Christmas 2009

We returned Sunday from a wonderful Christmas weekend in Colorado. We visited lots of family and got to see some friends of mine whom we hadn’t seen in almost a year. Our friends, Megan and George, just bought a house in Fort Collins and are preparing for the birth of their first baby – she has such a cute baby bump! We laughed together because as a kid, Megan absolutely hated the color pink (“Pink is sexist! My favorite color is blue!”) but now that they know they’re having a baby girl, they’re decorating the nursery in pink and brown. I adore pink, so their baby will be receiving plenty of pink from me! She’ll learn to like it!

Northern Colorado was hit by a snowstorm the day before we flew in, so we had a fresh white Christmas. I’d show you pictures but my camera never made it to Colorado in the first place – I forgot it at home. So here are a few mental snapshots from the weekend.
  • I used to hate Pictionary but now I love it. I don’t remember the last time I’ve laughed that hard! There was a drawing of an elephant (“ivory”) that you wouldn’t have been able to identify even with hints (although my drawing of a light switch, “off”, wasn’t too on target either).
  • Mom got me the DVD of the original airing of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella”. I can’t wait to watch it – how can you go wrong with Julie Andrews? Thanks Mom!
  • We went to the Christmas Eve service at the church my mom has been attending and then went to a family friend’s house for dinner. Thank you to the Morgans for having us over on such short notice! We appreciate your generosity, even though you left us in the dust on Mario Kart.

My favorite Christmas present

I was in fourth grade when I received my favorite Christmas present of all time.

Thus began a fierce devotion to the story of Anne Shirley as only Lucy Maud Montgomery could write it. I wished with all my heart that I could turn my hair red and change my name to Anne, spelled with an E. I re-read the original trilogy again and again, committing to memory the obscurest facts of Anne’s life (sadly, I’m a little rusty now). Contrary to the experience of most of my friends, I did not grow up watching the movies and it wasn’t until high school that I finally watched the film version of “Anne of Green Gables”. I was a little disappointed, to be honest. Heresy, I know, but old loyalties die hard.

If you’re looking for me, I’ll be curled up with a tumbler of raspberry cordial and reminiscing.

VW Love

I got to drive one of these puppies today.

I rode with my co-worker and his family to the airport and brought their Eurovan back to the office. The van was packed: my co-worker, his wife, his wife’s father, me, three little boys, and enough luggage to get them all through a Disneyland vacation for a week. Not to mention the two car seats and the stroller they were taking with them.

It was insanity. I’m grateful that we’ll be traveling without little ones for at least a few years – much less complicated!

Muse on SNL

Discovering that a band doesn't sound as good live as it does on its album is one of the biggest letdowns for me. Conversely, discovering that a band sounds even better live than on its album is like winning the lottery. You get what you pay for and more! The last time I was stunned by a performer was at a Ben Gibbard concert but I have to say that Muse's performance on SNL this past weekend convinced me that a ticket to their show would be well worth the money. Their album doesn't do them justice. The lead singer has quite the set of pipes.

Target practice

I crossed a big “I’ve never” off my list on Sunday. I put on ear protection and plastic glasses and went to the shooting range with Mark and two friends and three pistols. Mark just recently bought a Heckler & Koch P7 pistol and I am completely gun illiterate (not to mention gun shy) so he practically had to hold my hand the entire time.

Our friend is a federal agent and has plenty of gun training, so she taught me the proper shooting stance and how to hold the gun (I like to say I’m being trained by a professional). I’ve only shot a .22 rifle before (ages ago) and I have to say that shooting a pistol is a completely different experience. The noise of the gunshot is much louder than I thought it would be, even with ear protection. Tears even came to my eyes the first time I fired a bullet out of the chamber. I think I was alarmed to be holding such power in my hands. I got over the initial fear of getting clipped in the face by the gun's recoil - Mark's gun doesn't have too much of a kick. Our friend had a .40 Glock and it kicked considerably more than Mark's, and so did our other friend's Colt .45. I only fired two rounds with the Colt .45 - the gun was too big for my hands. Our shooting target was the outline of a person but you could also choose shooting targets that had pictures of zombies on them! Kill the zombies!

The afternoon was one big crash course in gun handling and terminology. Even in writing this blog I've had to consult my friend to make sure I'm describing my actions correctly (my journalism major is fighting to resurface). When I wasn't shooting targets at the range, I entertained myself by observing what other shooters were wearing. I wasn't quite prepared with my clothing choices (skinny jeans and ballet flats) but I felt better when I saw a girl wearing Uggs over her sweatpants. There were plenty of shirts with American flags and lots of flannel to go around. Then there was the shirt that said "I'll keep my guns, money and freedom. You keep your CHANGE." But I guess I shouldn't be surprised to see that at a shooting range.

Panic or don't panic?

