Saturday, 25 October 2014

Have a SEXY Halloween

"So what are you going to be for Halloween... a sexy...."  My colleague looked at me waiting for an answer.  Little did he know I had just bought a lobster hat, that I planned on wearing with jeans and a T-shirt.

"I'm actually not going as a "Sexy" anything."  I replied to complete silence.  He exchanged looks with the two other girls in the conversation, who filled us in on their spandex clad outfits and "Sexy" character of choice.

Personally I love Halloween.  I've really only done the "Sexy" costume thing once, my freshman year of college. I dressed up as Dorothy from the wizard of Oz and really the only thing "sexy" about it was the length of the blue checkered dress.  For years I tended to go for the non-traditional outfits.  In 4th grade I was a flight attendant and wore one of my mothers suits.  Luckily I was a fat 4th grader and had no problem fitting into an adult's suits.  Growing up in Boston, it usually didn't matter what costume we wore, as our winter coats covered up any chance of showing them off. When I was in middle school I wore a full set of flannel pajamas and went as "not a morning person".  When I moved to London I went as a Boyscout, finding an old uniform at a salvation army, paired with jeans and undershirt.  One of my favorite outfits was going as a bottle of Mustard.  Last year I went as Rosie the Riviter, the embodiment of feminism and the exact opposite of what Halloween was become.

So why the sex?

What is it about Halloween that somehow makes it essential for women to wear as little as possible at the end of October?  Not only is it cold, but those sexy costumes are uncomfortable, and downright offensive.


What makes this even more disturbing is it's an American thing.  Working at an international school, many of the female students ask what the norm is.  I simply tell them they can dress as anything they want.  After a shopping trip, they opted for monster masks, fake blood, mummy shrouds and witches hats over the "sexy" outfits.  They stay true to the Holiday's horror theme. For Americans, like my co-worker, perhaps one of the most horrifying things to hear is that I might be going out in a full non-spandex bodysuit, or even worse a lobster hat, jeans and t-shirt.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Thursday, 23 October 2014

San Diego's Finest Beaches

San Diego, a place where the sun shines 360 days a year.  A placed nick named as "America's finest city".  With up-and-coming breweries, laid back style, and beaches for miles.  The idea of the beach has always been a bit of a struggle for this East Coaster.  The Beach was something you planned for, you marked on the calendar for weeks in advance, brought a BBQ, umbrellas, and spent the entire day re-applying sunscreen and ducking in and out of the waves.  In San Diego the beach is always ready to spend the afternoon with you; no planning necessary. And let me tell you, America's finest city has some of the finest beaches:

Coronado Beach

Coronado Beach has been voted one of America's finest beaches by the travel channel year after year.  It's clean white sands look more like Cape Cod than a Southern Californian Beach.  Families and tourists gather on her sands, watching the navy planes, fighter jets and military aircraft come in for a landing at the nearby Naval base.  It's quiet, comfortable, and with the small town feel of Coronado's town added into the mix, it's a great little get-away.  Sharing the shore is the famous Hotel Del Coronado, one of the largest wooden structures in the United States.  The hotel also hosts a fantastic ice skating rink right on the beach from November-January.

Best for... Relaxing

Directions: Just across the Coronado Bridge, there is a ton of on-street parking that costs near nothing compared to downtown's
high meter cost.  There is also paid parking at the Hotel Del Coronado.
By Bus:  Take the #901 from Downtown and get off at the Hotel.

La Jolla Cove

Often described as San Diego's most beautiful beach, La Jolla Cove sits just south of Scripps Institute of Oceanography.  Not a coincidence.  The cove is ecologically protected, providing a flourishing home for some of San Diego's lovely sea creatures.  Bright Garibaldi, yellow tale, sting rays, and leopard sharks can be seen year-round.  The downside?  The swimming area is very small and surfboards, boogie boards, and other flotation devices aren't permitted.  Snorkelers and scuba divers can be seen darting in and out of the water, playing with schools of sharks. Nearby, kayaking and stand up paddling boarding is popular, leaving from La Jolla Shores just north of the cove.

Best for... Snorkeling & Kayaking/SUPping

Directions:  Easily found off the Interstate-5, La Jolla sits in the northern part of the cities coast.
By Bus: Take #30 from Downtown/Old Town and ride up the coast, through the hustle and bustle of Pacific Beach and roundabouts of Bird Rock.

Mission Beach

Mission Beach is San Diego's equivalent to L.A.'s Venice Beach.  It's got the boardwalk, the beach beauties, roller bladers, skaters, bicyclists and hot surfers.  Many of the surfers opt for perfect waves at the WaveHouse, to ride the flow-rider and flow barrel.  If the beach isn't your thing, then this is the beach for you.  You don't have to even go on the actual beach to be part of the scene.  And while drinking alcohol is illegal, there are a number of beach-bars that have recently opened along the shore.

Best for... People watching

Directions: Don't bank on finding parking along any of Mission Beaches narrow neighborhood alley ways.  Best to park in Pacific Beach and walk, or take a bus from Old Town.
By Bus: #8 from Old Town, stops right in front of Belmont Park/Wave House.

Pacific Beach

Here you'll find the young college and spring breakers partying it up.  Beach bars, cheap restaurants, and trendy shopping line Grand and Garnet avenues, leading to the beach.  Babes walk around in the bikini tops and cut off shorts while surfer dudes wander with their boards, board shorts and "mank tops".  It's loud, it's happening, there is usually a group playing soccer and sneaking beers in brown paper bags. Go on a Tuesday and check out Typhoon Saloon's epic Taco Tuesday special.

