Let’s Relax, Friday

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The other weekend Phil came up for a Saturday of bowling and darts, followed by an early Easter dinner and cards. We’re all about the Uno and Golf around here…

What are you up to this weekend? We’ve had two busy weekends in a row so we’re hoping to lay low and take it easy. It’s supposed to rain here so it will be perfect for puttering and tinkering around the apartment. I’m making this for dinner tomorrow night and my mouth is already watering.

I hope you have a lovely weekend and here are a few links that kept me busy this week:

A song for Saturday

7 great podcasts to try now that you’ve crushed Serial (I just subscribed to This American Life and Radiolab)

Speaking of, more information about why your brain likes audio storytelling so much

What are your thoughts on this Nike ad?

This has been me one too many times. Made me laugh (and cringe : )

Lovely sandals

Remember our trip to Vals? Apparently this new hotel may be popping up there soon. Yikes.

This book looks incredible. Add it to your must-read list!

The impact of a positive response. It’s funny because I was conditioned to reply, “Finethankyouhowareyou?”, when asked how I was as a kid and still respond that way to this day, with perhaps a bit more enthusiasm and cheer. Thanks Mom!

Have you seen Dove’s most recent Real Beauty campaign promo? I like these short films because they can be empowering, but I also really like this take on it and the films’ propensity toward oversimplification.

 

 

On Morality

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The other day I read David Brook’s most recent op-ed column for the New York Times and it’s been on my mind ever since. Titled “The Moral Bucket List” it’s a bit of a tongue-in-cheek nod to the backlash traditional buckets lists were getting last year, wherein the pursuit becomes more about the accomplishment rather than the experience. That is, are we focusing too much on checking off items on a list instead of truly enjoying a momentous occasion, or more simply laughing at one’s tremendous good fortune? That alone is enough food for thought for one day.

But, Brooks’ article brings up some useful and relevant ideas that I want to mull over with you. Brooks suggests that he’d like to be more like people who radiate an inner light and goodness, people who have generosity of spirit and immense depth of character. To do this, to achieve a higher state of humility and generosity, Brooks proposes we seek to achieve a set of accomplishments on a moral bucket list. Without one he finds, “Gradually, a humiliating gap opens between your actual self and your desired self, between you and those incandescent souls you sometimes meet.”

We should embody humility: “But all the people I’ve ever deeply admired are profoundly honest about their own weaknesses…They have achieved a profound humility, which has best been defined as an intense self-awareness from a position of other-centeredness.”

Self-defeat: “character is built during the confrontation with your own weakness.”

A moderate dependency on others: “people on the road to character understand that no person can achieve self-mastery on his or her own. Individual will, reason and compassion are not strong enough to consistently defeat selfishness, pride and self-deception. We all need redemptive assistance from outside.”

Energizing love: “That kind of love decenters the self. It reminds you that your true riches are in another. Most of all, this love electrifies.”

A calling: “some people have experiences that turn a career into a calling. These experiences quiet the self. All that matters is living up to the standard of excellence inherent in their craft.”

A conscience leap: “[These people] leap out beyond the utilitarian logic and crash through the barriers of their fears.”

While making a case for living a life fueled by morality, Brooks writes, “The people on this road see the moments of suffering as pieces of a larger narrative. They are not really living for happiness, as it is conventionally defined. They see life as a moral drama and feel fulfilled only when they are enmeshed in a struggle on behalf of some ideal.”

It’s a thought-provoking piece about purpose and strength of character. Who do you want to be? Who do you want to serve? What do you mean to yourself? Others?

I would love my life to be full of compassion and love and gratitude and “other-centeredness”. What about you?

(Image of “The Kiss” by Saul Steinberg, 1959)

 

Our Wedding: Before the Ceremony

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adam-kristina-0058Our second wedding was almost 8 months ago but it’s only now that I’m really sitting down to look through the beautiful photos of that day. We used Steven Michael Photo and he did a wonderful job capturing the excitement, sincerity, and fun of the day. We didn’t get our pictures back until just before Christmas and with everything going on that time of year we didn’t carve out much time to go through them; we thought we’d wait until we returned to Switzerland. Then we returned to Switzerland and immediately turned around to head back to Kansas. There never was a right time to look over them all while we were back, hence why I’m only now getting to it.

That’s all to say that these photos–and the ones I’ll be sharing over the next week or so, there are a lot–make me incredibly emotional and grateful. When I think of all Joe, Adam’s dad, has been through the past four months I feel inexplicable joy for the entire wedding weekend. Adam and I had a blast, but everyone agrees that no one had more fun than Joe.

So I hope you’ll indulge me as I share some images from this very special occasion, beginning with events that happened pre-ceremony. Courtney and I got our hair done at Parlor, a dry bar in Leawood. My ballerina bun was completed in about five minutes, with the help of about 50 bobby pins and a can of hairspray, so I got to lounge and read magazines while Courtney’s hair was fluffed and tousled. It was a very relaxing hour and I’m glad Court and I had a little time to ourselves before the rush of the afternoon.