I had a slight panic attack Saturday. I was at a bridal shower when I was suddenly hit by an overwhelming fear that I hadn’t removed the price tag from my gift. The bride-to-be had just started opening presents when I came to this realization, so there was no time to tiptoe over to my own present and surreptitiously check. I started to sweat and tried to remember when I had wrapped the gift and whether this was all in my head. I mean, isn’t that the worst party faux pas to commit? Even inadvertently?

And then, as quickly as the fear had come, it dissipated when I specifically remembered standing at our apartment counter and cutting off the tag with my tiny travel scissors. I physically exhaled with relief and looked around, hoping no one had noticed my face redden or heard my elevated heart rate. None would be the wiser. At least until now.

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat...

We didn't get the tree decorated until Saturday which turned out to be a blessing because we returned to the apartment Friday night to discover the tree on the floor! Actually, I had a dream last night where the tree was close to tipping again. I must have Christmas trees on my mind.

We left the chairs around it for a while to determine if it was leaning.

I know this is kind of dark but you get the point!

Tree time

Last night, we decided to revisit the tree lot in Laurelhurst where we got our tree last year and were dismayed to find only noble firs at $11 per foot. This was definitely out of our price range and a little outrageous to Mark, who grew up in Portland where you can find excellent trees for $15. In my mind, we had two options.

Option 1: Stick with the noble and get a 4-foot tree. At least it would be easy to decorate.
Option 2: Home Depot

We asked the owner why the trees were so expensive and he told us that they were just cut yesterday and the nobles were always a little pricier. Mark mentioned that we had gotten a douglas fir at his lot for around $40 last year and asked what we could get for a similar price. To my surprise, the owner was completely cooperative and showed us four trees that he would sell us for $40. A couple of the trees were discounted for good reason – one tree looked like it was missing an entire row of branches. It would take some clever decorating to hide a hole of that size! Out of the bunch, we did end up picking a 7-foot noble that had sufficient branch coverage and stood straight. Mark was able to borrow his company’s SUV so we could easily strap it to the rack and get it home.

We don’t have any decorations on it yet but the tree is in its stand and waiting for some Christmas love! And it sure makes the house smell great!

eBay stalker

Remember when eBay was brand new? Everyone became obsessed with finding things to sell online and getting the best deal possible. If you were bidding on a particularly hot item, you’d sit there and refresh the page so you would know the exact second you were outbid. Outbid? Outrage! Up it by a dollar!

I haven’t used eBay in ages until today. I’ve been searching for a new business calculator for a co-worker and am finding myself obsessively refreshing my page to make sure I’m still the highest bidder. For a calculator. The auction still has 27 more hours so I guess I’ll be eBay stalking through tomorrow.

Husky fever

Our alma mater didn’t have a football team, so Mark and I missed out on the whole college football experience. We came into some free football tickets this weekend thanks to our friend Maile, so we went and watched the University of Washington Huskies dominate UC Berkeley. I felt like we were fully immersed in the college football culture – fist-bumping the guys in front of us, chanting with the crowd, wondering how on earth the half-naked baton twirler was keeping warm. We even splurged on some $4 hot chocolate. Below are some pictures of game day.

Maile, me, Mark and Sam. It got really cold that day, so we were pretty bundled up.

Husky Stadium

Maile and me

We kind of wished we were in the sunny part of the stadium!

The stadium looks out on Lake Washington. You can barely see the Cascades in the distance.

You can see the frost forming on the track.

Mark and me

Mark's self-portrait

Happy birthday Mom!

 Happy birthday to my amazing and beautiful Mom! I can't wait to go home for Christmas so we can spend some time together sipping tea and watching movies, preferably with Colorado snow swirling outside the windows. Mom, we love you and will see you soon!

Hello gym

November is coming to a close and I've got three Thanksgivings under my belt. Needless to say, my pants are not happy. The gym will be receiving a visit from me today.

Aren't the holidays always like this? You stuff yourself to the brim and then try to waddle to the treadmill and keep a steady pace. I wanted to preempt the steady stream of holiday goodies but I guess I'll have to settle for backpedaling.

Taking on the turkey

Thanksgiving turkeys are the territory of women who have long traversed the culinary world and can offer proof that they indeed know what they are doing. They baste with a steady hand, insert the thermometer in the meatiest section, and season with confidence. I am a newcomer to the actual preparation of this Thanksgiving tradition, nothing but a Padawan learner who must rely on her Jedi masters for guidance.

Because this Padawan didn’t even know what “place the turkey skin side up” meant.

I took my first steps toward this culinary tradition last night. The gobbler was a seven-pound bone-in turkey breast, big enough to qualify as a hefty undertaking by a newbie but not massive. I picked a recipe that took the least amount of time to make – two hours of roasting would give me just enough time if I got off work early and started immediately. My recipe didn’t tell me to cover the turkey from the beginning so the turkey started browning absurdly early. I called a couple of turkey experts and ended up covering the turkey with foil and moving it down a rack in the oven.