Best for... Bar Hopping

Directions: Easily accessible from the Interstate-5, take the Grand exit.
By Bus: #8, 9, 27 & 30


Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach is one of San Diego's most laid back beaches.  The small neighborhood feels like you've stepped back in time to the 1970s.  Homeless hippies line the streets and beach front, playing love-music from Woodstock and smoking joints.  Known to locals simply as "O.B." it's one of the most beautiful places to catch a sunset at the nearby sunset cliffs, but be careful and watch your footing.  The surrounding neighborhood offers San Diego's best burgers at Hodads and some great Reggae music at the local dive bars.

Best for... Chillin' to the sunset
Directions: Easily by car and public transportation.  The Interstate-8 will dump you into the smooth vibes of this rockin' community.
By Bus: #35, #925

Windansea

This tiny neighborhood hosts some of the most annoying traffic jams in all of San Diego, thanks to it's roundabouts.  But beyond the traffic of Birdrock, is one of the most unknown beaches America's finest city has to offer.  Locals flock to this beach to surf, swim, fish, and hang out.  The underwater reefs and rocky shore add to the waves, and what locals call the Womp. The beach is fantastic to walk along during low tide, but as the water rises, the beach disappears against the cliffs and rocks.  It's also a well-known spot to catch one of San Diego's famous sunsets which in turn make it an ideal spot to pop the question and take engagement photos.


Best for... locals

Directions: The small neighborhood nestled in between Pacific Beach and La Jolla.
By Bus: #30
© The Traveling Barnacle

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Apple Picking Conundrum

I'm watching you, you east-coaster posting all your lovely photos of apple picking and pumpkin patch hunting, pumpkin spiced latte in hand.  You're dressed like every other autumnal celebrating person out there.  You've got your skinny jeans, boots, and favorite sweater on.  I'm jealous enough of the apples, but now I'm jealous it's actually cold enough to wear that sweater.  And of course there's the backdrop.  The golden oranges, reds, and fading greens dance behind you in the fall foliage.

Screw you. I'm in Southern California.  Where it's perpetually sunny, the weather rarely dips below 68 degrees and boots are for cowboys.  So in order to try and fulfill my autumnal needs I took to google and did a quick search for some apple orchards.  The results were shocking.

For those of you living under a rock, California is facing one of the worst droughts in over 100 years. Not only is this drought impacting our daily water needs and  the dangerous potential for fire-storms, but it's impacting those lovely apple orchards in east county.  Better known as my only hope to feel like it's the middle of October and not the middle of summer.

The orchards are closed.  Their wells running dry and instead of picking apples off their trees, they're picking up dust.  So what is an east coast girl to do?



© The Traveling Barnacle

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Pumkin-stein

As you will shortly discover, if you don't know already, I love Halloween.  The next couple of weeks will more or less be Halloween overload of why I love candy corn, dressing up, and all things spooky.  To kick off the obsession this season, I was sent some very valuable information that changed the way I saw the whole pumpkin, to carve or not to carve conundrum;  Frankenstein Pumpkin Molds.

Up in Ventura County, California, one fantastic farmer, Tony Digeria, came up with the idea to grow his pumpkins in the shape of Frankenstein.  Talk about pure genius!  Not only do you not have to cut your jack-o'-lantern and make a complete mess of everything (including loosing a few fingers) then watching while your fantastic artwork riots on your front porch or worse... gets vandalized by the neighborhood hoodlums.  Instead I can hang out with Frankie.

For just $75 you can buy one of these beauties from Cinagro Farms.  I don't know about you but this farmer is total husband material.  What's more Digeria says he's thinking about making heart shaped watermelons for Valentines Day next year and skull shaped white pumpkins next Halloween.



© The Traveling Barnacle

Friday, 17 October 2014

When in O'ahu: Beach Beach Beach

The first thing that comes to mind when you tell everyone you've just been to Hawaii is oOoo the Beach!  As someone (ironically yes I know) that isn't a beach person, Hawaii was an interesting experience.  Full of beaches, yes, beautiful, yes, but also incredibly dangerous.  20 foot waves crashed onto the shore before us, threatening to sweep us away in their big surf.

We stood in awe while even the locals stayed away from the water.  The few brave paddled out to catch the un-catchable wave, tempting fate, while we held our breath on the beach.  The sun warmed our backs, turning our shoulders golden brown to match Hawaii's shores.

Just around the bend lies Banzai Pipeline one of the most iconic, famous and most deadly breaks on the island.  Numerous surfers have lost their lives in the beautiful break.  And as a non-surfing Barnacle, I couldn't help but watch in complete awe as surfers dropped into the 20 foot waves, catching the elusive, the once-in-a-lifetime, catching the dream.

View of Pipeline, O'ahu, Hawaii

© The Traveling Barnacle





Thursday, 16 October 2014

A Sunset Ranch Wedding

Photo credit: Brian Wyland
Your wedding day should be __________________.  For every one of us that blank is different, but we all want that blank to be memorable, wonderful, and all together lovely.  For my dear friends Jeremy and Noelle, their day was more than a blank space to put words.  For these two, their wedding was perfect. The bubbles as the newly weds took their first steps together as man and wife, the unique exchange during their ceremony, the fantastic setting on beautiful Sunset Ranch in Hawaii, or the delicious cake that I am still craving.   So many little details made the moment in their incredible journey special.  But made it truly memorable was the pieces of themselves they put into the entire event, making it not only about their union as man and wife but the people in their lives who made this moment real.

