Friday, December 26, 2008


I have strong opinions about tradition. I come from a long line of folks who love Fiddler on the Roof. Plus, I know how tradition and memory help ground a person.

When the DH and I got together, he didn't have many Christmas traditions. I had several from my family, but we wanted something that was just ours for Christmas. The main things we have now are selecting at least one new Christmas tree ornament together and going on the Christmas Ships. We also share some of my old family traditions, including putting a chocolate ladybug in the toe of our Christmas stockings and reading the Christmas story on Christmas eve.

Well, this year seams to have turned out as the year the traditions didn't happen. There was a huge storm the day of our Christmas ships reservations, so we didn't make the treck out to the docks in Kirkland to go. Because of all the snow and storms, I couldn't make it downtown to Cost Plus to find chocolate ladybugs. The ornament we were looking at in Hawaii somehow didn't get purchased (but Mom sent an ornament, so maybe we can consider that our ornament for this year), and we didn't even read the Christmas story on Christmas eve.

It may sound like a very sorry Christmas, indeed, but really it was wonderful. Instead of our normal traditions, we had the 9 days of Christmas from my parents, went to our friends' house for Christmas eve homemade pizzas (their Christmas tradition) and had a wonderful visit with firends there, we both recieved lovely gifts from each other, and we had a wonderful time with the local family here for dinner on Christmas day and seeing some of the neat toys the nephew got for Christmas.

Out of this, we may have a couple of new traditions. I like the Christmas dinner on Christmas day and I think we'll keep doing that. We had smoked turkey (divine!!!) and I think that may become our Christmas staple. We may have to join the Christmas eve pizza eaters, too. We had a great time making our individual pizzas and sharing with friends.

In the end, I learned that the most important part of the holiday is who I spend it with. In spite of the snow and mixed up plans, we had a wonderful holiday. I'm so blessed with my wonderful family and happy that we got to spend time together without the interruptions of work. The most important tradition still happened. I spent Christmas with the DH.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The 12 -- Oops, Make That 9 -- Days of Christmas

This Christmas, my parents did something really wonderful for all of us. They put together a series of gifts for us to open each day on the nine days before Christmas. We opened books, puzzles, holiday pillow cases, a wonderful Christmas CD that my dad put together, and more fun things. '

Tonight, we opened the last gift, the ornament you see here. If you can't read it, it has Christ in large letters with the smaller lettering reading Wise Men Still Seek Him.

On this Christmas eve, I wish you all a very merry Christmas. Love to all of you!

Snow Days

We've had more snow in the last week than I've seen in one place in years. I don't even think I saw this much in Boise the last few years I was living there. I believe there were at least ten inches of snow on the ground by early this morning. In fact, I think there's a good five or six inches packed on the road.

As I was trying to get out of the neighborhood, it reminded me of growing up on Wyndham lane, another street with low volumes of traffic. We had a few winters with quite a lot of snow. One winter, we even had snow days – not because of the snow exactly, but because the boiler went out at the school and there was no heat. They never closed the schools for snow.

We've seen all the main roads here get plowed and sanded and the lovely side streets stay heavily laden. In those heavy snows back home, the families on the street got together and actually paid to have the street plowed. It meant that we could safely get in and out of the street when the rest of the roads were easy to traverse. It also meant that our street melted and was dry as quickly as any of the main roads.

Today, we're going to see some ugly streets as it's started to thaw and those ten inches of snow are blocking the storm drains. I think it will take a few days for everything to melt off, but the worst of it is over now. And I don't think we'll be having a white Christmas after all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Playing on my iPod This Week (Dec 23) -- Kathy Mattea "Good News"

Kathy Mattea is a super talented Country singer. I don't have any of her Country albums, but her Christmas album Good News is one of my favorites. And, for once, this is a song even my dad will really like.

Like my sister Annzy, I really love the Christmas music, but I stear clear of The Carpenters and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I like things with a little extra something. That's what I get from Matea's Christmas album.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Highlights and more...

I didn't post highlights last week, because it was just too crazy, so I'll have to cover the last two weeks. Here are the good things:
  • A fun project with the Relief Society making stockings for under-priveledged children. We also had very yummy soup for dinner and I got to hang out with some fantastic women who I really enjoy.
  • Going to Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and then getting Annzy jealous about it. It was based on the movie, so it had all the fun things Annzy loves.
  • A weekend with NO obligations at all and then church cancelled. It's been a long time since I could just take care of personal stuff and enjoy the weekend.
  • A super fun Indian cooking class with Carolyn and Lori. The food was fantastic and I need to get some of the spices so I can try the recipes. We totally stunk after the class, but it was worth it.
  • More Indian food the next night with my co-workers. The only down side of that was wishing Patrick could have joined me.
  • Snow, snow, and then more snow! I guess this is good and bad, but I'm not stranded anywhere, not missing a trip to see loved-ones, and not worried about getting in a wreck on the roads. I'm blessed to be in a nice warm house and be able to work from home, so I don't have to stress out about things getting too far behind there.
  • Making pecan brittle and having it turn out right on the first try (so I didn't have to waste all that butter and pecans).
  • Giving a talk in church yesterday. I know it's hard to believe, but I actually volunteered and then got help from Dad and gave a talk that got pretty good reviews. There were only 28 of us at church and I must say that I enjoyed the much more intimate meeting.

Well, life is good and I'm looking forward to the rest of this week. We may see a thaw, but we may see more frozen stuff too.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Halls Officially Decked

It took us a little longer this year than usual this year to get the decorations up, but they really do look lovely. When we went to get the tree, we saw boughs of fresh greenery, so we picked up some of that too. I used it on the fireplace and was really pleased with how it turned out.

We also got the tree up and decorated. It only took a week to get it all done. The tree stood bare in the living room for a full week waiting for lights and decorations. Patrick had gone out of town for a few days and I just didn't want to decorate it without him.

I have many "favorite" decorations, so I couldn't point out the best one, but I sure like how the nativity scene looks this year.

Let It Snow

Time: 5:45 p.m.
Date: December 20th, 2008
Temperature: 23 degrees fahrenheit
Skies: Overcast and snowing
Location: Broadview neighborhood of Seattle, WA
Time to drive to work: silly, it's Saturday. No driving to work today. And church is already cancelled again for tomorrow.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Baby It's Cold Outside

Time: 10:20 a.m.
Date: December 19th, 2008
Temperature: 25 degrees fahrenheit
Skies: Clear and sunny
Location: Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle, WA
Time to drive to work: 27 minutes (half the time it took yesterday)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A First

It's a beautiful day in Seattle today. We have an inch of snow that fell overnight. It started after about 9:00 last night and kept on for a good part of the night. The snow cover makes everything look clean and pretty. It's especially nice with all the Christmas lights on the trees and houses peaking out of the snow.

It's the first snow of the season for us, but not the "first" that I'm really blogging about this morning. In over 40 years of living in the intermountain west, I have never seen church cancelled. Today, no church! We got a call about 6:30 this morning to tell the DH that his early meeting was cancelled and asking him to call a few other families to let thme know that church would be cancelled as well. So, the DH and I will enjoy the morning at home in our nice warm living room that's all decked for the holidays now.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Secret -- I Guess It's Not an Inside Joke

18 months ago, or so, I learned about "The Secret" from a friend at work. It was discussed on Oprah and then Kevin lent me the DVD. It was astoundingly silly and the DH and I had a good laugh about "using the Secret" to get the things we want. You see, the concept behind "The Secret" is that you can get anything and everything you want in life by simple positive thinking. Well, there may be some truth to the positive thinking, but it's not going to get you a dream house or delightful vacation.

So, after watching the DVD, the DH and I started talking about "using the Secret" to get the red light to change to green or find the best cut of meat. Then when Annzy and Aimes came, Annzy "used the Secret" to get a trip out to Forks.

Now, everyone's using our joke! First it happened last week when Yang talked about "the Secret" on Gray's Anatomy (and did they jump the shark this season with the ghosts and operating on each other, or what?!?). Then this week, it happened again on Pushing Daisies. I watch four TV shows, and in the matter of a week, "the Secret" has been mentioned on two of them. Go figure.

