Love and Loss

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Aside from the crazy amount of wedding to-dos that just don't seem to end, I've been struggling lately.

My GFs threw me a fantastic #Bachney in Scottsdale this past weekend. I love them so intensely and I'm so awed by their individual amazingness. The fact they all pick me back and take time out to celebrate me humbles me like little else can. In the midst of all the fun and sun, I couldn't help but feel completely consumed by love and loss. I've always been incredibly controlled when it comes to crying and losing it publicly, but ever since my dad first got sick, I've cried at random for the past three years. 

I tell you this because weddings and marriages and all the love and goodness that accompany them are about more than just the bride and groom. They're about family and tradition and ushering in the foundation of a new empire. I hope my grandchildren can look at Raz's and my day and say "This was the day that built us." That is so powerful. 

And in spite of all the love I have that rocks me to my core, I am equally conflicted because the one person I want isn't here. As a little girl, I thought about it a lot. I thought of what he would whisper when he dropped me in front of my man and the preacher, I thought of him holding my mom's hand, I thought of our dance, I thought of how he would be with his grand babies. I never imagined I'd go it without him.

So.

It's inspired a bit of an catastrophic identity crisis. I know who I am now, but who will I be when I'm supposed to start something new without him? Will I lose a part of me by taking a new name? Will everything he instilled in me still be there when I'm not presenting myself to the world as his creation, progeny and legacy? Will I be an absolute mess between now and forever? Would he be upset that his name and my name will no longer be the same? Full disclosure: I have been an absolute nightmare while trying to figure it all out. And writing it doesn't read back as majorly as it feels. I'm lucky I spent 27 years building relationships people would feel guilty ending. I don't want to pick tablecloths. I don't care about appetizers. I just want my dad. And I'm putting this all out there as a last ditch effort to figure it all out.

"He will be there," everyone tells me. Sure, there will be signs, but until you feel the kind of grief that takes you to your knees, you won't understand that desperate need for a hug and validation on your biggest day. 

If you've ever felt this, know you're not alone. When I clue in to how to deal, I will let you know. That may never happen, but I wanted to put it on the World Wide Whitney - had to - in case anyone going through the same feels weird or confused and sometimes straight up feminist/faminist (noun: someone who protects his/her family of origin while trying to start a new one) about taking a new name. Because it's not about the name and it's not about not wanting to be a part of a formidable unit. I will proudly stand by my man as his woman, but given my circumstance, I refuse to rid myself of anything that came before us.

To girls like me, or to anyone who can relate, I'm standing right beside you saying, "We're in this together, girlfriend, and we will make it." If not, there's always wine, shopping and Housewives. And lots of ice cream. 

Four more weeks until #mrmrspopa. Here's a taste of #Bachney.

Just because you're in wading through dramatic mourning doesn't mean you lose your fabulosity.

Brand Next Door: Queen Anne Farmer's Market

Friday, May 23, 2014

Seattle has a special gift with farmer's markets. After all, we've run the most famous, independent and actually shopped by locals farmer's market in the world since 1907. So it should come as no surprise that many of the neighborhoods in the greater Seattle area host their own each week in the summer - some (Ballard and Fremont are two favorites) year-round just like Pike Place. Each is unique - some specialize in crafters and psychics while others focus purely on produce. All include food trucks. Basically, any market you visit is a win.

And, from June through October, there is one literally (and trust me, I use that word only in the most necessary cases) steps from my apartment. On many a Thursday, you will find me getting off the bus (I know - working on getting less ghetto fab, but when parking's $13/day, you need to save that skrill for shopping), dropping my work bag on the bed, patting Prima's butt, turning to Raz and asking "Are you ready?" From there, we grab our cash - keep in mind most vendors don't accept cards, #oldschoolbutawesome - and charge right down the block to the Queen Anne Farmer's Market. Aside from all its obvious neighborhoody benes, how could I ever resist a weekly outdoor event that makes its own rose? ITS OWN ROSE. It's like they knew I was coming.

Let's all buy it and discuss it like we would a bookclub book. Only substitute "Latest episode of [any iteration of] Housewives" for the book. Caveat: I love books - I just don't love to discuss them.

