Riverdance in Dublin

Quite some time ago, at this point, I was thrilled to be in Dublin, Ireland, and I had the wonderful opportunity to see Riverdance live at the Gaiety Theatre. There was so much more to seeing this show than just simply seeing the show.

I grew up watching Riverdance and Lord of the Dance on VHS anytime I visited my Mom-Mom’s apartment. I was captivated from an early age with the perfectly choreographed step, stomp, and ballet-like dance.

I became even more captivated with the music as I matured. I started learning violin when I turned 9, and trips to Mom-Mom’s led me to those VHS tapes time and time again, fully listening to the Irish fiddle, rather than just hearing it.

Now, 16 years into learning the violin, Irish/Celtic music is my favorite to play. There is a spring to the music that makes it just as fun to play as it is to listen to. It feels more natural to play an Irish jig unaccompanied than it does to play something classical or jazzy without at least a second instrument.

The energy of any live performance always makes for an enjoyable experience. Seeing Riverdance live was particularly something to be reckoned with. The unadulterated joy on the performer’s faces says it all. They hold nothing back- they dance with all they have, they sing with all their passion, they play their instruments with every ounce of energy. And all the excitement they have permeates the air and makes the experience all the more enjoyable to the audience.

Also, I have a thing with symmetry. More often than not, it gives me a better feeling than its opposite. It’s not something I can actually describe, it just suits me better, it feels more comfortable- a random quirk of mine, if you will.

With that to say, Riverdance is a party for me! So much of Irish step dancing involves symmetry. I love the perfection of the dancers- each of their hands held the same way, their heads perfectly straight, often times there are mirror images on either side of the stage- my brain automatically splits the stage in half and then even more so enjoys what it is watching if it is exactly the same on either side. Sure, I have my quirks; it’s fun to enjoy something that caters to your quirks, I’d say.

So to be in Dublin, with most of my immediate family and my aunt and Mom-Mom, and spend an evening eating at Wagamama and then seeing Riverdance live- it was certainly an experience to remember.

And did I mention we surprised Mom-Mom with this show? What a night!

Happy surprises!

15 minutes

Start time: 7:00am

I was in the middle of a dream about listening to a Chris Martin song when I heard, yelling into my ear, “Rebekah! I have a problem! Rebekah! I have a problem! REBEKAH!!!”

I opened my eyes and there was little brother, in his pajamas, jumping and wriggling all around. He saw my eyes open and once again yelled at me about his problem. My alarm clock happened to start going off as soon as I opened my eyes.

I expected the worst- perhaps the entire container of orange juice was spilled on the kitchen floor, or the stove was on fire, or a squirrel was running around the house. So I took a second to wake up, and told little brother I’d help him just as soon as I put my contacts in.

In went the contacts and little brother pointed down a flight of stairs to his problem: a hairy black spider, probably 2/3s the size of my hand, hanging out on the wall.

This is what I got woken up for?!

“You’re going to have to wait a few minutes, I need to change out of my pajamas.”

As was changing, my phone rang. It was the man who transported my car- I was expecting his call. “I’ll be there in 30 minutes,” he said. “There” meaning a place that would take at least 20 minutes to get to. And it was the beginning of rush hour, so who really knew?!

I made a quick call to my Dad who was just outside the house. He needed to drive me to where my car was being dropped off. And we needed to leave five minutes ago. As I was talking with my Dad, I had an incoming call from Mom. I transferred over to her to hear “Beck, Sarah’s bus is 40 minutes late. I just left her at the bus stop so I can get Levi to school on time (juggling 3 schools between 4 siblings) … you and Dad need to drop her off at school right now please.”

Oh, so now we needed to leave 15 minutes ago.

I ran down the stairs (the spider was no where to be found), found Dad, explained the situation, and ran across the wet grass to pull his truck around to the front of the house. He made sure little brothers wouldn’t hurt the house while we were gone, and we drove a short distance and then stopped.

“Here’s the problem, Beck, Ty (dog) was watching the sheep, and I know he was just right here, but now we need to find him … TY! TY, HERE! TY! TY! WHERE ARE YOU?!” Ty appeared, we put him in the truck, and headed down the street to pick up Sarah and get her to school.

End time: 7:15am

Thankfully, I am a morning person. How do you handle busy mornings?

downsizing, simplifying, and letting go

September 20, 2012

This life in LA is now becoming this life in PA. A simple change of that first letter brings a not-s0-simple change for my life as I currently know it. This not-so-simple change means getting rid of things that will weigh me down on my trip back across the country. Simplifying what I own, in an effort to simplify the thoughts running through my head.

That to say, I don’t own very much to begin with. I’m not a hoarder, and I typically do not buy things unless I need them. When I came out here a year ago, everything I deemed necessary for living fit into the back of my Ford Fiesta.

Yes, it still looks like a lot.

