One Year: The Process Before the Move

I moved to New York one year ago on February 7th and I've been reflecting so much on everything leading up to my life here. My life here the last year has been nothing short of the most magical and hardest experience I've ever gone through, but before I get into that let me tell you a little about my time leading up to the move. 
I knew New York was going to be a part of my life before I even left to go back home on my first visit here. When I got back to Portland, I couldn't shake this place. I cried every day for two weeks thinking about this city - and don't think I didn't feel like a lunatic about the tears and these intense feelings about a place I never thought about or really cared to visit. It got to the point that I knew I had to come back and figure out what that was all about, so two weeks after being back home, I booked a ticket back here for a few weeks' stay to check out the city and see if I could possibly move out here. I should write about that time spent here and that process, but that feels like a whole different post...
Anyway, once I decided I was moving here, it was a four months of excitement, sadness, anxiety, and joy. I had no "reason" to move to New York; no job waiting for me, no people I knew, no real path I was planning on following, just a confidence and peace in knowing that this was something I was supposed to do. I had lived in Portland for most of my life, and had made a L O T of mistakes and shitty decisions for a long period of time in my life there; the idea of going somewhere new where I could start over had never been one I'd considered but this seemed like just the thing I needed and I was looking forward to it. But in that excitement and peace and confidence, there was a constant doubting and having to push through that, so I decided that the best thing to do was to dive headfirst into the process of making it happen.
One of the hardest things I did was move out of my apartment of the last few years. That place was a God send in a time I really needed it; I moved in with a roommate I hardly knew that turned into one of my closest friends, in a neighborhood full of friends a 5-10 minute walk in any direction, my sister and her family a short walk up the hill, and a nice stroll away from my favorite place in the city, Mt. Tabor. We had the best landlords right next door that became like my adopted grandparents and taught me so much about being a good neighbor and caring for those around and working hard to stay young at heart (they are in their mid/late-80's and any time we would get snow/ice, Jerry was out first thing in the morning clearing the sidewalks and walkways of everyone on our block to prevent any falls). Apart from the setup of people I had in that neighborhood, I had also worked so hard to turn it into a lovely, welcoming home for friends after my roommate moved out and I took over the whole place; I am not a material person that had a lot of things but I am very intentional about what I bring into my home, so there was a lot of letting go of things I had sentimental attachments to - like my plants I'd had for years and years, many I had grown from little cuttings into full grown healthy babes. But I had to do it, so I sold/gave away 98% of my belongings and moved in to the guest room at my mom's.
I will never, ever take for granted the encouragement I did and still feel from my family during this whole process and all of their help. I admit that there was some pride about being 33 and moving into my mom's and living with her and my little sister, but being able to do that and spend that time with them and save money is something I am so grateful for. It's not to say it was easy - moving in with your mom and teenage sister when you're in your 30s is not for the faint of heart, ya'll! - but the fights and discomfort felt at times does not trump the memories of being cuddled up on the couch with my mom watching many episodes of Law & Order: SVU and getting to know my little sister even better since because of our age difference, I had never really grown up living at home with her. 
Then there was the walking away from basically my dream job to move to a place where I had no job... I had been working at a shop for a little over a year when I decided to move, but had known for a while that I did not want to be there anymore, so I quit. Which then left me with no job while I was supposed to be working to save to move, but I knew it was the right thing to do. And it really was, because literally the next day I got a call from a the manager of a friend of a friend's who was looking for a private chef/personal assistant. They knew I was going to be moving but after meeting with the guy I was going to work for, we decided it was a great match and I'd do the job until I moved and would help them find a replacement. It tuned into one of the best jobs I have ever had; I basically went from a part-time chef to full-time managing the house he lived in and overseeing projects in his other homes, furnishing the kitchens with the best of the best (do you know what it feels like to go into Sur La Table with a credit card to buy all the Le Creuset your heart desires?!), buying plants and flowers, cooking with the best ingredients ever and even getting to take home so much food he wouldn't use to bless my family and friends with. 
And then there was the hardest thing of all - moving away from my family. My family like all families out there is not a perfect one, but one thing I never ever doubt is our love for one another and even while there have been hardships, we have been together. Other than a short stint in Idaho and then Texas on my sister and brother-in-law's part, I had never lived away from them... and never away from my nephews, whom I saw all the time (excuse me while I wipe away tears streaming down my face at the coffee shop as I write this, but just the thought of them and not being close to them is making me cry). Knowing that I wasn't going to see them at the very least once a week broke my heart so much and honestly made me reconsider moving many, many times, but knowing that this is something people have done over and over and it didn't mean we lost our relationships with them helped (we moved from Mexico when I was little and there is not one aunt/uncle I have ever been cut off form or forgotten!). Also, I've never been more thankful for FaceTime than I have been this last year.
All these things are normal things that people all over the world do and have done over and over for decades and hundreds and thousands of years, and honestly not anywhere close to as hard as it was for my parents when they moved to the States from Mexico and it has been for millions of immigrants and refugees, I know that, but as simple and even amazing as it is that I had the opportunity and privileges to move to New York City with money in the bank and a chance to start a new life, it was hard. Definitely the biggest and scariest thing I have ever done in my life.
And I can't wait to tell you how it's playing out in the next post :)


