The Queen Anne Farmer's Market takes up only about a block of what we call the main drag of Queen Anne hill. It contains its musicians and food trucks in a little parking lot across from the middle school and its vendors along a spurt of Garfield Avenue. Raz and I typically take $20 total (or $20 each if it was just payday, #realtalk) and see what we can get. I spend a lot of time ooohing and aaahing over big beets and HUGE blueberries while I'm sure he congratulates himself for locking down such a cheap date. There's just something about things you know came right out of the ground of the person standing in front of you that makes you want to support them. Especially because I moonlight as a champion Walla Walla sweet onion grower myself. Don't believe me? Just ask the North Central Washington District Fair Gods. They'll tell you.

My burgeoning green thumb aside, I'm really excited that the QAFM is coming back into my life in just TWO WEEKS. Check it.
Looking at this crowd makes me anxious. I don't know what they're watching, but I'm usually Matrix-ing through the queue and getting my veggie on. Don't let them scare you. It's actually a very pleasant experience.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention another amazing aspect of my fave farmer's market - Raz took me to it on the NIGHT WE GOT ENGAGED. 
Raz gets me. Don't mind my chins.

Not that our engagement sways me at all because I totally loved QAFM before, but because of that night - and the night we'll celebrate with our closest people on June 28, our little market will always hold a special place for me. If you live in the area, are planning to visit me, or visit Seattle in general, give it a look. It'll give you an insider's view on what it means to live on QA - just don't move here and steal all our houses. Raz and I will be on the market someday and we don't need more competition than we already have. Just sayin.'

Watching Whitney Cook: BIBIMBAP

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Because I'm amazing and feeling increasingly Wifeney (six more weeks, ahhhh!), I decided that maybe I should make Raz dinner again. I let him choose between two of my famous recipes and he picked what we've dubbed "Bibop," aka "California-Style Bibimbap."

We call it Bibop because whenever whenever we try to pronounce the real name we stare at each other and trail off: "Bibibop...?"

"Bimimop...?"

"BIBOP."

High five!

Raz was golfing and Carol was over, so she and I took ourselves to Safeway and got a new bottle of Chardonnay to sip while I got to werk and she kittensat Prima. Princess P kept escaping her to desperately explore the balcony, so I wouldn't call it a complete success. I think Prima was in emotional rebellion because she's used to her G-Ma bringing her presents. Carol won't make the same mistake. Foreshadowing real babies? Idk...

I'd suggest adding a side to this dish. It's easy and delish, but when you're us and "Serves 4" really means "Serves Raz and Whitney," you may have to fight the urge for a snack after. Pot stickers, edamame or some juicy pineapple would likely do the trick.

California-Style Bibimbap
A.K.A. BIBOP
Adapted from Sunset magazine

Serves 4 OR Raz and Whitney + Carol
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients
1 cup jasmine rice
2 tablespoons grapeseed or vegetable oil
1 bunch (14 oz.) kale or spinach, trimmed
1 bell pepper (any color), seeded and cut into cubes
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 avocado, sliced
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
Sriracha chili sauce or shichimi togarashi* (Japanese red chile seasoning)**

Preparation
1. Put rice and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook rice until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat grapeseed oil in a large nonstick frying pan. Cook kale, bell pepper, and garlic with salt over medium heat until kale is wilted, 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Divide rice among 4 bowls and top with vegetable mixture and avocado.
4. Fry eggs in the same pan until done the way you like. Slide each egg into a bowl. Mix sesame oil and soy sauce and drizzle over bowls. Drizzle with Sriracha or sprinkle with togarashi.

*Find at Asian markets like UWAJIMAYA or online
**Note: When I referred to the Sriracha as “Cock Sauce” mid-drizzle, my mom and Raz BOTH looked at me like I was some big perv they didn't know. Not only did I get to feed them, I got to teach them some new slang that will make them feel extra O.G. whenever they pick up a bottle of sauce featuring the outline of a white rooster. Cock-a-doodle doo, the cow says moo!
Beautiful BIBOP. Image source

Pinteresting #1

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I don't know about you, but I can spend hours and hours scrolling through the time suck that is Pinterest. Sometimes life gets too busy to do anything requiring brain power. So! I've compiled my favorite pins from the past week to help you think less and dream more. Because life is all about lazy, gluttonous inspiration, right? Right.

