Monday, April 21, 2014

adventures in my hometown

Hi all! Hope you had a great Easter. Ours was pretty low-key this year as there were just four of us for dinner, but it was still packed full of love and memories, and we certainly will be referring back to this day for years: "Remember that Easter that grandpa went out on the scooter?!?". More on all that later ;)

A few weeks ago, we went up to my hometown for a little visit-with-some-work-thrown-in-for-Tim week. A whole week! It was glorious. Here are the sparknotes:
meadow hiking
a family hike in Bort Meadow
The Grass Valley meadow, one of our favorite stretches of the "hike". So beautiful!
the oak and redwood tree stretch. It was barely drizzling this particular day, which was so cool!
Tim and Daisy enjoying Bort Meadow
One of our favorite places to hike in my hometown is a recreation district near Bort Meadow. Pretty much all the trails in the East Bay are connected in some way or another, but this stretch contains sweeping grassy hills, towering redwoods, large open meadows, and when there's sufficient rainfall, waterfalls and streams. Our favorite part about it is that we rarely encounter people or other animals in this area, so we can let the pup run free and it won't bug anyone except the occasional cow. We took this trail a couple times during our trip.

Jetskiing
I am a huge dork.
The first weekend day we had, Tim and I took the family's 1995 SeaDoo to the Alameda slough and played around in the bay for a little while. It was a beautiful day with just a little bit of wind, so it was perfect. We squeezed into some wetsuits (also from 1995 haha) and played our little hearts out in the waves.

plumbing adventures!

The short version: we had a huge group of high school friends and spouses over for a soak in the hottub and a little catching up, and while everyone was over we discovered a veritable waterfall of fresh water POURING out of the ceiling in our garage. Plumbing problems always happen when you have guests over, isn't that always the case? To add to it, my dad was in Canada for business and wouldn't get home for another two days, and for some reason it didn't occur to us to call a plumber while he was gone. So, we had two days-worth of no showers, trips to the grocery store JUST to use the bathroom (!), and even a sneaky trip or two into the next door For Sale House's backyard to wash dishes. Ack! So silly.

When my dad got home from Canada, he and I tried a few things and discovered the main sewer line was backed up, so we rented a plumbing snake and had the pipe clear in a few minutes.  WHOO! We had to think creatively about how to get the 150lb snake contraption to the vent pipe on the roof, but eventually figured out a way to clear the drain with the snake on the ground, as long as we were really careful of the moving parts. Phew! Father-daughter team to the rescue!
We celebrated our victory with a jetski ride all the way around the island of Alameda, which was a really fun adventure.

wine and dine:
sorry for the giant white bars--this is stolen from instagram!
We were lucky enough to get some dinner with the immediate family at Kincaid's in Jack London Square, courtesy of Tim's company (Thanks, guys!) as a thank-you for hosting us for so long. Rather than foot a hotel bill, since we were staying with the parents the whole time, they footed a fancy dinner. WHOO! We sat at a table overlooking the slough and dined gloriously.

We just.cant.leave
Originally, we were supposed to leave town early on Thursday afternoon. Tim and I took Daisy out to the meadow to run her prior to the car ride, and in the process both came down with migraines. Incidentally, Daisy also rolled in horribly-smelling mountain lion poop while cavorting in the grass, which didn't help things. We came home and scrubbed her as best we could, took some pain meds, and tried to sleep away the migraine. I woke up long before Tim, and figured that I could help my mom around the house while we waited. We ended up painting the outside stair banister, because Tim didn't wake up until 5, and he was so groggy we decided to stay and leave the next day.
When the car was packed and the animals were loaded, the car wouldn't start.
Thankfully, my mom was able to jump us and get us on the road again, albiet a day and a couple hours later than expected :)



oh the adventures of visiting home!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Love is...


Brittany + Tim | Love Story from Redmond Digital Media on Vimeo.

A few weeks ago, friends Mycah and Bobby shot some video of Tim and I to use as a promo for Redmond Digital Media's new "love story" videos. I love their whimsical and moody photographic style; it's so timeless compared to some of the other photography "styles" you see you there (Check out some of their other work on their website and blog)! They shot some digital and film photos as well, and I'm excited to see how those came out once the film's been developed :)

As we walked through fields hand in hand and followed some of their direction, it inevitably brought us back to our engagement photo shoots (here and here), as well as the shoot we did for the 2013 photography conference (shown here and here). So much has changed since then! 

It's been interesting to see how our definition of "love" has changed in the two and a half years we've been married. It is of course the actions spoken of in the Bible, but it's proven to be a much more multifaceted beast. So that got me thinking: what is love to us now?