7 Brides, or How to Make Annzy Jealous

Last night, I got to go see 7 Brides for 7 Brothers at the 5th Avenue Theater. It was great fun! I wanted to go, but of course the DH would rather have surgery than go see a musical, so that wasn't going to happen. He's at training out of town this week, so when friends asked at the last minute yesterday afternoon, I was thrilled that I didn't already have plans for the evening.

I met the group at a restaurant accross the street from the theater where they met for dinner before the show. We went over to the theater to find our seats somewhere near the very top of the back balcony. Well, the show was free for me, so the seats were fine. Just before the lights went down, it was obvious that many of the balcony seats were not going to be occupied so we moved quite a bit closer.

7 Brides is really just a fun show. There's a LOT of dancing and this particular show had quite a few scenes where the shirts fell off the men. Considering that these are very fit men with abs of steal, the shirts falling off was just fine. There are not really any tunes you'd be humming on your way out of the show, but it doesn't really matter. It's a bit of fun for the couple of hours your there and the cast really delivered on the fun. I love watching performers who clearly enjoy what they're doing and you could tell how much they all enjoyed it (or could really act like they enjoyed it).

If you're in Seattle and can get to the show, I highly recommend it -- unless of course you hate watching people sing and dance. There's a lot of that going around in 7 Brides.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Playing on my iPod This Week (Dec 10) -- Barenaked For the Holidays

My apologies to the young ones reading my blog, but I really like the band Barenaked Ladies in spite of (or even because of) the name and their Christmas album is really fun. I think the DH is already tired of it, but I love it. I have a lot more love for the Christmas music than he does anyway, so one time through was probably enough for him.

I really enjoy Christmas music that is a little less traditional. I grew up with Soulful Strings, a Christmas album with all instrumental jazz arrangements of Christmas tunes and loved the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. Now, I enjoy the Manhattan Transfer and Cuba L.A. albums, but my favorite is Barenaked for the Holidays. Good stuff.

Take a listen (and be sure to stick with it, because it just gets better):

Highlights -- and We'll Forget the Lowlights

Life doesn't seem to be slowing down at all, but it's been a great week. The DH and I bought a Christmas tree this weekend in addition to going to two parties with lots of fun friends.

Friday night we went to the famous nacho party hosted by those crazy ice cream eaters. The nachos were great and the green tomatilla salsa was the highlight of my night. Wait -- maybe it was the peppermint bark. Both were very tasty!

On Saturday night, it was the annual Christmas gift exchange at Fred and Cathy's house. We all brought two gifts to exchange and that's just where the fun began. The gifts were funny, irreverant, practical, and everything in between. We left with a purse, a teepot, a spork, and a gnome. Now, that's fun times. I was a little sad when the DH lost the lottery tickets, but we'll live. I like to work anyway.

Sunday we had a wonderful time visiting with another set of friends who live in Lynnwood now. We went to church with them and then had a great pot roast dinner. We got to see their new baby and I even got to have spitup on my shirt. Good times! That evening, we went to a stake Christmas event around the broadcast from the first presidency and Mormon Tabenacle Choir. The presentation was a very nice way to be reminded of the reason for the season and associate with some really nice people. I was in charge of refreshments, so I ordered brownied from QFC and topped some with Andes mint sprinkle. I had a few friends (and tons of help from the DH) to get everything plated and out to the masses. It was an hour of pretty intense work, but everything went off without a hitch. We had exactly 20 brownies left over. How's that for planning? I was pretty happy about it.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Week in Review and Highlights

I've had one crazy week, but it's all behind me now. Here is some of the wackiness:
  • I don't even know how many hours I worked last week. Even with the holiday, I know I topped 40. The DH and parents got to hear my conference calls, the BIL got to be part of my meetings, and the whole family saw me watching movies with my laptop always attached. It's ugly when there's a big deadline on December first.
  • The DH and I traveled to Boise and go to spend time with my family. We also spent an evening with the Ips and an evening with the Godfreys. They are both great couples that I miss a lot being so far away.
  • Thanksgiving dinner was GREAT! My family really can cook and there was too much of everything. It was also great to be in the same room with my entire family, parents, siblings, brothers and sisters in law, and all my nieces and nephews. They're all such wonderful people to be around. I think all the nieces and nephews just keep getting to be more fun too.
  • A bunch of the women went to see Australia. I loved it. The cinematography was outstanding and the story moved along nicely. Even at one hour and fourty minutes, it didn't drag for a moment. And of course, I enjoy a good love story. I'd recommend it to anyone interested.
  • The DH and I took two nieces to the World Center for Birds of Prey just south of Boise. It was really interesting seeing the different birds and hearing the volunteers there talk about the birds. The birds in the center now are all birds that couldn't make it in the wild.
  • Had a great dinner at Flying Pie Pizzaria Gourmet Night with Whitney, Brent, and the girls. They have all you can eat gourmet pizzas in addition to all the regular stuff. YUM! And fun with such good company.
  • The DH got to see three football games on Thanksgiving day and watched the BSU/Fresno State game on Friday. I can't say he got his fill of football (because he may never get his fill), but he sure got a good fix.

All in all, it was a great week with a lot of time spent with a great family and some good friends. I miss them already!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bonding Over the Weekend

The DH and I decided to hit a movie last weekend. We were both excited that we had the same first choice -- Quantum of Solace. It's the next chapter in the ongoing James Bond series. I'll admit to being a Sean Connery fan as far as actors in the part go. Funny that he was the first. I guess he defined the stage presence. Daniel Craig is certainly different from other Bond's, but I've decided I like his ruggedness. I could go for a little more suave, but rugged is good too.

The movie is filled with chase scenes, things blowing up, and people running for their lives. There was a LOT of fire in this one. Overall, the action moved along and I enjoyed the movie. I'd even recommend it to anyone who enjoys an action flick. I've heard criticism that it's not "true" Bond like we've got to know and love, but I thought it worked.

Playing on my iPod This Week (Nov 24) -- Custom Playlists

This week, the DH and I have traveled to Boise. To help move the traveling along faster, the DH put together a custom playlist for me. He's got a real knack for building the playlists. I think it's one of his little known talents. Just so you know how clever he is, the newest playlist starts with the songs Your Song by Elton John and My Song by Brandi Carlile.

Enjoy this!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Highlights -- Better Late Than Later

I usually post highlights on Wednesdays, but that was a busy day and no posting on highlights got done. As you can imagine, Wednesday is included in the highlights though. Here's the good stuff:

  • The DH's birthday. I was really excited to get him Photoshop, but now neither of us know what to do with it. I got a book with online tutorials, but that will take some time to learn. Maybe that will be a highlight in a few weeks -- figuring out Photoshop.

  • We had fun with the Wright's and Leyland's at Snoose Junction Pizza in Ballard. It's such a great little place with very tasty food and no issues with hollering kids.

  • A weekend with very few committments. We went to the ward play, but not much more.

  • Hanging with the nephew while the brother and SIL went to her 10th anniversary at Microsoft party. We had dinner at IHOP and the nephew seemed to have a great time.

  • Roasted free-range chicken from the DH's sister. She must have been an old bird -- the chicken that is. We had yummy carrots and potatos with it too and it was sure good.

  • Hearing the DH talk in church, and our good friend Carolyn. They both did great!

  • Home teaching the Neumann's. They're an older couple in our ward from Germany and were teenagers in WWII. They have more interesting stories than you can shake a stick at. We always have a great time visiting with them. They also sure put "trials" in perspective. I never had my friend die while we were working or throw a bomb back out the window after it fell in the kitchen. Seriously. Real stuff.

  • Hitting the gym like it's going out of style. I ran a bunch yesterday. Ouch.

I'm sure I've missed some, but those are a few high points.

And here's one I forgot to add last week. The DH asked me to make a bowl cake for one of the guys at work for his birthday. The guy loves to play pool, so we gave him a 9-ball. Fun, huh? The DH said the guys at work thought it was fantastic.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Internet Woes Be Gone!

I'm posting this using my brand new, lightning-speed, cable internet. I haven't tried hooking up the wireless router yet, but at least we have internet again. I'm hopeful that this will be the answer I've been looking for. At least for now, it's a good thing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Happy Birthday to the DH!

