Tuesday, May 22, 2012

{Walk This Way}

I've lived in Arizona since the end of 2004, (minus that little trip across the pond in '06). Yet, somehow I've only explored two of the mountain ranges The Valley has to offer. (For shame!) New geography and mentality has me more determined than ever to try lots of new things.

After scaling both sides of the more popular Camelback Mountain, I knew it was time to follow the recommendation given to me by a bartender from Vintage 95 (who really just bartends to support his real love of hiking and working as a guide). I figured a person with his passion knows his stuff.

My brother, Aaron, was in town from Illinois. Together, we went west in search of Peralta Trail. (More cell phone photos -- ugh -- sorry! One of these days, I'll get back into the mode of using my real camera and taking decent pictures.)

{For you locals: Take 60 to Peralta Road Exit (just passed Apache Junction). Go north on Peralta. You'll pass a school, and the road turns to dirt. Take that another 3-4 miles and park!}

I get excited like a kid at Cedar Point when I get to a new trail head. Adventures await!

This hike didn't disappoint. We saw a 4 foot rattlesnake inches off the trail right off the get! I've always known they're there, but this is the first time I saw one up close and personal. I carefully snapped a picture. Fortunately, he cooperated. (Is it wrong that I assume it was a he just because it's a snake? Ha!) I couldn't quite get it in one shot. That's it's head to the left and it's wee little rattle on the right.

From then on, it was just a series of breathtaking views. We were amazed that they seemed to be ours alone. We saw so few people out there -- maybe a dozen at the most.

My "church" is, without question, Mother Nature. Nothing else resets me like she does! There's something grounding about being in medias res of expansive natural spaces. It reminds me how small I am in the grand scheme of things. Life is not to be taken as seriously as I sometimes like to think. We're really just part of a greater whole. The goal, as I see it, is to do something meaningful with my piece of it, leaving things a little better than I found them. Well, that, and making sure to enjoy the process. Mornings like this put my perspective back on track and reset the flow of my blood

The area pictured above is Boulder Canyon. We hiked all the way through it! The reward? An awesome view of Weaver's Needle. It's the main landmark in the Superstition Mountains, and it's gorgeous!

The hike back was fun -- faster, easier and every bit as beautiful. :) Completely energizing and a great little adventure. Quite possibly, the perfect way to start a Sunday!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

{Run for the Thirsty}

A race for a good cause is such an awesome way to kick off a Saturday morning!

Making a difference
New experiences
Fun with friends
Enjoying Mother Nature

That's the stuff that makes life so good!

Saturday, I got to participate in the Second Annual Run for the Thirsty -- an event designed to help eliminate emergency thirst in Phoenix -- a very real problem.

"Last year over 100 people in metro Phoenix died needlessly due to dehydration. The proceeds from this event will purchase clean drinking water for our homeless and home bound in greater Phoenix, and to stockpile for Arizona disaster relief programs," said Water for our World, race organizer.

Water insequurity is a global issue with enormous scope [source]:
  • One-sixth of the world's population doesn't have access to clean drinking water.
  • 2.2 billion people in developing countries die annually from lack of safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.
  • In the past 10 years, diarrhea has killed more children than all the people lost to armed conflict since World War II.
  • Despite the size of the problem, we have made little progress against it. There were only 181 million fewer people living without safe drinking water in rural settings in 2004 (899 million) vs. 1990 (1.08 billion).
  • 50 percent of people on Earth lack adequate sanitation. 
Amanda signed up to run it with me. It was her first 5k! She did great! All in all, a worthy cause and a great morning!!

Friday, May 11, 2012

{Home Is Where the Heart Is}

My heart belongs to Norah and Oliver. (I miss Killian so much, of course, but that is another story for another day.) I always know I'm home when I walk in the door and see my babies -- plain and simple.

They're both doing so GREAT! (Thanks to all of you who've asked.) I was totally worried about my sensitive Norah when we moved. She was pretty anxious the first two weeks, but since then, she's done fabulously! Oliver -- convinced all the boxes were packed and stacked to create his own personal Cat Kingdom -- never missed a beat.

