the year of the fearless

Seeking some familiar faces and simple entrance into the New Year, I spent the 2013-2014 transition in Harrisonburg for a reunion with college friends, Buffalo Wild Wings, and gin with soda water and rose simple syrup. The night was lively, filled with high-heeled stumbles, jello shot genitalia, bottle rockets (a terrible idea), and plastic cup table games. We survived. And more importantly,  enjoyed ourselves.

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So. Hi, 2014.

I've never been good at New Years Resolutions.

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I often make vague ones, and ones that I tend not to really ever end up doing. (Last year, however, my resolution was to drink more wine, which I definitely did.)  I understand the appeal, of course. New Years is a great landmark to assess your life, and decide what changes you want to make.  It makes you feel so much better about indulging in those shots of fireball and late night pizza, because, heck, you will never do that in the next year. The hard part is forcing that change. You're essentially turning on a green light and yelling GO NOW DIFFERENT and then expect a change to occur.  From my experience, there are two types of change in the world. Forced change and decided change. The forced change come from habitat, or things beyond our control. It comes from when you stand outside a bluestoned dorm room, waving as your parents drive back to their house without you in it for the first time. The first time the wrong person says "I love you." When you're working your first job within your field of study and harshly realize "I hate this." When you go to call someone, and realize you no longer can. That's when we change, because we have to. 

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And then there's the type of change that requires a decision. Change from within. I WILL go to Cycling, even if it kills me. I WILL stop making out with thirty year old men when I'm drunk and in a foreign country. I WILL call my parents.  I WILL get over ______. 

I am not good at either.

Perhaps it's because I'm a Libra.  

Luckily for me, sometimes change is unneccesary. Because like some deep intuition, that thing that we crave already exists within us. It's stays, even when untouched, balanced within us like a mustard seed. An ever-present plant that without the proper care and attention, remains deep in the soil.  There's no need to "change," only to observe, listen, and let the damn thing grow. 

A few nights ago, I enjoyed the company of my good friend Stacey, the Pajama Men, and a snowy DC evening. We ate spicy salads. The food was good, but not nearly as delicious as the conversation between Stacey and myself. Stacey had recently returned from a trip to Israel. Over our greens, we traded stories from our adventures across the pond; hers consisting of camel rides and nearly getting married off, and mine of ginjinha and bike rides along the Portuguese coast.

"So," Stacey asked me at one point. "Tell me your favorite thing, your least favorite thing, and the thing that you learned about yourself." 

Favorite thing: everything. Least favorite thing: leaving. Thing I learned about myself: Uhhhhhh.  

It took me a sec. I hadn't really thought about it before that moment. But upon consideration, I found I learned I have a seed of utter fearlessness.  It was always sitting there, like a box of Samoas in my freezer I totally forgot I had.  

In foreign countries (and even the foreign United State), there is no embarrassment. There is no failure. There's NO (!!!) regret! You're surrounded by people you will most likely never see again, in a place that you may never return to. You are only expected to live, learn, and enjoy.  It's a sense of freedom that explains the wanderlust in all of the adventurers of the world.  

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So for this New Year, I want to remember that a little nugget of bravery exists. I don't want to change; I want to remember: fear can be conquered. Fear is weak. Fear should never be a roadblock in our own little Route 66. 

It's much more fun this way anyway. 

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I don't always whine, but when I do it's because there's not enough wine.

Good afternoon, friends.  How's your day been?  So far I have... 1. Made peanut butter and jelly oatmeal.

2. Gone to yoga and only fell twice.

3. Gotten super psyched multiple times because Kate Rozycki is coming in two hours. (!!!) 

I like fall holidays because I like opposites. Hot vs. cold.  Wet vs. dry.  The chill of a Virginia day in late November vs. the warm interior of my mother’s kitchen.  Yesterday, for example, I spent thirty minutes out by a creek (gloveless, and therefore making me feel pretty earthy for whatever reason) collecting twigs and sticks to create little nameplates for our Thanksgiving dinner table settings.  I strive for all of my interiors to look like an Anthropologie ad.   Though my fingers were red and the bottoms of my yoga pants were soaked, I was content knowing that I would soon be able to walk into my warm, cuddly house.  Coziness is totally worth the initial, swearword-inducing cold.  In fact, I think the chill only heightens the warmth.

…Speaking of which, you know what else heightens the warmth? Wine.

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Wine reminds me of my sophomore year of college. I lived in a disintegrating, though loved, three-story house with seven other girls. We called it “The Brothel.” On Thursday nights, we joined together in our onesies and with a few bottles of Walmart’s finest red (it’s called Lucky Duck, and amazing) and parked ourselves on the couch to watch Anchorman. Or Rock-a-Doodle. Or Shaft.  It was an open door policy on these “Thirsty Thursdays,” and while it would occasionally turn into a small party, the night usually ended with one of us crying and the rest asleep in a flannel lump.

Wine also reminds me of my most recent trip to Portugal, where every day Alex and I drank approximately a bottle and a half each.  (Sorry, Liver.) One night, we decided to give ourselves a “break” and polished off a bottle in the hotel room.  The evening peaked when I sang a rendition of Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” to the bidet. I’d type out the lyrics for you, but they were rated-R and I’m pretty sure I don’t remember them correctly.

So it’s more than safe to say that wine holds a special place in my heart. It’s my preferred drink, and one that connects me to a plethora of fond memories.  Wine is celebratory, casual, and fancy all at once. It’s the perfect beverage for these cold-yet-warm holidays. However, this year I thought I’d bring out wine’s Spanish side and make some Autumnal Sangria.

Did you know such a thing existed? I didn’t until I randomly stumbled upon a recipe while scrolling through Food Gawker.  And since Mish (my mother) put me in charge of providing the mixed drinks for the big day tomorrow, I decided to add Pomegranate-Pinot Noir Sangria and Spiced Apple Sangria to the menu.   The Pomegranate sangria I got from Josie, over at Pink Parsley.  The Spiced Apple will be a Cozy Caravan original, so we’ll see how that turns out.  The concoction includes:

-Pinot Grigio

-Cold apple cider

-Brinley's Spiced Rum

-Ginger beer

-Cinnamon, cloves, allspice

-APPLES.

I don't think there's much that can go wrong with this combination. If something does, I'll just polish it off myself in a failed-mixologist shame. Kidding. Kinda.

I’ll give you a little sneak peak of our typical holiday.  It is, like Brothel Wine Night, an open door policy, so whoever needs a place is invited. This draws in quite the eclectic crowd, so we end up with a dining room full of opposites. (Ehh? See what I did there?) Once Kate arrives, we'll don our aprons and get to work.  I’m making the drinks a day in advance so there’s time for the flavors to dance. And with a low of 23 in the forecast, I predict these cocktails to enrich  and enliven this already delicious day.

Who knows? We might even throw on our onesies.