Busy Brain, Office Ideas.

My apologies for that short blip in our regularly scheduled blog posts. I’ve been taking some time to think and adjust and rest. I’ve been working on, get this, not making myself feel guilty for taking time to watch Mad Men or read Anna Karenina (which I’ve been whittling away at for nearly six months now) or just freaking nap, in the sun like a cat. Novel concept, I know.

Mostly though, I’ve been thinking. About what I’m really doing, and what I really want to do. Trying to compartmentalize now projects from later projects, good ideas from viable ones. Sometimes when my head gets crowded my blogging fingers get a bit gun shy. I can’t exactly explain it. How much I blog has so much less to do with how busy my life is, and so much more to do with how busy my brain is. Busy brain, quiet blog. That’s how it seems to be.

Anyways, aside from all the big questions like “where are we going?” and “are we there yet?”, A and I have been wrestling with smaller yet no less important questions such as, “what color should we paint the office?

Our office has become the dumping place for unpacked boxes, tools, framed thing that are still searching for their wall homes, and all other odds and ends. And while it served a good purpose during moving, we’re really ready to have the office be a functional space in the house.

We’re thinking of going dark. The room gets so much sunlight and I love the look of offices with dark walls. They can really contrast well with all the books and papers.

office dark walls

2744445934_be686a2261

lonnymag_blackwalls

navy dark walls paint

What do you think? I’m thinking of tackling this project next week.

Friday Dreams: Kauai.

I know it was just a couple months ago that we got back from our honeymoon in Kauai but it’s not hard to miss PARADISE when the weather is starting to move from chilly to just really f-ing cold and you’re trying to save money on your gas bill because you’ve never HAD a gas bill before and how does it even work and you’re wearing three sweaters and woolly socks around the house, which really disturbs your ability to do just about anything involving arms so you’re pretty much forced to just sit in a little bundled ball and wait for spring or someone to bring you hot cocoa or maybe just for So You Think You Can Dance to come on, whichever comes first. And I know that last bit about SYTYCD doesn’t even really make sense but bear with me, I’m freezing.

Plus I’m just now realizing that I never even blogged here about our honeymoon after the fact, which must have completely slipped my mind after uploading about 747 pictures to Facebook and posting a recap on EAD so, my bad, guys. Allow me to make it up to you today in our little  Friday dreams weekly travel interlude series for NaBloPoMo.

During our honeymoon, I felt strongly compelled to keep track of my thoughts and our daily activities in a very long and very detailed travel log. Writing it all down helped me better remember what we did each day, which made the trip feel so much longer. And while the full contents of the log would likely bore you to tears, I did want to share a few excerpts with you. Because my flowery language from those dreamlike 10 days actually describes everything so much better than I can do now in my current sarcastic, embittered-by-the-cold state.

So here goes…

Kauai mountains

{Princeville playground, taken with Nikon D60}

We arrived late last night. In darkness we drove north along the coastline on Kauai’s main highway…unaware of the stunning ocean views to our right and mountains looming to our left. The next morning, still getting accustomed to the time difference, we awoke at dawn with the crowing of the wild roosters that seem to roam the island freely. We emerged from our room to behold the view from our lanai for the first time, to our right, the calm blue waters of the Pacific, to our left, the craggy outline of mountains behind a small grove of palms. As I was cooking…I felt a wave of liquid giddiness pulsing through my veins, very real and present. And at first I couldn’t place it, but then I decided it must be nothing short of happiness, in its purest form.

AS Kauai

The drive is always scenic. Trees, jungle, forest, fields, farms, mountains, oceans. Sky. As we drove, it began to cloud over and I felt almost thankful. When the sun is shining and the skies are clear, it’s so achingly beautiful here that it pains you to know that people get to live here. And one day, you’ll have to leave.

Leaves at Waimea Canyon

A homemade guide at the condo pointed us to a few local beaches and we spent the morning beach hopping, first at a small cove decorated with what we assumed were black lava rocks, where we could only sit in the shallowest parts and admire how our rings looked underwater, and then at the larger Hanalei Bay, a wider beach with lapping waves and stunning views of the mountains that framed the bay, the clouds gathering at their peaks as if in conference.

Sunny hat

Then, into the interior. Over rainforest and jungle. Over valleys, where on every side you saw waterfall after stunning waterfall. They would fall down an expanse of steep mountain, stop, pool, then fall again. I’d never seen anything like it. I wanted to visit all of them, but it would be nearly impossible.

Kauai waterfalls

Throughout the tour I was giddy with excitement and drunk with awe of the entire island. Not just it’s beauty, but it’s mysticism and mysteriousness. So much is hidden on Kauai. It is an island that hosts thousands of visitors every year and yet, we know so little of it. The tour made me appreciate our honeymoon spot so much more. As we flew, perfect rainbows floated in midair. Sometimes, I wondered if only I could see them. But they were very real, we could even capture them on photo and video.

Blue Hawiian helicopter tour

I waited for him to climb the mossy ladder the locals had kindly installed before attempting to do it myself. I too had to use the knotted up rope to bring in the main rope for me to use. Once I had it, I started to get nervous. Andreas was coaching me, hold the rope high, find a good spot and push off, but suddenly I felt I couldn’t do it. The water looked so far down. What if I didn’t push off right and came swinging back into the sharp rocks and slippery roots? What if I didn’t grab onto the rope right and just fell straight down into a shallow part? What if I didn’t let go at the right time and came barreling right back into the tree? I realized I’d never done anything quite like this before and unlike ziplining with professionals yesterday, this was completely unregulated. Just a rope and a mossy ladder back the Kauai woods.  Was I crazy?

One day I’m sure we’ll return to Kauai. We definitely left a piece of our hearts there.

