Archive | October, 2012

Sailing Around the World with the Koziura Family

31 Oct


Please welcome the Koziura family to our Family Profile series – this family has recently returned from their one and a half year trip around the globe in their sailboat, Begonia. To be honest, who doesn’t fantasize about sailing around the world? But this couple did it with two kids in tow! If you would like to read more about their travels and adventures, please check out their blog.

Q: Please introduce your family and your boat.

We are a family of four:  Sebastian and Karla, parents, and Sofia (7 when we left) and Benjamin (4 when we left) came from Evanston, IL.  We left FL in December of 2010 on our Fountaine Pajot “Athena” 38 foot Catamaran for an adventure that will last a lifetime.  The boat was equipped with 4 berths (bedrooms), two heads ( bathrooms) a main salon and galley (kitchen) area.  Please refer to blog under “About Us” section.

Q: How did you decide to take a year off and sail? And more importantly, why?

This was Sebastian’s lifelong dream.  He had been sailing all his life… Literally learned to walk on a sailboat with his family down in Argentina where he is from.  I refer to myself as a “reluctant sailor” because prior to meeting Sebastian I had no real boating experience and actually had/have a fear of the ocean (almost drowned as a teenager at the beach in CA).  I was also reluctant to do so because financially it was uncomfortable to think about taking so much time off.  Once you are on that “freeway” of life, it is difficult to get off the at the next off-ramp.
A couple of factors contributed to the final decision:
We had a real estate development and construction business that had been booming before the crisis and suddenly started to become more difficult for us to do our houses.  The financing was suddenly non existent, the real estate prices tanked and clients became more demanding.  It was not fun, nor as feasible anymore.  The market stagnated, so we could either stay home, toughen it out and be really stressed. OR take advantage of this beautiful boat we already had down in FL and take it for a real spin.  The passion we had had for our work kind of got the wind sucked out of the sails, so to speak.  It wasn’t fun anymore.
Most importantly, I lost my mother in a battle with cancer at the beginning of 2010 and my husband lost his grandfather in May of that year.  These were two very influential people in our lives whom we were able to spend such quality time with them at the end of their lives and the resounding message we received from them was to live life to the fullest.  This, coupled with our age and an impending midlife crisis, made us ask ourselves what we wanted to say on our own death beds.  Do we want to jump and take the chance? or do we want to say we never did it because we were afraid of the financial instability?
So, we took the plunge.

The One Where the Rain Starts

30 Oct

And it is here. The rainy season – usually lasting until about June. Sigh.

Luckily, we had the most wonderful wedding to attend to this past weekend – it was held on a island in the Sound only accessible by private boat. The weather promised wind, rain and periods of all out nastiness but none of this could stop the fun that was had by all. We traded heels for rain boots and lace for waterproof jackets – some wore full on Grundens and some spiced in up with fancy hats and bow ties. I got away with wearing a sequined cardigan under my rain gear – I only have so many opportunities to get dressed up these days.

It is an occasion like this that begs me to stay in this area – dozens and dozens of friends from high school (and elementary and middle since we’re mentioning it) as well as old friends and new friends (Melissa! Heidi! Ellen!). It is hard to think of a better community to live near – it also reminds me of why our upbringing was so special and what I can only hope our own children get to experience. We still see a ton of friends from high school and still, gulp, love them. I promise we have branched out some but these friends are time and time again the ones we lean against and share our lives with. Through this core group we have shared stories of skipping school and climbing water towers to weddings and children. It is hard to find a group of people that will keep you company on such a long journey.

It is also through these old friends that we meet new ones – I had so much fun meeting, what I hope are, fast new friends. It is always nice to welcome in some fresh air and especially when you discover you share similar dreams, ideas and traits. Nothing can be more exhilarating that talking with someone you connect with.

Speaking of connecting, I had the opportunity to reconnect with a dear old friend whom I had felt I was drifting away from. She reminded me of our foundation, of our commitment to a friendship that will indeed have its ebbs and flows – time is sacred and while we can no longer see each other as often as we would like – those ties will always be there. Needless to say, I lot of happy tears were shed.