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Courtney and I then headed to Berg Event Space to get ready. They have a spacious bridal suite that was ideal for applying makeup sipping Champagne, and shaking out any last minute jitters. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many pictures of Adam getting ready because he mostly got ready at the hotel and the camera loves me ; ) Plus, the groom’s room was tiny.

A quick note: we loved working with Berg Event Space. Everyone was very professional and prompt and we felt knowledgeable about what the day would look like. Our opinions were heard and that made the whole process feel much more smooth and easy. We also just really liked the space. It has the industrial loft look that is very appealing right now and the big windows looking into downtown KC are such a perk. We would highly recommend it!

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My parents gave me those David Yurman pearl earrings as a grad school graduation gift, secretly hoping that I might wear them for my wedding someday. Little did any of us know that I would actually wear them only a few weeks later for our backyard wedding. It was a treat to wear them again. They were perfect.

Courtney and I elected to do our own makeup because a natural look was important to both of us. I basically amped up what I would do for a special night out and I felt great all night.

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Don’t let that smile fool you. Times were tough right then because I couldn’t breathe. Like, at all. The dress was tight, though I definitely had gotten myself in shape with a little help from my friend. I was nervous that I wouldn’t last the evening in that corset, but I think it was just nerves because as soon as people started coming in and I was distracted, I forgot all about any constriction. In fact, I didn’t give it another thought through the whole evening and also didn’t have to constantly pull up my dress, as strapless dresses often force you to do.

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That print was from a sweet Etsy shop whose name absolutely eludes me at this point. My friend Emily did the escort cards and table numbers. Isn’t her handwriting beautiful? On the card table we put up pictures of our relatives on their wedding days. I love that tradition. It’s such a nice way to honor the love and devotion in our families. I know we’ll look to all of them as sources of inspiration throughout our marriage.

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Soon I’ll share pictures of the ceremony and reception, and maybe even a few photos from our private session during cocktail hour. It appears we were meant to be models.

(All photos by Steven Michael Photo)

 

Tuesday Book Club: Toting Books

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On Sunday Adam and I hiked up the Gurten, Bern’s local mountain, and we each carried a backpack. His is a CamelBak with a water reservoir, but it also contained sandwiches and chips for lunch and a can of Coke. As we walked out the door I quickly ran over the contents in mine: wallet, waterproof blanket, camera, book, tissues, chapstick, sunscreen, cell phone, apartment keys, and even more tissues. “We’re just going up the Gurten,” Adam reminded me gently.

Mind you, some of those seem necessary (the sunscreen for sure) and I have a near-phobia of going anywhere without chapstick, but the book? Necessary? No, but coming along with me anyway? Yes.

I very rarely leave home without a book, even if I’m just going into town for groceries and errands. I never know if I’ll have the urge to stop in a cafe for a coffee or tea and want something with me to read. Or, I may find a sunny bench that looks perfect for a twenty minute rest. I know in that moment I’ll be glad I have a book with me.

What about you? Do you carry a book with you? I know it makes sense to take one if you have an appointment or know you’l be facing a long wait somewhere but I think I’ve transcended that. It’s almost as if the book is a talisman of sorts. Of course some books don’t make sense to tote around. The Goldfinch, Infinite Jest, and even The Luminaries were all a bit of a pain. But overall I just feel better knowing it’s there. Just in case.

 

p.s. Right now I’m reading Wolf Hall, which is entertaining if not also a little over my head at times… Apparently it’s a miniseries on PBS, running from April 5-May 10.

 

Summer TV

Spring has barely sprung around these parts and I’m already looking forward to summer. Although what I have in mind right now isn’t so much of the fun-in-the-sun persusaion, but that’s forefront on my mind as well. It figures since we didn’t really have a summer here last year, rather one long unprecedented rainy season. I truly can’t wait to get back to work on my summer tan…

No, but what I’m thinking about right now is the return of two of my favorite shows: Orange Is The New Black and True Detective. Trailers for both seasons were recently released and I thought you might be just as interested as I am.

Netflix’s wildly successful show–its handful of awards certainly prove it–is back again and I’m thrilled. I’m terrible about causally mentioning spoilers so I won’t babble for long but last season ended with a bang and I’m excited to see where this season picks up. The trailer promises loads of new cast members and the drama that they inevitably bring. Will you be watching?

You might also be interested in Kate Mulgrew’s recent memoir, Born With Teeth. She plays Red in OITNB and her book suggests that Mulgrew has some of the same chops as her tough, no-nonsense character. Among other hardships she has faced throughout her life, Mulgrew tells about giving her child up for adoption when she was only 22 and turning around days later to play a woman giving birth to her first child on the popular soap opera, Ryan’s Hope. She has gumption and guts and her memoir promises the same candor you’ve come to know and appreciate in her character Red. You can read more about it in this NPR article. I especially like this quote: “I’m not one of those who will ever say to you ‘No regrets.’ I have serious regrets. And I think most thoughtful people do, if they live a life as I have lived mine with a great deal of abandon and passion.”