Me: “What does “skin side up” mean? I mean, apart from the obvious.”
Wendy: “Umm… it means the obvious.”
Me: “But… what does that mean?”
Wendy: “Think of how you see it in pictures and magazines – that’s what it should look like.”
Me: “Ohh… good.”

Two hours went by but the turkey was definitely NOT done. An extra hour and an additional 25 degrees did the trick though, and we did finally serve our turkey.

So what did I learn?

1. Make sure the turkey is thoroughly defrosted. I think this is where I messed up – I bought the turkey exactly 24 hours before I put it in the oven, and I don’t think that was enough time.

2. Ensure you have an instant-read thermometer to test the turkey. I thought we had one but I was wrong, and we had to make do with a candy thermometer.

3. Keep the turkey experts on speed dial.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Headed to Whidbey

We’re leaving this afternoon for Whidbey Island to go on our church’s annual retreat. You don’t realize how loud the city is until you leave it. And it’s always a welcome change to be able to see the stars in the sky. We always go to Camp Casey, which is an old fort converted into a conference center and now owned by Seattle Pacific University. SPU uses the camp for most of their retreats too, so I feel like I’ve been to Camp Casey more than the average bear.

The island is gorgeous though, and it’s easy to feel at peace when you’re surrounded by such beauty and stillness.


I shot the sheriff… but I did not shoot the deputy.

You might be saying these very words when you come over to our place and play our new game “Bang!” with us. Every player is assigned a role at the beginning of the game (sheriff, outlaw, renegade, deputy) and you must play your cards right to fire shots at your opponent. The roles are secret except for the sheriff, so it’s your goal to figure out who the other players are so you can shoot them before they shoot you! But if you’re the sheriff, you better not kill off your deputy or you’ll lose all your cards!

It’s a pretty fun game and has just the right mix of chance and strategy. We had a few friends over the other night to play.


In the end, even my Winchester couldn’t save me.

January Jones on SNL

January Jones hosted last week’s Saturday Night Live, but her comedic craft doesn’t seem to be as honed as her dramatic. Too much “Mad Men”. Below is my favorite skit, although she did make a lovely (albeit flatulent) Grace Kelly in the “Rear Window” skit.

Also, I knew the SNL performance stage was small but it looked especially tiny when they crammed a band AND the four members of the Black Eyed Peas onto it. And props to the BEP: if your main singers aren’t going to play instruments then they better be high-energy and dynamic, and they were quite entertaining to watch even if was using Autotune (someone must’ve learned from Kanye’s SNL performance).

Taylor Swift on SNL

Taylor Swift hosted Saturday Night Live last weekend and this was my favorite skit.

Encounters of the creepy kind

For the record, I Googled orb spiders to find a picture for this post but got too creeped out and had to close the page.

We all know that moms will do anything for their babies, right? Last weekend, I helped a friend clean up her deck where a bunch of her cardboard boxes had fallen victim to the recent rains. We pulled one of the boxes out from the wall and discovered a fat beige orb spider sitting on the other side of the box and crouching over what appeared to be an egg sac. My friend didn’t want to kill the spider so I coerced it onto a piece of cardboard and flung it a few feet over a four-foot cement wall that separates her deck from the grass. The grass on the other side was at the same height as the top of the cement wall (her apartment and deck are below ground level) so I watched the spider crawl away from us. The egg sac suffered a less fortunate fate and we continued breaking down boxes. About 10 minutes later, I turned around and that SAME spider was crawling back over the wall toward us. I’m no spider whisperer but she looked pretty angry. I might have screamed. Even though the spider obviously held a grudge, we nudged it back onto a piece of cardboard and flung her further this time. She didn’t return (at least in the next half hour while we were still there), so here’s hoping that neither of us will be haunted by mama spiders looking for their babies.

Let's go on a tour

We have friends in this weekend from out of town, so we get to play Seattle tourist! Everyone does the same thing when they visit Seattle so I'm guessing our pictures will include the following:
  • Posing with a fish-thrower
  • Everyone piled on the bronze pig at the market
  • A bottom-up shot at the base of the Space Needle
  • Posing at the original Starbucks, A Moment in Time in the background
  • A shot at Gas Works Park, the city in the background
  • A shot at Kerry Park, the city in the background
Any other suggestions? Now if only the weather would cooperate...

And time goes on

When I was in eighth grade, all the eighth-graders were paired with first-graders as reading buddies. My first-grader and I hit it off, and I babysat for her family through my high school years. Now that first-grader is a high school senior and will be traveling to Seattle tomorrow to check out my alma mater, Seattle Pacific University.

It’s not that I feel old, because I don’t. It’s just strange to think that my little first-grader is not so little anymore, is in fact a good eight inches taller than I am, and ready for college life.

And time goes on.

Hacking through red tape

I’m so tangled in red tape I can hardly move.

After the wedding, I changed my name on all vital documents except for one: my car registration. I’m not sure how this slipped through the cracks but I didn’t deem it too important, even when I renewed my tabs. Online renewal removes the possibility for awkward questioning by city clerks (and my tabs were expired anyway). Little did I know how this would come back to bite me.