Footnote

Mumbled conversation with A just before falling asleep last night:

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“You know, we forgot to buy [plane] tickets to the beach.”

(pause)

“I know.”

“And we didn’t write our vows.”

(longer pause)

“I know.”

“And we forgot to pay the NStar bill.”

(even longer pause)

“I know.”

“Maybe we weren’t so productive after all.”

Snore.

It’S Giveaway Time: Inaugural Edition.

Welcome welcome to The Spotted Duck blog’s very first giveaway!

After winning giveaways from several different blogs, most notably The Bright Side Project (twice) and Yellaphant, I decided to do a giveaway of my own! When I thought about it, it was totally a win-win: I get to give some of my favorite Etsy artists the opportunity for greater exposure, and my readers the chance to win some fun stuff, just like I did.

For now, I can’t say how regular the giveaways will be. Think of them like the care packages you got from your grandma at camp, the ones with the waaay better homemade cookies than anyone else had (ha, suckers). You never knew if she’d remember to send them but when she did, oh man, were you in luck.

(Okay maybe that analogy doesn’t quite work but it’s summer and I have cookies and camp on the brain. Lay off me.)

Anyways, I’m so excited that our first giveaway is from Boston-based soapmaker, DeShawn Marie!

One of the first purchases I ever made on Etsy was from DeShawn’s shop. I think I found her through Etsy’s Shop Local feature, and was of course psyched to support a local Boston craftsperson. My soap arrived super fast (granted it didn’t have far to go, but I was still impressed) and was yummy beyond words.

Three reasons why DeShawn (and her soap) totally rock:
The choices, my god, the choices! Like grapefruit and orange with coconut milk and oatmeal. Or cool cucumber with mint. I get hungry just browsing her shop.
All-natural, vegan-friendly. Her soaps, not her. Although she may be all-natural and vegan-friendly as well, I’m not sure.
Passion. Soap is DeShawn’s life. She travels the world looking for the finest ingredients. She tells a story on her Etsy profile about finding inspiration for her Limoncello soap when she had the drink for the first time on the Amalfi Coast in Italy. Sigh.

Okay, now that I have you drooling…

Here’s how this works:

1. If you haven’t already, take a spin around DeShawn’s Etsy shop here and pick out a soap you’d love to lather up with. You can choose from either her handmade bar soaps or her unique handrolled soaps (a special design she invented that you can’t get anywhere else).

2. To enter the giveaway: In the comments, tell us which soap you’d like to receive and, if you have a particular reason, why you chose that soap. If you don’t have a particular reason, make one up. If you can’t make one up, just tell us your favorite soap and we’ll probably let you slide. ;)

Next Monday, June 8th, one lucky winner will be randomly chosen from the comments. If it’s you (and I’m really hoping it will be because you’re my favorite reader, you know that right?), you’ll get an email from me (!) letting you know you’ve won and asking for your address so DeShawn can get you your soap.

And that’s it! So easy. The contest closes at 12 midnight on Sunday, June 7th, so be sure to enter before then.

Good luck!

Two Enthusiastic Thumbs Up.

Last night, the best and brightest in social media gathered in Boston for the first of many events that use social media tools to incite social change – and I think everyone would agree that it was a smashing success.

I’m sure everyone’s photos and other media will be rolling in over the next 48 hours (if you were there, don’t forget to tag everything with “sm4sc”) but I just wanted to share a few of my favorite moments (oddly enough, all in video form – a rarity for me):

The “Oh no! It’s on video!” moment with @bpw and @adamcohen.

[flickr video=2930275207]

The “Aww, we both did the harmony.” helium-sucking moment with @megfowler.

[flickr video=2930274341]

And the 12second wrap up at 2:30 am with @mknell.


sm4sc post-game report on 12seconds.tv

So great to hang with new and old friends. But best of all – this is only the beginning of so many good things.

Flock To It!: Inaugural Edition

I’ve been playing with the idea of adding a weekly feature to my blog for a few weeks now. I think it creates a level of continuity and consistency in a blog that, so far, has covered everything from childhood to social media to the thoughts that run through my head as I scrub my bathtub.

And let’s be honest, it’s a built in post for those stretches when you just don’t have a lot to say.

I realized that just about every week, I come across something pretty neat on the Internet. Whether it’s the good work that a charitable organization is doing, an interesting project, a fascinating feature story, a useful tool, or just an amusing website or video, I usually have something (that I think is) pretty interesting to share on a regular basis.

And being a natural maven, I can’t help but want to dispense that information–whatever it may be–with the small community of people who do tune in to what I have to say.

Of course I can’t promise each week’s feature won’t be something you haven’t seen before. On the contrary, YOU might have been the one to turn me on to it. I also can’t promise that every post will be something enormously important or life-changing. I do promise to keep it as a positive, fun little “pick me up” every Monday morning.

So here goes!

For this inaugural “Flock to It!,” I’m sharing a very important organization called The Girl Effect (www.girleffect.org) that aims to empower adolescent girls in developing countries with the tools they need to incite real change. The website says the organization is “rooted” in the work of the Nike Foundation and the NoVo Foundation, and is also championed by the UN Foundation, the International Center for Research on Women, the Population Council, the Center for Global Development, and Plan.

Here’s what I love about The Girl Effect:

1. Its mission is one that is near and dear to my heart.

2. Whether you can afford to donate $10 or $100, The Girl Effect makes each donator feel like they are making a difference.

3. Its marketing materials and website design are incredibly well put together. Watch the opening video. Guarantee you’ll learn something.

4. It’s using social media to spread the word.

So there you have it. Once again, the website is http://www.girleffect.org.

Flock to it!

*Thanks to Maura McGreevy for turning me on to this one.