Little Did We Know

Four weeks ago, when we were on our honeymoon aboard our fancy Italian-style Meditteranean cruise, I thought about this post and how I would call it something like “Where we learn the real meaning of Christmas” and talk about how we spent Christmas aboard the ship and missed our families, but were happy to be with each other.  Or I’d call it, “Sheesh, Italians,” after one yelled at me for bumping into him. Or maybe I’d call it “Constipation Nation” where I’d talk about procuring laxatives in a foreign country as a result of 9 days of cruiseship food.

And then a couple Friday nights ago I saw a tweet from NPR that said that our ship had sunk.  The Costa Concordia had run aground off Italy, and deaths were reported.  Same ship. Same route. Same captain. Same crew.

Wowe, wowe, wowe, wowe.

Costa Concordia, two weeks after we disembarked.

So, there’s that.  It’s impossible to tell any kind of story about our honeymoon without acknowledging that any mild complaints we had are now completely quelled by the fact that we didn’t have to fight anyone for a life boat, didn’t have to swim to shore, didn’t have to spend the night in an Italian town while our families in the US woke up to the news with no way to communicate with us, didn’t have to get on a 15 hour flight fresh off a shipwreck. And our only interaction with the man at the center of the tragedy, Captain Francesco Schettino, was an amusing one where he gave us the opportunity to renew our vows a mere 6 days after uttering them for the first time.

Charlie and I with the most hated man in Italy. Ooof.

Little did we know.

What’s the exact opposite of luxury German engineering?

Swedish Crapcan

This. AÂ 1994 Swedish Volvo Crapcan station wagon with the roof cut off.


A few weeks ago while I was in Miami doing girly things like bacheloretting and bridal dressing, Charlie was in Ohio doing equally masculine things at the ChumpCar Longer Longest Day race which takes place over a 25 hour, 25 minute, 25 seconds period of time.  It all seems to boil down to an all night race interrupted only by pouring fuel into the car every two hours.  Judging by the smell of Charlie’s belongings there is also a lot of fuel spilling and sweating involved.  Woof.

I know what you’re thinking, did Charlie bring a pig and a caja china? No, not this time.  One would assume the typical meals consumed at these races involve barbeque protein.  That isn’t too far off.  But since Charlie isn’t a man of averages, he takes his smoker (the size of a large mini-fridge) and a brisket and cooks that all day while they race. Once it’s time to eat, they indulge the way their paleolithic brethren would, except for with what appears to be plastic utensils and paper plates (cavemen didn’t have gasoline on their hands and under their nails).


Chef in racing gear

The chef dons his racing gear.


The way Charlie describes the race it’s an adrenaline-filled fantasy, but once you see all of the safety gear they wear you realize they aren’t racing fluffy clouds.  I choose to focus on the fact that the cars in the race sometimes don’t even finish the race let alone go very fast, and also the fact that their car is an antique Volvo station wagon – a tank for all intents and purposes.


Notice all of the gear?


In the end they finished in 13th place out of 74 cars that managed to finish the race, which is great.  Congratulations, gentlemen!

Major 'tude

The whole team with appropriate amounts of 'tude.


All pictures courtesy of Drew.


Fall Collectanea

 That summer went by fast!  Reflecting on the past few months I realize I didn’t use my warm weather wisely.  This is evidenced by the fact that this is the first summer of my entire life that I didn’t suffer a single sunburn.  How the heck did that happen?

On the bright side, we have managed to cram fun miscellany into our days before the weather gets dreadful.  For starters, we took a trip to San Francisco.  Charlie was traveling to SF for work and Facebook’s F8 conference, so I tagged along for the latter part of the trip since I had never been to the city free love and rice-a-roni built.  Love in SF isn’t always free, as it turns out, judging by the person in the hotel room next to us – but that is a story for another time!  The past few months’ events can best be described by the resulting pictures:



Full House

"What ever happened to predictability, the milk man, the paperboy, the evening TV, you miss your old familiar friends, but waiting just around the bend..."