We’ve moved into a neighborhood where most of the street parking requires a zone permit unless you want to park blocks away or risk a ticket (and you WILL be ticketed). The requirement for a permit is simple enough: a copy of your car registration and a copy of a document proving you live in your specific neighborhood zone, i.e. a lease agreement or an electric bill. Fair enough. One problem: the last name on your car registration must match the last name on your other document. My names don’t match.

So change your registration, Heather. I’M TRYING. My car is a leased car, which has made this process all the more difficult. My first rational thought is to go to the Department of Licensing. Makes sense, right? I checked their Web site and learned that if you are leasing a car, you must change your name with the lienholder of the vehicle. I switch course and contact my lienholder. They change my name in their system and tell me they will send me a copy of the registration in the mail, as they cannot fax it. Great, I say.

Three weeks go by and I have received nothing. Meanwhile, we’ve moved and received our first ticket. I call back my lienholder and explain the situation. Now they tell me that they cannot send a car registration as only the Department of Licensing has those. Cool. Maybe you shouldn’t have misinformed me three weeks ago? They say I need a power of attorney form to take to the DOL office, and can then change my name. Great, I say. They tell me they are faxing the form and I should get it within the hour, for sure by the next day. In the meantime, I call the DOL to make sure this form is what I need to change my name.

“Oh you don’t even need that form!” is her pert reply. “You just need to come into an office with your marriage license and current ID, and a copy of something that shows you changed your name with the lienholder.”

“Ok…” I say. “Maybe your Web site should be a little more specific as to your instructions for lessees.”

“It is a bit confusing,” she says. To say the least.

I never got the fax from my lienholder, but I went into a DOL office today with all the documents they told me to bring. I was promptly informed that I needed the actual title of the car. But I don’t HAVE the title because I don’t own the car! Well, the clerk says, your lienholder needs to give it to you so you can bring it in and change your name. The clerk suggested sending in my mismatched documents to the zone permit office anyway. “They should be able to put two and two together,” she said. To which I reply in my head, I’m not too sure of that, YOUR office doesn’t seem to be doing too good of a job.

By now I’m near tears at this whole debacle. All I need is a blasted parking pass. I called back my lienholder, and they told me they wouldn’t send me the title. We went back and forth, and the customer service representative finally agreed to put me on hold and see if they had it in their office. She came back a few minutes later and told me that she found it; would I like it faxed or mailed? Who says I can’t get things done? The fax is due to arrive in my office today or Monday. The saga continues.

Pictures of the apartment

As promised a month ago: pictures of the apartment! It hasn't been fully decorated yet... we're still trying to figure out what to put in the built-in shelving above the fireplace so it doesn't look like a shrine to the Seymours or a resting place for our diplomas. I love our big picture windows.

When you enter our apartment, you're greeted by this little bar. I'm a drop-and-go kind of girl, so it's a daily struggle to keep the clutter off the counter. A radiator sits underneath the bar, and sometimes Mark and I just stand at the bar, drink our wine and talk. The radiators are great because they give off so much heat, but they do tend to remind me of the dorms (Hill Hall anyone?)

This is one of the bathrooms. The clawfoot tub is to the right; I couldn't really get it in the shot.

This is the other bathroom, which is equipped with slow-to-action fluorescent lights. A friend summed it up: "Was it my imagination or did it get brighter in there the longer the light was on?"

I just realized that the flash lit up our street signs... the one on the left says Edgar Street and the one on the right says Eastlake Avenue. And they were procured legally.

Here's our kitchen. It lacks a central light minus the ones over the stove, so I think we're going to put in track lighting above the cabinets.

Our dining room, complete with area rug.

This is the office nook that we try to tell everyone about but can't really explain. It really is an office in a closet. You could close the doors and no one would know. There's even a window in it, which you can't see in this shot.

Our credenza separates the living room area from the dining area.

The hallway leading back to our room and the spare bedroom ("Spare Oom").

If you come stay with us, here's your room!

This bedroom does double duty as our TV room.

Just card me already

Awkward yet potentially flattering moment of the day:

Me: Do you have anything in the way of a nice classy black dress?
Nordstrom lady: Oh, are you looking for something for Homecoming?


This morning started like any other morning. I went into the bathroom to get ready for the day, opened the window, and that’s where the morning took a turn. In flew a yellow-striped nightmare. The bee flew straight toward the light fixture and attempted to sting it before settling contentedly on the bulb, staring at me all the while (jerk). Neither of us moved for a few minutes so I armed myself with a towel (maybe I could whip the bee to the floor?) and continued drying my hair. I got through the hairstyling and had started on the makeup when the bee went berserk again, which is when I finally shouted for Mark. I can’t handle this much stress at 6:45 a.m.! He disposed of it and the day returned briefly to normalcy.