Nestled in the hills of Waimea Valley on the North Shore of Oahu, the ranch is one of the largest private estates on the island.  Behind the make-shift alter bloomed a wind farm, the large white arms blowing gently in the warm breeze.  We took our seats, hidden in the grove of trees feeling particularly special not only to witness such a beautiful bride take her first steps towards her husband-to-be, but because the property itself was letting us in on it's little island secret.
The view from Sunset Ranch complete with windmills blowing in the background.







During the ceremony the bride and groom read their own vows, laughing with one another, sharing inside jokes with their loved ones.  Upon the table was one large vase of sand, and two smaller containers.  The two small came from Jeremy and Noelle's home town shores.  For Noelle it would be Waimea Valley's very own North Shore, and for Jer it would be the beautiful San Diego sand from Windansea.  The bride and groom picked up their sand, pouring it into the third vase, containing sand from the place they met; San Francisco.

As the sky parted and rain dropped down upon us, we gathered together under a transparent tarp, watching as the water droplets danced in celebration for the newly weds.  Food was served and the cake cut.   Speeches were given, toasts made.  And the dancing began.

Congrats you two.

© The Traveling Barnacle



Happy Birthday Webster!

Words.  Gotta love 'em.  They're your most powerful tool and most dangerous weapon in any one situation.  And today, October 16th, we celebrate the man who took those tools of the world and put them all into one place; Noah Webster you smooth criminal you, Happy Birthday.

Webster's dictionary took the lexicographer nearly 30 years to write, completing it at the age of 70.  A fact I hold dear to my heart whenever I feel like a bit of a failure... I've got 'till I'm 70 to make it big, just look at Webster!  What's more in those 30 years, he learned 26 different languages, leaving the final copy holding around 70,000 words.  He changed the way Americans not only spoke but were heard and introduced those Americanisms as the 'norm'.  And you know those pesky "ou"s in the British Language that simply aren't there in American English?  Yeah, you've got Webster to thank for those beautiful colors in the sky above the center of your neighbors house.

Paul Anthony Jones, a writer for the Huffington Post, compiled a list of what he calls Webster's "most curious, most obscure and most surprising words" from A to Z.

AFTER-WISE (adj.)
Defined by Webster as "wise afterwards or too late" -- or in other words, the perfect term for describing that feeling of knowing exactly what you should have said (or done) after the opportunity to say it (or do it) has passed you by. Other useful after- words on Webster's list were after-game (a subsequent scheme or plan), after-supper(the time between supper and going to bed), and after-tossing (the rolling of the sea after a storm has passed).
BABBLEMENT (n.)
"Senseless prattle" or "unmeaning words," according to Webster. To twattle, incidentally, is to gossip or chatter.
CYCOPEDE
Cycopede is all but unique to Webster, who defined it as both a variation of cyclopedia (as in encyclopedia), and as a term for the entire "circle of human knowledge."
DAGGLE-TAIL (adj.)
As a verb, to daggle is "to befoul" or "dirty", or more specifically, "to trail in mud or wet grass". The adjective daggle-tail ultimately describes someone "having the lower ends of garments defiled with mud."
EAR-ERECTING (adj.)
Another of Webster's clever compound adjectives, this time describing any sound that "sets up the ears".
FOPDOODLE (n.)
The perfect name for "an insignificant fellow" -- Webster described this word as "vulgar and not used."
GASTRILOQUIST (n.)
An old-fashioned word for a ventriloquist, or as Webster explains, "one who so modified his voice that it seems to come from another person or place."
HUGGER-MUGGER (n.)
On the rare occasions when hugger-mugger appears in modern English, it's typically used to describe a state of noisy confusion or uproar. According to Webster, however, it was a "low cant word" synonymous with privacy or clandestineness -- doing something in hugger-mugger, he explained, meant doing it in absolute secrecy.
ILLAQUEATION (n.)
A formal word for "the act of ensnaring; a catching or entrapping."
JACKPUDDING (n.)
jackpudding is a "merry-andrew" or "a zany" according to Webster -- in other words, a joker who acts the fool to make other people laugh.
KISSING-CRUST (n.)
As loaves of bread expand in the oven as they're cooked, a kissing-crust forms when they spread so far that they touch.
LONGINQUITY (n.)
Derived from the Latin word for distance, longinquity is a formal word for remoteness or isolation, or for any vast distance in space or time.
MAFFLE (v.)
To stammer or stumble on your words. To faffel means the same thing.
NUNCUPATORY (adj.)
If something is nuncupatory then it exists in name only. The word can also be used to describe a verbal rather than written agreement.
OBAMBULATE (v.)
Literally means "to walk about." The horseback equivalent, incidentally, is toobequitate -- or "to ride about."
PACKTHREAD (n.)
The strong string or twine used to wrap parcels? That's packthread.
QUADRIN (n.)
quadrin was old copper coin, which Webster explains was "in value [worth] about a farthing". Its name can also be used figuratively of any tiny amount of something, or an insignificant amount of cash.
RAKESHAME (n.)
"A vile, dissolute wretch" -- also known as a rampallion, a scroyle, a runnion, apander, a cullion and (if they seem destined to a life of crime) a crack-rope.
SHEEP-BITE (v.)
To sheep-bite is "to practice petty thefts" according to Webster. Some of his other criminally underused S-words include scantle ("to divide into small pieces"), scranch("to grind with the teeth"), stalactical ("resembling an icicle"), squabbish ("thick, fat, heavy") and stramash ("to beat," "to destroy"). Less useful is sniggle, defined as "to fish for eels by thrusting the bait into their holes."
TARDIGRADOUS (adj.)
"Slow-paced; moving or stepping slowly."
UPTRAIN (v.)
To uptrain is "to educate" -- literally "to train up."
VERNATE (v.)
Derived from the Latin word for the spring, to vernate is "to become young again."
WRANGLESOME (adj.)
To wrangle is "to dispute angrily" or "to involve in contention," according to Webster. So if you're wranglesome, then you're "quarrelsome and contentious."
XEROPHAGY (n.)
Xerophagy is "the eating of dry meats," according to Webster, who described the practice as "a sort of fast among the primitive Christians." In all, he listed just 13 words under X in his dictionary - which is 13 more than Samuel Johnson, who instead stated that "X is a letter which, though found in Saxon words, begins no word in the English language."
YOKE-MATE (n.)
Also called a yoke-fellow, a yoke-mate is "an associate or companion."
ZUFFOLO (n.)
Z fairs slightly better than X in Webster's dictionary, with a total of 85 entries in all. Azuffolo, he explains, is "a little flute... especially that which is used to teach birds."