Love has been a challenge, and yet it the pursuit of true unconditional love is one of the most rewarding endeavors we have ever experienced. We try and fail all the time, but we're continually learning and growing and getting better and better.

Love is putting another person's wants and needs above your own. Making choices with the other person's best interests in mind. Thinking of them before yourself. We try to strive for this, knowing full well that we are selfish creatures and that selflessness doesn't come easily.

Love is complete vulnerability. This is a double-edged sword; the more you open up to someone, the easier it is for them to hurt you. The process of opening up is showing the person you trust them not to hurt you. We do not naturally expose our soft under-bellies to others, particularly those who have the largest capacity to hurt us. Love does NOT mean that you will not be hurt; on the contrary, since we are selfish creatures (see above) we do hurt those who are closest to us. Terrible, but true.

Love is a choice. Every day, I decide (whether inadvertently or deliberately) to love Tim in this way or to act in selfishness or contempt or even indifference.  He, too, chooses how he will treat me. It is not my fault or responsibility if Tim chooses one way or the other, nor is it his fault or responsibility which way I choose. It's all up to the chooser. Although it is difficult, my choice should be independent of his choices, and vice-versa.

Here's the biggest one, though: Love is also forgiveness and reconciliation. We fail all the time. There's no way getting around it. We're mean, we're insensitive, we're defensive, we're hurtful, we're selfish. We choose to be this way.

Do we stay angry? Or do we allow that anger to develop into hurt, which blossoms into closeness? I, for one, hope for the latter. 

Done right, love makes us into better people. We are more whole, more real, more raw. Sure, it can be awkward and uncomfortable, but that's when we learn the most, right? And the best part: love isn't just restricted to romantic relationships. That part should be obvious, but if I were to admit it I don't always act this way towards my family and friends. How much better of a world would we have if we strove for this kind of love in ALL of our relationships? Just a thought. I don't mean to be preachy, but this has been on my mind for awhile. 

What do you think? What is love to you?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Guess what? I'm on the bachelorette!!!

.... But not in the way you might think! haha 
That's my dorky face!!! (via @chrisbharrison, arrow added by me)
DISCLAIMER: If you are a die-hard Bachelorette fan and don't want to know anything about Andi's season before it airs, or don't want to know any behind-the-scenes stuff that might ruin the "magic" of this "journey to find love" or whatever it is they call it, then you might not want to read this post. The rest of you, enjoy!
PS: all photos and videos in this post are my own, unless indicated. I planned on posting this earlier, but the videos took forEVER to load. That's what I get haha.

Waiting for the Bachelorette!
Here's the backstory. Tuesday afternoon, Chris Harrison (the show's host, for those of you not in the "know") sent out a "casting call" of sorts via instagram in Santa Barbara: letting people know that there was going to be a taping going on in Santa Barbara if we came to such-and-such a place at such-and-such a time we could be in an episode of the Bachelorette featuring "four-time Grammy winning R&B group Boyz II Men" (You know, that band we forgot all about from the early 90's?)!!!!!!!!!!! 
We've done this kind of thing in LA a few times, but since tapings don't happen too often in our town, I thought it would be fun to go. Honestly, I didn't really care about Boyz II Men (Sorry! But really, they're STILL making music??!), and I've been a little bit over The Bachelor/ette franchise lately, but it would still be a really fun and unique experience. I adored Andi's spunk on Juan Pablo's season; plus, it would be free entertainment for a Wednesday night. Thanks to friend Sheri who let me know about it; it turned out to be a great idea! 
We went downtown in the scooter to avoid parking issues, and hung out in the rapidly-forming crowd at the Paseo Nuevo shopping center. Some people had been waiting there more than two hours (!), since the "casting call" had said it started at 3 when it was really going to start at 5. Showbiz, I guess; gotta increase the hype!
Chris Harrison's first appearance. And all the cameraphones in Santa Barbara.
 Finally, Chris Harrison came onstage and was his usual adorable and cliche self letting us know about the show being taped. He is actually a pretty funny guy--either that or he has some funny writers coming up with one-liners for him to say. And yes, he definitely told us that this was going to be the "most embarrassing date in Bachelor history". Also, no cell phones, please. Haha.
  video
 "No cellphones allowed!" jkjk
The date we were filming was a group date for episode 3, and Andi was on a date with 12 guys. I later found out that there was also a one-on-one dinner at the Santa Barbara courthouse the night before, so it sounds like most of episode 3 will be taking place in our pretty town. Pretty cool. I applaud the choice of the courthouse--it's one of our favorite picnic spots on sunny days (we actually had picnicked there that weekend). But anyway. 