Until I got outside. I walked the half-block to where I had parked the car yesterday afternoon and was baffled by an empty space. I racked my brain. I was most likely confused and had probably forgotten I’d parked somewhere else, right? But that couldn’t be right, because I was positive I had parked RIGHT HERE. I remember because there was a traffic jam on the street yesterday. The two-way street is only wide enough for one lane of cars, so when a face-off occurs, the car without the right-of-way must pull into a driveway or parallel park in order to let the other car pass. Someone failed to yield yesterday so there was a four-car back-up on each road leading up to the intersection, creating complete gridlock. A woman got out of her minivan to direct traffic, and once I finally got out of the intersection, I immediately pulled into an adjacent empty spot. I know exactly where I parked because I was on the phone with my mom, telling her I’d never seen this type of gridlock before. Back to this morning: I’m standing where I thought I parked, and it dawns on me that perhaps I inadvertently pulled into the “no parking” section of curb. Now I’m thinking my car must have been towed and I’m going through a mental checklist: call in late to work, figure out who towed my car, and ask Mark if he can take me to get it. Mark. Wait a second. Mark took MY car last night to run an errand. He obviously re-parked it and failed to tell me where. I had just pulled out my phone to call him when it rang, with Mark on the other line. “Hey, I just remembered I forgot to tell you where I reparked the car…”

Thank goodness it’s Friday.

Why I need my Thursday nights back

My church normally schedules its membership series on Sunday afternoons, but this month they’re trying something new and have scheduled them on Thursday nights. Though I do like the change, I’m looking forward to October being over for one reason and one reason only.

I don’t think Hulu posts the most recent episode until late Thursday night or Friday morning, so I can’t join in my office’s discussion of what happened the night before on “The Office.” I know it’s a selfish reason, but still.

One year

Mark and I get to celebrate our first ever one-year wedding anniversary on Sunday. I know everyone says this, but I can’t believe a year has passed already. Yet it feels like plenty has happened since we celebrated with everyone and took off for Belize. A new small group formed out of our old group, and it has been amazing to see our friend’s lives changing as they experience God’s faithfulness. The change in small groups and the passage of time have brought a change in our friends group too. Friends have moved away from Seattle and new ones have arrived. We’ve traded our first apartment together for another one, although we still have the keys to the old place (and just last night rescued Mark’s bike from the walkway where we left it). We have more bills (hello Netflix) but have thankfully kept our jobs. Maybe I CAN believe a year has gone by. And I hear it just goes by faster the longer you live…

Kickboxing my way to the top

Just call me Chuck Norris.

Last Monday I accompanied a friend to a kickboxing class and learned the proper technique of a roundhouse kick. I can’t kick face-level, but I could probably reach your ribs. There’s something so stress-relieving about putting on boxing gloves and pummeling a bag. I felt like I was learning fight choreography a la Matt Damon in the Bourne series. Kick-jab-jab-roundhouse-elbow-palm-knee in the groin!

I attended a second class on Saturday (at my regular gym this time), but this class was more focused on cardio rather than actual technique. We could only air jab, despite the available punching bags on the sidelines of the room. I was disappointed by the lack of a physical subject to punch, but the instructor kept us on our toes the entire hour. You could never stand still – you shuffled from side to side, did jumping jacks, lunges and leaps, all the while upper-cutting and jabbing.

Kickboxing is an excellent full-body workout that keeps your heart rate up and teaches you a side hook. I recommend it to everyone!

Leavenworth Oktoberfest

Hundreds of people descended upon Leavenworth this weekend to take part in their annual Oktoberfest. What better place to celebrate than a tiny Bavarian town in the middle of nowhere? I stayed with Paul and Della in Wenatchee and met up with some of my friends Saturday afternoon to see what Oktoberfest was about. Turned out it really was all about the beer, with some hyper-vigilant cops thrown into the mix.

The atmosphere was much like what I would expect to see at a frat party: raucous laughing, a tower built entirely of empty beer cups, and plenty of people making fools of themselves. Toss in some live polka music and you’ve got yourself Oktoberfest! I particularly loved the band that headlined Saturday night in the party tent – polka versions of the Beatles and John Denver and multiple renditions of the chicken dance and a German drinking song that everyone seemed to know the lyrics to except us. Plenty of guys sported lederhosen (think Kurt from The Sound of Music) and everywhere you turned you ran into a girl in a little German dress (think St. Pauli beer).

