Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Married.

A long overdue post with the update that I am now, yes, married and sporting a new name.

I thought long and hard over the name-change thing, and ended up going with the best compromise I could come up with, using my maiden name as my middle name, but actually using it. I didn’t want to lose the name by which most of my friends and collages know me. And my so-simple gmail address and URL. JessicaShaw548randomnumber@gmail.com did Not appeal. And I want to have the same last name as my husband and kids. And I always did want a three-name name. And for the record I am completely and irrationally against hyphenation. Passed down through the generations, hyphenation is like a virus that grows and grows until the name itself is un-rememberable, unrepeatable, un-filling-forms-out-able. Like Agent Smith. Or like garbage. Where does it end? Anyway….

A few of my favorite shots are below, and more for my own archiving purposes than anything else, a link to all of them is here:
http://andrialo.zenfolio.com/jessica_taylor.

Very well done slideshow by our super awesome photog here:
http://www.andrialoweddings.com/slideshows/jessica_taylor/

 

Cross-Country Road Trip

At long last, a photographic digest of our cross-country drive:

Day 1: New York to Chapel Hill, NC

Welcome to Delaware

Crossing the Delaware Memorial Bridge

Day 2: Chapel Hill to Asheville to Nashville, TN

Breakfast in Asheville

Delicious brunch at locavore eatery Early Girl in Asheville.

Day 3: Nashville to Arkansas

BBQ in Little Rock

BBQ at Whole Hog Cafe in Little Rock. Rolls of paper towels and six kinds of sauce at every table. What more could one ask for.

Day 4: Arkansas, through Oklahoma, to Amarillo TX

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas, apparently the second largest canyon in the country.

Day 5: Amarillo to Santa Fe, NM

Miraculous Staircase

The Loretto Chapel Miraculous Staircase in Santa Fe. I won't go into why it is miraculous. Just Google it.

Day 6: Santa Fe to Arches National Park and Moab, Utah

Colorado somewhere

Landscape Arch

Landscape Arch at Arches National Park

Day 7: Still in Moab — Arches again and Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands

At Canyonlands Island in the Sky

Day 8: Moab, through Capitol Reef National Park, Bryce Canyon Nation Park to Zion

Capitol Reef

The BlueBerry at Capitol Reef

Day 9: Zion National Park to Las Vegas

Zion

Zion National Park

Las Vegas

Playing the slots in Vegas. Our machine of choice: Kitty Glitter.

Day 10: To San Francisco!

I had hoped to have a wonderful end-of-trip, arriving-in-S.F. photo, but not only was it raining in the Bay Area upon our arrival, we were aslo greeted by awful traffic crossing the Bay Bridge. So…

San Francisco!!

Yoga Retreat in Tulum

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For five days, I did four hours of yoga a day on the beach in a chilled-out, charming beachtown in Mexico. I ate well and drank different kinds of juices at every meal. My arms got pumped (or at least they got sore) and I loved every second of it! Ladycation, you do me right.

I’ve traveled quite a bit in Mexico, both in highly touristy areas and in more off-the-beaten path places. And I have always loved it — the starkly beautiful landscapes, the food, the ruins, the beaches, the mezcal.

Tulum is still unmarred by large, Spring-break-type resorts and is far enough away from Cancun to feel like a totally different world. Apparently, they are planning to build an airport for Tulum — something that, according to my sources, or the guy who sits across from me at work and is also obsessed with Tulum, the locals are not happy about. It’s only an hour and forty drive from Cancun, and the distance ensures it remains as it is — a lovely town that is, yes, touristy but intimate and infused with an artsy, bohemian flavor. Yes, I just want Tulum to stay as is for my own personal pleasure, I admit it. But it will hurt to see yet another off-the-beaten-track place lost to the Spring Breakers.

Here’s a photo of the view from the little yoga studio on the beach — Ok, so this is going to sound annoyingly bougey — but if you’re into yoga and you’ve never taken a class with views of the beach as your point of focus and the sound of the ocean in the background regulating your breath, you’ve got to try it.

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Because I was doing so much yoga each day, I didn’t get to explore Tulum as much as I would’ve liked. I promise myself to rectify that soon! We spent one day at the COBA ruins, took a quick dip in the Grand Cenotes and we spent one afternoon attempting to bird-watch while kayaking through the mangroves at the nature preserve just north of Tulum. (Just in case anyone is clueless to the habits of birds — as I was — they really don’t like to be watched in the afternoon. So really it was more like an afternoon of straight-up kayaking the mangroves.) If and when I go back, I’d like to sample more of the cuisine in Tulum town and along the beach. I heard tell of a cinnamon margarita, which sounds amazing.

headstand

The retreat also gave me a chance to rediscover yoga in a way that I hadn’t expected. Bikram will always be my first yoga love, but our teachers showed me how challenging, engaging, intellectual and rewarding a vigorous Vinyasa flow practice can be. I’m still some months away from getting up into forearm stand and for some reason I have a very hard time with the Vinyasa-version of half-moon pose / ardha chandrasana and always fall out; but I’ve gotten my headstand and shoulder stand strong and I’m getting close to holding handstand for a few moments without the use of the wall.

