my neck, eat breakfast and hydrate before gardening. I was famished when I got home and must have demolished everything within my wake. This is not a good way to eat brunch.

For the last six weeks I've been eating a 90% vegan diet and so far so good. I have had a few lapses into salmon, 10 year old aged cheddar and cream cheese for a bagel. There is so much you can do when you are traveling.  I'm pretty excited to keep up with this for the next six weeks.

Today we went to my parents for a pre-Mother's Day dinner that featured burgers. The vegan burgers are not cutting it for me. I'm going to have to make my own. I think sometimes it is the toppings and the crispy bun and the ritual of construction that are just as important as the meat/meat substitute as burger.

I look forward to the same meal tomorrow except tomorrow I'm bringing my own relish.

Happy Saturday.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Home again

Bershon much?

I'm happy to be home for the next week or so. There is a ton of stuff to do in the garden, around the house and in my brain. I have been slowly been tackling my garden and my house but my brain and thoughts require a little housekeeping as well.

It is also Mother's Day weekend.  I argue that we should celebrate our moms every day, but these days I am even more cognizant of everything my mom has done to keep our family going and how she is strong and resilient. I'm lucky to have her as my mom.

Her desire this year is to have a simple barbecue at their house, using paper plates and cups so that there is no clean up. Most moms wish to be taken out, but my mom is happiest cooking and surrounding herself with her family. We'll give her that.

For all you moms out there - thanks for all you do.