Sunday, August 3, 2014

High On Life

Did you know that the artichoke is a thistle (чертополох)? 
Well I didn't! Until Justin pointed out how similar they look. 

I think I am a bit of a thistle artichoke myself. 
Not just a flower. Not only a vegetable. 
Big, bright and bold. 
Surprising. Unexpected. Unusual. 
With a myriad of tiny flowers
and a big heart.

Justin and I went to see an improv comedy at Bainbridge Performing Arts (BPA) this weekend. Unlike him, I did not even know exactly what improv comedy meant. I remember my friend telling me about it back when when we were teenagers and she attended an acting class (I was way too shy for such things myself). I think they called it "etude", like in music, though the spirit was pretty much the same - short improvisations on random subjects. Guys, I loved it! It was fun and fresh, and we laughed a lot! My head felt so much lighter after the performance - thanks to these funny and talented actors. I love the idea of improv for so many reasons. It's like a first draft which you do as a writer when you feel inspired or intrigued by something - no planning, just dive in and see where it takes ya! Up to this point, pretty much everything I write is improv at heart. I often store something I write for a month or two, totally forget all about it, then rediscover it, and either I like it or I don't - but I never rewrite. I just don't. The first draft, with all the imperfections it has, is the most genuine one. It is the very reason I love reading blogs more than I love reading printed books these days - blogs are so much more genuine (well, not all the blogs, and not all the books, there are always exceptions). What else is an improv to me? It's like jazz. I love jazz with all the endless ways to interpret the same old tune, with its liveliness and lightness, inspiration and enthusiasm - the most optimistic, life loving music to my heart. And it's like life itself. Have you ever thought about it in such terms? Life is the ultimate improv. It throws stuff on you, and you just have to deal with it. The best you can at this very moment. Not the person next to you, not your teacher, friend, mentor, mom or dad. It really doesn't matter what they would do in your shoes. They all have got their own improv going anyway! Sometimes you meet and improvise together, and other times you each go your own way. We don't have a chance to relive our life - only to ever begin again, begin fresh. And if you drop the ball, well, then you do! So you hide in a corner for as long as you need and then begin again. No plans, no scripts, just pure inspiration and improvisation. Your own.

When it comes to stuff, I don't plan either. When I see something which makes my heart jump and brings a smile to my face, I don't think with what I will wear it or what part of my house it will fit. If it works for my heart (and my money), I just get it. I know that somehow it will find friends - in my closet, in my home. These things don't have to be considered special by others - only by me. Like this little bead ring which I found at a small boutique in La Conner, WA - it was in a dish of $5 items. I thought that even if it would fall apart after a couple of outings, it's not a big deal - but it has become my go to ring which works with almost everything in my wardrobe, and I wear it practically non-stop for almost 2 years by now. The bracelet is by Chico's, made of acai and some other natural thingy, can't remember the name right now. I did not go for a matching necklace or earrings, no need for that. The dress is also by Chiso's, found later. They seem to be made for each other.

The length of the dress is a bit extreme for me, but I like it anyway! 

As I leave this town, I am giving away one of its best hidden secrets... it's definitely worth visiting if you're a foodie like me!

Pomegranate lemonade for Justin and Malbec Andeluna for me.

Love the inviting, warm and whimsical interior of this place!

"I can accessorize too!" said Justin.

Yep! I'm a foodie - I love food, food is a huge part of me, yes, and literally too, it's no secret. I have nothing against others who follow strict diets, or enjoy eating mostly grass and seeds - that's all fine by me. But I love food and pretty much all of it, and more than anything I appreciate the food made by inspired cooks. They can have their own preferences for a certain kind of cuisine, ingredients, ways of preparation - it doesn't matter, I'm sold. When it's made with passion - it's always great!

This place called Pimienta Bistro and Bar is definitely the most unexpected in Federal Way / NE Tacoma area, and worth dining, despite the fact that it's located in a strip mall by a gas station. Once you're inside, you'll forget about the location - you are in the owner and chef Blanca's own magical world, and even the interior speaks volumes (I'd live in this place - and I most probably will paint walls in this color soon). 

Delicate and savory potato mushroom soup with rustic bread - great appetizer! 

The food is amazing! Best ingredients, full flavors. Blanca is not only the owner and creator of the recipes, but a very attentive, friendly server who doesn't overwhelm you (it is such a delicate balance, and she feels it perfectly in my book). I've been here a couple of times with friends, but never with Justin, which is super unusual for us as a couple of goofball soul-mates who explore almost everything in this life together. And I definitely wanted to introduce him to this place before we move. 

Justin had Pollo Rostizado (roasted chicken with pea risotto)

I had Paella Valenciana with a great mixture of seafood, chicken and chorizo. 
I often pick either seafood when I eat out, or something I don't cook much at home (like lamb or eggplant).

Blanca, apparently, has just opened a second restaurant in West Seattle, Greenbridge Cafe, which is open for breakfast and lunch. I intend to check it out some day. Joni, maybe you'll try it before me - I'm sure it's wonderful. 

