Monday, January 30, 2012

Let's get physical, physical!

Bold move, printing your name on the FRONT of your work-out tee

Yes!  I love having an excuse to begin my post with a picture of Olivia Newton John.  My dad would be drooling right now.  Well, if he ever decided to actually check out my blog, that is.

Let's get real for a second.  These days I'm living in a foreign country.  A country whose language is a terror to try to learn.  I'm here for a solid 6 months at least...have nothing but time on my hands...would kill for a part-time job but again, don't speak the language.  This leaves me with a full 14 hours a day to come up with excuses to not go to the gym.

"Gosh, I just showered last night.  Do I really want to go get all sweaty less than 10 hours later?"

"Dang, I shouldn't have eaten that bowl of cereal.  Guess I better postpone my work-out another 4 hours.  Don't want to get a cramp."

"You're supposed to "recover" at least 3 days a week, right?"

"You know, I read somewhere that blogging burns calories."

Anyway, you get my drift. 

I know my sister is screaming at her iPhone reading this right now because those of you with normal lives would KILL to have a spare hour at the end of the day to hit up the gym.

This would be my sister's reaction.  If she were a man.  And if she had palms the size of bicycle tires.

But cut me some slack!!  I've never been one of those girls who will go to the gym and dilly-dally around the weight-room from noon to 3 or hop on the elliptical for 2 hours on level 1.1.  I usually AM the working type.  I'm typically lucky to get off work by 5, home by 6 with enough time before dark to squeeze a 40 minute run in.  So all this free-time is something I'm continually adjusting to.

Where I'm going with this is today I hit up my very first Polish yoga class.  For those of you who don't know, I've been fortunate enough to teach yoga classes overseas in the past - but I've yet to actually take one.

In an attempt to keep from slandering this lovely gentleman's life passion (??) for the next paragraph or so, I'll say this...

Such as the language differs from country to country, so does the style of yoga.  My hamstrings are going to be sore as shit tomorrow - but I'm guessing, not in a good way.  My ankles are suuuuuuper relaxed but my neck and back are in knots (that's the way you want to feel leaving a yoga class, no??).  I straight up sat with my legs and arms crossed while the rest of the class did some lightning fast down-dog-to-bend-your-back-as-quick-and-hard-as-you-can-while-not-breathing-and-then-faster-next-set-for-seven-straight-minutes routine.  Tree pose looked like shrub poseCat/cow looked more like nutria/horse.  And don't even get me started on chaturanga.

I think at one point, this was his ultimate goal.
Also, I almost posted an incredibly horrible/hilarious photo but ultimately felt it was in bad taste.  If you want to see what I was considering sharing, google "awkward yoga" and take a look at the second image.  Ga-ross.

You don't have to be a master decoder of sarcasm to understand that this class wasn't my favorite.  But I'll say this.  Dude was passionate about his craft.  He really was, and I respect that.  I've just never in my life so badly wanted to stand up and say, "Wait, can we just step outside and talk for a few minutes???"

So here is the conundrum I'm faced with tonight.  How can I keep this from becoming a "my country does yoga along with everything else better" scenario and instead make it a "here's how I've been taught - wanna give it a try?" situation.  

Because here's the thing!  I can't stand when people preach that the way they know things is obviously the best and only way.  I'm all for taking a nice, long, meandering look around and seeing what strange things might actually be better than what you already know.  But these guys could use some Chelsie Kuebler by way of Margo Kellison instructed skills.

***Quick note*** Do yourself a favor and check out Mrs. Yoga (as far as I'm concerned) and this rad video I was lucky enough to be a part of a few years back.  But try to hold back the tears you Portland people as Margo moved her talents to the windy city in 2008.

I'll go ahead and wrap this post up with a Namaste, where's the Advil?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mustaching Through The Snow (Part II)

Let me begin by providing a brief explanation for the lack of posts since returning to Poland.  It's certainly not that I've been too busy to write.  It's definitely not because I am lacking in fun memories made during my trip home for the holidays.  It's 100% because my computer charger kicked the bucket somewhere during the PDX-ORD-MUC-GDN journey.  We went to the local Mac store and the Genius (ya sure about that?) who helped us tried to sell us a replacement for nearly 5 times the price I would have paid back home.  Granted, it's wasn't his fault.  Surely the mark-up wouldn't be padding his pockets.  It's one of the interesting things about living abroad.  Day to day items are wonderfully inexpensive, however anything imported (from the US in particular) is marked up a ridiculous amount.  Long story short, I've been known to be a bit of a penny pincher and while ordering from Amazon extended my time without White Fire (not to be confused with my beloved, nicknamed cell phone White Chocolate) in total I saved us about $100.  Wait, all of the sudden it's not seeming worth it...

Alright, well now that my scarce posts (fellow Saxons, that one's for you) thus far in 2012 have been justified, back to Christmas 2011, Oregon style!!

One of my favorite afternoons turned evening was spent at the Doug Fir.  For those of you unfamiliar with this legendary joint, it's one of Portland's best hotels/concert halls/restaurants/courtyard bars around.  If the Brady Bunch meets Log Cabin styled interior doesn't immediately win you over, the incredible happy hour from 2-6pm on Saturdays surely will.

