Burning Out; Burning Bright

Burnt Out; Burning Bright

Contrary to evidence otherwise, I haven’t slipped out the back door of this blog never to appear again. Life just got incredibly full for awhile–the kind of full that results from blizzard after blizzard pushing plans this way and that until they all have to happen in a much more rapid succession than anyone planned. There have been great highs, unexpected lows–but mostly, it’s just been ridiculously busy.

Finally, I’m catching my breath.

As I write this, I’m sitting in a cottage on the east side of Oahu, the island on which I grew up. Trade winds are pushing their way through the Ti leaf plants and then past the curtains. The clouds are threatening rain, which, at this point, is a little like an adorable child trying (unsuccessfully) to be frightening. We love the fat, warm raindrops and the rainbows that come afterward. I love that someone is mowing their grass right now–how many days have passed since the last time I heard that sound?

This is the third year James has come home with me, and for the first time we aren’t skidding across the island, trying to cram in visits with friends and family. After the year of hospital stays, Lyme disease, huge projects, a gigantic office move (for James), and storm after storm, we made the decision to actually do in Hawaii what normal people do: relax.

I have big news to share with you in a few days, but for the time being I’ll be hanging out with my favorite people–my family–eating delicious things, hanging out on the beach, and generally remembering what it’s like to breathe again.

Love, Joy

P.S. Some of my favorite places on Oahu.

Happy Fourth + Mercury Retrograde

Frock Files | The Fourth of July and Mercury Retrograde

We’ll be heading out of town to celebrate the Fourth of July, which I know lots of you are doing as well. Lindsey gave me a head’s up that Mercury is currently in retrograde, which causes all kinds of things to happen including difficulty with travel. Well, that explains the three flat tires we had last week, doesn’t it? My fingers are crossed that our troubles are in the past and that yours are too.

And while you’re thinking about it, you might consider holding off on making any big decisions and purchases until after July 21st. Oh, and try to take it easy on yourself, okay? Don’t take anything people are saying too personally. Mercury Retrograde causes problems with communication too, so it’s best to brush things off and go along on your merry way.

In the event that you don’t yet think I’m insane and want to learn more about this Mercury Retrograde stuff, check these out:

How to Survive Mercury Retrograde
The Old Famer’s Almanac: Mercury in Retrograde 2013
Say Goodbye to the Worst Mercury Retrograde Ever

And for those of you who think this is all woo-woo, here are my favorite Fourth of July posts of the year:

Lemonade Pie (patriotic when topped with berries!)

Five Metallic Star Projects That Don’t Scream Patriotic
Rocket Favors Are My Fave
Patriotic Coconut Pudding Bites (Haupia)

I’m looking forward to seeing you all again on Monday when I’ll let you all in on a secret! In the meantime, I’ll be posting pictures of our getaway on Instagram and sharing fun things on my Facebook wall.

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From Sunshine to Snow

We’re back! If you’ve been following me at all on Twitter, you may feel like I never left at all. This trip made it concrete: I love you guys. While we lay out in the sunshine, I alternated between reading all those back issues of the New Yorker, sipping frozen drinks, and guiltily checking in on my social media. But don’t fret, we got in lots of R&R. And I did the best I could to capture the sunshine and warmth for you. And the deliciousness. Because, let’s face it, when it comes to mouth watering food Puerto Rico has it down to a science.

Did I mention the food? (I think we gained five pounds each!)

Thank you so much for all of your bon voyage wishes last week Monday! They worked. We had an amazing time and even got a little tanned.

And then we came home to this:

Okay, so that’s a photo from before we left, but we returned to essentially the exact same thing. More snow storms and nary a sign of spring. (Except at Target, where the bikinis and tank dresses mock me!)

I’m so excited to jump back in with a craft post, a recipe post, and some sneak peeks at the theme for March. Come back tomorrow, and bring something warm to drink.

Want to see more photos from Puerto Rico and my life here in Massachusetts? Let’s link up on Instagram!

Travel Smarter, Not…Expensiver

I’m going to let you in on a secret: I almost didn’t write about going to Puerto Rico at all. I don’t want people to think we’re living some kind of luxurious lifestyle, when we really aren’t.

We’re lucky to be able to live comfortably — that fact was only made clearer this past weekend when the blizzard hit and we witnessed it from the centrally heated cocoon of our condo. But this trip to Puerto Rico is the result of a couple of weeks’ worth of research and price hunting. If you’re thinking of escaping the cold, it’s totally possible to have an amazing vacation on a budget. Here’s how we did it:

Don’t fall for the resorts. While it sounds great not to think about what you’re spending on food and drinks while you’re on vacation, the reality is that you’re paying for all of it and then some. It’s almost always a bad deal. We found a great hotel with a pool and four restaurants for about a third of the price of the nearby resorts — and on top of that, we have access to those same resorts because our hotel is a sister property. (What’s that? Cake? And we can eat it too???)

Read lots of reviews. The hotel and resort websites make everything look beautiful, but the reviews will tell you what’s behind it all. The one with the sleek pool may have terrible rooms or dangerous bathrooms. We almost booked one hotel, then read a handful of reviews that said the rooms smelled of mold.

Fly during the week. This is equivalent with buying fashion off season — the fewer people you’re competing with for the prices, the better. Avoid flying out on Fridays and returning on Sundays, when prices are bound to be more expensive because of commuters and weekenders. My favorite comparison tools are Kayak and Bing’s travel function. And in case you’re wondering, Bing didn’t sponsor this post (but thanks anyway, Bing!)

Search outside of packages. Sometimes packages are great deals. Other times, you’ll do a lot better booking the hotel and flight separately. This time, we got a much better deal by booking our flight through Jet Blue directly.

Look for specials. Hotels often have discounts for holidays and special occasions. If you don’t see one on the website, call and ask if they’re running any. We’ve gotten everything from free parking to 20% off to meal credits just by asking what deals the hotels have going on.

(And, yes, I know “expensiver” isn’t a word. But it should be.)

Have any travel tips of your own to share? Let’s hear ‘em!

Love in the Everyday

Happy Valentine’s Day, cupids! We’re celebrating over here by spending as much time as possible outside.

Yesterday, as the sun was beginning to set, we jumped in the pool. An old woman sitting nearby asked if the water was cold, and we told her it was. She said, “Probably not as cold as where I’m from: Philadelphia. But it’s okay because I’m here and it’s my birthday!” We wished her a happy birthday and talked about living on the East Coast for awhile. She told us that she hopes next year Philly and Boston both make it to the World Series.

We dried off and James went to order drinks for us. I wished that I had asked him to get one for our new friend too, but he was long gone. I shrugged it off — it was getting windy and she might go inside soon anyway. And how were we to know what she would like? It was probably for the best, right? I went back to reading my magazine.

But then, when he returned a few minutes later he told me he’d ordered our drinks and a slice of chocolate cake (with a candle) for our pool-mate from Philly.

This is why James is and always will be my Valentine.

Over the last month, Gretchen Rubin of the Happiness Project put together a 21 Day Relationship Challenge. It was all about strengthening your connections with loved ones rather than taking them for granted. Here are a few of the ideas that I liked most, which I think we should all practice every day  — not just on Valentine’s Day.

Joanna Goddard once wrote that she and her husband kiss for at least 10 seconds before he leaves for work in the morning. As a big fan of kissing, I’m totally on board with this.

How do you want to inspire more romance into your everyday life?

P.S. I’m sharing some parts of my life that I haven’t yet talked about over on Not Merely Living today. Go there and meet the lovely Mere, who you’ll wish lived next door so you could be best friends.

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