Antique Sewing Machines
Not the best picture, but hundreds of antique sewing machines line the windows of this SF fabric store.
Cheesecake and Guava

Cheesecake and guava ice cream with a shot of espresso, yayyy!

Then there was that weekend we had a hurricane and we were stuck inside.  So we had a “humanization of dog” photo shoot which resulted in some pictures we used in some wedding-related propaganda.

Professor Coco Loco
Will do anything for treats.

A Coco photo shoot can best be described by one of us hollering commands at Coco with treats while the other tries to take the perfectly timed picture.  We had another photo shoot in an effort to get some images for the table numbers at our wedding.

Okay Coco... staaaaay, staaaaaaay

Speaking of humanizing dogs, we also attended a “puppy pool party” which was sponsored by The Wag Pack. Coco swam and ran so much she was a zombie for the two days following the party.








And... we're wet!

Then there was the weekend I celebrated a birthday, had a bachelorette party weekend in the Keys, and picked up my wedding dress at Rex Fabrics, whew!
It was a happy birthday

It was a happy birthday!

Charlie brought me the most paleo-friendly birthday cake!

Primas and Pals

Rex Fabrics is haute

I wish Rex Fabrics had an adult summer camp.


And last, but best of all… my family welcomed a new human at the end of September!!


Our new cousin Lily!

Caja China? Caja Charlie!

Legend has it, it is physically impossible for a person of Cuban decent to say “no” to a pig roast.  Charlie must have known this when he invited Chuchito Valdes, who was in town for another jazz show at HR-57, to come to our pig party. But let me start at the beginning.

The summer brought along with it the (now) annual “Carlos Classic,” a pig roast party (which we held at the house) sponsored by the nice folks at Clearspring, Charlie’s employer.  The pig roast, in addition to a car racing team, are just two examples of why it’s great to work for Clearspring.

The party would be different this year for a few reasons.  This year, there was a bounce-house/bouncy castle/inflatable lawsuit magnet.  This year there were TWO margarita machines.  This year the weather was nice.  This year, Charlie built his own “caja china.”

A caja china is a cheap wood box you can buy online to cook your pig that is what the average person uses to scorch their pigs.  Average will not do for Charlie.  This is one of the many reasons we love him.

What may have seemed to many like an unnoticeable detail, the “caja Charlie” was a big deal that required no less than 30 trips to Home Depot, and countless hours outside with safety goggles and power tools. Charlie was a pig roaster in shit.

Boy Stuff

pig roaster in shit

Not to be confused with the organic farm-raised pig he chose for the roast. Randomly throughout the week I got updates about the pig, like, “the pig is on its way to the butcher.”  Insert your own mental picture. Charlie’s pig roast box even had a grill on top, so he could cook us lunch while the pig roasted below… like a double oven, but constructed by Charlie.

for lunch: chicken and corn

for lunch: chicken and corn

So it was almost time for the pig roast, Charlie’s dad and cousins came into town to help setup and cook the pig. Being that they’ve all logged hundreds of hours roasting their own pigs-in-a-box, they were welcomed to join the fun.



pig in a box

That's just my pig in a box!

The night before the party, we took Charlie’s dad and cousin to see Chuchito Valdes, that I wrote about before, who happened to be back in town.  Before the show started we chatted up Chuchito who was walking around greeting people. In conversation Charlie sneaks in that we are cooking a “lechon” the next day, and invited him (the son and grandson of grammy-winning jazz legends) to come. So Chuchito responds with the only answer that seemed to be applicable, “How are you going to invite me to a lechon and expect me to say no? Of course!”

the setup

The Chuchito Quintet (hidden drummer)

I got his numba how bout them apples

Charlie and Chuchito exchange numbers

The “artists studio” in the back ended up being perfect for the tables of side items. No one broke their neck on the bouncey house.

bounce, bounce

bounce, bounce

Chuchito came and enjoyed some pig.