 

True Detective, an HBO original, airs its second season on June 21. Replacing Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey are Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell. Rachel McAdams, who I love, joins the cast as well. It’s shaping up to look pretty mysterious and intense. Not too much is given away in the trailer which is fine with me. I love, love surprises. Did you watch last season? Will you watch this one? Admittedly the storyline was disturbing but the acting was terrific.

Just for fun, here’s a spoof of True Detective that came out about a year ago. It made me laugh out loud. Matthew McConaughey. What a character…

Happy Meetiversary, Friday!

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IMG_2739Adam and I are celebrating our meetiversary this weekend–we met exactly five years ago. Time flies, y’all! It feels simultaneously like the longest amount of time and the shortest. We’ve covered everything and yet nothing at all. As always, I’m looking forward to the next five, and the five after that, and then those after that, and so on…

What are you up to this weekend? It’s shaping up to be lovely here so we’re having a couple friends over tomorrow to smoke ribs and pork shoulder. Can’t wait for the first barbecue of the year! And Adam and I are going to dinner tonight to celebrate our everlasting love : )

I hope you have a lovely spring weekend and here is the usual list of links for your perusal:

A song for the weekend

Does red wine give you headaches? If so, here’s why. Thankfully this is not an affliction from which I suffer, otherwise I shudder to think…

Raiding the French drugstore

“Apollo”. A short story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who wrote the novel Americanah. I read it in January and absolutely loved it.

Can’t wait to make this obsessively good avocado and cucumber salad

This ring. ::swoon::

The language of flowers

Would you get married at City Hall? These couples make it looks pretty special.

Mild sauce for hot people. Just what I need!

This video made me laugh.

 

(photos taken at last year on our meetiversary at the Rosengarten)

 

Wellness at Therme Vals

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Wellness is taken very seriously in Switzerland. People pay good money for pharmaceuticals, wrap scarves around their throats to signal they are sick as a courtesy to others, and employers are very generous with sick days. But more than that, ritual bathing and visits to mineral-rich springs are de rigeur for promoting wellness and good health.

Throughout the country you will find a variety of wellness retreats and thermal baths. Some may include a spa for massages and treatments, others might have a fitness component, though the real focus is mostly on relaxation and refreshing the body. The Therme Vals is best known for its architecture. It was completed in 1996 by architect Peter Zumthor and was quickly named an architectural landmark. Zumthor later won the Pritzker Prize and received cult status among elite conceptualists.

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His design relies on local quarzite, sensory experiences, and a harmony with the natural surroundings. The design is minimal and sleek, with sharp edges and gorgeous sight lines. Just walking around the thermal bath was inspiring and a treat in itself, especial for those with an appreciation for exceptional aesthetics.

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Adam has always wanted to visit Therme Vals and this past weekend was the perfect opportunity as Monday was a national holiday and also the last day of the winter season for the bath. We booked the Kengo Kuma room at 7132, the hotel that is attached to the thermal spa, as a last-minute indulgence and decided to make a night out of it.

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There are several different styles of rooms available and they are all unique and interesting. Adam loved the curved lines and cozy vibe of Kengo Kuma and it had a rustic pine smell to it that really brought the outdoors in. Plus, that shower (!!) is pretty cool.

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This is always a funny season to be a tourist here because most of the winter snow has melted but it’s not late enough in the spring for the grass to really green and flowers to blossom. It’s generally pretty brown and gray, but we didn’t mind: the landscape was still beautiful.

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Our night there was such a special treat. It was so lovely to just rest and relax and soak in all that beautiful wellness. The thermal waters, which are rich in calcium, magnesium, sulphates, chloride, alcalia, and fluoride, help loosen sore or stiff muscles, relieve itchy skin and eczema, boost circulation, improve sleep, and even reduce irritability. Healing indeed! There are warm, hot, cool, and cold baths for a variety of benefits and moods. I especially liked the indoor-outdoor pool because it was one of the warmest and the view of the mountains was extraordinary.

On Sunday night we were able to take part of the midnight silent swim, which is offered only to hotel guests. It was a magical night of swimming in warm water underneath the stars.

Before we left on Monday we walked around Vals, which is a sweet little town. We stopped for lunch at a tiny Alpine restaurant and just cruised the deserted streets.

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Valser water is collected and bottled here. You can drink from public fountains throughout the entire country, but the water in this village was especially delicious and clear.

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I loved this quick getaway. It’s no surprise that I love lounging and resting and Vals Therme and the 7132 was a supreme indulgence. I’d highly recommend it as a romantic weekend trip for any kind of special occasion.

Have you ever been to any thermal baths? We visited Leukerbad last year and really enjoyed the experience. I’ve also been to a Turkish bath in Istanbul, but that was a little crazy.

p.s. The swimsuit I wore at the bath is my new favorite thing! (I have it in the brown motif)

(images of inside the bath via Hotel 7132; all others our own)