{More phone and laptop photos ... I'll eventually get my real camera(s) out again!}

Norah and O have a favorite spot in the new house -- on the back of the couch looking through the window that faces the street. They're content to watch the neighbors milling about, switching between stimulated excitement and being lulled to sleep my the warmth of the sun. Of course, this translates into a subtle determination to deform the hell out of my couch cushion -- grrr -- but I can't bring myself to deprive them of their newly found simple pleasure!

Oliver curls up in nooks and crannies. He even weaved his way inside my pillowcase the other week.  He is happy to have a chance for one-on-one time with me -- curling up on my lap when I sit down to read, use the computer or watch TV. Oddly enough, he hasn't been sleeping with me at night much ... I do not love this.

Norah has been busy convincing me it's time for another run, walk or trip to the park. (Nothing new there!) Her allergies are at bay, and she's been extra snuggly in the mornings -- making me a very happy mama. She had a crate at our last house, but I took the risk of not setting it up here. She hasn't seemed to miss it at all! (Which is so awesome because that thing was an enormous eye sore. Score.)

And that's the latest on my little family in the hood. :)
Hope you're all well.
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

{Dipping My Toes Back in the Water}

Hello, strangers!

What is it about a major life transition that puts blogging squarely in the back seat? LinkAdventures has been decidedly neglected for months, and people are one person is protesting my moratorium. Truth is, I miss this 'ole blog of mine. :)

What context it will take on remains to be seen, as the population of LinkAdventures has been reduced by just under 50% and what I want to share on the world wide web appears to be evolving. But I've been told more than once not to overthink everything so damn much! Interestingly enough, I heard this from ten different sources in as many weeks. If that many random people in your life come to the same conclusion and feel compelled to share it with you, perhaps it's worth taking note of, right?

With reckless abandon, I'll share and let the wind blow me and my little blog where it may ...


There's been lots of fun stuff happening. I haven't been very good about getting my camera out to document most of it (bad photographer!). That is, in part, because I'm staying present in the moment and enjoying what I'm doing and who I'm doing it with!

A couple highlights include a fabulous, homemade gourmet vegetarian meal with the Law family; going to see DisneyNature's "Chimpanzee" with Paul for Earth Day; attending a book reading with Jeff to hear seven-time Olympic medalist Amanda Beard talk about her memoir In the Pool, They Can't See You Cry; exploring the Tempe Art Festival with friends; and tea at The Phoenician with my new landlord and friend, Patrice.

I was honored to participate in Pat's Run this year. (I walked it with Lindsay in 2008.) It's a big deal in our community -- a 4.2 mile run for a good cause! My friend, Jeff, rallied and got ready to do it with me even though he hadn't run in six years after having both knees reconstructed. What a trooper, that guy! (If you want to support this cause, you might be able to do a "Shadow Run" in a city near you. Check it out here.) We got to meet up with the Hendricks family before and after. It was a fabulous way to spend a morning!

I've already had a couple sets of company in my new little house in the city. Aaron and Pam (my brother and sister-in-law) absolutely, unequivocally saved me by flying in the weekend after I moved. They were on a very specific mission to turn my box-filled mess of a house into a home in a fast 36 hours. They've both been through similar transitions and they know it can be a scoach overwhelming. We spent the first night reconnecting over wine, food and great conversation at Postino Wine Cafe. But at 5AM the next morning, Aaron was up and making sure us girls were, too! Aaron attacked the living room and Pam was in charge of the kitchen. I bounced back and forth between them. By the time they left on Sunday morning, everything was hung on the walls, my living room and kitchen were completely done, and I had a largely settled place to start my new life. As if that wasn't enough, they bought me all kinds of things to get me started including stuff for my kitchen, tools, plants, coasters, and more. :) I'll be forever thankful to them!! I'm so lucky to have these two (and their four kidlets) to love.