Today, the DH turns 52 -- and most will be surprised, because he really doesn't seem that old in body or spirit. In celebration of the man and his birthday, I was going to write 52 things about him, but decided that was just a bit much. So here is my top-10 list about the DH:

  1. He is one handsome man. He doesn't think so, but he's just wrong.
  2. He is a great friend. He would give you the shirt of his back if he thought you needed it (and probably has done just that at some point for someone).
  3. He is very loyal.
  4. He never turns down an opportunity to serve others. I love that he is so willing to give of himself and he's well known for it.
  5. He loves me even though I can make it hard sometimes.
  6. He makes awesome scrambled eggs and is a really good cook in general. Don't laugh at the good scrambled eggs -- he doctors them up until it's a culinary delight.
  7. He supports me in the things that I do, even when some of them mean spending time away from him when he'd rather we were together. Sometimes he even pitches in to help me so he can hang out with me when I'm meeting my commitments.
  8. He really cares about the underdog. I get frustrated about it sometimes (when the underdog calls at 7:30 on a Saturday morning), but I'm so impressed with the care he has shown to some of the people who just need someone to root for them.
  9. He takes his commitments very seriously. If he says he'll do something, he'll do it.
  10. He's strong in body and spirit. He has worked through some major obstacles and come out fighting.

I love the guy and I know I'm not alone. So, here's the shout out to the DH for 52 years!

Monday, November 17, 2008

I Love the Library

As a child, I loved to go to the library. I remember spending cool summer days in the basement of the old library. The children's section was downstairs and you had to go through a separate entrance to get to the lower level. I don't think I ever saw the main level. It was an old Carnegie library and I loved it.

I don't know when I first started to read, but I'm pretty sure my love affair with reading started very early on. I always wanted to take home a big stack of books and then we had rules about how many books we were allowed to check out. I think my limit was five books.

In elementary school, for a while, we went to the library once a week. I loved going and I can still remember the smell. Then we'd go once a month on Monday for family home evening. The books were all checked out for a month, so the whole family would gather up our library books and head to the library to get more. Oh, the trauma for everyone when one of us couldn't find all of our books! Even though the fees were small, they seeme huge to us as children.

I also remember being part of the summer reading program for several summers at the library. I think one summer, it was a Jr. Great Books reading club and I was introduced to many new and different genre and authors. I ate it up. I can still remember staying up reading until far into the wee hours to finish books before they were due or before I went back the next time.

I loved the Boise Public Library and still do. It's been a few years since I've been there since I relocated, but I still have so many great memories of my library there. I had a library card from before I could remember and finally got rid of it several years after moving to Seattle.

I've been in Seattle for eight years now, and just this weekend, I finally got a library card. The Seattle Public Library system is fantastic and I've been meaning to do it for years. Now I've finally got it!

Playing on my iPod This Week (Nov 17) -- Madeleine Peyroux

I was introduced to Madeleine Peyroux on a radio station I listen to and immediately fell in love with the retro styles. It's great music to listen to while I'm working as it's fairly calm and relaxing. I need help relaxing while I work!

This video is for Dance Me to the End of Love. It's a delightful little ditty.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Highlights (and Lowlights)

It's been one heck of a week! Last Thursday I had to drive up to Smoky Point in the rain and rush-hour traffic for a meeting and didn't have the good sense to try to carpool with anyone else who was going. That was just me being a bit loopy. For once, the DH and I didn't have much at all planned for the weekend. It was good not to have any obligations, but we were thrilled when Fred and Cathy called and invited us to play Settlers of Cattan with them on Saturday evening. We went out to Mexican and then went over and played -- and the DH won! There were a couple of very experienced players who thought they had the strategy down, but the DH beat them out anyway.

On Saturday, we also had our internet connection go out again. And, again, AT&T doesn't have customer support on the weekends, so I had to wait until Monday to call to get it fixed. I was on the phone from 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and they finally got it up and running. While I was getting ready for work, I left the browser window open and when I went to close things down at 8:30, the internet connection was gone again. I had to get to work though, so I had to wait until evening to call again. I was on the phone for over an hour in the evening before the support agent told me that I can't get a signal because I'm too far from the signal. Funny... I wasn't too far from the signal last week, or for the last few years for that matter. At any rate, he said he was sorry, it wouldn't work. Period. Good luck getting internet.

Tuesday I did a little research and found out that Qwest and Verizon DSL are also not available at our house. That leaves HughesNet satalite (which apparently is only a bit faster than dial-up), ClearWire, or Comcast. I found out that Costco carries ClearWire, so I thought we might get a deal on that, but also thought I would at least call Comcast to see what it would cost. I was expecting that it would be more expensive than I wanted to pay, but found out that if I bundle internet, local, and long-distance calling, then it's actually $8 more than I was paying for AT&T DSL. It's also faster than DSL or ClearWire, so now I'm committed. We get Comcast internet next week (waiting 7 days to transfer the phone number to Comcast).

The rest of the week has been crazy work and Relief Society meetings, so I'm ready for another weekend.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reading and Reviews

While in Hawaii, I finished Three Cups of Tea, but I also read Twilight. I've both lived through my own teen angst and read about it, and this is another story showcasing teen angst with the added excitement of vampires. I completely understand the hype with tweens around this book. I'm a little confused at the many adult women who seem to be completely enthralled with this book though.

The closest I can come to serious discussion of this book is to say that it is a great gateway into Harlequin romances. As far as a quick and easy read with a story that keeps you interested, it works. The funniest thing about this book is that the DH read about every third page over my shoulder and got the story without having to read the whole book.

I appreciate the interest and I plan to see the movie, but Twilight is mediocre writing at best. (Sorry Ann!)

So, now I'm moving on to other reading. I'm looking at the stack of books and trying to decide what's next. Let me know if you have any suggestions. I can go to the library if it's not already sitting on my shelf waiting for me to get to it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Playing on my iPod This Week (Nov 10) -- The Jayhawks

I know the DH had his fill of The Jayhawks when we went to see them live, but I still love them! They're great. I have several of their albums and I enjoy just about everything they've released. They're Alt Country, so it isn't for everyone, but I think it's great stuff.

This video is one of my favorite songs, Tailspin. I like it better on the album than on the YouTube video, but you get the idea.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Highlights of the last seven days

I love this country! I love the democratic process (even if it does seem confusing). Today I listened to both speaches from Barack Obama and John McCain given last night after the election results were in. One of the highlights of this race was John McCain's consession speach. What a fantastic speach from someone surely disappointed in the results. He showed such diplomacy and true courtesy and respect for the office of the President. Another highlight was the speach given by Barack Obama. I loved this quote from his speach:
So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other.
I know not everyone who reads my blog shares my political opinions, but today I am thrilled for a new president-elect who I believe does bring new hope.

In addition to the amazing speaches those two men gave, other highlights include having my husband return from a weekend away for a Raider's game, an uneventful Halloween, getting all the goods for some Christmas gifts I'm working on, and fun with the nephew's Halloween party and a movie afterwards with the SIL.

It's been another great week and I feel blessed. It's a good feeling.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Oh, What a Relief It Is!

The DH and I watched some DVR tonight and saw how many political adds there were. They were SO annoying. Now, we don't have to see them anymore for quite some time. Hallelujah!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Have You Voted Yet?

This morning, I spent some time and filled in my ballot for the elections. It was great to vote for president, but that's only a small part of what I did.

There were many other leaders, judges, and initiatives to vote for where my vote counts and will make a difference. It fealt great to practice my right to vote, have my voice heard, and make a differenct.

Sometimes I wish I lived in a state like Ohio or Pennsylvania where it would be a rush to really know your vote for president might change the outcome of the election. In Idaho, the delagates will go to McCain and in Washington they will go to Obama. That's OK though. I may actually be deciding the outcome for the governor of Washington or how I-1000 will turn out. I have power. So do you! Make sure you make it happen by next Tuesday.

And for fun, you can watch this non-partisan video:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Jack o' Lanterns!