The Best Date I've Ever Been on Was With NYC

Y'all. The last time I wrote about NYC was over two years ago, a quick little blurb about spending some time there on a quick visit... and now here I am almost a year into living in this city!
Obviously, a lot happened between October 2015 and now but as I come up on almost a year of living here, I keep thinking about this one very specific day during that visit, the day that I felt completely wooed and swept off my feet by this place the way people talk about how they were wooed when they meet THE ONE. It involved ramen, baseball, the AMNH, lots of walking, and John Lennon, so it's really no surprise that I fell so hard.
I came New York because my friend Luisa was here shooting a cookbook, and she flew me out to tag along/shoot BTS of the process and just hang out. The morning of October 15th, we went to shoot a profile in Williamsburg which was a lot of fun, included cake and lots of laughter, and was followed by an amazing lunch at the Wythe. After that, I went into Manhattan to make it to the American Museum of Natural History, the place I was the absolute most excited to visit. You see, when I was little I wanted to be three things: an astronaut, a marine biologist, and Mary Poppins, and the AMNH had the planetarium and the giant blue whale I'd dreamt of seeing since the first time I saw in the pages of some magazine when I was little, so I knew I had to get to it. I met a friend who was also in town visiting from Portland and we spent a few hours walking around in awe - and I absolutely teared up when I walked into the Hall of Ocean Life and saw that whale in real life. 
After leaving the AMNH, we walked around the Upper West Side and Central Park for a while, coming to Strawberry Fields, which was on my list of spots to visit since my love of John Lennon runs deep. Having been so close to his birthday, there were flowers all around the Imagine circle, and people were taking photos while a group of haggard looking dudes with the sweetest spirits and run down instruments led us all into some very off-key but truly beautiful singing. 
We left there to head to the East Village to get some Momofuku ramen, which I had heard so much about and with ramen being my favorite food I knew I had to try, and of course it was delicious. After dinner we decided to walk around for a while since it was so nice, so we got ice cream and just wandered around aimlessly for a bit. 
It had been such a perfect day, couldn't imagine it going any better, but the city had one more move to make. It just so happened that that night my all-time life-long favorite baseball team, the Dodgers, were in town playing against the Mets in NLDS. I had really wanted to go see them play, but a few days earlier one of our players had broken one of their players legs in a dirty play and tensions were running pretty damn high between the teams, so there was no way I was going to go to Citi Field in Dodgers gear to cheer for them smack in the middle of all those angry fans. But as we walked around the East Village, we turned the corner and I saw what looked like a lot of Dodger blue in this one spot. I walked closer and saw that spilling out the door and onto the steps of this bar were nothing but Dodger fans watching the game and cheering so loudly. How I happened to randomly walk by a Dodgers bar in Manhattan on the night of the last game of the series, I'll never know, but I do know that getting to watch and cheer along with all those people made such a huge impact on me that I couldn't shake. It might sound silly, but it felt personal, like that moment was tailor made for me, and I knew I had to do something with it.
Since moving here, there have been so many serendipitous moments like these, but that one day full of those moments capped with Dodgers gold was the day I fell in love with this place, the main reason that exactly one day and four months after first stepping foot here, I landed in Brooklyn to start my new life. This city has completely won me over, and like any good love story, it hasn't been without conflict and hardships, but that one day in October will always be perfect and I'll look back on it knowing I fell in love in just one day. 