My aunt made this salsa for Raz's and my joint family wedding shower. Apparently the Albertson's in Wenatchee makes authentic Mexican tortilla chips, too. WE WERE IN HEAVEN. Probably ate the whole batch between the two of us. What wedding diet? Source.
Last week, Snoqualmie spoiled me with an ice cream social team at the office. Then they posted this recipe. Obvi I had to pin it. Also, once you go Caffe Vita, you don't go back. Their Cafe Luna is my morning lifeblood. Source.
Who wouldn't want a grown up fort with a fluffy (hopefully cuddly - unlike Princess Prima Suprima) pussy cat? Trick question. NO ONE COULD DENY THIS. Source.
Aside from paying someone to do my nails and hair and find makeup for me, reading in bed is one of my big luxuries. On the few days I actually get to do it, I take full advantage, spreading all the things I'm currently reading across my duvet and creepy sniffing/smiling at each. Source.
Try to tell me this piglet + ice cream cone didn't make you smize. Source.
One of my many life goals is to have a cozy fireplace with wood storage nearby. Another is a full size wine fridge with pouring spouts, but that's more of a long term goal. I can pack wood into a wall and own that I have an automatic fire place far before. Maybe I should dream bigger...hmmmm. Source.
Not to be completely white girl crazy or anything, but my hormones are telling me I need to prep a baby board. Maybe even con Raz into having a pint-sized Popa of our own. Clearly, that means I think about outfits and room decor ahead of things like affording them or having a place for them to live. Source.
Swirled Summer Sangria. Do I really need to speak for it? I don't think so. Source.

Follow me on Pinterest. I'd love to see your inspiration, too.

To My Dad on His 65th Birthday

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Before he got really sick, my dad mentioned he wanted to write a column in the local paper about recreation. He was the Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Richland and really (sometimes annoyingly - read: calling the cops on kids skateboarding on picnic tables at one of his parks while I sat in the car mortified) passionate about his job. It was a lifestyle for him. Work and life had to balance. He was always encouraging me to take time to breathe and create space for myself to have hobbies and interests outside of what I produced at my cubicle every day. He pushed it. He ingrained it.

So, for Father's Day, I got him a leather-bound journal to write it all down. I didn't know what he'd done with the journal until we moved everything out of the Richland house after he died. But when I found it, I saw this:


He hadn't written anything else.

About six months after he was gone, my mom and I attended a grief retreat at the fantastic Harmony Hill. That long weekend helped me work through a lot of what I was feeling after losing him. One of the exercises required me to write him a letter. Another (that totally shocked me and made me feel feisty and rebellious before inevitably caving) was to write a letter back to myself in his voice. That one was tough.

But, inspired by that weekend and the journal I got him, I wrote him a letter for his birthday. If you're not into this stuff, or you just don't care, you don't have to read it. If this ode can help one person feel like they aren't alone in carrying the weight of a major loss, that's all I can hope to achieve. It's pretty raw and unedited. I wanted to show where my mind really goes when I try to put into words everything the people I love mean to me.

Herewith, a letter to my dad on his 65th birthday - here goes nothin':
Well, dad, it's your birthday. Today you would have been 65. I never really thought about the possibility of this, of you not being here for me to celebrate you. I never thought you'd leave - I KNEW you wouldn't. I never thought you'd get sick or you'd suffer. I never thought Raz, mom and I would eat ice cream at your grave, that we'd feel so awkward, helpless and vulnerable. 
But here we are. Year two celebrating your birthday without you. Clearly, I still have a hard time believing it's real. I would have gotten you a really great present. I would have gotten you a card with dogs on it, or one that talked about farts. Because fart cards are funny. We would have eaten a lot of ice cream. I hope you know that.
Do you remember that night at the Beach House when I was about to head home and you insisted on walking me up all those stairs to my car so you could hug me tightly and see me off? I think about that night all the time. Your balance wasn't so great and we told you not to come with me, but you said you were "tired of all these women" telling you what to do. You were pretty tired by the time we made it to the top, but you sure were proud. I was proud, too, because I knew you wanted to be able to do dad things and walking me to my car was one of the things you always did. I'm sure you wanted to kick the tires to make sure they had enough air in them, too. Maybe pick the leaves out from under the wiper blades. Tell me to be safe, tell me you loved me.
When I drove away and saw you, mom and Aunt Linda carefully navigating the steps back down, I watched you in my rear-view mirror. I knew you wouldn't be able to walk me up the stairs again. It was the gift of a memory I'll never forget. A moment so achingly in time, burned forever into our shared experience.
I'm sad we won't get to do simple things like that anymore. I'm sad we don't get to celebrate your birthday together and I'm sad we don't have lots of birthdays to look forward to. But we did have a good run, didn't we? We watched a lot of movies, we ate a lot of ice cream and we had fun just being together. Not everyone gets that with their dad and I got a whole lot of it. We're lucky, you and me.
So, it's your birthday, yes, but I want you to know I celebrate you every day, I see you everywhere and I know you're looking out for me. Raz, mom and I will eat ice cream with you again this year. We'll eat with you every year. Because without you there is no us. You will live on. You will be celebrated. 
I think about you every moment. I love you endlessly. I am you and you are me, forever and ever. As long as I live, my Kouka you'll be.  
See you on the other side, 
Your Bud
The man, the dad, the legend, rocking his 30+-year-old Birks.