I don't know about you, but I'm definitely going to try and use a few of these in my daily vocabulary.  After all who doesn't love a good Hugger-Mugger.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Visiting Pearl Harbor


As I stood over the sunken hull of the battleship U.S.S. Arizona a breeze blew across the warm Pacific Ocean, sending a chill up my spine.  Goosebumps appeared on my skin, moist and sweating in the 80 degree heat.  A strong odor of gasoline filled the air, while pools of metallic ooze appeared in the small waves lapping against the rusting wreck. Nearly 1000 souls lay underneath my feet.  I took a deep breath and shut my eyes.

December 7th, 1941.  The American Navy had been ordered to Honolulu to Pearl Harbor, after rumors that the Japanese were gaining momentum to strike the United States.  While World War II smashed its way across Europe, the Japanese saw an alliance with Nazi Germany to take the colonies of the fallen countries.  Japan had slowly woven its hands through south east Asia but knew the United States was a threat, a threat that needed to be eradicated.  The plan was to wipe out the U.S. naval fleet and invade South East Asia while “we” were down for the count.  Unable to repair our troops and battleship fleet in time, Japan would be able to gain enough ground to win the war.

It was a one in a million shot.

I opened my eyes.  In front of me was a world map.  The United States looms over the center, while to the left lies Japan.  It seemed so small, so far away in every sense of the word.  “We”, the U.S. pushed them around.  They were the tiny kid on the playground with the broken glasses, but they’d had enough.  And when we cut off their oil supply in the summer of 1941, to the Japanese, there was only one option; War.

It was a quiet Sunday morning as I stood looking down at the wreck.  A Sunday probably no different than December 7th 1941.  It was a small blip on the radar that gave American troops warning the wave of more than 300 Japanese planes were about to descend on the small island of Oahu, a small blip that they were told “not to worry about”.  I could see oil oozing out of the rust, flowing freely into the bay, the palm trees swaying in the background in the tropical wind.  This was paradise after all.  Troops stationed here were more than happy to let their hair down and share a coconut with the locals.  Hawaii is a magical place that lulls you into a day dream.

But December 7th 1941 was a nightmare.   And as the bombs dropped the palm trees caught fire, the coconuts burned, and the locals fled.  The majority of the fleet of battleships were destroyed, taking over a thousand men to the bottom of the sea with them.  Brave survivors took to the skies, fighting the incoming planes, while the remaining men jumped on board the only ships left standing to send fire back at the enemy.  When it was all over the United States Navy had been destroyed.  The next day Japan invaded Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and three other small Polynesian islands.  And as Japan descended upon South East Asia, the United States banded together in spirit and in hope.  Men enlisted in honor of Pearl Harbor, women tended to the sick, the injured, and took care of the country while their husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons fought for them.

I looked up at the red and white stripes flying at half-mast.  I placed my hand over my heart and took a deep breath.  The smell of gasoline and salt water filling my lungs I felt honored to be standing here above the U.S.S. Arizona; Above the resting place of so many who died before waking that Sunday morning.  As I walked back to the boat, a man placed a single lei on the monument.  The white flowers glowing in the sunlight; this is paradise after all.


© The Traveling Barnacle

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

#20. Go to Hawaii. CHECK!

I recently compiled a list of 30 things to do before I turn 30, and guess what folks, I've just crossed number 20 off my list: Go to Hawaii.

Hawaii was never at the top of any list.  It was a place that the rich kids in elementary school and middle school went during our dreary February and March breaks.  They've come back their golden hair just a little more golden with beaded braids and sun kissed skin.  I didn't understand how the sun could do that to a human being.  When I went into the sun, I turned pink and blistered.  They would take about the tropical shores, the surf, and the coconuts.

 For those of you who know me, my relationship with the beach is a trying one.  For me, the beach was something you did maybe twice a summer.  You packed up the car, full of useless things like one too many umbrellas, a plethora of towels and sunglasses, sunscreen, and coolers filled with sticky fluffernutter sandwiches and went.  You drove anywhere between an hour and three to get to the best beach around and then would promptly leave a few hours later when your younger brothers lips turned blue.  You'd be covered in sand, burnt, and freezing from the Arctic waves.  Living in southern California, I have been trying to teach myself to like the beach.  I try to go at least once a month, but still can't seem to find a place of relaxation on the rough sand.  I try and swim but I'm just not that into it.  So going to Hawaii for the beach, which is why 99% of anyone goes to Hawaii wasn't really a good enough reasons.