And no - I was not paid in any way to write so many good things about Pimienta. I just truly admire when people do what they love and do it with passion!

Seattle sky is a champion in the cloud department, but this shape is unusual for us! Polka dot sky, or strings of pearls...

Well, that's me, really. Now tell me about yourself! What was surprising, unusual or unexpected in your life lately? Are you as high on your life as I am on mine? :)

Dress, duster and bracelet - Chico's (sales, sales, sales)
Ring - $5 boutique find
Purse - via TJ MAXX
Shoes - Born via Nordstrom Rack, super comfy!

Joining marvelous Sacramento and her Share-in-Style: Flowers


  1. oh natascha! such lovely post!
    yes - life makes his own plans. we can only follow. more or less creative. there is a great lyric from Brecht about making plans, maybe you know it. otherwise i will look for a translation which makes sense.......
    i really love your sight on life, wise and fearless.
    and i love that dress on you!
    it´s short? yes! but for a fancy night out - why not!!! and your happy, beautiful face don´t need embellishment like earrings or necklace, your smile shines like a star........
    justin looks very dapper, making fun with "accessories" :-D
    i´m a foodie too - if you want me to do something just serve good food ;-)
    sadly around here it´s very hard to find good restaurants. and bad food makes me really angry. two days before we had a really bad and expensive experience - i wrote a "peppered" email afterwards to the owners website. very interested in what they will answer....
    in good news - we hat very nice visitors 2 weekends in a row, friends of rainer. one friend with his bike on tour, this weekend 2 friends with the fold kayak, camping in the garden. all make not much work, were helpful and great conversation partners. and loved to be here. and we had a great celebration of our 5. wedding anniversary :-) only we both, will write later about when pics sorted out........

  2. I think that's the only way to buy things... Spontaneously, when you see something you like. Of course, it may not (immediately) work with the rest of your wardrobe, but sooner or later it will find its place and purpose. Or so I tell myself... I love your dress, the colours are great.

  3. wonderful dress!


  4. Dear Natalja,
    I'm enjoyed to visit you blog. I like your writing... and your style, the amazing dress with the colorful jewelry...
    Yes, I knew that artichoke is a thistle - look at the flowers of wild thistle and you see it...
    Somehow everything in the world is related and interwoven -
    Have a good time :-)

  5. I can't believe that it took me this long to find your wonderful blog. Can't wait to dig deeper into it. Those thistles in the background are EPIC. I have not seen one that big in a long time, and I am in the Scottish Highlands, lol! LOVE seeing the pics of Washington. I am an ex-Seattleite of nearly 14 years, and miss it terribly.

  6. So true Natalia dear. Life is what you make of it. Stuff happens and you just pick yourself up and get on with it. Lovely outfit. I think the length is perfect and you look fab!!! xoxo

  7. Hello sweetie! I think this length is wonderful on you! You look gorgeous and the comparison of you in it to an artichoke is both creative and spot on. I am so please you loved improv! I was a drama geek in high school and majored in film in college so I have been acting my whole life;). I do love to do things without planning when I can, freedom is a high I dig!

    The meal you and Justin shared looks so tasty. Food is a wonderful thing to share and my favorite is Mexican! I'm also a sucker for seafood.

  8. That's hilarious! Justin's accessories look a little dangerous!
    I took an improve class in Seattle a few years back. It is so scary and makes one feel incredibly vulnerable with the others in the class. It's very empowering and some people take it for other reason than entertainment or performances too. Like public speaking or confidence. I think if I'd stuck with it I would have outgrown some insecurities about myself but I wasn't ready to face that yet. Thank heavens aging takes care of some of those things!
    Love those giant thistle plants but you outshine them in your graphic dress!

  9. Arghhh! I'd just written a great in depth comment and the computer crashed!
    Better luck this time.....we share the same approach to shopping and probably to life - grasping an opportunity with both hands and not worrying too much about the whys and wherefores.
    Love that shift dress on you, like Justin, you've accessorised to perfection.
    I do love some improv comedy, I'll laugh until I cry and rarely recall a single joke the following morning.
    Food makes the world go round. I do love great food and I can see by the expression on Justin's face that dining at that restaurant is a wonderful experience. xxxx

  10. I didn't know an artichoke was a thistle! I've learned something new! I'm with you on your approach to life, you really do have to roll with it, enjoy what you love, surround yourself with what makes you happy and eat lovely food! yes! you look gorgeous too, love your dress, and you always, always accessorise perfectly! improv is a laugh, many many moons ago when I did drama it was something I enjoyed tremendously - I love that life is beautiful for you, I'm with you! easy living, chilled pace and lot's of laughs too, bliss x x x

  11. Firstly, the dress is perfect on you, the length and colour . You are so right about only buying what makes your heart sing, no mistakes that way. Good food in great surroundings made and served by someone with such passion about what they do is sadly so rare, no wonder you keep returning. Sounds like you are so enjoying all your new experiences, may you continue to blossom my dear.x

  12. I don't know what looks better, the food or you. Actually I do; definitely you! Love the bold print on your dress and the rest of the outfit as well.