Boyz II Men would be playing a few songs, then Andi and her guys would come through the crowd to the front and hang out. Then they'd do their embarrassing" thing. My money was on singing "I'll Make Love to You". (spoiler: I was right!) 
Andi and her two "teams". Not sure why they got split up, but that's what happened.
 Boyz II Men played their requisite "couple of songs", which was actually the same song over and over so the camera crew could get good video. Then, Andi and the guys came through the crowd to "listen" to the music, and then Chris brought them onstage. The guys on the date were split up into two "teams" (it wasn't a competition date, though), and each took turns singing a line from the song, "I'll Make Love to You". They sang together on the chorus. Some of them were really really bad, some got really into it, but they were all really good sports. I obviously don't know who any of the guys were, but it'll be really fun to watch the show when it airs and see who was who!
video
Contestants singing "I'll make love to you" to Bachelorette Andi Dorfman
 
Tim and I joked around a LOT during the whole thing (since the show is pretty much one big joke anyway) and tried to guess who would be the "villain", who'd be the sweet guy next door who makes it to hometowns but gets booted because of a crazy family member, and of course who would become the next bachelor. Because that's how it works, you know.

After the song was up, Chris came back up and thanked the guys and asked Andi a couple questions about the show (without revealing any of the details, of course!).
video
 little Santa Barbara shoutout :)
Boyz II Men came back on to try and salvage their integrity after their song got butchered, but since we'd seen what we came to see, we bailed. haha. 
Escalade parade. Andi got one (with a producer), the rest was for other crewmembers, I'm thinking? The guys were in two limos.
Downtown was PACKED with blacked-out Escalades and limos and trailers, what with having "big name" (HA) musicians AND prime-time tv-show cast and crew in town. It was right before dinner when the "concert" was over, and we figured that Andi and the guys were off to their hotel for food and the post-date cocktail party (where maybe the group date rose would be handed out?). We had a little stake-out across the street until the limos left, and then we tried to follow them. Like any sane person would do.
  video
We pulled into a gas station to wait for the limos to catch up with us.

We got about three blocks before they hopped onto the northbound freeway, where we couldn't follow, which meant they were staying/eating at the Bacara hotel. There isn't a whole lot north of Santa Barbara that's fancy enough for a group date cocktail party unless you go pretty far, which I doubted since it was so close to sunset. All signs point to the Bacara! I'm interested to see if I was right when the show airs. (although why not go back to Malibu? Have they already left the Bachelor mansion, at episode 3?)

After we lost them, we had a little date night, since what could possibly be more romantic than stalking a stranger out on a date with twelve men??? haha.We hit up a newer restaurant in the Funk Zone and dreamed of having an extensive crew plan, fund, and execute elaborate dates for us. Also: helicopters.

Do you watch the Bachelor/Bachelorette? Have you ever been to a tv show taping?

Monday, March 17, 2014

the dinner party that started in the emergency room

It started out as a more-or-less normal day. 
Rio (our friends' french bulldog) and Daisy, about to take on the world. Or at least, our alma mater.
We spent the past few days daytime pup-sitting for good friends of ours, which was actually really fun. Long story short, this Frenchie is (so far) one of the only dogs around whom Daisy isn't aggressive . She LOVES her buddy Rio, and we love getting her playing with another dog rather than fighting with one. They play constantly when they are together, OMGsoexcited to see each other every time.

tuckered out
Barring the few hours they both spent passed out at complete opposite corners of the house (probably for breathing room, hahah), Daisy and her buddy Rio were rolling around nonstop. Those of you who do two dogs on a normal basis (or two ANYTHINGS, for that matter!), a tip of the hat to you.
Running in circles on a deserted spring-break Westmont campus
From the moment he arrived to the moment he was picked up each day. My nerves were not used to this kind of activity around the house all.day.long! And oh my gosh, let's not talk about the time I tried walking the two of them by myself. It felt like I had eight dogs on the end of those leashes, not two. 
a large chunk of our beach boulevard walk was spent rolling in the grass. They rolled. I untangled leashes.
Needless to say, I needed a glass of wine by the end of the week.

And cupcakes! And human/adult social-time! Lightbulb: I'd have our friends stay over for dinner when they came to pick up their pup, since it had been a few weeks or so since we'd had them over for a little dinner party. I'd do something simple and low-key, we'd celebrate the end of another week, done and done.

