California Love: Friends Near & Far


ryan ericka and sherri, originally uploaded by funchilde.

I’m back from California. It was just what the doctor ordered in terms of feeling more energized, focused and refreshed. I went out for work of course but had 10 days between the two events I needed to attend, I hit San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Jose and finished up in Palo Alto…and of course, there was that one day in Napa that shall never be mentioned again. You know your day can only get better when you wake up to the phrase “Yall still here?” (Thanks Blaine and Tawana!).

The work part was pretty great. We laughed, laughed, worked until we were so tired we were delirious and laughed some more. My favorite saying at the end of each day was “First round is on ME!” This is for my NY client and I love my colleagues more each time we meet, there are those I miss, but our mix of personalities and workstyles keeps everything moving fast and with alot of fun. You can’t beat that.

I was lucky enough to have gracious hosts and decadent hotels, but of the two I enjoyed the time I spent couch surfing the most. I stayed with Sherri (above right) for 5 days and got to see her beautiful home complete with orange, apricot, plum, and lemon trees (and something I’m forgettingooh, pears).

It was nice to feel domestic and pick lemons right off the heavy branches and make lemonade. No trips to Trader Joes/Harris Teeter/Von’s necessary. Likewise, mojitos with fresh mint from her garden were the perfect welcome. I enjoyed helping out with the fruit picking and clean up, loved cooking breakfast on the grill, we strolled through the Ventura Weekend Market and checked out the San Buenaventura Mission, read (Golf for Women Magazine), napped, read (Back Roads), listened to old school Erykah Badu and Jill Scott, and read some more. Oh, and watched a phenomenal movie (Half Nelson w/ Ryan Gosling).

We’re both foodies, so it was nice to indulge and be indulged-I grilled steaks and asparagus, portabella mushrooms and chicken-apple sausage. She made a crustless quiche, salsa from scratch and an amazing breaded Tilapia. Wine was a staple, a necessity. The weather in SoCal is so amazing that I worked outside on the back deck every day.

We had a BBQ that included Ryan and Ericka (above w/ Sherri) two of our Semester at Sea students who are absolutely adorable, gracious and wise beyond their years. I also got to hang with one of Sherri’s best friends and met this guy (one of my favorite OG’s of Hip Hop-note the capitalization).

I also got word that I’ll be going back to a project with one of my favorite clients, this time for a 9 month (oh lawd) stint. So this trip represents the slow closure of my immediate sexy travels, but I’m excited to be in one place for a while and work on my fitness and health goals, get to know some people better, and plan the next big phase/trip/thing. So, back to New Hampshire I go….!

I’m already researching Mexico, Thailand and an overland Europe to Africa Trip. And I am always game for another jaunt on the Green Tortoise. Whatever it is, I hope to keep making friends around the world because there’s nothing better than re-living your journeys with people who were with you.

More than anything I missed my nephew, and I can’t believe I’m admitting this…felt a touch of baby fever, not that I want to actually birth one, but the thought of nurturing and loving a little person crept up on me. But it might just have been gas from the asparagus. And while I’m happy to be home on the east coast, I can’t say that I missed either the humidity or the mosquitos.

So what’ve yall been up to?

Napa to L.A.: Bloggers Meet Up

Dia & Adrienne Bloggers Meet up, originally uploaded by funchilde.

Lala land is certainly interesting. I think people here take themselves a bit too seriously, but they are all about individual style which I like. Anything goes. And I mean anything.

I have enjoyed hanging out w/ Stella at her fabulous place in Studio City. I can now say I have a friend “in entertainment.” I know she will take Hollywood by storm. It was hard packing her up on the east coast a few weeks ago for the move out here, but she so obviously belongs here that my joy at her good fortune eclipses all that.

I must confess that I have been working hard (really!) and relaxing hard too. Stella’s corporate pad boasts a pool and hot tub in the courtyard which are great “carrots” for getting some work done. Stella is settling in nicely and has indulged me by vacating her kitchen so that I can cook to my heart’s content. She hasn’t even been in the kitchen since I got here so I’m pretty sure I’ll be welcomed back.

I also finally crossed paths with a blogosphere friend and colleague! Adrienne who also blogs for Gadling and her own personal site, is just as charming, charismatic and down to earth in person as she is in cyberspace. A talented writer and journalist indded. We met up for some sushi and drinks and talked late into the evening about all things travel.

I’m off to Santa Barbara/Ventura for a few days. Let me know if there’s anything I should see/do. This is definitely one of the best summers ever. I hope yours is too!

California Love: The Napa Rappa’


Nappa: Kim & Dia w/ Allan @ Peju, originally uploaded by funchilde.

Looooong weekend of work, but it was fun as always. I lurve my colleagues and our clients. Jet lagged as all get out flying from Norfolk to San Francisco between 6 kids. Yeah, 6. But they were all sweet. Berkeley was cool in terms of the weather, swinging 15 degrees or more in a matter of hours. So we fled. Napa Valley is all it has been hyped up to be. If you get a chance visit Peju Provence and experience the “Napa Rappa'” for yourself. I’m on to L.A., anything I should see/do while I’m there (in between the insane amount of work I have to do)? Holla at me in the comments!