Last night, the DH and I found pumpkins at Central Market and brought them home to carve. I was inspired by one of the brother's family pumpkins and the DH used a stencil. I decided to go old school and design my own and cut it completely freehand. I think it's the best pumpkin I've every carved, but that's mostly because I'm carved some pretty sorry pumpkins in the past. Now mine just needs a word bubble above his head with the word "Argh!" in it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Highlights for the last week

The past week has been pretty good, but I'll have to settle on a few highlights:
  • Dinner at Hy's Steak House in Honolulu with the DH
  • Sleeping in my own bed again after a long trip
  • Autumn party at Bop and Beep's place
  • Hearing about everything I missed while I was gone (specifically my Relief Society responsibilities)
  • Going to the temple with the DH yesterday

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Three Cups of Tea -- a Book Review

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin is a fantastic story about Greg Mortenson and how he tries to change the world. After reading the book, I have the utmost respect for this man. The way that he was able to put aside his own life, forge bonds with people far more unlike than like him, and find success in a country rife with war and corruption is astounding. I know this sounds like hyperbole, but I really am impressed with the man and what he has done.

David Relin worked very hard to get an unbiased look into the world and the work of Greg Mortenson and I feel like he did a good job of keeping the story even-keeled. The beauty in this book is not with the most refined writing, but with the story.

One of the parts I loved was when Mortenson found out that there was a fatwa against him. A fatwa is a legal pronouncement by a religious cleric. There were some in Pakistan who were very much against a Christian building schools in their country and believed that he was trying to indoctrinate their children. On the contrary, he was trying to educate them to fight against the indoctrination going on by the Taliban in the madrassas that they were building. At any rate, Mortenson had built a strong network of allies by showing great respect for the Muslim people and their religion. As a result of the way he lived and the example he set, the higher ruling bodies overturned the fatwas against his school building.

The lesson that I took from this is that he was successful because of his integrity. He loved the people and their war-torn country, respected their differences, and lived what he believed even at great personal sacrifice. I have great respect for such a man.

All in all, I highly recommend the book and think it's an important read for people who want to learn more about a part of the world that we generally have very little knowledge of.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Playing on my iPod This Week (Oct 27) -- This American Life

I had a great time traveling, but I must say that it was much easier getting there and back with my iPod in hand. The time went by very quickly while I was catching up on old episodes of This American Life. I've learned more about the housing market, economic crisis, federal judiciary system, and organ donation from this series than I thought possible. There's always something informative or entertaining. It's on TV too, but it's on Showtime and I draw the paying-for-TV line at premium stations.

I get my episodes from iTunes, but you can get them from the TAL site as well. Sometimes I actually listen on the radio, but it's usually while I'm running errands on Saturday and I'll miss a big section of the show, so I still have to catch up on the podcast.

Sleeping in My Own Bed

We ended the day Thursday with more relaxing, enjoying the ocean breezes, and a forgetable dinner at one of the hotel restaurants. We didn't care thought. We'd had so much fun that we were just enjoying more of the same.

Friday morning, we decided to enjoy breakfast and just laze around a bit and then head back to Honolulu. We bought a box of pineapple in the airport before boarding the plane and spending the next six hours thinking of the great memories we'd made and the lovely thought of sleeping in our own bed.

As always, one of the great things about a vacation is enjoying being home again.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Island Paradise

Tuesday was a pretty fun day. We started with a trip to the Hawai'i temple. It's much smaller than I expected, but it was very pretty inside. We got out of there around lunch time and then we spent the rest of the day touring the entire island. We had intended to go to Hanauma Bay, so we drove along the coast stopping to take pictures along the way. It was a nice slice of paradise. When we got to the bay, we saw the sign that they were closed. It turns out that Hanauma Bay is closed on Tuesdays. Oops! By that time, we were halfway around, so we just kept on going. We drove with the top down on the convertible and had a lovely time of it.

When we got back to the North Shore, we stopped in Hale'iwa to get dinner at what one of the guide books said was the restaurant with the best burger in town. We were NOT disappointed. We had a great dinner, then enjoyed some Hawaiian ice before heading back to the hotel and turning in for the night.

On Wednesday, we got up early and headed to the big city of Honolulu. We started our tour there at the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. It's a beautiful memorial and we enjoyed the little boat ride out there and the whole tour for that matter. We then left Pearl Harbor and headed for the stadium. We went to the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet where you can buy all the tacky tourist souvenirs for half the price of any other shops. We made our way all the way around the place with several purchases in hand.

It didn't take us as long as we expected to do those two things, so we went to see Iolani Palace and then went to the dollar movie (where it was air conditioned) and watched Journey to the Center of the Earth. It was a pretty stupid movie, but entertained us for a while. We went to Aloha tower and Waikiki Beach before heading for our dinner reservation at Hy's Steak House. Our dinner was fantastic (much better than our last steak house dinner at El Gaucho). We both enjoyed our dinners and then had a wonderful drive back to the North shore.

Today, we started with a swim in the ocean. It was so beautiful! The water is fairly warm and there is a bit of a cove here, so the waves aren't too strong. It stormed last night, so there were great waves today. It made our swimming more fun and the roads in the area very crowded. There was a huge difference in the amount of traffic and the boards in the water today over the other days we've been here. We spent a little time in Laie, getting additional souvenirs, and then went all the way out to the West. The towns are quaint and the people are super nice. We drove as far as you can until the road ends and took pictures along the way. On the way back, we stopped so I could get another shaved ice (which I love, but the DH couldn't get into). Down the road a little farther, we stopped for the DH to get a fresh coconut. We were both happy!


I'm in Hawai'i. 'Nuf said.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Enjoying the Aloha Spirit

We've spent a little time at the spa, where the DH got a massage and I got a pedicure. I'm now sporting opalescent blue nail polish on my toes -- very hip! We also went to the Dole plantations, which I think the DH and I both agree should not be on the list of things to do while on O'ahu. It was the most touristy thing I've seen here. We also drove along the North Shore and saw some of the surf towns along the way. If you're keepin track, the rain has been very little and today was sunny the entire day. I even got a tiny bit of sunburn on my face and neck.

We also spent a lot of time at the Polynesian Cultural Center today. Although it's also quite touristy, there is so much that's interesting and educational that I would recommend it to just about anyone. When I came to Hawai'i several years ago, I went to one of the big luau's. I enjoyed the PCC quite a bit more bacause we got to see demonstrations and learn all about several islands in addition to Hawai'i. I also thought this show was better than the Luau show, but I'm sure that's just a matter of taste. We had a very friendly guide named Loana from Tahiti. We also enjoyed chatting with several of the other folks in our little tour group. There were a few families and several couples and I think we all had a good time.

The highlight was the Samoa demonstration. The host was a great entertainer in addition to teaching us how to husk and open a coconut. We also got to see a young man climb a coconut tree. I was pretty impressed and how he just sprung up the tree.

At the final show, the best part was the fire dance. there were five guys all dancing with sticks on fire. Very cool! We're worn out from the walking and the sun, but so happy and relaxed too. Tomorrow, we're off to see more!

Sunday, October 19, 2008


The DH and I are on our first big vacation since our honeymoon. We've been planning it since early last Spring, so there's been a lot of anticipation for this. We're now very happy to be in Hawai'i, enjoying the surf and some sun. At the moment I'm writing this, it's raining outside, but even with the rain it's beautiful and relaxing.

When we arrived in Honolulu, we picked up our rental car and then took the long way to our hotel on the North Shore. We drove by Waikiki beach, Diamond Head, Haunama Bay, the Polynesian Culturale Center, Hawai'i temple, and a couple of golf course. The whole time it was just beautiful. We stopped a couple of times along the way to buy fresh coconut and bananas from a roadside stand and eat lunch from the Shrimp Shack.

When we got to the hotel, we put on our bathing suits and went out in the ocean. It's fantastic! We just relaxed the rest of the evening and ate dinner at the buffet in the hotel and watched a movie before falling asleep. Or, to be more accurate, I fell asleep while the DH watched a movie.

This morning, we found a ward pretty close by and went to church at the Kahuku 1st ward. The people were friendly and everything was pretty familiar -- one of the nice things about visiting churches wherever we go.