Backyard dinner party for Society6

A few weeks ago, I was asked to work on a backyard dinner party piece for Society6's blog; it combined cooking, baking, hosting, writing and photographing (my favorite things!), so of course I jumped at the chance to do it. As much as I enjoyed getting to do all those things I love, I was pretty surprised at how much of an emotional impact it had on me in the best way. But, before I get into that, I wanted to share a bit of how the whole thing came together and the incredible people who helped make it a success. 

The first person I reached out to when I got the job was my super talented friend Liz Michel to help with styling. The woman is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to setting up spaces to welcome people into, and I could not have been happier with the job she did for the evening - and letting us use her front yard as the setting!

Kyle D'Auria is a woodworker and owner of Deoria Made, and the minute I got my brother in law on board to make his brisket (seriously y'all, I've never had better brisket than the one Josh makes!), I knew we had to use Kyle's gorgeous butcher blocks to serve it on, and he kindly also made a couple of serving boards for cheese and fruit that went along with the meal.

Now, you guys have seen me post about Mazama and their ceramic mugs and glassware before, and I was excited to use their line of wine & cocktail glasses in another shoot. They had just come out with a new color of wine glasses that looked so great with Enso wine in it and I know is a perfect addition to any table setting, whether in a backyard or something a little classier ;)

I was also honored to have our friends over at Stahl Firepits bring one of their fire pits over for us to use. Guys, these fire pits are not only so aesthetically pleasing and well designed, they are also very practical in that they are made for outdoor use and made to withstand the elements (if you live in PNW, you know what I'm talking about) and last a lifetime. Not only that, they are so easy to assemble and can be stored flat or upright, taking up almost no space!

Lastly, I wanted to mention my sweet workplace, MadeHerePDX and how wonderful they are! Not only did I purchase some of my favorite party goods like the wine, the Lime Coriander Bitters for the G&Ts and my favorite candy of all time (Tom Bumble!), I was also able to source some props from them and get time off to do this. Plus, one of my dearest friends that I happen to work with has started selling her linen napkins there and made some especially for the party; too sweet!

OK, and now that I'm done bragging on some of my favorite makers, I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to my dear friends who were a part of this dinner! This shoot, bringing together my favorite ways to be creative, made me feel more inspired than I had been in a long time. I've said it before and I'll say it again - nothing makes me feel more alive and useful and loving than getting to host and feed and serve those I love through something as simple as a meal. And to have this be something I can do for work blows me away. Not only that, but the amount of encouragement and time given was overwhelming in such a humbling way. I pride myself - to a fault sometimes - on being able to "do it all" on my own. I have my ways of doing things and can just put my mind to it and get it done without anyone, but allowing others into that with me made this so much better! Reaching out to makers and friends about this and it being greeted with excitement made my insecurity of not being a "professional" at this disappear and was replaced with a confidence in my skills. Having my brother in law spend time on making the main dish and letting me borrow his truck to pick up and drop off the rentals was amazing, as was having my friend Mark give up his whole day to help me in the kitchen and my friend Ashley do two early morning furniture loading/unloading stints and runs out to the rental place in St. John's. Extra props were brought just in case, a nice camera was lent without hesitation, the courtyard was generously mine to use as needed, and every single person checked in to see if I needed anything and had the most encouraging and kind things to say and remind me that this is something I love doing and should keep striving after. 

Thank you so much to Stephanie and the rest of the crew at Society6 for this chance to work with y'all! I could not be more thankful that I got a chance to do this piece, work with the people I did, and share such a special evening with the people I did. And I can't wait to have this happen again :)







NYC x Instax

A couple of weeks ago, I got to go to NYC on the most last minute, impulsive whim. It was the most unexpected trip in so many levels - more on that to come on a post this week! - and I couldn't be happier I went. 
One of my favorite things that happened while I was there was what you'd call a happy accident; after I finished shooting my first roll of film and was winding it, I pulled too hard and the film came out, not allowing me to wind it into the canister. Since I knew I wouldn't be able to do remove the film without exposing what I'd just shot and losing those images, I thought I'd be limited to only one camera. I convinced the girls to walk me to B&H (God bless them for putting up with my urgency in getting it taken care of!), and when I was there I found out they didn't have a lab that could help, so I'd have to wait until I could find a darkroom in NYC.
I was pretty bummed, but my wise friend Erica told me to not let my experience become dampened by this little bump in the road and to just make do with what I had - and then I saw a little Instax camera so I figured I could use that as a replacement for the one on the fritz. 
Little did I know that I would end up absolutely loving shooting with that little guy and would go through almost 70 sheets of film in four days :) It was so fun to not think too much about setting up a shot at all and not have any editing to do! So here are some of my favorite I'd like to share with you guys - hope you enjoy!