The Doug Fir is like so many Portland hot-spots that, in my opinion, gets filed away in the wrong compartment.  Yeah, you "remember getting wasted there before a Blitzen Trapper show a few years back" or yeah, "You ended up there at the end of that one Eastside pub crawl in 2004".  It's true.  It's a great place to catch a show.  And it's a must-see upon turning 21 - hands down.  But truthfully, it is also just the perfect joint for a few Saturday afternoon microbrews and a mellow time spent with your crew.  Here are me and my sis staying warm beside one of the fab courtyard fire pits.

Myself and Carli, AKA PJ Carlisimo AKA PJ

Below is another picture of my sis and her new man.  The two CJ's.  This duo is amazing and they deserve their very own blog post.  Did I mention they are the greatest and they are coming to visit us in March????  Heyo!

CJ squared
So as you might have guessed, 2 Hopworks IPA's turned into another couple glasses of A to Z Pinot Gris and all of the sudden, the sun was gone.  But guess what shining elements replaced it.  Oh!  None other than Hankus and Sie (and Jennifer, Sierra's old co-worker and fellow cool human).

Carli and Sierra are going to kill me for posting this.  It truly was the best of the bunch.

Well, this one aint so bad of us gals
I'm sure this will come as a shocker to everyone, but we had ourselves the most grand time.  We relived some European travel moments, spoke of the good ol' days on 14th Street.  Overall, it was what this here soul craves when back home.

Just when I was positive the day couldn't get any better, nonchalantly walks in Miss Sara Manzo, scratch that, Mrs. Sara Benz.  The following 3 pictures need no words to accurately depict our time spent together.

Below is our last picture of the night.  Pretty sure that in between carafes of wine we were trying to play Cranium or Guess Who or Apples to Apples or something (hey! it was Apples to Apples).  Funny how a picture can say a thousand words.

From there the night got interesting.  Sub out 1 Manzo for 1 Jen Smith.  Sub out 2 CJs for 2 cheese platters (they got Dots take-out and crashed before 10...I got 2 cheese platters to myself).  Time out for 1 suuuuuper awk conversation with an ex-boyfriend of one of my best friends (not enough Pinot Gris in the WORLD for that one).  Sub out Henry for 2 maybe 3 hours then sub him back in for a few rounds of Won Ton Karaoke at The Galaxy.  Definitely sub in one of my favorite late 20s friends, Nicole McNeel.  Cut to me "Shooping" with a stage full of "hype girls".  If you don't know what that means then we aren't close.  Well, on the public humiliation front at least.

All in all, the night captured everything that I love about Portland.  Fine drinks and dining, laughs for days if not years and the greatest people HANDS DOWN on the face of this GD Earth!

Stay tuned.  Much more to come!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica

Sub a glass of delicious beet juice in place of your morning OJ?  No, thanks. 

Dwight Schrute would love this place.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Home for the holidays! Part 1

Dare I say, best Christmas ever???  I think so.  I do believe so.

An unexpected week off during the season turned into Christmas with our families back in the States and for me, 3 weeks of pure Oregonian bliss.  Michael only had 6 days to soak it all in, but trust that we took full advantage of his rare holiday experience back home. 

Adjusting to the wild time difference had us up before 6 a.m. each morning.  We didn't mind one bit.  For me, it meant coffee with my mom every day.  For Michael it meant an early work-out with Mags and pets and cuddles before breakfast.

Flying in late on the 22nd gave us a full day to reacquaint ourselves with the US of A and reconcile with some of our close friends before the craziness of Christmas officially began.  I knew that I'd have tons of time to get together with our PDX pals so an assembly of Michael's Salem crew was at the top of our list.

First thing first though, we needed to take care of some last minute Christmas shopping.  What better place to "one-stop-shop" than the one and only, Woodburn Outlet Malls.

Nothing says America like a discounted Coach bag.
After 2 months of marked up, brand name gear in Gdansk, it was beyond refreshing to see racks and racks of discounted yet fabulous product.  $300 Calvin Klein jacket for $49?  Yes, please.  $200 Le Creuset pot for $79?  Ok!  But perhaps the greatest delight came from the facial decor we picked up down the street at Tony and Laura's house...and so became our newly adopted Christmas tradition...

Merry Mustaches or Mustaching Through the Snow, as we like to say!

Now THAT'S a good looking couple.
It just feels right.
Mustache swag.

The addition of perfectly structured facial hair made sister wives seem attainable.
Deck those halls, baby.

 A few other notable details of Michael's week home;
  • 5 of his 6 mornings were spent at The Original Pancake House.  I joined him for 3 of those breakfasts.  He settled for my cooking only once (it's nice to take a break from the norm, you know?).
  • I officially lost my title of "Maggie's favorite sibling".  She wouldn't leave his side for 6 straight days.
  • On top of family meals, we managed to chow down at La Margarita, Caruso's (twice), Pita Pit, Jonathan's, McGrath's, Dot's, Burgerville, and Jam (to name a few).
  • It didn't rain once - a clear, blue sky accompanied us each day.
  • On our second to last night, "Power Hour" with us and the two CJs turned into 87 minutes of fun, followed by an exclusive showing of The Big Lebowski at the Clinton Street Theater.  What could be more appropriate than White Russians and The Dude during the holidays??
All in all, Michael agrees that this Christmas will be a tough one to top.  Not only were we together, but we were amongst friends and family in the great Northwest.  What more could Mr. and Mrs. Kubes ask for?

Stay tuned!  There's much more to come!!