On the docket now... some relaxing, and then more relaxing, and after that a little more relaxing.

Mahalo, Tinkerdoodle!

Saturday, the DH and I left for our vacation in Hawai'i. Being in Hawai'i is great, but there is a six-hour flight between home and vacation. That's a long time to sit with not much to do, so I came prepared with the iPod, books, and magazines. The time goes especially fast when I'm listening to podcasts, so I was thrilled to have the iPod along.

Some of you may know that the iPod Nano has a defect. Apparently, it's pretty common, but I hadn't taken the time to research. The problem is that every once-in-a-while, when you go through the menu to get to a song or podcast, it freezes just as you're getting to the actual thing you want to listen to. It won't do anything, including turn off. The only way I could deal with it was to let the battery die and then it would reset itself.

Here's where Tinkerdoodle comes in. The DH was describing my problem to the iPod owners he works with and she said she had the same problem and there was a fix. You just hold down the middle button and the menu botton at the same time until you see the Apple icon and it resets. It takes about 15 seconds and then you're back to listening to whatever you want. Just like that!

Well, as soon as I got my iPod out to listen to it on the plane, it did the ol' feeze up. Had I not gotten the great tip from Tinkerdoodle, then I would have been iPod-less the entire trip, including 12 hours of boring flight.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sharing the Love

Dan asked for the recipe from Sunday's dinner. We just had a big Ham's back end that we cooked for three hours and then made home-made Mac 'n' Cheese. The recipe is below, but this is from Martha Stewart and will take you two hours and $30 to make if you do it by the book.

Here's what I do differently. I don't make my own breadcrumbs. I buy the already made ones in a can at the store. Also, I use the already grated cheese from the grocery and try to get it when it's on sale. Safeway now has Asiago cheese already grated, so I use that and mild cheddar. The combination is really good. I also use about 10-20% more noodles because I think the recipe makes too much sauce. And finally, I leave out the nutmeg. I only like nutmeg in sweet treats. I think it's wierd in mac 'n' cheese and chicken and dumplings.

Also, this takes about 20 minutes of hand's on time to make, but totally worth it.

Macaroni and Cheese
6 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed, torn into ¼- to ½-inch pieces
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
5½ cups milk
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4½ cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere or 1¼ cups (about 5 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano
1 pound elbow macaroni

You can easily divide this recipe in half; use a 1½-quart casserole dish if you do. Serves 12.

Heat the oven to 375°. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread pieces in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with bread, and toss. Set the bread crumbs aside. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.

Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1½ cups Gruyere or 1 cup pecorino Romano. Set cheese sauce aside.

Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer’s directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1½ cups cheddar and ½ cup Gruyere or ¼ cup pecorino Romano; scatter bread crumbs over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve.

Good Times

I feel like I've been too busy to breath lately. Work just doesn't seem to let up and the DH and I seem to overbook ourselves between work, church, music, and everything else we like to do. Don't get me wrong. This is not a complaint. Really, it's just more of an observation.

I thought this week was going to be a little less hectic, but several church responsibilities have proven that to be a bad assumption. I'm responsible for refreshments and the program for Education Night while I'm out of town this weekend, so it's been a scramble to get everything done. Still, I've had a pretty fun and entertaining week.

These are the highlights:
  • Easy peasy Friday night with the DH and no plans. We went out to dinner and then came home and watched TV from the DVR.
  • Making a Christmas present for the SIL at our Relief Society activity on Saturday morning. I can't say what it was (because that would spoil the surprise), but it was fun to learn.
  • Ballard Art Walk and dinner with friends. We had a delightful time chatting and looking in shops and seeing art.
  • Ham and mac 'n' cheese for Sunday dinner. I haven't made the soup yet, but it's on the list for Thursday.
  • Completing the program for Education Night and deciding that it doesn't look too bad. I'm not a designer, but I could play one on TV.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Playing on my iPod This Week (Oct 13) -- Chicks

The DH has a knack for putting together play lists. He really is good at it and I appreciate this skill. Last week he made me a disc of all female artists and it's been playing a few times on my CD player in the car. It's great music. One of the things I like best about it is that he selected some of the songs that aren't played quite as much by those artists. Good stuff -- and so smart!

One of the songs I really like is Nancy Griffith's Don't Forget About Me. It's like honey, smooth and sweet. I also love Trisha Yearwood's Wrong Side of Memphis. Now that's some good stuff.

I don't know what the video is about (it's just wierd), but the song is great:

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

More Highlights

The DH and I have been SUPER busy the past week. I'm ready for things to slow down.. like really slow... like a trip to Hawaii! It's only 10 days away. But that's not really part of my highlights. Even though it's been busy, all the activities have been a lot of fun.
  • Breakfast at Mae's with the brother, SIL, and their kids.
  • Issaquah Salmon Days with La and Lo and getting our ceramic pot.
  • Listening to General Conference -- there were some fantastic talks.
  • Having the DH cook awesome dinners for me on Sunday AND again on Monday.
  • Seeing Natalie MacMaster (even if she was pregnant).
  • The first half hour of seeing Chris Thile (mandolin) and Edgar Meyer (bass). The best was the Bach they played together.
  • Hearing Terry Tempest Williams at Seattle Arts and Lectures. She's an interesting character and shared moving stories.
  • E-mail from the parents, telling us about their trip.
  • Chatting with Ann on the phone (and reading about her trying to burn herself).

So much has been going on, but I looked at the calendar and after tomorrow, it calms down considerably.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Natalie MacMaster is Pregnant

You may not care that Natalie is pregnant, but I do. I was very disappointed to find out. Normally, I'm all about the baby love. Pregnancies are exciting and fun (for everyone but the mother in some cases). But Natalie is a performer in the Cape Breton style that includes step dancing while fiddling. It's just not the same when she's pregnant.

I saw Natalie MacMaster for the first time at Bumbershoot several years ago. It was one of the most spirited live performances in memory. She played a variety of folk tunes and danced the whole time. The entire audience was mesmerized and we had a fantastic time. So, about a year and a half ago, she was here again and playing with the symphony. I convinced the DH that he'd love hearing and seeing her and we went to the performance with high expectations. The music was wonderful, but Natalie was pregnant, so the dancing was not quite as lively. We had a great time, but I was a tad bit disappointed that she wasn't able to give that amazing performance that I remembered.

So, this year Natalie is on tour again and I really want to see the full show with the DH. We got tickets and as we were walking toward the Kirkland Performance Center, I told the DH, "she just better not be pregnant." We got there and she came out on stage -- visibly and obviously pregnant. OY! She had several outstanding performers with her and we got to see a bit of dancing with the playing, but Wow! That girl is all about making the babies. This is number three and they're each only 18 months apart. This may be the last time we see her live. If she comes back later, I need to figure out how to ensure that she's NOT pregnant when I buy tickets.

Playing on my iPod This Week (Oct 6) -- Bebel Gilberto

I found my CD case and discovered some old loves there. One of them was Bebel Gilberto. I'm sure you know her father. He's the musician who performs The Girl From Iponema. His daughter Bebel is very talented as well. The music is considered World Music and has a definite Bosso Nova beat to most of it. I find that I really enjoy Brazilian music. It's mellow, but still has a beat, which makes for some happy music.

I have the album Bebel Gilberto and like every song on it. Her album Momento seems to be just as good.

Just take a listen and I'm sure you'll be taken in. This one is Aganju.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Life's Biggest Time Wasters

This morning I was thinking about how much time I can wast on Soduko or solitaire. I've become particularly fond of the Mah Jong solitaire game on the new Windows Vista. It's certainly a vice. I can play for half an hour without even realizing that I've been at the computer that long. Fortunately, I just have the Soduko daily calendar, so I only do one puzzle a day. It's not quite so bad.

A couple of days ago, a former co-worker was seen at the coffe shop down the street. He was not particularly well-liked, so someone asked if another co-worker wanted to run over there and see him -- acting not a little snarky about it. I had not had more than five minutes' thought about the individual since he had left the organization and found it interesting that he would be the subject of conversation, much less that anyone would take the time to worry about where he is now and what's going on, unless it was because he was a friend. I realized that this is another way that we can end up wasting a lot of time and energy. We tend to keep coming back to things that may have offended us or bothered us in the past, even though they are really water under the bridge at this point.