Secondly, I despise coconuts.

Instead I had one of the best reasons to travel anywhere put on my plate; the nuptials of two very important people, set to tie the knot at Sunset Ranch on the North Shore of Oahu.  Tickets were quickly booked and I boarded the plane headed for Paradise.

I don't know what I was expecting but Hawaii wasn't it.  We tend to go through life never actually seeing anything.  Instead the beaches I was walking on I had seen hundreds of times before in film, where lovely music was added to help me feel something a little more special.  Hawaii was like a large movie set, unreal, beautiful, and completely overwhelming.  I wasn't ready to relax on the beach, I wanted to explore what these tiny islands have to offer.  How does one live there?  Where does one shop?  Where does one find the best food?  The Dole Plantation?  I am so in!  But the experience wasn't one of adventure, it was one of relaxation, which has now fuelled a burning desire to go back, see and actually do in Paradise.

Until next time Hawaii, Aloha.

© The Traveling Barnacle

The Inevitable Past

There is one thing all of us have, regardless of our financial, physical, geological, or cultural backgrounds; a past.  The dictionary defines the past as something that has "gone by in time and no longer existing."  but that's simply not true. We all have experiences under our belt that have helped shape us into whoever we’ve become.  They are very much relevant today in shaping the present. They exist everyday. 
Some of us grew up near a beach, born with a sense of closeness with the sea, while others born into a world of concrete, a jungle of people racing to and from important places.  Still, others born into a world of war, a dangerous land full of ‘one false moves’ and enemies.  But it isn’t just the world’s we’ve experienced, it’s the people that stood by us, whether we chose them to or not.  They’re our neighbors, friends, the people who geographically and physically grew up with us, the people we share our pasts with.  This is where it all began.

I recently ventured on a trip with a group of people who grew up together.  Before the trip, I was excited at the idea of the adventure, the idea of their shared past never once crossed my mind.  I packed and got on an air plane eager to see my friends, experience new things and make lasting memories.  I landed and immediately met up with one of the friends and began the reunion dance.  How have you been? Fill me in on what you’ve been doing the last time I saw you. Etc etc etc.  We shared a meal and an afternoon at the beach, lost in catching up, the afternoon sun, and relishing the moment in a brand new place.  The next day, the rest of the adventure party arrived.  But their reunion dance was different.  Growing up together they knew things, inside jokes, stories from over a decade ago, a secret club hand shake of emotions.  I stood back and watched them feed off one another, an unconditional love of sorts, the type of love between those friends that become your family.  Suddenly I was the fat kid on the bench, waiting for their name to be called to play dodge ball until finally the unlucky captain with no other choice motions for me to come over.  The captain never motioned.  I sat still on the bench, feeling 10 years old, trying to memorize the secret handshake so if I was ever given the chance, at least I would look like I fit in.

The rest of the trip was one of the most difficult experiences I’ve ever had to deal with.  Not necessarily because I felt so completely beyond a 3rdwheel, (I was a square wheel without a carriage to pull) but because I wasn’t expecting it.  It got me thinking about a past, a shared experience, a bond that somehow pulls people into one another without realizing it.  Although I felt hurt and left out, I didn’t necessarily have the right to.  Their bond wasn’t about not wanting to let me in, but about something none of them could help having; a shared past.   Jealousy and envy isn’t called the green eyed monster for nothing.  It’s consuming, it leaves you feeling weak, feeling like you’ve done something wrong, like you’re missing out. I felt like I was invading something personal, something sacred, something I could never be a part of.  But that’s okay.  Regardless of whether they “let me in” or not, I’d never have the same past as them, but perhaps that’s the beauty of life.

We all have a past and while we may not all have people in our lives that watched us grow up, that witnessed the same shaggy haired boy become a handsome groom, at least we have each other now, in the present.  And all you can do in this life is breathe, take a moment in the here and now, let the past fall away and be thankful for those people who are around you, whether you can contribute to their conversation about 10th grade or not and simply learn how to smile.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

MCAS Miramar Airshow & The Blue Angels

If I've learned anything living in San Diego for the past two years it's that rain will always be breaking news and San Diegans love their Blue Angels.  And after cancelling last year's Miramar Air Show, San Diego was eagerly waiting the return of their angels.  So excited in fact, that over 500,000 people showed up to watch their angels take flight during the free weekend show.



Loop-de-loops and gravity defying moments entertained crowds, before the grand finale: The wall of fire.



Hot.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Harry Potter & The Big Day

I am not going to pretend I was born to get married.  I never played "house wife" or dreamt of my "big day".  In fact when I was younger I doubted very much I would ever marry and if I did, it would be a simple ceremony perhaps even just in the court house.  It's not becoming a wife that doesn't interest me, it's the party and everything that comes with it.  It's the dress, the hype, the fact everyone is staring at you, watching you commit your life to someone else, something that I always felt was the ultimate in a private personal action. Putting aside my personal feelings for a moment, there is a bridal shop near my apartment that has always caught my eye.  It's dresses are beautiful, like pieces of art.  But what stands out the most are it's window displays.  When I first moved to Banker's Hill, it's windows were filled with Wizard of Oz themed dresses; complete with a black sequined dress on a green skinned mannequin.  In another window a cream puffy dress floated in a bubble.  And another a beautifully woven dress revealed a set of ruby slippers.  After that there was a Tiffany's display, which wasn't the most unique idea.  But this month, their window displays changed my entire perception of the whole wearing a white dress thing... with a little help from Harry Potter.
Platform 9 3/4 @ Kings Cross Station
Hedwig sits on top of Harry's school books.
Gryffindor window.
Complete with Gryffindor colors,
Quiddich brooms, emblem and
Can you spot the golden snitch?
Slytherin themed window display
Including: Slytherin colors, Quiddich
Brooms & Slytherin emblem
 But it's not just how "clever" their displays are.  It's how detailed they are! Unfortunately living in San Diego (where it is always sunny) there is really no good time of day to capture these window displays without a reflection, so time to work your magic wizard's and lets play eye spy!  In this particular window, the words I solemnly swear that I am up to no good can be found.  Along with Dragon's bone, eye of newt, a myriad of spell books (many of which are floating in mid air).  There is even the empty cup of tea, showing Harry Potter's Grim, the dark omen of death.  Now who's looking at the dress?