Metaphors, Similes, Analogies & Comparisons


Photo: Somewhere In the Indian Ocean. One of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen in my life, we had 3 nights in a row like this and Venus (the planet, not the tennis player) was very bright in the sky. The weather was warm and breezy…perfect.

Life As A House

Upon returning to the US 6 weeks ago, I attended my brother’s wedding reception then promptly slept for two weeks. I ate as many vegetables as possible and declined to turn my cell phone on. Since then I’ve slowly climbed out of my shell, and looked around only to delight in the fact that it is summer. And still early summer at that. Cookouts have been had, toes have been dipped, 18 holes of golf here and there, 9 holes there, tennis and hiking (okay, ONE hike).

I also really, really needed a break from everything. I am not good a slowing down, and when I do I usually stop altogether and I had to really allow myself to just sit for a good while and regroup. I have been going full out since last September, and though everything I’m doing seems (and generally is) fun, rewarding and productive, it is also exhausting sustaining that pace. So I’ve also spent a fair bit of time reading: Backpack, Woman: An Intimate Geography, Chocolate, Eleven Minutes, Fever Pitch, The Curios Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, and so on. I love when I get on reading kicks, one of my favorite ways to fall asleep. I’ve also put in a fair bit of movie viewing time since so much came out while we were gone, films: Blood Diamond, The Departed, Fantastic Four: Silver Surfer, Failure to Launch, etc.

In between that I’m trying to fix up one of the rentals that was just vacated and it struck me how similar the process of fixing up a house and tending to your life can be. I had to do an assessment, figure out what the priorities were, purchase the materials and get to work, slowly but surely, realizing it won’t all get done in a day. And so it is with me. I’m working on my physical health in much the same manner. Going to the gym, eating niblets of things that grow from the earth, avoiding things that end in -ookies, -ake, and -ied. I’ve lost a whopping 4lbs in 4 weeks, I’m convinced its my MIND. My summer goals are:

Workout: Health = #1 Priority

Work: Have Fun Everyday while delivering GREAT service

Learn to Juggle: I’m t-h-i-s close…

Buy a motorcycle. I got my license last summer, and again this depends on how long I’ll be in the USA.

Travel Plans: Depending on how one of the proposals I have in turns out, I may be in the country for a while. If it doesn’t pan out, I’ll probably head back to Latin America in October. If it does, it would be totally fun to work with this group for a stretch, then I’ll probably head to Latin America then Thailand in late Spring 2008. God willin’ and the creek don’t rise, as we say in the south.

Working 9 to 5

Well, not really, but I’m LOVING it. small and medium clients are rolling, proposals out to two others, and some possible international opportunities on the table. I keep thinking..”oh, after I do X I’ll settle down and get a real job…” but I have realized a) I HAVE a real job, and I love it and b) I don’t have to settle down if I don’t want to. Indeed my worst fear is that I’ll fall madly in love and desire to abandon my vagabond ways. I’ll be out in California for most of July. Part work, Part Play. I’m hoping for some quality time with my colleagues, some Napa Valley nectar, some exercise and to hang out with some Semester @ Sea folks. I’ve already hit DC, New York, Chicago and Indiannapolis since I’ve been back (for work), so I guess I’m back in the saddle.

Friday Night Lights

I learned a couple of years ago that I don’t do Friday night dates well, especially first dates or “big” dates. I mean if you have a good friday that means you’ve hit the gym, gone to work, run errands (dry cleaner’s, liquor store-what?), maybe pampered yourself a bit (mani/pedi?) and then to go on a date at 7 or 8 pm? Not me, I am too used to being in the bed by 10:30pm. By the time you add up dinner and a movie its damn near midnight! And goodness forbid if there’s some potential for hanky panky…I’m TIRED. No wonder I’m single, call me on Saturday.

I also had a Friday night recently where I dropped in on not one, not two, but THREE different events, and they couldn’t have been more different. A neighborhood block party, a margarita dinner and a bachelorette party with a Pole Dancing instructor. Yeah, you read that right. I thought it was cute but being more of a “beer and darts” kind of girl, I watched for a little while then escaped to return to the block party. whew. that was close.

Like Water for Chocolate

One of the things I missed about life on a ship is access to a kitchen. Since I’ve been back I’ve been on a culinary run. My family loves my Rasta Pasta and I’ve even got them digging whole wheat pasta! My nephew and I have been living it up and have added a Monkey Cake (complete w/ a banana) and homemade donuts for Father’s Day to his growing list of culinary masterpieces. My favorites so far have been the fish tacos and the lamb gyros, both of which were new attempts for me.

My Mom made a Crab Crusted Steak one night, and my dad pulled all the stops out on a Crab Boil so, the fact that I’ve lost 4lbs is starting to sound like a pretty amazing feat no?

Tell me how you are doing and what your summer goals are in the comments or leave a link to your blog. Cause I’m nosey like that.