But keep in mind it’s a compact car.

But now that Fiesta is being shipped across the country and federal law prohibits personal items from being stored in shipped cars.

And checking bags on a domestic flight can become a bit pricey.

So, out with the old.

But it’s really something I’ve not very good at doing in the past.

I’ve tried getting rid of things time and time again. I got rid of plenty in an effort to fit all of the above into my little car. I left many of my belongings scattered across the country- some in my parent’s basement, some in Jeremy’s parent’s basement. I gave away a few replaceable items. But I held on to a lot.

This time around it’s different. I suppose that in the difficulty of letting go of what I emotionally hold dear, it’s much easier to let go of what I tangibly have. Most of my replaceable items have been sold or given away. I’ve been scouring freecycle boards to see if there’s anything people need that I can give them. I’ve been posting and reposting on Craigslist daily. I’ve taken a trip to Goodwill with a full car trunk of clothes and left with it empty. I do still have some pricer items that I can’t happily just give away, if anyone’s interested (watch, silverware, looping pedal), but all in all, I’ve been amazed at what I’ve been able to let go of.

I do hope that I’m able to continue this mindset of downsizing once I am in PA and go through my belongings that were left in the basement. I am not sure I could ever have the true minimalist mindset or successfully employ the 100 Things Challenge, but there is a lot to be said of living with only what you need.

September 25, 2012

And I have been trying to hold on to only what I need. But what does “need” mean, really? I’ve (male) friends who have moved  with only a backpack or two. Maybe one checked bag at the airport. It seems so simple. But how could I do it? I have a violin. I have a laptop. I have various music electronics- a microphone, a mic stand, a looping pedal, an m-box. I have shoes (and I don’t own as many as most females I know, but I still have six or seven pairs of shoes. Is even that many pairs necessary?) I have clothes and I have hangers to go with those clothes. I have a small floor fan. I have kitchen utensils. I have a small food processor. I have bedding and two pillows. I have toiletries. I have miscellaneous office items. I’ve let go and gotten rid of so many things over the past month. But was it enough? Am I still holding on to things I don’t actually need?

My car does not look half as full as it was when I drove across the country last year. From the outside, you can’t even tell there is anything being stored in it. But a big help for that was two 50lb checked bags at the airport, and an overstuffed carry-on. So perhaps I’m leaving with the same amount of “things” I came with. At what point is too much too much?

I intend to continue to be aware of what I own and any purchases I make. I want to keep whittling down my tangible items to what I actually use and need.

Is there anyone else out there trying to do this? What constitutes an item’s need? What constitutes letting go of something?

Northern Ireland- Tollymore Forest

Last weekend we took a short drive to Tollymore Forest- a whimsical place where C.S. Lewis spent a lot of time and found some inspiration for the Narnia series. It is one of my favorite places here, and I was so happy to go with the little ones in my family and see their reactions to this place that I love. It was such a beautiful evening that as we passed the windy gap on the way, we could see clear to the Mourne Mountains because of how blue the sky was. The evening got darker as we walked through the forest, so my pictures didn’t turn out great, but here is a small selection. Enjoy!


the windy gap- on the way to Tollymore


two of my brothers and I at the windy gap

looking the other direction towards Belfast

And arriving at Tollymore – I loved the light shining through the trees.

The moon over the Mournes.



Northern Ireland- the north coast

Safe travels overseas led to a then lovely trip up to the north coast of Northern Ireland. Carrickfergus CastleDunluce Castle, White Rocks Beach, and Giant’s Causeway were on Saturday’s agenda. It is so nice to be exploring this countryside again- and this time with my entire family!

Carrickfergus Castle

Dunluce Castle

View at Dunluce Castle

Walking down to Giant’s Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

Mom at Giant’s Causeway

my sister and me


More of the Causeway


Looking down on the Causeway (quite the hike!)


Levi at the top of a rock- he’s a mountain goat! (White Rocks Beach)


Learning cricket on the beach.


Siblings on the rocks.


This rock looks like a sheep.

Sunday CSA Birthday- a few of my favorite things

Here are some thoughts that are all related somehow:
(Actual CSA stuff about halfway down.)

You know it’s a good day when a CSA pickup falls on your birthday, right?

Especially after a wonderful birthday weekend to boot.

The best part about now being a quarter of a century- it means my parents have been married for 26 years. I am so thankful to have such good role models in my life.

I was with my family on the east coast last week, and spent my birthday back on the west coast. Family is fantastic, and so are friends- and I have the best friends here in LA. It’s the only way to stay sane in this crazy place.