Now when I pass this particular bridal shop, I think of how much fun the owners and creators had with something as terrifying as a wedding dress and think; okay maybe wearing white isn't as terrifying as I thought.


Reaching out for the Golden Snitch
© The Traveling Barnacle

Monday, 6 October 2014

Finding Autumn

What is it about Autumn that suddenly makes everyone slightly crazy.  All us girls reach for our leggings and big comfy sweaters and plan days out at the orchid to pick apples for the pies we all know we're not very good at baking.  Pumpkin spice lattes in hand at all times, we update our lives to fit the season, trading in our colorful summer wardrobes for deep greens, browns, maroons and creams for balance.  While the men in our lives opt for pumpkin beers (seriously does anyone really like that stuff?) and football becomes a religion.  We eat, telling ourselves it's okay to pack on the extra weight, after all winter is just around the corner.  But what if it's still 80 degrees and sunny?  What if the leaves are still green and there is no "winter" around the corner, only sunshine and beach days?  What if you'd rather drink iced coffee than the pumpkin spiced crack?  This my friends is Southern California, where it is never autumn, never winter, only sunny, every single frickin' day.

Growing up in Boston, this time of year is the hardest to be away.  Things like Buzzfeed doesn't help, with a post on why Autumn is the best thing ever, recipes on the most delicious autumnal feasts, and of course all the stores are advertising this years coziest frocks.  I'm stuck in the hell of shorts and tee shirts forever.  I want my layers, I want my squash soups, and the colors.  I want my entire life to be orange, red and yellow, a slow symphony of decay before Jack Frost comes in for that epic winter kiss that leaves everything silent and stunning.   So while I kindly ignore and hide everyone from the East Coast on my Facebook news feed as they post pictures of their recent apple picking adventure, leaf peeping trip to New Hampshire, and their latest concoction with autumnal foods, I have begun my own quest to find Autumn here in Southern California.

With the help of NBC 7, who have kindly made a list of how we know it's fall in San Diego, I'm ready to start ticking things off my list.  However their list includes things like Ice Skating and visiting Santa at the bay, so I'm a little skeptical.  Apple picking is definitely on the list, unfortunately many of the orchids have cancelled the season due to the drought we're facing here in California.  Apparently there is a pumpkin patch at Bates Nut Farm that offers all of the necessary fall activities like hay rides, pumpkin picking, and seasonal goodies.  I doubt I'll be able to find some hot apple cider doughnuts within a 500 mile radius, but a blogger can dream right?

As my search progressed, I discovered one very exciting thing Autumn in Southern California offers that Boston just doesn't have;  Wine.  With Temecula just a short hour ride away, many of the wineries and  vineyards are gearing up for their annual fall season fests.  Tastings, grape stompings, fresh farm to table menus, and even hay rides?  Count me in.  Perhaps Autumn in San Diego isn't so bad after all.

Stay tuned for more on my Autumnal findings.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Why You Should Call in Sick.

For the past week, I've gotten "Oh my gosh you look terrible!  Why didn't you call in sick?!"  I'm sick (pun intended) of hearing it.  I could tell you about how neither of my two jobs provides me any type of paid sick-leave or any type of health insurance for that matter.  I could go on about how this is literally the worst timing to take any time off, as I am about to take a 5 day unpaid vacation for a friend's destination wedding.  Or maybe I should just explain that there isn't actually anyone to come do my job.  There are a million reasons why I feel as though I can't call in sick.  But most of it, like that horrible sensation in my nose, forehead, temples, and chest, is pressure.

We as employed adults are under a lot of pressure not to be sick.  And if we are sick, we're pressured to show up with an extra dose of DayQuil and push through it.  After all that's what tissues are for right?  And when your job doesn't provide you with sick
leave, paid or not, you're stuck.  Do you go into work knowing your fever turns everything into a purple haze or do you make that call to the Boss who doesn't want to hear they now have to find someone to cover you.  Or worse, a boss who may question whether or not you're even sick to begin with.

And while I've been asking myself these questions on repeat for the past week, I've also been making a list of reasons why I should just be in bed.

Because you're sick.  This might seem the most obvious but seriously, being sick as an adult isn't like being sick as a kid.  Mom isn't there to make you tea and chicken soup.  Instead you're on your own, too weak to get up to pee let alone make your own cup of tea.  Oh you threw up?  Well I guess that's just gonna have to stay on that side of the bed/on the flood until you're well enough to get up and clean it... Oh and laundry?  Why is it, when you're sick does the laundry just continue to pile up.  Never in my life have I seen so much sweat stained, sick smelling, awful laundry.