  13. Beautifully said, a flower mostly, with more substance and sturdiness !
    Love the dress, ring, and bracelet !
    That soup looks amazing,too !
    XX, Elle

  14. I love the print on the dress -- so unique! The bracelet matches the dress perfectly.
    The restaurant's design is terrific - I don't know how to describe it, but it's very inviting.
    About your question: life is good -- I don't like surprises lately :).

  15. You are so true, dear Natalia.
    You are both wonderful and wonderful things will come your way.
    Thank you sooooooooooooooo much for joining and sharing your style with us.

  16. Natalia you write so well, I don't or don't make the effort but I do enjoy reading all interesting I can put my hand on and you are my dear an interesting person indeed!
    Well you know that all sorts of events happened to me the last 5 months - My concussion, my wedding, the trip in August, death in the family and I had to put down my dear cat that I loved so much -
    He stayed close to my heart until he died, so sad, but I did the best thing for him, he was starting to be in pain
    All this to say that nothing happens for nothing- It seems to me that all that happened to me reinforce my desire to marry the very good and exceptional man I have in my life - He supports and loves me like any other man I ever met -
    He understands and never judges me and I can be a real piece of work I kid you not Natalia, Lol

    I love food too so does hubby to be and this is one thing we will enjoy when we travel to Europe at the end the month, so looking forward to it!

    Nice post Natalia big hugs


  17. oh yes, I know some things about artichokes, mwahaha, there are some factories where they're canned nearby!, and love artichokes!
    And you look fabulously colorful and love your long cardi over the mini dress, it looks so cool!, love your bijouterie too, so pretty pieces!!
    That food looks delightful and so glad to see a paella which seems really like a real paella valenciana. Too many times there's just a fake version with poor ingredients and not well cooked!, but yours looks yummy!
    besos & food

    1. Since I haven't been to Spain, I don't really know what the real paella valenciana should taste, but this dish was very tasty! I am pleased to hear that it looks real to you, my dear! :)

  18. Oh, LOVELY! You look beautiful in your dress, as lovely as the artichoke thistle bloom. Gorgeous dress on you, and the length is charming ... you wear it very well! Great photos, and the shots of your Justin are handsome! Lovely little restaurant, much more how I'd like ours to be than it is, and I understand it being a surprise at it's location. A little jewel box!
    Glad you love food ... us too. The only thing that saves me is that I'm so tired of our menu that I only enjoy eating at other people's places and the cuisine of other countries. I miss French and Greek particularly. There used to be a nice Russian restaurant up on First Avenue in Seattle, mid-downtown. Is it still there?
    So happy to be able to stop by and catch up a little with you!

    1. I don't really know about Russian restaurants, but there are a few little places which make piroshky - Pike Place Market, Capitol Hill I believe, Bellevue... They are not especially traditional, but quite yummy. And I have never been to a French restaurant! Can you imagine that? :)

  19. What a lovely post! I am late but at least I am here! I love your dress and it looks great on you so I'm glad you dared to wear something a little different from usual. I love improv comedy and I think I would actually really enjoy doing it. I am one of those introverted people who can perform because it's like being someone else so it's safe. What you said about improv being like real life is so true and I think that is kind of how I face life; I just go out on stage and take what comes at me and give it my best shot.

    I love Justin's ring and actually have one quite similar though smaller. The blue looks great against the colour of his shirt and actually it looks like he dressed to look good with the restaurant decor. What a charming place and the food looks so delicious. I am very hungry now!! I love food too, though sadly some of it does not love me. I miss bread though there are some gluten free recipes which aren't too bad. Okay, now I have to go and find something to eat and it will not be as delicious as what I have just been looking at but at least it will keep my tummy quiet.

  20. Hi Natalia, love that bold dress on you! Thank you for joining Adrienne and me for "How I Wear My: White." It was great to have you with us once again! XO, Jill

  21. Hi Natalia, I loved this post. The dress and that gorgeous ring and bracelet work so well together and you look fab in everything. That restaurant looks lovely, so nice when you find something unexpected which is at odds with the location. I love your analogy with your visit to the improv evening and the way we go through life - that is so true, it's all improv, I hadn't thought of it like that. xx

  22. I am just like you, if I see something I love I buy it, I don't consider whether I have something matching or whether it will suit my home's interior. I just need to have this.
    This restaurant sounds amazing. Such an interesting interior decoration and that seafood paella looks so delicious. I too enjoy food and like to try dishes from different countries and cultures.
    Beautiful dress, bright and elegant. Suits you so well.

  23. I had never thought of life as improv before. Good call. Debbie @

  24. I'm so sorry to hear of your lost creative writings! That's worse than losing pictures I think.
    Thanks so much for the tip on emailing yourself documents. What a great idea!!!!!!
    Coming from the Writer's Closet!!

  25. I don't change anything I've written either - I prefer a fresh re-write if I don't like it. I just wanted to say thank you for this wonderful post, I agree with your theory on how so many aspects of our lives are improv. It's helped me accept things and just go with it. I've gone back several times to read what you've written and it's resonated with me. Thank you. xoxoxo