One Year

One year ago yesterday, I woke up knowing it was a day of so much to celebrate - my dear friend and roommate was getting married the next day so we were having a bachelorette party for her that night, it was my sister and brother-in-law's wedding anniversary, it was one of my closest friend's birthday, and another one of my closest had gone into labor with her first kid. There was so much joy and happiness around me and I was so excited for everyone and the busy day of celebrating that was going to be taking place; but I also felt that gross inward focused feeling creeping up and it started to take over in my head. It was jealousy and insecurity and the feeling of being forgotten by God - where was MY husband? MY kid? Why didn't I get celebrated with big parties? What about ME? So while I was happy for my friends and all that was going on in their lives, I quickly decided to mask - not deal with - my feelings, and decided that I had the right to get drunk that night to not have to think about these things. 
The day was full of fun and some moments of real joy - celebrating K and seeing her big day around the corner, seeing a very deserving A celebrated by other friends, that first picture of A/O's gorgeous baby boy, knowing that my sister was celebrating another year with one of the best dudes I know and couldn't be happier to call my cuñado - but there was this feeling of pity for myself and I was "dealing with it" by drinking. 
As the day went on and I went from one celebration to the other, I was overwhelmed with how angry and bitter I was and decided to leave a party early and went home, where a couple of friends met me and we sat around my front porch drinking for a couple of hours. Those two hours ended up being a time of all of us venting and basically talking shit about things, and while I didn't end up getting drunk the way I used to, I still went to bed drunk and with a bad attitude. 
The next morning I was thinking about the previous day and I couldn't stop thinking about how my crappy entitled attitude had laced all the good with negativity; not for anyone else, but for me. I had made everything about me and what I didn't have instead of being grateful for all the good that those I love dearly had been experiencing that day. As I was thinking about this, in my head I just kind of dismissed it with, "Well, if I have a shitty day or feel bad, I should be able to get drunk." And as soon as I thought that, it was like having the wind knocked out of me, because for me, it should be the absolute last thing I should turn to as a coping mechanism. 
You see, it wasn't that long ago that drinking was an out of control thing in my life. It was a normal, every day, dysfunctional thing that ruled my life and ruined a lot of things in my life. I used it to cope with everything - or more like avoid everything - and it took a toll on me and those around me. There are relationships that I ruined that I will never have again, and that breaks my heart. There are relationships that I thought were ruined and have been restored due to lots of hard work and the grace of God. There are nights I won't ever get back, so many regrets, memories I wish I could get rid of, and consequences I still have to deal with due to all of that. And while it had been about three years since my drinking had been that bad, there were still one or two nights a year that I had turned into that old person I disliked so much because I allowed myself to go to drinking as my way of coping. 
So on September 7th, 2014 I decided to take a break from drinking at all. While for 99.7% of the time drinking wasn't an issue for me, the fact that there was even a slight chance that I could turn back into that person made me want to not even give it a slight chance of happening. Honestly, I thought it would last about a month and then I would go back to just being able to handle it well. And here we are, September 7th, 2015, and I still have not had a drink since, making this the longest sober time period since I was 16 years old. 
In all honesty - IT'S BEEN HARD. It sucks so much of the time and it especially did those first few months. I realized that I am actually not a good dancer and that what I do on the dance floor is not cute so I should probably stay off of it so as not to offend others. I realized I am actually far more shy than I ever knew, especially in social situations when I had to talk to people I didn't know well or at all. I realized how much more fearful I am and how much importance I put on what others think of me. I became so much more aware of every thing I did and said because they were my responsibility. And these things all came from knowing I didn't have an excuse for my actions that I was drunk, or the "liquid courage" to dance like a fool or talk to people or not care what others thought of me.
And I felt E V E R Y T H I N G. You guys know that scene in Mean Girls where that girl stands up and says "I just have a lot of feelings"? That's been me this last year. I don't know that it's that I have more feelings or just that now I am actually allowing myself to feel what I feel (like right now as I am crying while writing this), but everything has been magnified. And if you know me, you know that I am already an emotional person and this last year has been a very hard and interesting one on its own, so this doesn't help! :)
But while it has sucked a lot of times and it's been exhausting and I have had to face a lot of things I didn't want to, it has also been an incredible thing. It has forced me to actually deal with what is happening and forced me to grow. It has been challenging, but it has made me more productive and creative by learning to occupy myself, not just distract myself, with other things when all I really want to do is go out and get drunk until I don't feel hurt or forgotten or pissed or lonely, and work through those things while doing so. It has made me more intentional with the things I do and say and more aware of how those things affect the people around me. It has made me get out of my comfort zone and reach out to people when I all I wan't to do is hide and isolate myself. And in a weird way, it has made me more confident and less fearful of what others are going to be thinking about me...because while I may not be the best dancer (think Phoebe when she runs put on a dance floor), it doesn't mean I don't love dancing and enjoy myself when I'm doing it, even if I look like a fool!
Above all, it has made me more aware of the presence of God in my life and His constant pursuit of me and all He is doing in my life. It has made me see all that He has been working out in my life and how far He has helped me come and not focus on what He hasn't given me and hasn't done. It has helped me cling to Him in ways I never thought I needed to do because I was clinging to something else first, and it has brought a comfort and peace amidst some of the toughest times I've had that I had not felt before. 