Then, my girl Jen -- who I've been friends with for 22 years now! -- flew in for a fabulous girls weekend. We had so much fun! Wine, a spa day, laughs at The Tempe Improv, good food, an awesome hike on the Cholla side of Camelback Mountain, shopping, and gobs of effortless conversation. A perfect weekend! It was wonderful to be able to focus on each other for four distraction-free days. Moments like that in life make me stop and thank The Universe for the amazing friends (which I count as family) I've been blessed with!

My "LinkAdventures" continue, even though they feel different today. It's all a lifestyle choice. Mine is on a mission to give back, explore, integrate into my community, experience new things, enjoy moments big and small with good people and a smile on my face -- determined to fill the air around me with positivity and sparkle! I think it's going to be a good summer. :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

{365 Days}

My life has changed a lot since last Saint Patrick's Day.

Not to dwell on the past
too much, but I was so sure I knew were my life was headed
this time last year. I was on a new life course and was obsessed with it. Today, it not only
didn't happen like I thought it would, but my path has shifted so completely. I'm still
processing it all. It's taking awhile to sink in and shift from surreal to reality.

Holidays are good mile markers in time. They naturally get me thinking back to what I
was doing that same day the year or decade before. It's funny how the priorities in life
so heavily influence the way I celebrate in a certain moment and time. One thing that
always remains true -- I love having a reason to celebrate! I never plan to let that change.

In 2011 ...

- Lived in the suburbs with D and three four-legged babies
- Just got off the pill and was over-the-moon excited to get my body ready for pregnancy
- Planning a freelance career with a heavier focus on family photography to fit "mom life"
- Doing very little work in journalism
- Drove myself to Cave Creek to shop for house decor and explore a new part of town
- Made Irish Soda Bread and was all about nesting

In 2012 ...

- Single without kids
- Down one four-legged baby :(
- Living in downtown Phoenix with Norah and Oliver
- Weighing 27 pounds less than I did the year before
- Working full time in journalism
- A morning of wrapping up a story and running errands for my new house
- An afternoon with three great friends at Turf Irish Pub in our "hood." :)

One life and moment isn't better then the other.

They're just so different.

One is my present.

The other is my (very recent) past.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.

Anyway, back to the present! Here are some photos from the afternoon ...

Left: Here I am with a real life leprechaun!
Right: Me with my BFF Jeff. I know most of you have heard of him. Well, here he is!
I think this is his first appearance on the blog. :)

We were quite a crew, the four of us. We held down the corner of the patio at Turf for a
handful of hours. Kim and Isabelle got started early -- way before either Jeff or I did. :)

All four of us live within ten minutes of each other in Phoenix.
It's nice to have some company down here! I'm lucky to have such amazing friends!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

{LinkAdventure Meets a Fork in the Road}

Well, hell-o!

My, it's been awhile.

I went from posting almost daily, at my most active blogger
moments, to not posting much at all in second half of 2012.

Why, you ask?

In the words of the great Bob Dylan, "The times they are a-changin'."
Yes, there's been an upheaval at LinkAdventure.
David and I have gone our separate ways.

Of course, this is not the platform for a open-hearted discussion about how and where
things went off the rails. No need to play the blame game or break out a score card.

It just is.

What I can tell you is this ...

I spent my entire adult life with David. We've been together since I was 21 -- just a baby!
Our almost 13 year relationship and eight years of marriage accounted for over a third of
my life.

Now, I am 34, soon-to-be officially divorced and single for the first time since I was 19.

Holy moly.

Together, D and I moved from Michigan to Texas to Arizona to Ireland and back to Arizona
again. My most recent move -- 30 miles away from our house in Chandler -- seemed like
the biggest transition of all.

It felt good and right to stay in Arizona though. It's home for me now. I found a quaint little
1950's rental house in the Historic District of downtown Phoenix.

Everyone wants to know what we've done with "the kids." Norah and Oliver are living with
me. Killian stayed with David. It was a hard choice for which there is no perfect solution.
We're all adjusting to it though.