This reminds me of my college friends as well – we are spread out all over the world but when we get together every year, it is as if we never left the comfortable confines of our college house hallway. I now think it is entirely possible to have a best friend you only see once a year or even talk to every few months – if the foundation and love is there, the friendship will prevail all tests of time and distance. Those are the truly delightful relationships.

Phew – it is amazing how emotionally exhausting a wedding and a few bottles of sparkling cider can be.

Leather Shorts and Bog Boots

23 Oct

We have a wedding to go to next weekend so today I shuffled through the two bins where all my “nice” clothes lay packed and preserved for the rare occasion when I may need them. It has been a few months since I last laid eyes on these clothes – gorgeous dresses, velvet coats, delicate sweaters and a variety of former work wear (suits, dress pants, collared shirts). It felt a little unnerving to dig through these – I started to get an urge to be back in the city. This feeling of returning to the urban life where I may be able to wear such garments without being splattered with mud or horse poop.

But here’s the thing – last week I spent a day in the city and was so stressed and hurried about that by the time I got on that ferry to come home, I was so excited to drive down that peaceful driveway and settle back into the country life. My, how quickly a few months in the quiet depths of woods and valleys can change the way you view Ballard Avenue or lunch hour. And so many cars and people! Geez, I didn’t remember it being so crowded and rushed – everyone zooming on to something more important, more urgent. I couldn’t imagine ever living there again.

So I am experiencing this pull in opposite directions – I really enjoy being out here where the librarian knows me by name and fellow parents at my daughter’s school are eager to invite you over but that city allure – the nice clothes, the funky ensembles, the late pizza run still resonate with me. In all honesty though, I haven’t worn get-ups like that since before I had children – they are by far the worst offenses to my clothes. Sure, scooping horse poop in a red leather jacket may not be practical but it is still doable while berry picking with your children in your pale cashmere sweater and heeled boots just doesn’t seem responsible.

How does one feed their desire to have personal style and be “in-the-know” all the while magnetically pulled to farm life and raising animals? Is there a middle ground? And please don’t tell me that means moving to a suburb. Can I not wear my sequined cardigan to the Corner Farmstand? Or crazy beaded hoop earrings with red lipstick to drop off?

This reminds me of Emerson Fry – a clothing designer who lives in NYC and on a farm in New Hampshire. She is often pictured wearing such fabulous outfits such as long leather clothes while tending to the pigs. Now, I know this is for photo shoot purposes only but it makes you think…perhaps you can marry the two?

All images from EmersonFry

The Last Harvest

21 Oct

Apples are the last crop to harvest. Even with just a few trees to pick this year, we were overwhelmed with the amount of apples we had to play with. We kept a few coolers full of the unbruised ones which will be so tasty to eat throughout the next few seasons. With the rest we made over 15 gallons of cider, approximately a gazillion pints of applesauce and a dozen pints of apple butter. Rest assured, if you invite me over for dinner in the near future, you will receive some sort of apple product in return.

Even after all that, we still have buckets and buckets of apples to use up – so I think we will be donating those to Maya’s school and to Finnriver for their “backyard” brew.

Our storage shelf where all the foods that I have preserved this summer/fall sit is now completely full. Not a space left for any other substance. Not to mention the freezer! We now have rows and rows of applesauce, apple butter, green beans, pickled green beans, pickles, tomato sauce and gallons upon gallons of frozen blueberries, raspberries, apple pie filling, blackberries and strawberries. It will be so nice to have these flavors available to us throughout the winter and spring. This winter will give me some time to research additional methods of preserving and perhaps adding some new items to our list – I am eager to try making our own vinegars – balsamic and apple cider. I also just read an article about how dandelions are actually quite beneficial and we are not in short supply of those around here – how cool would it be to learn how to prepare weeds as health food?