It made me wonder how much time I've wasted on worrying about things I can't change or behavior I've witnessed that I didn't like. Have I held on to things that are totally unproductive (and unfortunately, the answer to that is too often yes)? Have I spent time thinking about how others act when I have no controll over them, but only how I act toward them?

I want to be more mindful of how I spend my time and energy. I always feel like I have too many things going on and I really do have too many good things in my life to spend any time on either things I can't control or things that ultimately bring unhappiness. Worrying is not easy to stop, but I'm sure I can make an effort.

More Highlights

Work has been a little hectic (though I think I may be caught up by the end of the day), and so has the church responsibility, but there have still been some really bright moments in the last few days.
  • Mahler's 8th Symphony. Brilliant!
  • Continueing to read Three Cups of Tee. Informative.
  • Dieter Uchdorf's remarks at the women's broadcast. Moving and motivating.
  • Chicken and dumplings for Sunday dinner. Tasty.

I hope the last week has been good for you!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Playing on my iPod This Week (Sep 29) -- Cheryl Crowe

I love Cheryl Crowe's album C'mon, C'mon. It has some really great songs and it's got great energy. It's good music for a sunny day, driving with the windows down (or the top down if you've got that kind of car). I know the DH will laugh because I hate having all the windows down. It's a problem because my hair gets in my face and I can't see. It's a bigger problem if I'm driving than if I'm a passenger in the car.

There's a great video of my favorite song on the album on YouTube that's not setup to be able to embed. The same song is below, without the cool video. This song just makes me want to drive fast (as apposed to all those other times when I'm not at all interested in driving fast -- ha ha!).

Friday, September 26, 2008

Symphony of a Thousand

Last night, the DH and I enjoyed an evening at the symphony care of Ken. We love Ken and he's a great friend. He also loves Mahler. So for the DH's birthday (which isn't until November, but the Mahler symphony was in September, so go with it), his friend bought us tickets to his favorite symphony.

To be honest, I wasn't convinced this was going to be too great. Mahler lived in the late 1800' to early 1900's and it's just not my favorite period of symphonic music. There's too much dischord there and it can be hard to listen to.

The first 10-15 minutes of Mahler's 8th symphony was about what I was expecting. Then it started getting better and just kept on improving. I looked at my watch an hour and 15 minutes into it and couln't believe how fast the time had flown.

The piece builds and builds until it almost explodes off the stage. There were over 300 voices, strings, woodwinds, horns, percussion, and more. There was organ, piano, and harp. And the ending was so grand and beautiful that it brought me to my feet.

I'm not a standing ovation kind of gal, but this actually brought me to my feet without any thought. It was one of the most enjoyable evenings of music I can remember in a long time. It's not often that you're carried away by the music, but this was one of those nights.

This isn't the Seattle Symphony, but it can give you a taste for the scale of the ending.

The New Look

I've gotten several comments about the new look of my blog. I was getting bored with the old one and just needed a change. This does have its limitations though, so I'm not sure how long it will stick around. Plus, I'm having trouble figuring out how to fix some things (like that silly tab right there to the left with "undefined" on it). I may put more time in this weekend to figure that out though.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another Great Week

It's been another really nice week and I've got several highlights. It's really great to have good friends and family to share with. Here's the best of it:
  • Listening to Richard Russo at Seattle Arts & Lectures
  • Attending SA&L with Kathleen
  • Pizza with the DH for Friday night dinner
  • The Greek Bazaar on Saturday
  • Friends over for dinner on Sunday

I'm also glad the parents made it home safe and sound from their trip to Yellowstone, Jackson, and Cody.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Playing on my iPod This Week (Sep 22) -- Jonatha Brooke

One of my old favorites to listen to any old time when I just want to relax and enjoy is Jonatha Brooke. My favorite album is Steady Pull. I like every song on that one. Take a listen at How Deep Is Your Love (and I don't mean that kitschy 70's sone either) and you may like it as much as I do.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Writers on Writing

I was introduced to Seattle Arts & Lectures by a collegue several years ago. She always attended the lectures and highly recommended them. Over the years, I've been to a few lectures here and there, but this year I decided to buy tickets to the series. I know of most of the guest lecturers and thought I might even enjoy those few I wasn't familiar with.

Last night was the first in the series. The guest was Richard Russo, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Empire Falls and a few other novels and stories. He spoke on writing with humor. He had us all laughing and brought home some great points with his excellent humor. I was especially touched with his observation that, although anyone can write, good writing comes from really seeing. He provided an anecdote about a commode placed squarely in the middle of the back deck bringing attention to an old grave stone that had been in the back yard since before his family had moved into the house. It was the juxtaposition of the two objects that helped him see the one that was there for longer than he had been.

He also reminded me that in order to be a writer, you must act like a writer -- or be a writer. I often think that having a blog helps me be a writer, but at the same time I realize that I have chosen other priorities. I love to write and find it both enlightening and cathartic. However, I'm not ready to make it a priority in my life where I do it faithfully on a daily basis and really build my talent.

For now, I'll look for humor where I can and write when I can make it a priority. I won't be writing the next great American novel, but I sure will enjoy the writing I do. I'll also find myself inspired by accomplished writers as I go to the other lecurers in the series.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Highlights of the Last Week

It's been a great week and there are so many things to choose from for highlights. Here are just a few:
  • Lunch with the brother, SIL, and nephew at Snappy Dragon -- great company and yummy salt and pepper chicken
  • The new cabinets getting done
  • Ballard Art Walk and seeing Kim's photos
  • Potluck with friends in Pioneer Square
  • Seeing the documentary Nobody Knows and hearing Margaret Young and Darius Gray talk about their expereince making the documentary

There's just so much good stuff going on! What was the highlight of your last week?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Living Room I've Always Wanted

After getting the walls painted, I really wanted to get built in cabinets this summer. I just couldn't bear the thought of putting back the white Ikea bookshelves and we need storage space in the living room. Also, we broke the stand that the TV and other equipment were on when we were moving things out for the painters.

This was our opportunity! We hired a carpenter that was recommended by my hair dresser. Nice connection, don't you think? I think he did a really nice job on the work.

My very favorite part is the new mantle. It doesn't slope forward like the old one and it looks so beautiful in the room. You can't see it very well in the pictur, but it has three levels on the front, which is just the right amount of detail for the room.

I guess now we'll have to have a party so everyone can come over and see it -- everyone will be invited, even you folks who don't live in Seattle!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Playing on my iPod This Week (Sep 15) -- Carbon Leaf

I love the band Carbon Leaf and their wonderful alt country sound. Don't let that word country scare you off. it's not country music at all. I have a few albums, but I think my favorite is Echo Echo. I like every song on that one. Indian Summer is a close second.

I had a hard time finding any songs on YouTube withe decent quality, but this one is good. It's Learn to Fly, off the latest album Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

One Crafty Gal

I laugh a little because I like to think I'm crafty, but over the last few years it just hasn't been happening for me. I've made the baby blankets, but few other crafts or sewing projects. My excuse is that I don't have the time, but I seem to get through all the programs on the DVR, so it really can't be that. Whatever the reason, it's probably the same reason that I don't ge as many books read as I used to.

For the SIL's birthday, I wanted to something crafty. I ended up taking an extra five weeks to get it done and it's really something small that I should have been able to do in one or two evenings. Hopefully I can plan better for Christmas crafting. Those gifts need to be on time. So, last week I finally mailed out the SIL's birthday present (and her birthday was only July 29th). I thought it turned out super cute. The only issue was the timing.
The pattern is from Sublime Stitching. I love their old-is-new-is-old sensibility. This pattern was Kurt Halsey design that is so cute. I have several other patterns I picked up, too. They give you a discount if you buy three, so who can resist?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What's Your Favorite Color?

I'm not sure why, but it was alway a question we got asked as kids. "What's your favorite color?" We all had a favorite and we didn't budge from that favorite.