Philip bought us toy laser guns that vendors were selling within the Oktoberfest boundaries, and we ran around for a while shooting each other and seeing if we could aim at certain targets with the laser (no people, save for an old college friend we ran into). Later that night, we were surprised by police officers who escorted two of our group out of the tent and proceeded to angrily lecture them on their use of the toy guns. I thought we were surely getting kicked out of the event, and we rounded up the rest of the group to join the other two (safety in numbers). They didn’t eject us, but they were angry and continued to harass us the rest of the night with dirty looks and flashlight pointing. At this point, I would like to interject. Really?! Officers, did you really have to haul out two friends to lecture them about toy guns? Let’s think about this. We probably had the LEAST to drink out of the hundreds of people there, and you’re picking on the ones with the lasers. There are guys clutching their beer steins and falling over themselves and you think we're a problem? I would say we're the least of your worries tonight. At least we are going to get in the car sober and not pose a threat to the rest of society. Speaking of driving sober, I'd also like to say a big thank you to the three police cars we saw pulling over likely drunk drivers after we left Leavenworth. We cheered when we saw those flashing lights. But next time officers, let's not take the lasers so seriously. Leavenworth is not an airport and we are not terrorists.

I mean come on, do we look like terrorists? Honestly.

Shout-out to the movers

We moved this weekend and we'd like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who helped: Mark's parents, Kelly, Wendy and Gerald, Brian, Claire and Sam. We could not have done it without you guys and we are so grateful! Sorry about the stairs... ideally we would have been able to park in the front but we had to park in the alley behind the house which meant a three-story climb. You were all troopers and I hope you're not too sore today.

We'll post pictures when we clean things up a bit. Thanks again!

Ink with your tortilla?

Yes, you're seeing right. That is a date and time stamped tortilla. Not only did this tortilla apparently expire August 25, but it came out of the middle of the package, causing me to frantically check whether ALL of my tortillas were tattooed. They were ink-free, so I snapped a picture of this one before I threw it out.

Notes to self

Lessons learned on a late-night walk to our local neighborhood market

1. Don't shop in the dark. Just because something looks great by streetlight doesn't mean it'll look great by normal light. That leather bag we picked up looked like a great find until we got into the light of Pete's and observed its true raggedness.

2. If something's hanging on a dumpster, there's probably a reason. Please refer to lesson number one.

3. Champagne and ice cream go great together.

An update to cream cheese pizza

I’m going to have to include BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse on the list of establishments who will serve us cream cheese pizza. Nicole and I were there last night and after a little finagling (and the understanding of our above-and-beyond waitress), a mini pizza topped with tomatoes, cream cheese, roasted peppers and olives arrived at our table. Two Oktoberfest brews later had us scribbling notes to our waitress expressing our heartfelt thanks for her collaboration on our quest and sincerest apologies for Nicole’s faulty addition (her receipt looked like a deranged pen had attacked it – scribbles and cross-outs everywhere).


I’ve recently picked up the “Confessions of a Shopaholic” series for some entertaining reading. Who doesn’t like a good beach read? I’ve also seen the movie and I always find myself comparing the two. The movie stars Isla Fisher, whom I consider to be an Amy Adams lookalike (check out that red hair!)

If I watch the movie first and then read the book it was based on, I’ll usually picture the actors and actresses when I read. This time though, Isla Fisher will not stick in my head. She just doesn’t seem to fit the Becky Bloomwood in the book. I don’t know where I got this, but for some reason I always picture Casey Wilson of SNL. I’m not sure if it’s Casey’s all-around American girl way (which is weird because the book Becky is actually British), but I can’t get her out of my head. Casey is my Becky.

“Confessions” is a comedy of errors. You know those movies where nothing will go right for the protagonist? “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” or “Meet The Parents” come to mind. The ones where the guy just can’t catch a break and where you fidget uncomfortably in your seat because everything goes wrong and it’s just so awkward? For me, it’s the same when I encounter these situations in books. I get absorbed in books and sometimes become physically uncomfortable when I read about an awkward situation. Last night, Becky was getting drunk during an interview and I actually had to put down the book a few times and move around the apartment. Who knew reading could be so stressful?

Cream cheese pizza

Have you ever walked by one of those wall plaques with a fake fish mounted on it and all of a sudden the fish's head pops out and starts to sing? Or have you seen those expensive voice-activated toys that just need a keyword to start beeping or dancing? People are like this to a certain extent: mention a certain topic or buzzword and they'll go off on a tangent on the ethics of open source or the benefits of free range meat.

My close friends know by now not to bring up the topic of pizza toppings because my eyes light up and I can’t wait to open my mouth and share my favorite pizza topping: cream cheese. The obsession started back in high school when Old Chicago was one of the hangouts of choice, and my small group leaders at the time were absolutely convinced that cream cheese was the best pizza topping ever invented and we all HAD to try it. It isn’t what you think – most of the time, people assume the cream cheese is spread as a layer like sauce but it’s actually dropped in small dollops and distributed much like pepperoni or sausage would be. I refused to try it for a while because, after all, does cream cheese really belong on pizza? My instincts told me no but finally, at the behest of all my converted friends, I forked a bite in my mouth. The combination of flavor was enough to make me a lifelong fan and persistent proselytizer to anyone who will listen. Cream cheese pizza was easy to come by in my hometown. Not only did Old Chicago offer it as a secret ingredient (you won’t find it on the menu), but so did a hometown favorite pizza joint, Roma’s. My guess is that Roma’s offered it first and it became so popular that Old Chicago eventually added it to its repertoire because I’ve been to a couple different Old C’s around the country (Portland and St. Paul) and was met with blank stares when I asked for it. This changed on Saturday when Mark and I went with some friends to a different Old Chicago in Portland. I almost didn’t ask if they had cream cheese because Greeley has been the only place I’ve ever found it (and I ask everywhere). Also, whenever I ask for the topping, I get some weird looks and an occasional “Cream cheese on pizza? That’s… interesting.” It’s tiring always being on the defensive. Nonetheless, I asked the waitress if they had it and was so shocked at her “Yes, we do!” that I could only stammer my surprise and re-open my menu to build my order around it.