Below is a recipe I will be making time and time again this winter…

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More Letters…

20 Oct

Sooooooo…it seems as though my fellow alumnae are all over my initial letter with responses published in every magazine issue since! Not too shabby. I am working on writing a longer more in-depth article regarding the issues and am excited to hear what my fellow Smithies have to say.


Raising a Child in the City by the Bay with Megan Regard Walsh

8 Oct

Please welcome my cousin Megan Regard Walsh to our Where Do You Live series! Megan has always represented the epitome of cool to me – she was the first to introduce me to Gwen Stefani and No Doubt and the first to show me how to draw the Stussy S. So naturally, she ended up in one of the coolest cities – San Francisco. Here she tells us how she ended up there and why it is a great place to raise a child:

Q: Tell us about your family.

My husband and I dated for 7 years before marriage and were married 3 years before Finley. We think we are an only-child household, unless you count our “special needs” pug. We had out daughter in our early 30s, but still managed to be the first of our close friends in SF, so the first year or so we felt pretty alone in the whole parenting thing. But now I make it my goal in life to help my friends make the transition into parenthood feeling supported and optimistic!

We spend a lot of time with my parents, since they moved up here a few years ago. And my sister who has lived with us on and off for the past few years. Having them around is a god send. I can’t imagine myself living anywhere else.

Q: Where do you live? Will you tell us the story of how your home came to be yours?

We live in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. After renting in “the city” for 8 years and paying what seemed like a small fortune every month, making the leap to home ownership just sounded more attractive than continuing to write checks to somebody else. So we bought one of the first properties we saw. It was a total wreck, but unique because it had a big lot and because it wasn’t officially on the market yet when we happened across it. So we jumped on it and put in a bid. The family we bought it from had had it in the family since the 1890s and didn’t really want to deal with a bidding war, so they accepted our offer without showing it. We went into it a little blind, but 3 years and a remodel later, we still feel like we scored!

Q: How did you decide to live in San Francisco?

San Francisco was the nearest “happening” city that I visited often while I was going to college in Santa Cruz. I met Nathan there as a senior and decided to stay at his apartment with him “for a month or two” after I graduated while I looked for my own place. Well it was 2000, during the dot com bubble and it was nearly impossible to get an apartment unless you had 6 months of rent in cash or some other awesome bribe/collateral, and I had neither. But on the flip side, it was ridiculously easy to find a job in tech at that time – I was an art and history major that found myself working on interactive design projects for the Smithsonian and Veuve Clicquot Champagne, so I was happy to see where that would take me. I basically never ended up getting “my own place” and we have been working away, at life, our careers and at marriage, ever since!

Q: What’s your favorite feature in your home? What makes you the happiest about it? Also, what are you dying to change?

We went from having no real bathrooms in our house when we bought it – more like an outhouse tacked onto the back of a ramshackle addition – to now having 2 glorious full baths post-remodel. So I kind of went bonkers designing the new ones. We have red zebra wallpaper in one and tile made out of abalone shell in the other. Being able to pee and wash your hands in the same room is a luxury in itself compared to what we had before, but the new rooms are straight up delightful. I also love that we have legit closets now. I literally had a dance party in one during our house warming party. There were no such thing as closets in all the weird little places we lived before remodeling and most people in SF can appreciate a closet that can house a dance party. First world problems in every way, but dance we did.

Dying to change my countertops. They are an awesome striped stone, but totally impractical to take care of. This time I went a little too bonkers for my own britches.

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Fish On

7 Oct

This Fall has been more than amazing – it is October 7th and it was 70 degrees out. My kids were running around naked all weekend. Honestly, it just doesn’t get any better than this.

We had friends come out this weekend and were able to show them a little slice of our new life – we walked through the pastures, went fishing for trout in the pond, went blueberry picking and cider tasting at Finnriver, ate some fantastic local food and watched our children wander around and have fun.