Chuchito, quieres un muffin?

Chuchito in the house!

Cubans in Virginia

Chuchito meets Charlie's Pop

A beer pong table appeared out of nowhere.  And our last guests left at midnight.


Mosquito-repelling tiki torches for the win

Carlos Classic 2.0 was a complete success.

It is nor hand, nor foot

Today I write you in reference to the ugly shoes sweeping the nation gym.  I’m talking about these “shoes”:

size 13 shoes/feet/socks/gloves/fingers/toes

Charlie purchased those “shoes” two years ago.  At first I was horrified.  My brain was saying shoes, but my eyes were saying fingers, feet, does not compute. So I did what everyone does with things they don’t understand, I made fun of them.  Secretly though, I was jealous that Charlie could pull those “shoes” off.

Toe shoes make an appearance at the opening morning of lobster mini-season

Pulling cool or trendy items of clothing “off” has never been my forte.  Also, having spent the greater part of 2009 running many miles around an outdoor track, I had a deep appreciation for a “shoe” that alleged to take away shin and foot pain caused by running.

Did someone say "Charlie"?

Did someone say "shoe"?

All your shoes are belong to me.

That which we call a shoe, by any other name would smell as sweet, to Coco.

Lately, though, I’ve seen these shoes EVERYWHERE, and really want some! especially at the gym.  And every time I see someone with them on, I double-take thinking they’re pulling a prom-girl-barefoot-on-the-dance-floor walking on gross gym carpeting, flesh-to-floor.  Is this just a northern-virginia-DC-triathlete-outdoorsy-trend, or are these shoes officially “happening”?

California Dreaming

This weekend we flew to Los Angeles to visit Charlie’s brother, Chris, and his girlfriend Tanya.  Every year Tanya’s family has a huge Superbowl party, so this year we were really excited to go… and defrost. The true winter wonderland is a place that doesn’t involve butt-clenching ice patches and has an extended forecast that looks like this:


True Story

As the trip approached Coco definitely knew something was up.  She started to follow us everywhere in the house.  And the morning of the trip, she plopped herself down by the front door and pulled out all the stops.

Daddy don't leave

Pre-Trip Depression Obsession

Mascot Melodrama

You would think that we were leaving all weekend to play at the grandest dog park in all the land and swim in pools of milk-bones and chicken stock.

So, we headed off to the airport and left Coco under the watchful eye of my cousin Mary who did great as Coco’s substitute mommy.  We flew Virgin America, which felt like more spaceship than airplane with its fancy TVs and European discoteque feel.  I was expecting something like the JetBlue experience with the TVs, but it was better.  Much better.  Virgin is like JetBlue’s hot older brother who is in high school already and tall, and dreamy, but you’re hoping he’ll notice you anyway even though you’re an awkward pubescent 8th grader with braces who uses a Clinique bag to hide your super sized maxi pads because you haven’t discovered tampons yet.

You're welcome Mr Branson

You're welcome, Mr. Branson

Next Stop, Geostationary Orbit

Next Stop, Geostationary Orbit

But I digress… we were going to Los Angeles, the land of respectable temperatures and good times. We landed late, but the view from Tanya’s parent’s house, where we were staying, in the morning was phenomenal. As was the view from Chris and Tanya’s apartment.  Prepare to relinquish your breath:





Charlie, Chris, Pop

Charlie and Chris Kayaking

And that's just the beer.

The refrigerator was ready for some football

It was exactly what we needed after a few weeks of weather-report guided living and shivering our timbers.

Dinner With Our Gracious Hosts

Dinner With Our Gracious Hosts

A Dream Within a Dream

A Dream Within a Dream

At In-N-Out Burger

At In-N-Out Burger



Chris and Tanya

Chris and Tanya

Happy Pale Northerners

Happy Pale Northerners

Bangs a-la Bieber

Bangs a-la Bieber