I’ve tried to scale back my excitement lately because I know I’m kind of like that singing fish. It doesn’t matter if you’ve heard it before, I’ll still tell you that you should try it because it’s just SO good. I’ve already converted two people and I’m hoping for a domino effect so I won’t continue sounding like a broken record. But no promises.

Labor Day special

I don’t usually make side dishes with our meals. It’s enough for me just to get a main course done (unless you count rice as a side). Last night I decided to get ambitious and make two side dishes with the main course. The plan: baked chicken glazed with a lemon/honey/garlic/oregano concoction, baked zucchini brushed with butter and garlic, and whole wheat couscous. The reality: my evil baking sheet had its way with my zucchini and burned it. Zucchini FAIL. The chicken was a success though and it’s pretty hard to mess up couscous. Mark has gotten good at making a yogurt type of dressing for the couscous, which is dry all by itself. He mixes plain yogurt with garlic, mint and a hint of sugar, which livens up the unseasoned couscous. I’m a big fan of couscous – it only takes five minutes to cook. Who wouldn’t like that? But enough of the couscous fan club. I need to go buy some more zucchini.

And no, I’m not a great food photographer, especially when Mark is hungry.

Thoughts from a spinning class

Note: Spinning is the same as cycling on a stationary bike and is a great lower-body workout.

Twelve people began the spinning class yesterday, dutifully adjusting their bikes and swigging water. I had never seen this particular instructor, a middle-aged man in great shape for his age wearing a sweatband on his head and actual cycling shoes on his feet, but I’d heard rumors. You know you’re in trouble when the instructor wears the professional shoes.

Instructor: “All right class, we’ll do an eight-minute warm-up and follow up with stretches.”
It begins.
Instructor: “I use a 5-point scale, 1 being a flat ride and 5 being the most resistance you can do. Start out on a 3.”
Oh good, a 3 isn’t too bad. I can do a 3.
Instructor: “Hold it… OK, now double time! Push it people!”
I can’t even double time a 2! And what kind of music is this, some kind of smooth jazz? Where’s our hip-hop?

We lost four people from the class around the half-hour mark. A puddle of sweat had now formed on the floor beneath the instructor’s handlebars. After a particularly hard set, I reduced the resistance, sat back on my seat and turned to look at my friend next to me, the source of the rumors about the instructor. “I told you,” she mouthed. “I wasn’t joking!” We started another set: standing sprints.

Instructor: ”I see someone yawning back there! I must not be working you guys hard enough. Come on, smile at me!”
You don’t deserve a smile, you deserve a fist shake.

This went on for what seemed an eternity (or 20 minutes) until we began our cool down and finishing stretches.

Instructor: “I’m only subbing today, but I teach every other Saturday morning here and you all should come!”
My quads and I will be sleeping but thanks.

It took all my remaining strength just to drag myself to the car. But I’ll be there next week!

Thanks Starbucks

I recently posted a blurb about getting a Starbucks coupon for a free pint of ice cream and I said I'd update you all if the coupon actually worked. There were definitely skeptics out there (I won't name names), but I'm proud to say that we picked up our completely free pint of Starbucks java chip frappuccino tonight at a local market.

Take that naysayers! Woot!

Alpha female, watch out

The gender scale of our office tips heavily male. There are three full-time female co-workers versus 13 male co-workers. Two-thirds of the office estrogen are on vacation this week, leaving me as the only one to hold down the female fort. But there are some benefits to being the only woman.

1. I am alpha female by default. No need to mark my territory.

2. No drama. I have no one to accidentally offend with my sarcastic remarks and I don’t have to worry about taking sides when infighting happens.

3. I can sing along to the radio without bothering my co-worker with whom I share a common area.

4. We have a one-stall bathroom and it’s all mine.

The one con: I seem to be the only one who knows how to use a dishwasher.

Selective Silencing

I’ve got an idea for the cell phone makers out there: Samsung, LG, etc. listen up. Do you find yourself wanting to selectively silence your phone? For example, you’re on a coffee date but your mom said she was going to call with an update on your grandma. You don’t want to leave your phone on and be potentially barraged with texts and phone calls and be that person with the cell phone in Ladro. You could switch your phone to vibrate, but you’d still have to physically check your phone to see if it was indeed your mom calling.