Mowing the South Pasture

5 Oct

A Little Peek at Doe Bay

3 Oct

Our little vacation was thoroughly enjoyed – it’s funny how quickly you can get used to not having your children around. Kind of scary actually.

So this was our view from our yurt…kind of nuts right?!

Orcas is a really fun place and Doe Bay especially. Thursday night is Pizza Night and Open Mic at the Doe Bay Cafe and it was a lovely way to spend the evening. It sparked some energy into lingering thoughts about farm life, community and background. I have been having a tough time connecting the dots to why I went to the college that I did (which I think really defined me as a person in a lot of different ways) and how, now, I am being seduced by the farm life. How does one get from there to here? In any event, here I sat, amongst a room full of young and cheerful people – most of whom I gathered worked for the resort or perhaps on neighboring farms or what have you – and feeling totally enamored by this community.

On the walk back to our yurt you could still here the musicians trying their hand at the mic…and as I lay down to sleep, thinking about this connection again – how did I go from an Economics major to wanting to live off  the land? And then the craziest thing happened. The girl who was on the mic started singing Strawberry Wine – a song that my friend Micaela would play all the time during our first year of school and to this day takes me right back to the Comstock hallways.

It was a sign…I just don’t know what it means yet.


Living the Life of Sun and Snow with Suzanne Buchanan

3 Oct

When I started this series about where families live and why they chose that specific place, I knew I had to find a family who lived in Sun Valley, Idaho. This is a special town for me and my husband – he is the third generation in his family to make Sun Valley their destination vacation land. His grandfather first planted the seed and his Dad ran with it – he was the quintessential dirtbag skier, sleeping in his car just for the chance to explore Mt. Baldy. His Dad ended up buying property and thus Nick grew up driving the 12-hour trek from Seattle about a hundred times to enjoy summers and winters in the land of sun and snow. When Nick and I started dating, one of our first trips was to the local ski hill to test out my skiing ability. His Dad’s first question about me was if I was “Sun Valley worthy”…which apparently I was as we got married in Ketchum four years later.

So I was very excited to find Suzanne and her family living in Hailey (Sun Valley is officially the name of the resort, Ketchum is the town surrounding the resort and Hailey is the next door…all connected and all equally as awesome). Here she gave me a glimpse of how it is like to live in the valley surrounded by gorgeous mountains and tons of outdoor activities for her family to enjoy. If you would like to follow Suzanne and her adventures, please find her at her blog Team Buchanan. Here we go…

Q: Tell us about your family.

My husband and I have been married for 12 years and that includes 7 moves and 4 different states.  We have 3 kids (ages 4, 6, and 8) that match us perfectly, plus 2 dogs and 1 kitty.  Our most favorite day would include being all together biking, hiking or exploring a new town.  I am most content and at peace when I am with my family.

Q: Where do you live? Will you tell us the story of how your home came to be yours?

We live in Hailey, ID, which is just 15 minutes from Sun Valley.  After being in the Army for 5 years, my husband and I were living in Austin, Texas and didn’t feel like it was our ideal town.  We had a 1 1/2 year old and I was 8 months pregnant when we decided to move to Sun Valley and start a new life.  Best decision ever! We flew in at night and I was shocked and amazed at all the mountains that surrounded us.  I was home.

Q: Why Hailey, ID? 

My husband and I met at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. During the summers, he would go to Sun Valley to work in the bike shop.  When we started dating, he brought me here once and I wrote my parents a post card that said someday I would live here.  We knew that we wanted to live in an active town, surrounded by mountains and had four seasons, so after my husband got out of the Army, we moved to our dream, forever town.
Q: What’s your favorite feature in your home/neighborhood? What makes you the happiest about it? Also, what are you dying to change?

I love how we have elk, deer, fox and who knows what else that like to roam our neighborhood.  I love how we can walk out our back door and go hiking, mountain biking and or just play in the creek.  We live surrounded by nature and exploration.   I would be even happier if my family (all in Arizona) lived closer. Having a Target closer than 66 miles would be a bonus as well.

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