My birthday weekend included frisbee at the park in the sunshine, sea salt and turbinado sugar dark chocolate almonds, multiple episodes of Parks and Rec (the only TV show I actively watch (and re-watch, and re-watch, and re-watch. I’m on my 3rd time through season 4. Season 4 just ended two months ago. It is the BEST show)), Kerrygold dubliner cheese, fresh tomato, and sundried tomato pesto sandwiches on ciabatta, and games of Farkle and Bubble Bobble while in the company of a small group of friends. My birthday day brought about a three player game of Canasta (hand and foot) and dinner at India’s Tadoori because there is nothing better tasting than vegetable korma over rice with naan. Nothing, you hear? And of course, my CSA pick up, which ended up being probably the best one yet. More about that in just one second.

Presents were a vegan cookbook, teacups, and tickets to see Mumford & Sons at their sold out festival in Monterey.

What does all this mean, really? It means I am surrounded by people who love me and know me almost better than I know myself. Honestly. Everything listed above basically describes who I am. Right down to the fact that I celebrated with just a few friends. In fact, that was the most important of it all. I love having a small community. My introverted self needs time and ability to interact on a personal level with those who I love. A weekend spent with only my closest friends is my favorite way to spend time. Huge kudos to Jeremy, who has been a significant part of my life for two years now, and has learned all of these things about me and more, and planned everything that happened this weekend.

I talked with my littlest siblings (who aren’t that little anymore) on the phone at the end of the night, and naturally each of the three of them asked me “What did you get for your birthday?” I simply listed the three things I just listed above (trying to explain quality time, and good people, and good food, etc, wasn’t going to work- they only wanted the tangible), and two of the little ones were not entirely impressed. But the other, my 9-year-old brother, had a reaction that almost brought me to tears:

“The small things in life matter the most.”

It is SO the truth. But what 9-year-old child can really know that and truly believe it? My little brother is among the few, or the only. He is one of the most sensitive and beautiful kids I have ever known.

An old picture, but one of my favorites. I love this little kid. And the rest of my siblings.

So, with all that to say, I’ll stop the sappiness and get on to the produce. Would you LOOK at this lot?!

Basil, kale, lettuce, apricots, plums, nectarines, patty pan squash, carrots, broccoli, onions, and potatoes.  I mean, seriously now! Everything here is AMAZING!

I am beyond excited for the basil, because I’ve been wanting to try my hand at homemade pesto and use my friend Megan’s recipe. I’ve always avoided making pesto because most recipes I come across call for pine nuts. My grocery budget does not have room for pine nuts. So when I read Megan’s blog and found she uses sunflower seeds, I went right out and bought a package, and they have been sitting in my pantry ever since, waiting for the right time to help me with my pesto endeavor whenever it should happen. Well, it will be happening in a day or two. And I can’t wait!

I was getting tired of not having kale in my fridge, so I bought some curly kale from Whole Foods last week and made four cookie sheets of kale chips with garlic and cayenne pepper (and ate them all) within two days. This kale is not curly kale, and I’m getting tired of kale chips for the moment anyway, so I’m not sure yet what will become of my kale. Perhaps a green smoothie along with my lettuce- because, as always, I never know what to do with a head of lettuce. It’s just not appetizing to me. But it is a beautiful head of lettuce. I tore it into bite-sized pieces and rinsed it all out yesterday, and it’s nice and fresh and a beautiful color. If only I enjoyed it more.

I also recently had a want for carrots and bought a two pound bag just last week. I’ve been craving muffins, and so when I saw that I now have an over-abundance of carrots, my brain immediately went to baking. I’m thinking of trying something truly vegan, with avocado and applesauce included in the ingredients list. I have to do some looking around to figure out how to make that happen; there will definitely be a post about it once I make the muffins.

The fresh fruit, as always, will be (and already has started to be) consumed as is. I know there are a ton of delicious recipes for stone fruit, but I like snacking on it way too much to justify making something different out of it.

The broccoli is being had for dinner tonight alongside orzo with feta, lemon juice, and olive oil. The squash and potatoes will find their way into some roasting pan or stir fry.

What does your CSA look like this week? What exciting recipes would you make with some of these veggies that I use so matter-of-factly and simply? What are some of your favorite things? What would your perfect birthday weekend look like? Have you ever baked with applesauce? (Because I haven’t and I’m just crossing my fingers that it will work.)

再见 (for now)

For the next few weeks, please find me and other members of my family posting on our family’s travel blog.

Amanda and Mom are leaving for India on Monday the 21st, I’ll be arriving in Pennsylvania to help with the kids and last minute everything on Tuesday the 22nd, and Dad and I and the three little ones are leaving for China on Saturday the 26th.

Already posted to the family blog: our itinerary for in China travels, and a letter we received from Levi a few days ago (graciously translated for us by a family friend).

I have a week to brush up on the Mandarin that I’ve been intending to brush up on for the past seven months … we’ll see how well this goes. It took me looking in my Chinese-English dictionary to remember what characters represented “good bye” (as seen in the title of this post).

Until next time friends, witzerland.wordpress.com is where I’ll be!