Solution: selective silencing. You could select this option, and it would ask you to optionally set a number or contact as “Always Ring”. Then when your phone rings, you don’t have to screen the call and interrupt your coffee date friend. There would also be an option to reset your “Always Ring” numbers back to normal (complete silencing or the full ringer).

It all makes sense in my head. And don’t tell me the iPhone has an app for this. I’m having trouble coming up with reasons not to buy one already.

A letter

Dear Qwest Field:

Mark and I have dutifully patronized your services during the inaugural season of the Seattle Sounders FC, and have been thus far pleased with your services. Our seats are decent, we're not surrounded by crazies, and the women's restroom is right off the entrance to the field. For this, I thank you. However, there are some issues I'd like to address.

1. The women's restroom, while conveniently accessible, contains at least one stall that has a door susceptible to sticking. If a girl shoves it shut to keep out the other vultures circling the stalls, it's extremely hard to open again, and could require some expert shaking and jimmying of the latch and maybe even several double-handed pulls of the purse hook with one foot planted on the floor and the other braced against the stall wall. Meanwhile, said girl has to suppress a rising anxiety attack and fight the urge to give in and wave her hands above the stall and call for help. Not that that girl was me or anything. I'm just saying.

2. If you're going to offer water fountains, could you make sure the water is slightly cooler than a steaming tea kettle? Ok so it wasn't that hot, but for water-fountain water it definitely had a fever. It doesn't have to be cold, I'd settle for room temperature. I'm not too picky. But hot water out of a water fountain seems to defeat the purpose, doesn't it? Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the water and all. I'm just saying.

We won't meet again until October, so this gives you about six weeks to rectify these problems. In the meantime, I'll continue to sing your praises and we'll pretend like we're friends, ok? Cool.


Browse until I... drowse?

A lot of you know I’m not really a shopper. I just get so frustrated because I seem to be shaped weirdly, so not much fits. Here’s my beef: you take your Saturday and you tell yourself you need three things. The goal is to get at least one pair of nice jeans with a flattering cut and that cost less than $75, black heels for work that must be at least 3 inches tall or you’ll have to re-hem your pants, and capris that don’t look like clamdiggers on you. Five stores and 10 pairs of jeans later, you’re crying in a dressing room, cursing your hips and vowing to wear sweatpants as long as you live. You then decide to forgo the search for capris because what’s the point when you know they won’t fit you. And you’re never going to get these two hours of your life back. And now the lock is jammed.

Ok so I’ve never been locked in a dressing room but it could happen. What I don’t like the most about a specific shopping trip is the pressure to buy something to make the trip worth your time. I get these expectations built up that I’m going to come home with the perfect pair of shoes and I’m crushed when I don’t find them (or they’re too expensive to even consider). And in my book, I better be absolutely in love with a piece of clothing (or at least have plenty of faith in it) before I’ll drop the cash and bring it home.

I think we can conclude that “shopping” stresses me out, which brings me to my new lunchtime obsession: browsing.

In my mind, browsing is very different from shopping. I browse with the intent of getting ideas, learning what the new fashions are, and letting my mind wander while looking at pretty things. If I’m browsing, I never intend to buy. That would pressurize the browsing session and stress me out (“I wasted my lunch break looking for shoes and now I’m still hungry and still shoeless!” I can also try on things I might never try on in a “real” shopping session: a crazy fashion fad or a super-expensive pair of Coach shoes. “Real” shopping sessions usually consist of a targeted effort for specific items, so why would I want to waste time trying on things I’m next-to-positive I won’t like or that I’m not looking for in the first place? If I’m browsing, I know I’m not going to buy the item, so I may as well try it on and at least get a feel of how it looks or how it fits so I can prepare for the “real” shopping session (i.e. I already know Gap jeans don’t fit me so they are barred from the “real” shopping session).

I suppose you could argue that browsing itself is a waste of time if you don’t plan on buying but… it all makes sense in my head. I’m also not an impulse buyer, which is probably why I can browse for an hour and walk away sans a shopping bag and with a smile. I work next to the Southcenter Mall, so I’m never short on stores to browse. Popular haunts include Kohl’s, DSW Shoes, Forever 21, H&M, the ever-reliable Macy’s, and Nordy’s if I’m feeling ambitious. Non-clothing stores are not exempt and I can also be found at Cost Plus World Market or Borders. Browsing is just my way of taking my mind off work and getting out of the office for an hour. Browsing is Heather time. I sing songs in my head and flip through racks.

I’ve even carried the browsing outside the stores and onto the Web. I now have a “shopping” tag for my Delicious bookmarks so I can check the sites multiple times and see what’s gone on sale. Who am I becoming? It’s like I don’t even know myself anymore!

Saturday fun

One of the letdowns of the upcoming move is that we won't be quite as close to the water as we are now. Mark's parents were in town this weekend and his dad brought over his kayak. Getting to the water only requires a short little jaunt down two flights of stairs.