Because you need to rest.  "You're not going to get better if you just keep coming to work."  Ok so maybe these annoying people have a point.  Maybe if I had taken Wednesday or Thursday or hell, even Friday off, I wouldn't have collapsed at work on Saturday.  Studies show that getting stressed while sick can worsen symptoms.

Speaking of Symptoms, you're contagious as all heck. Know how much you hated Molly in marketing for getting you sick?  Yeah well now you're patient 0, you're going to get the entire floor sick and guess who they'll all end up hating?  And aside from the blame game, has the Ebola outbreak not taught us anything?

And since you're already sick, you need to stay away from new germs.  Yes they're still out there, even though you're festering with germs yourself, that isn't going to stop new germs from wanting in on the action.  Best advice? Always remember to wash your hands.

You will bounce back financially.  Ok so work doesn't allow for a sick day or two financially, but that's what savings are for.  I know you'd like to spend your savings on that new Kate Spade Satchel but lets face it, sh*t happens.  Sometimes literally.

And with that, after 18 months with my lovely job, I am calling in sick and sleeping in.  Next time the flu comes a knockin' I suggest you do the same.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

#RunnersProblems

Runner in Balboa Park, San Diego
I've been running on a regular basis for 4 years now.  It's been literally an uphill battle, at times, as my daily routine is never quite the same.  When I first began running I was ironically 20 pounds lighter and learning how to breathe with every stride.  Running has never been a way for me personally to loose weight, in fact the more I run, the more weight I tend to gain.  Running is something else entirely.  It's more than just a way of life, it's a way to be fit.  And with "fitness" comes quite a few positive things that despite being 20 pounds heavier, my daily run keeps in check.

The people in my life know my routines.  If I have a spare evening or morning, I will be most likely in the park running off last night's meal.  This type of knowledge is not only beneficial to me, but although rare, I do get the "have you gone on a run yet today? No? Since I know you've already got your last clean sports bra on, do you want a running partner?"  Fitness is contagious folks!

I wear a lot less makeup.  Actually I tend to keep my face as makeup free as possible.  I love a red lip every once n' a while but I've officially traded in all my foundations for sunscreen.  

Speaking of Sunscreen... I wear a lot more sunscreen, and not just on my face.  Running has taught me two things, endurance and never leave the house without sunscreen on those shoulders.

I no longer "snack" in the stereotypical sense, but opt for a veggie juice in the afternoon instead of that cookie or bag of chips.

At the same time it's okay to splurge.  I know if I have that big breakfast once a month or treat myself to a bag of swedish fish, I'll be running it off tomorrow.

You have a fitness "family".  I may not know their names but I see the same people running my route every day and they've become my strength and support.  We wave and say hello.  I even find myself buying dog treats for the Husky that lights up my evening route.

I'm up with the sun every single morning.  And now that it's becoming winter, there have been mornings I have actually sat and waited for the sun to come up.  Unfortunately as a runner in San Diego, a city whose women have been under attack recently, I'd rather wait a few more minutes than risk bumping into a risky situation.

I sweat more.  I never understood this one.  But apparently (Thank you Shape Magazine) the fitter you are, the earlier and more easily you sweat.  Which means your body is more efficient at cooling you down and riding itself of all those nasty toxins.

Laundry is never ending.  Seriously.  Just when you think you own way too many shorts, tank tops, socks and sports bras, you don't have anything clean.  My hamper is constantly overflowing with sweaty workout gear.

Nothing beats runners high.  I actually do most of my "writing" while running.  All of my best "alone time" is spent while pushing hard one foot in front of the other.  And while I'm all for happy hour once in a while, if I've got an evening off, I'd much rather be running through the twilight hour than putting back a few glass of vino.

I'm more confident because lets face it, I'll probably live longer.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

What the Fluff Festival

This time of year always makes us hungry.  No we're not talking pumpkin spice lattes.  We're talking Fluff.  You know that Marshmallow stuff!  Growing up in Massachusetts, fluff was a staple of every season.  In the summer, Fluffernutters were ironically the perfect meal for the beach.  The peanut butter and fluff sandwiches usually gathered more sand than anyone wanted, transforming into true sandwiches.  In the winter, our Thanksgiving casseroles were topped with the marshmallow goodness and in winter, our hot chocolates steeped with the white stuff.  Fluff like the Boston Creme pie, is a Boston thing.  It calls the dirty water it's home and celebrates it's birthday every year in Somerville.

This weekend the small community saw the What the Fluff Festival return bigger than ever.  The fest offers visitors from near and wide treats made with, you guessed it, fluff.  While fluff-themed games take place over the two days.

And while I wish I was there in person, I know all I have to do is retreat to my kitchen and make a Fluffernutter to be there in spirit.


© The Traveling Barnacle

Monday, 29 September 2014

Restaurant Week at Croce's

Ingrid & her "guests"
Croce's is a San Diego institution.  A place where jazz meets an exceptional palate of American cuisine with a slight french flare.  But it's more than just a restaurant that happens to host some of the best live music the county has to offer.  It's a symbol for one couple that love never dies, hope never falters, and you can do anything you put your mind to.  For Ingrid and Jim Croce, music was everything.  Unfortunately those dreams were cut short for Jim, after he lost his life in a plane crash just over 40 years ago.  Ingrid opened Croce's as a way to keep her late-husband and his passion for music alive.  And nearly 30 years later it continues to thrive.

I have met Ingrid once before while sipping a cocktail in the bar of her beloved eatery, she is instantly likable, charismatic and genuine all around.  Most nights she can be found running around the restaurant, welcoming diners into her "home" and talking about the wonderful live music.  Ingrid herself is just part of the magnificent ambiance Croce's has to offer.