Yesterday morning, I woke up in my roommate's new place that she has with her husband because I am watching their dog while they are off celebrating their one year anniversary. I saw my friends' parents at church and they were so excited to celebrate their first grandkid's first birthday. I hugged my brother in law and congratulated him on another year with my sister. I shared a day with my friend whose birthday it was along with the many others who love her and celebrate her the way that she always does for others. I snuck into the kitchen for a minute and was wrapped up in a hug with two dear friends that let me tear up with true joy and happiness and nothing else for everything that was going on. I still don't have a husband or a kid or have big celebrations thrown for me, but that was not what I was thinking about - I was thinking about what the Lord is doing in my life and loved ones' lives in this past year and how glad I am that I have been present for it, that I have been given His strength to be more selfless and fight against things that damage me, those around me, and the memories I am storing up. It's not to say that there are not times where those things come up - the jealousy, loneliness, feeling forgotten - but now I have found better ways to deal with them and work through them because I am not numbing myself to everything. And while I never thought I would get to a year of being booze free and I don't know if this will be a lifetime thing or not, I know that right now, being present in the good and the bad is far more important to me than really good gin and tonic on a hot day or a whiskey on a cold one. 

Xochitl - An Introduction

Hey there! Thanks so much for taking the time to check out my website! 

I figured a good way to kick things off is by introducing myself. My name is Xochitl Adriana Jaime-Aguirre. Simple enough, right? Growing up, I hated my first name, Xochitl, because when we moved to the States nobody could pronounce it, everybody thought that was my last name and Jaime was my first name, and so to make things easier, I started going by my middle name, Adriana, which is much easier to say! But as I grew older, I came to really embrace and love my first name as I found out more about it. There is a legend of Xochitl being a badass Aztec princess, it means "flower", and it is the day in the Aztec calendar for creating beauty. That last part really stood out to me when I found out about it because that is what I hope to be able to do and show to you guys through this site. 

Creating is something that I have always done, but it was such a normal part of my life that I had never looked at it as me being a "creative". I have been working on embracing that side of me through my love for photography, of being in the kitchen and with writing over the last couple of years, and it's been a really incredible, fun (and sometimes terrifying!) process. I am loving getting to meet and collaborate with people I admire, pushing myself out of my comfort zone, trying new things, and falling on my face but learning from it! I feel like I've spent a while trying to figure out what it is I want to do and have actually figured out more of what I don't want to do, so at least I'm narrowing things down :) 

I also hope to have this be a place where I can share not just the pretty side of life through images and recipes, but also the reality of our every day lives and how ugly and hard that can be sometimes! A huge part of my life the last handful of years has been my journey becoming a Christian and how my faith affects my life, and I know there are lots of us that could use encouragement and accountability in those areas, so I hope to be able to share - and hear from you! - about these things with you through my blog. 

Thanks again for stopping by, and feel free to reach out and say hello!