I can still hear Granny laughing about asking Jason what his favorite color was. His young voice would answer "Gween. My favowit!" Everyone knew that Jason loved green and Whitney's favorite was yellow. I'm pretty sure it's the same today. They always had gifts given in those colors and they loved it. Both grandmothers knit sweaters in their favorite colors and made blankets and quilts in those colors. There was no end of creativity in their favorite colors. And honestly, it was really sweet. It was a given that they'd like the color.

As children, Whitney would often get a gift in yellow and I would get a corresponding gift in pink. It was the logical thing to do. Yellow and pink for the girls. And I'm pretty sure Colin got blue. So it was green and blue for the boys. Now, Colin's favorite color was green as well, but you couldn't really do two things in the same color. You couldn't tell them apart. Fights were bound to break out. They had to be different.

It was worse for me. My favorite color was, and still is, blue. For some reason, grandmothers think their granddaughters shouldn't get gifts in blue. Blue is for boys. Instead, I always got pink. I know most girls go through a pink phase, and I probably did as well. I still love how my room was decorated with the pink bedspread with large red ladybugs on it when I was very young, before I was sharing a room with Whitney. Once we started sharing, everything was in pink and yellow. I secretly (or maybe not-so-secretly) wanted blue.

I'll admit that I love the Holly Hobbie blankets that were made for Whitney and me, hers bound with yellow on the back and mine in pink. And the lovely crocheted afghan in pink is wonderful. The handwork is beautiful. I'm certainly not ungrateful. It's just that I wanted it in blue.

Entered in Scribbit's Write-Away Contest for September.

Just Not Right

I don't feel right today. (And don't tell me I don't look right -- I can figure that out on my own.) Last night I had an amazing headache. I'm one who really doesn't get sick much at all. I just get the requisite cold once a year and have some seasonal allergies. It's really normal boring stuff. But the headache last night, and what I'll call the hangover that it's induced today, are really not anything I'm used to. I got home from work and sat on the couch for an hour an a half (while the dear DH made dinner and brought me food) and then went to my bed and stayed there until 9:00. And I really didn't feel better, even after two rounds of high-dosage Advil.

I'm not really writing this to complain, though it may look and sound like a complaint. I'm really writing it because I was so overcome with feeling horrible that I could not believe that I couldn't just "get over it" and get the things done that I needed to. I was supposed to go to the store to pick up eggs and then make a cake. I couldn't do it. At the end of the night, as I was going to bed, I realized that this is how many people feel all the time. It helped me to feel much more compassionate toward people dealing with cronic illnes or pain.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What a Week!

I haven't posted much in the last week, because it was busy, busy, busy! The DH and I were traveling again, this time to Boise, so we had lot's of fun with family. Here are the highlights of the last seven days:

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Playing on my iPod This Week (Sep 8) -- Tristan Prettyman

I heard Tristan Prettyman on the radio and thought I might enjoy more of her music. I listened to a bunch of stuff on iTunes and just had to get the album. It's great for easy Summer listening -- even as we move into Fall. I got the album Hello...x and have really enjoyed it.

I really like the song Hello.

YouTube only has bad recordings of it, but you can also see it at Tristan's site.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Best of the Week

Keeping the tradition of the weekly highlights, these are the best parts of the last seven days:
  • Phad Thai at the Raiders game on Friday
  • Sarah coming to visit (and going to the art museum with her)
  • Meeting Sarah's friend Anna -- what a hoot! We loved her.
  • Sleeping in on Monday
  • My anniversary flowers looking even more beautiful today than when I got them over a week ago.

What's going on with you? Any highlights?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Playing on my iPod This Week (Sep 1) -- Neko Case

This is one of my long-time favorites. Neko Case was at Bumbershoot this weekend, but I didn't make it there to see her. When I checked out her site, I saw that she was in Boise on Friday night, so my friends in Bosie probably missed her as well. My favorite album is Blacklisted, but she's got some great songs on other albums as well.

I love the song Lady Pilot, recorded here with mediocre quality:

Warning, this really is part of the Alt Country genre. It's not country music, but it has a definite not to the country/folk feelings.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Restaurant in Review

For our anniversary, last night, we went to El Gaucho for dinner. The DH had heard about it and I had friends who recommended it as well. We had a wonderful time and really enjoyed our dinner, but I'm going to have to give it a thumbs-down as an overall recommendation.

First, the good: The restaurant looks very fancy and we had an easy time parking at the Belltown location. They also have valet parking for only $7, which is less than the lot accross the street. We had a wonderful waiter who was very attentive and friendly. There was a pianist playing during our dinner that added to the ambience. We also enjoyed the food. We both had steaks and I had a salad with both shrimp and lobster in it that was very tasty. They bring fruit, cheese, and nuts to every table after dinner. The cheese was fabulous! Plus, the company couldn't be beat!

Now for the not-so-good: The prices are insane. This was by far the most expensive meal I have ever eaten. Ever. When I think about the most expensive meal, I hope to have the most outstanding food. the food was good, but nowhere near outstanding. I have to say that I would not recommend El Gaucho simply because of the price. Also, to put things in perspective, we had one starter, one salad, two steaks, and two sides. All that for a price I can't even type because it's so astronomical. We have enjoyed Daniel's Broiler and Palisade, to outstanding restuarants, that have cost $100 less for the meal. We did not get an extra $100 worth out of this. My steak was OK. The DH's steak was good. We've had outstanding steaks at Daniel's for much less money.

The final breakdown:
Service 5/5
Ambiance 5/5
Price 1/5
Food 3/5
Total 3.5/5

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Today was a really nice day, but it's been a pretty nice week as well. Highlights this week include:
  • Fresh Hermiston watermelon (it really is #1 on my highlight list for a reason)
  • Driving with my DH this weekend
  • Roses delivered to work on Monday
  • Anniversary dinner with the DH this evening

I hope you're having a great week too!

Three Years Today

It's been three years since the day the DH and I got married. Our wedding day was wonderful and the three years in between have just gotten better and better.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Watermelon, Finally!

We had a VERY busy weekend, but lots of fun none the less. We went to the temple with the ward on Friday night, visited with a bunch of our friends afterwards until late in the evening, and then had a short night.

Saturday morning, we got up and headed Southeast to Hermiston. On the way there, I crocheted around this blanket:

The DH chose the fabric because it's for his grandson, due to make his entrance into the world in October. He kept hounding me about getting it done in time. It was a piece of cake.

We got to The DH's sister's house around 4:00 in the afternoon and got to see the outstanding watermelon's and canteloupe that Gus found for us at a farm. We also got to take a tour of his vegetable garden and see (and taste) some of the great produce he's growing. That evening took Gus and Shannon out for Gus' birthday and ate wonderful Thai food. Mmm!

On Sunday, we went to church with Gus and Shannon and then hung out with them and helped prepare for the birthday party. Gus smoked three chickens and gave us one of them to take home with us. They were SO good! We had a really nice time at the party and got to hang out with their wonderful friends and family. After the party, we left with watermelon, canteloupe, frozen chickens, eggs, one smoked chicken, green peppers, and leftovers from the party.

On the way home, I crocheted around this blanket:

I chose this fabric and I think it will be fun for my co-worker's little boy due later this year.
We got home pretty late on Sunday night, so we were totally beat on Monday morning, but it was worth it to have some quality family time.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Thanks, DH!

I had a wonderful surprise today at work. Around mid-morning, I got a call from the front desk telling me I had a floral delivery. The thought that crossed my mind was, "who would be sending me flowers?" Well, of course it was the DH.

Our anniversary isn't until Wednesday, but he had the brilliant idea to send them today so I could enjoy them all week. Fresh flowers are one of the small splurge's I indulge in (that and regular pedicures) and the DH knows that I really enjoy them.

I love that he's done something that is purely for my enjoyment. Thanks, so much, dear! I really do think they're beautiful.

He's a keeper that one!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Olympic Love

I'm such a sucker for the Olympics. I love the highs and lows and the interesting sports that you never see anywhere else.

Last night, I watched some of the rhythmic gymnastics that were on the DVR. Did you know there was a group rhythmic gymnastics event? I actually found it a little weird. I'm also a little confused by the new trampoline event. This still looks like a backyard entertainment, not a competetive sport to me, but I'll admit that I watched a bunch of the event for both men and women.