I am fortunate enough to live quite near to their newest up-town location in Bankers Hill. So when San Diego's annual Restaurant Week came around, there was only one place I knew I wanted to dine.   For $35 per person, you got a choice of three courses of a very extended prefix menu.
All photographs courtesy of Croce's Park West

Ahi Tuna Crudo
with pickled jalapeños, oranges, kumquats and mint
We started with an order of the Ahi Tuna Crudo, complete with pickled jalepenos, oranges, kumquats and mint.  It was fresh, tender, savoury and sweet with citrus all at once.  A perfect mixture of texture and crisp fresh ingredients. And the Truffle Ricotta Gnocchi served with roasted mushrooms and leek fondue.  The gnocchi at Croce's is unlike anything I've tasted before.  Large pillows of fluff appeared on the plate, neatly sitting in oil and mushrooms.  The taste was a heavy perfection, and I began to wonder if I need look any further to satisfy my hunger, but then the main course arrived.

The Pan Seared Sea Bass with sweet white corn, French beans, corn broth and arugula salad was fantastically light and fresh. The other main was a Crispy Skin Duck Confit, with confit fingerling potatoes, pinot noir cherries, and braised spinach.  A heavy main to follow the heavy gnocchi starter, but this is Restaurant Week.  You go big or go home.  The duck was perfectly cooked, the breast moist and dark, while the thigh crisp with flaky skin.  The pinot noir cherries played hide and seek with the spinach, while the potatoes took a roll of referee.

For desert an order of their famous Vanilla Lavender Honey Crème Brulee with almond laced cookies and Housemade Mascarpone Ice Cream with honey poached cranberries and balsamic reduction.  Both deserts spoke for themselves not with words but with silence, as we finished every last bite, despite the fullness of our bellies.

While I can't argue the food at Croce's is one of it's main attractions, this particular restaurant is so much more than the food on it's plates.  It's a "home".  You walk through it's doors and immediately you are family, you're part of it's story, and ultimately part of the music that keeps Banker's Hill thriving.

© The Traveling Barnacle

Sunday, 28 September 2014

A Woman's World

 While reading the many things that come across my desk every single day, I found a bit of wisdom written by Vicki Santillano, senior editor at WorldLifeStyle.  The publication is somewhere between Shape and Woman's Day.  She compiled a list of 15 things us ladies worry about on a daily basis that you men folk have no clue about.   Her words not only made me laugh out loud, but everything she writes is true.  And sometimes the truth is the funniest of all. She writes:

I remember the first time I tried to describe the physical sensation of menstrual cramps to a guy. "Oh man," he said, his face twisting into a horrified grimace. "That sounds awful." Yes. Yes, it can be. And many of us deal with it every month. But unless you're our SO or close friend, you'll probably never know about it. Because we still manage to get sh*t done.
There are a lot of similar struggles that women experience all the time — some silly and small, some alarmingly big  — that many men might not be aware of or understand. So when one Redditor asked women on Reddit"[What] is a struggle that you face daily that most guys don't know about?" hundreds of people readily responded.

Women, you'll recognize quite a few of these top comments. Men, enjoy this brief glance into our worlds.
1. "Thinking about your safety all the time. Where you walk, how dark it is, where you park, who is in your general vicinity at all times. Parking at the mall? Don't park near a van! Want to stay late studying? Better have someone walk you to your car. It's exhausting honestly."

2. "Fall asleep on white sheets, wake up on Japanese flag."

3. "Painting your nails with your non dominant hand."

4. "Going-upstairs boobs. Sleeping face down boobs. Hello I'm going to hurt for no reason today boobs. Boob bra knot boobs. We've fallen out and going to do our own thing today boobs. More?"

5. "If I happen to run a few errands or God forbid go to school or work without makeup on and I run into someone I know, I get ‘hey are you okay? You look sick.' And then when I do wear makeup and I look all cute and presentable, I'll hear, ‘yeah guys definitely like the natural look better.'"

6. "The stress of an unexpected period, but then also the stress of an unexpected not-period."

7. "Shaving my kneecaps. Twenty-five years of practice and I'm still awful at it."

8. "When you're on your period and don't want to lug your entire purse to the office bathroom. I always end up stuffing a pad in my jeans or bra to hide it on my way there."

9. "Anything and everything you do with the opposite sex can ([and] probably will at some point) be interpreted as being a tease or leading him on. Not even always by the guy, often it's his friends, his other female friend, whoever may benefit from pretending there's a victim in any/every situation where two sexes gather.
And please don't get me wrong, women are just as brutal toward each other as anyone else with this shit."

10. "Trying to strike a balance between assertive and bitchy at work."

11. "You're always expected to look nice. And to look happy and have a pleasant demeanor. Seriously, sometimes we want to go outside with frizzy hair and no makeup and sweatpants and not talk to or smile at anyone." 

12. "Trying to get the wings of your eyeliner even on both sides." 

13. "Questioning whether you just felt your period start."

14. "Hair. Body hair. Pubic hair. Chin hair. Moustache hair. You have no idea. It's natural. We come that way. You expect us to be smooth and hairless all the time. It's a lot of work to meet your current standard of being ‘feminine.'"

15. "The amount of obscene things men say to us on a daily basis. It's not ok. If I ignore it, they mostly get more demanding and/or more adamant about getting my attention. If I try to be polite and decline whatever they are asking/telling me they act like I'm the rude one."
Well said sister. Well said.

© The Traveling Barnacle
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