Scuba Adventuress Extraordinaire

Me, diving

I survived a bleeding scrape, saltwater-induced nausea, having to cart around tanks half my size and twice my weight, flippers that kept falling off my feet and several encounters with fire coral that left swollen, red stingy rashes on my leg and arm. And partially because I think it makes me sound really tough and brave (even though I’m clearly kind of a wimp), I am now totally into diving and can’t wait to do it again. Seriously, though, there is something really exhilarating about the entire process, and of course getting to see into the underwater world is a pretty cool thing.

Split

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We had heard mixed reviews of Split. Some say its cosmopolitanism and nightlife make it yet another euro-trashy destination worthy of skipping. Some say its an architectural gem not to be missed. We stayed for 2 nights, and I found both to be true, to a certain degree. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on wandering through Diocletian’s Palace, shopping in the open-air markets and jewelry stores, and trolling along the waterfront with a gelato. Throughout Europe are cities where historical structures house modern life, but in Split this confluence is particularly apparent and especially enthralling. We didn’t spend much time learning about the history of Split or Diocletian’s Palace; mostly we were content to just meander and take it all in. This is, however, the kind of place where such knowledge may enhance one’s appreciation of the sights even more, so if I were to return, I might make more of an effort.

Peshteta

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While traveling, both Kai and I like to find new things to obsess over. In Croatia, we found Peshteta, a tuna fish pate eaten with bread and served as an appetizer at most restaurants. We had it first in Skradin, and I remember that peshteta being by far the best. We sampled many varieties, including one at a waterfront pizza place in Split (pictured above). I know it looks here just like blobs of tuna, but it’s so much tastier than that.

Hrvatska

This is a long overdue report on my travels to Croatia earlier this year.

It all began over drinks with Kai in San Francisco. She mentioned she was planning to travel to Croatia in the Spring. With who? I asked. Why, by myself, she replied. To which I naturally, and in my standard elegant mode of address, replied, I Wanna Go Too I Wanna go Too!

And so we did go. Since Kai is a busy doctor and all the time busy with doctoring things, she let me take on most of the planning for the trip. Which, naturally, suited me just fine. We had only 8 days in Croatia, with a few days in London on either end, but we wanted to experience as much of the country as possible. So we planned a whirlwind tour of the Southern coastal area, beginning in resort town Zadar, through Split and ending in Dubrovnik, with one venture inland to Skradin and the Krka Waterfalls.

Zadar

It rained the morning we were in Zadar, preventing us from exploring the city. Our one adventure here was taking the public bus to the bus station, which the guide book made sound quite simple, but was complicated by the rain, our bags, the crowds and the fact that the bus station was not labeled as such. We made it, though, and went onward to Sibenik, where we had yet another interesting bus travel experience in trying to decipher which bus was our bus.

Skradin and Krka National Park

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We were travelling just before Easter, which marks the beginning of the high season for tourism in Croatia. We arrived in Skradin to find it a ghost town — empty streets, shuttered restaurants and stores. In wandering around, we would see restaurants washing down their decks, dragging about tables and chairs, beginning preparations to open for the season. In our day and a half there, we had the place totally to ourselves, which was actually a bit disconcerting. It almost felt like we were interrupting the town’s last moments of solitude before they open their doors and welcome in the masses.

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We were the only occupants of our hotel and for the included breakfast, instead of opening up the dining room, they set us up our own little table in the lobby. It was comical, but in an endearing way.

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The town has a lovely pier, where the boat that takes visitors to the Krka National Park and its waterfalls docks.

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Though Krka is much smaller than the famous Plitvice Lakes, it was still a lovely way to spend the morning and was all we had time for anyway. We ended up having to hike there since the early morning boat never showed up to take us.

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Before leaving, we stopped for what was fast becoming a morning, noon and night ritual for us: cappus.

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Are You There Weather Gods? It’s Me, Jessica

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We got snow last week, as you can see in this adorable photo of Taylor in front of our building, wearing his hand warmers. He was very excited to get to wear hand warmers. This is what winter in New York is all about, right? Snowflakes dotting the shoulders of your coat; lightly dusted sidewalks and tree branches; building lobbies aglow; periwinkle blue sky. Something like this:

Winter in NYC?

Here’s the thing. All that urban winter wonderland stuff? This is what it quickly deteriorates into:

Dirty snow in NYC
Yeah that’s not so pretty is it? Snow in New York City has some unfortunate aftereffects: the sidewalks turn into slippery channels of sludge; immense pools of black ice water collect at street corners and all the snow that started off so wonderland-esque gets molded into grotesque forms along the sidewalks, black with dirt and yellow with dog urine. Like the ugliest snow sculptures you’ve ever seen. Anyone who’s lived through a snow storm here knows this.

So why am I getting all Grinchy on what was, in fact, a minor little snow storm that did not in fact leave any such disgustingness behind? I guess it’s because I’m a little bit freaked at how mild this winter has been thus far. Where’s the nasty stuff and bitter cold I hyped all last Fall? I’ve barely suffered at all this winter. Maybe in part I’m getting more used to it (perish the thought). Maybe it’s global warming coming to get us. Probably it’s global warming coming to get us. But I can feel the weather gods out there, just taunting me with all this mild and 40-degrees business. What are they gearing up for? Is it possible that we’ll get through this winter without a major snow storm or prolonged period of blistering cold?

Best Valentine’s Gift Ever?

I don’t know about you all, but if I was given this on V-Day I’d be one happy gal.

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(Thanks Meg for the belated Valentine)