I'm slowly getting settled and familiar with my new side of town. Moving out of the 'burbs
and into a more vibrant, artistic, eclectic city will be fun. There is so much to explore
and such a great deal of positive energy and motion up here. Plus, I'm super close to work,
which is amazing. I feel like I chose a really good spot, considering I had to make a move.

I've learned real change is messy, powerful, epiphany-filled, exciting, and
terrifying. "All great changes are preceded by chaos," said Deepak Chopra. My life must be preparing for a major renovation because, boy, has it ever been a place of amazing chaos!

Since May, I've been going through what I guess is "the process."
Feeling numb
Feeling anger
Letting go
Crying some more
Moving as fast as possible so as to not think or feel
Attempting to concentrate (sometimes a seemingly monumental task)
Feeling joy
And shopping -- lots and lots of shopping :)

There are still decisions to be made. Specifically, if I'll change my last name and what to do
with LinkAdventure. I started this blog six years ago when we moved to Ireland as a way
to share what we saw and did in the land of 40 Shades of Green. Since then, it's been a
chronicle of our current adventures -- big and small. I guess I'll get clarity on these things
in due time. I'll be sure to let you know when I get it sorted. :)

And with that, LinkAdventures evolves.

We got to a fork in the road and the decision was made to take different paths. Now,
David will make his life. I will make mine. Our journey together is coming to an end.

My new hope is this: We are individually better from our time on this Earth together. And because of who we helped each other become, we'll be able to accept happiness and the
possibilities that await each of us in the future.

Thanks for listening.

And D ... I'll always love you.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

{Shine On}

Sterling silver gets dark and dull with exposure to air, light and moisture. But you don't
have to resort to toxic cleaners to make it shine again. There's a cure of a natural kind that
will solve your jewelry doldrums. It's non-toxic, incredibly easy and only costs a few pennies.

The supplies you'll need:

A shallow, glass dish
Aluminium foil
Baking soda
Silver jewelry
Boiling water
A pair of kitchen tongs

And this is what to do with them:
Crumple the foil a little and put it in the bottom of your pan. Add jewelry.
Sprinkle liberally with baking soda.

Pour boiling water over top. The combination of foil, baking soda and hot water creates
a reaction that eats away the tarnish.

After a minute or so, use tongs to reach safely into the hot water and to pull out your
silver. Place each piece on a towel until it's cool enough to handle. Rinse under water
and marvel at their shiny and clean constitution. Dry them and put them away -- or on!

Another trick to keep your silver happy once it's clean -- white chalk. Toss a few pieces
into your jewelry box, and it'll absorb moisture so your jewelry doesn't tarnish as easily.

You no longer have to deal with silver cleaning chemicals that burn your nose, bother your
skin and offend the environment. And you can wear what you want, when you want.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

{Little Boxes Made of Ticky Tacky}

I've been paper crafting. That makes me a very happy girl. This time, altered paper-
mache houses. Today's the day to share the goods.

First, a note: One would think homemade gifts are a no-brainer way to skirt buying things
made overseas. But I'm fairly sure every item I bought from the big craft stores to make
these came from China. *Sigh* It's a tough battle to wage.

They are still really cute, if I don't say so myself. It basically took me three afternoons to
make these, plus time for gathering supplies. Not bad, huh?

I made one, it's in entirety, with these lovely ladies in November. Christa hosted a craft
day, and I walked everyone through the process of making their own.

From left to right: Me, Kendall, Christa, Sarah, D'Arcy, and Patti

Here's what we made! D'Arcy blinged hers out with wreaths, and she built a paper door.
(I love it.) Patti's is the second one in, followed by mine, Kendall's, Christa's, and Sara's.
Sara hand drew molding to her door frame and made an awesome, textured snowy roof.
It doesn't show well in this photo, but trust me, it rocks. They all do.

With one done, I felt inspired to make four more at home. Here's the finished product,
too late to gift for Christmas 2011 done just in time to give as birthday presents in 2012!

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope you're all healthy, happy and well. Take care.