What is it about the best-laid plans again? Something about them often going awry? 

Yeah. A few hours after that decision, I was sitting in urgent care getting my arm stitched up. How did we get from point A (let's have a dinner party!) to B (Tim! Take me to the emergency room!)? 

A series of stupid decisions, that's how. Long story short, I made frosting in my food processor (not really a mistake, just an odd choice), which ended up a little thin and needed to set up in the fridge for awhile before it could be piped onto the cupcakes. I poured it into my piping tool (whyyyyyyyyyyy didn't I use a spatula or spooonnnnnn???) without removing the blade (WHY??!). Gravity did its thing, and the processor blade thunked into my wrist. Durrrrrr so DUMB!

It was such a small cut, really, just a little less than a half-inch long. But:
  1. I was home alone at the time, and had no one to give me a second opinion 
  2. I'd slit my WRIST open, and there was a lot of blood at the beginning
  3. The blade had sunk deep into my arm, so even though it was only a half inch long, it was almost that deep too.
  4. Tendons. I could see my tendons.
Um, I think I need to go to the hospital. 

I called Tim, who had been having lunch with a former coworker 15 minutes away, since There was no way I could drive while holding my wrist closed and high in the air. Corralling the dogs outside was a feat in and of itself, since they were thrilled at the possibility of scoring some of the spilled frosting on the floor! Since there was both blood and blade on the floor too, they didn't get the chance ;).  

When we finally got to see the doctor, most of the bleeding had stopped so I knew I wasn't going to bleed to death. That's good. The doctor numbed my wrist and fiddled around inside the wound (which he could do because I'd cut all the way through the skin to where muscles and tendons slide around inside) and told me that if it had cut even a millimeter deeper, or even a millimeter in any other direction,  my tendon would have been nicked or even severed and I would have had to be referred to an orthopedic surgeon. 

I'd never had stitches before, so I was really interested in watching the whole process. It isn't all that different from stitching fabric! Haha so gross. I also was fascinated by the tests the doctor was running to make sure I hadn't damaged anything internally, because how often do you actually get to see the way your tendons work?! It was like being in Anatomy class all over again. I geeked out for sure. 
Half-burned candles, empty wine bottles, and an exhausted pup. Successful dinner party
We had a frozen lasagna and salad for the dinner party :) 
The moral of the story: take the dang blade out of the dang food processor before you do anything else! 

Have you ever gotten stitches or gone to the emergency room/urgent care?
Care to share your dumb kitchen accidents to make me feel any better? 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Rain

And there I go jinxing it again; no sooner than I bragged about our beautiful and beach-worthy sunny weather, in blew the biggest storm the central coast of California has seen in at least the past four years. These videos of the aftermath absolutely BLEW.MY.MIND.
Daisy is unsure about the downpour and the creeks that used to be trails // before I was soaked to the bone
And of course, we decided to "suit up" as best as we could and go hiking in the middle of it. Because naturally, hiking in the mountains of our mudslide-prone area during the biggest storm we've ever seen is just what you do.
It was absolutely beautiful, don't get me wrong! I mean, lately, we've gotten used to seeing landscapes that look brown and parched, like this and this and this. So some greenery was a welcome change. But when the creeks swell up so much that they can be classified as rivers, and when large sections of the trail get washed away when parts of the upper mountain come sliding down, it gets interesting.
a large missing section of the trail, when a boulder washed away down a ravine
our hydro-phobic dog was less than thrilled about crossing flooded parts of the trail.
Also, although Tim was suited up in totally waterproofed snow gear, I was sporting Tim's old snow pants (like, from when he was 10, and hasn't been scotch-guarded since) and a nice and toasty fleece-lined raincoat--with a tear in it. Said hole wasn't discovered until halfway through our hike, when I couldn't figure out why I was wringing buckets of water out of the fleece lining as I walked. 
Still, the trails were lovely, and the occasional (like, three second) breaks in the downpour revealed stunning views. I do love these mountains of ours.
We tried to get a photo of the three of us, but our little camera, though waterproof, was less than ideal in rainy conditions. Foggy lens and focusing on raindrops for the win! Also, by this point I was soaked to the bone and didn't much care to keep trying to document our little adventure.
We called it quits less than a mile up the trail from our car ;).
Thrilled that we stopped hiking in the rain!
Of course, now it's sunny and 75* again, and aside from some soggy grass in front of the beachfront hotels and a few sailboats washed up on the beach, you'd never know anything happened ;). 
Did it storm this weekend where you are?  What's your favorite thing to do when it rains?

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