Pretty Little Boxes

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed I've been crisscrossing the country the past two weeks. I'm feeling feisty so I'm going to make you go to my Instagram page if you want to see the captions for all these pics [insert sinister little devil emoji here, muahaha], but it's been a lot of fun discovering the country, especially when I get to take Raz with me.

What I will say, though, is I took Raz to Utah because I became obsessed with it after opening a Nordstrom Rack there in November. Now he's almost as into Park City as I am. Those mountain houses, tho!

IMMEDIATELY AFTER getting home, I jetted off to NYC for six days of work and play. I spent a lot of time alone, which in a city like New York is extra crazy because you can so easily get swallowed up in the masses. I found myself feeling lonely and liberated all at once.





On Saturday, my high school BFF, Brittanie, came down from Baltimore and explored Brooklyn with me. At a lookout point in Brooklyn Heights (would totally live there if I ever thought I could survive on the East Coast, #realtalk), we had this awesome sight. As two girls who lost our dads three weeks apart, it really felt like they were there with us. In a city so big and scary for two former Idahoans, it was amazingly comforting.


My dad's birthday is this weekend. This year will be my second celebrating it without him. That feels really weird. Look for more feelings in a dedicated post on Saturday. 

On Ribbon, Lace and The Power of Women

Friday, May 2, 2014

It's amazing how we connect to people in the world today. I met April through Instagram. Through a hashtag. Seriously.

Since then, we've made some magic together. April is my age, a nurse, a mom, a sister, a wife, a performer and a photographer. Her company, Ribbon & Lace Photography celebrates women. It is her one goal to make women feel beautiful, powerful, comfortable, self-possessed, confident - all they are and have the potential to be.

You've seen a lot of her work here, and I can assure you she's cheerily dealt with all of my awkwardness, helping me access my inner fierceness for the benefit of my attempts to become even one ounce of the camera ham my dad was. And for me to show off my love affair with everything Nordstrom Rack and Nordstrom.

So if you're looking to know yourself on a deep and fantastically connected level, if you're looking for someone fierce and beautiful herself and if you're looking to give yourself the gift of celebrating all that is "I am woman, hear me roar," shoot April an email. I sure don't regret it, and I'm confident you won't either.

Tunics and Turning Twenty
Brand Next Door: Spiritual Gangster

SFW (Suitable for Work)
Idahomie
The photog herself, April!
Psst, like her page on Facebook, too, to be the first to see all the latest and greatest.

Majorly Maxxed

Thursday, May 1, 2014

There comes a time when you've been staring at grey skies/computer monitors for far too long, rolling your eyes at the idiotic emails from your "wedding planner," removing a small feline from household surfaces and wondering what weather-appropriate outerwear to put on each morning that you just reach your threshold.

"ENOUGH," you declare. Your fiancé looks over at you, looks back to the NBA playoffs.

And you start desperately online/in-store shopping for maxis. Because maxis = sun = vacation = the potential for tan lines = sanity. 

And when you're in the right place (Nordstrom Rack) at the right time (a random Wednesday in early March) you can find something ABSOLUTELY SINFULLY BEACH-READY for $19.97 (originally $54 at Nordstrom). Just add beach bag, sunscreen on your ear tips (seriously, always forget those), a selection of good books and magazines and you're ready to find that fruity drink umbrella you so deserve.




Maxi: Soprano via Nordstrom Rack
Sunglasses: Cole Haan via Nordstrom Rack
Bag: Steve Madden via Nordstrom Rack
Sandals: Dolce Vita via Nordstrom Rack
Lips: NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Luxembourg
Necklace and bracelet: Gifted from Brittanie
Photos: April from Ribbon and Lace Photography  

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