I also watched some of the track and field events. I loved the women's gold medal discuss winner. What a champ! She's a giant and talked about Mary Lou Retton being her idol when she was young. It was her dream to be in the Olympics and then, to top it off, she also won a gold medal.

I also loved watching the platform diving last night. Laura Wilkinson was fantastic. She didn't win a medal, but she showed that she's a class act all the way. She was the diving team captain and set a great example of sportsmanship (which is sadly lacking in the running events). She placed 11th and said she wouldn't change a thing and was honored to be AT the Olympics. I was really impressed. She was emotional and the interviewer asked her why, assuming it was because she didn't medal. She said it was just really overwhelming thinking about it being her last competition and that made her emotional. I loved it!

I also felt really sorry for Nastia Liukin. Can you imagine having a hard day of training with one of the most demanding coaches in the business, going home to relax, and having him be at the dinner table with you? I think having your father as your coach is my idea of hell (no offense dad!). And he's one of the toughest. He didn't celebrate his daughter's silver medal in uneven bars because he was mad at the scoring. She got a silver medal at the Olympics! Hundreds of other women showed up and didn't even make it to the finals, much less get a medal, and he doesn't even care to celebrate the silver medal.

Overall, I wish we saw a few more of the events that the US doesn't dominate. Where is the syncronized swimming on NBC, I ask you. I haven't seen any of it. Why?!?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

More Highlights

Background: when we were growing up, we always sat down together as a family for dinner. The TV was always off and we all had to stay at the table until we were excused. During dinner, dad would ask each of us to share the highlight of our day. Note that there are two brilliant parenting examples here. 1) The whole family was together once every day. 2) We actually had to talk to each other when we were together.

There are a couple of results of this (and other family stuff), the most important being that I actually like my family and consider them friends. I know a lot of you like your families, but as I meet more people, I'm amazed at how many people really don't consider their siblings or parents friends. It makes me realize that I shouldn't take it for granted and I feel VERY blessed.

So, enough of the other stuff. It's time to get on with the highlight of the past week. I've had a really good past seven days, so this is kind of hard to narrow down, but here are the very best bits of the past week:
  • Sunday dinner with the family. And I know I've talked about the fried chicken and new potatoes too much. The best part really was being with the Boise part of the family.
  • Seeing Aida (the opera) with the DH and our friend Ken. It really was great. I usually get bored about half way through a lot of operas, but this one held my attention to the very end -- after four acts at 11:00 p.m.
  • Watching Mama Mia! with my mom and sisters.
  • Celebrating Mac's birthday on Sunday (and her actual birthday was yesterday, when she turned 13).

How was the last week for you?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mostly Finished Project

These are the two minky blankets that I made this weekend for a woman I work with who had twins four months ago. I know what you're thinking -- I was supposed to make these four months ago. I thought about it. I really did. But they just didn't get done.

I was worried about cutting the fabric, so my paralysis took over until I could take the fabric to my mom's house and cut it there. There, I had the huge table and the big cutting mat and the mom to supervise. It worked out quite nicely (except for the three squares I cut too small that had to be fixed because there wasn't enough extra fabric to just cut new ones).

You can even see the top-stitching I did on the close-up. I sewed very slowly and carefully and I didn't even panic when the bobin ran out half way through the second blanket.

Now I'm excited to give them away for the cute twins!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Playing on my iPod This Week (Aug 18) -- Coldplay

I just got the new album by Coldplay, Viva La Vida, and I hadn't realized that I could enjoy this band so much. I really love the whole album. Don't tell the DH, but I keep listening to it over and over in my car. He thinks that's crazy. What, me crazy? It might be true...

I think track 8, Violet Hill, is my favorite track, but I think the whole album works together without sounding all the same. Go take a listen! It's good stuff.

And I think I figured out the YouTube video embedding. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mama Mia!

I'm in Boise right now, for a quick trip to see a movie with the girls. I guess it's a pretty expensive movie when you think about it that way. Let's not think about it that way. It's also a trip to see my cute nieces and nephews, eat home-grown tomatoes, and see Mama Mia.

The trip to Boise was quick and easy. I ended up sitting next to my doctor on the plane. It's so very odd to see people completely out of context, but my doctor is pretty cool and it was a fine flight. When I got to Boise, Mom, Whitney, Annzy, and I went out to lunch for pizza, pasta, and salad. The food was yummy and the company was even better. As long as we were out, we thought we might as well check out Lee's Candies and Anthropology. Then we headed out to the movies.

Mama Mia! was exactly what I was expecting, and I really enjoyed it. The story is basically a bunch of ABBA songs tied together with a plot line. The story is sweet and the characters are all two-dimensional and the music (if you like ABBA) is great. What really makes this movie work is that it never takes itself seriously. From the very beginning, it's fun and funny. Everyone does a lot of singing and dancing and it works, as long as you aren't looking for Oscar worthy performances. Meryl Streep did a great job with the singing and the dancing and the acting. She's so versatile, it's just amazing. Pierce Brosnan, however, CANNOT SING. His singing was almost painful to hear, but it just worked with the humor of the movie. Then, the credits were hysterical. All the main actors were in the super glitzy 70's type costumes singing the ABBA songs and hamming it up. Priceless!

We also ended up seeing Penelope later that evening on video. It's another movie I can highly recommend. I think it was in the theatres for about 10 minutes, but the movie was great. It's also appropriate for almost any age. Even Brooke (at 3) seemed to enjoy it.

Today, we're hanging out and I'm working on a little project. I'll post pictures later. Oh -- and the best part of the trip comes later this afternoon when my mom makes my all-time favorite dinner. I'm really looking forward to that.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Garlic Smashed-Potato Salad

Due to popular demand, I'm posting this great potato salad recipe. It was in Sunset magazine a month or two ago and we tried it out when we had a get-together. It's pretty easy and tastes just wonderful!

2 heads garlic
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons dry white wine
About 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
About 1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 3/4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup chopped chives

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Cut garlic heads in half crosswise and wrap tightly in one large piece of foil. Bake until garlic is very soft when pressed and light golden brown (unwrap to test), 45 minutes to 1 hour. When garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze cloves from skin into a small bowl. Add olive oil, wine, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; mash garlic with a fork until mixture is smooth.
2. Meanwhile, in a 6- to 8-quart pan, combine potatoes and 4 quarts water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced, about 20 minutes. Drain and return to pan.
3. Add garlic mixture and chives to potatoes and stir gently until combined but still chunky. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Let cool completely, then chill airtight for up to 1 day.
Makes 6 servings

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Friend in Need

I know a lot of you that read my blog are not my neighbors, so I want to spread the word about our friends the Wright's. They are a fantastic couple that we met through church and have enjoyed getting to know over the past few years that they've lived near us.

Last year, Megan had a very difficult pregnancy with their first child. Seriously, you don't know hard pregnancies until you've heard this woman's story. It was very rough. Because of the nature of her previous preganancy, going through another is really not an option, but they know their family is not complete yet. They are now beginning their search for a birth mother willing to work with them in an adoption to grow their little family. This is what Megan says about where they are right now:

As John Henry approaches his first birthday(!) we are very excited to begin our adoption journey as we search for his little brother or sister. We hope that you take the time to help us begin our adventure.

I am including our adoption business card. If you know of someone who is unexpectedly pregnant and considering adoption, please print our card and pass it along to them. We also hope that you will visit our blog, perhaps add it to your feed readers, and get to know our family a little bit better.

Notice that we have opened an Etsy shop where we will be selling hand knit and hand painted items to raise money for our adoption and to support child related charities.

We want to thank you all one more time for all of the love and support you have given us through my pregnancy, delivery, and our initiation into parenthood. We love being Mama and Dada and we smile with anticipation when we hear a newborn's cry.

When the Wright's visited with us this past weekend, Megan mentioned that statistically more than 50% of adoptions are private adoptions. Although they are working with an agency, they also want to be open to any private adoption situations that may come up.

Please pass the word around. You never know who might be that wonderful birth mother waiting to connect with this great family.