Some snippets from the weekend

Is it nearly June already? May flew by, what with this new garden venture and the lovely day off we enjoyed today. I haven't blogged as much in the last couple of weeks because I've felt like I haven't had much to tell (not that I really do anyway, I suppose...). But I condensed some recent experiences into sound bites so I at least have something to share!

1. Our Seattle Sounders FC played the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night - Mark and I had our friend Brian over to watch the game but the Sounders disappointed us with a 0-1 loss. My brother, Richard, has season tickets to the Rapids and I did see him on TV a couple times - one time he was on his phone texting me! (I said, we'll really know it's Richard if my phone rings in a second - and it did). We were hoping for bragging rights over Richard but the day belonged to Colorado in the end, so I guess we just have to put up with it for now! :)

2. After the Sounders game, Mark grilled kalbi short ribs I had marinated earlier that day - they turned out quite nicely. I'm not used to bones in my meat - anything that keeps me from scarfing down food is just a hindrance - but I'd make it again, bones and all.

3. We went over to our friend Sam's house for a barbecue today - thanks for the delicious food, Sam! We used the leftover chicken in some fried rice that Jessica helped me make, complete with carrots, corn and snap peas.

Long weekends are fantastic... made even better because now it's just a four-day work week. Yes!

Midweek Tidbit (only one...)

So... I have been such a slacker when it comes to perusing the great world wide Web, due to some little things I like to call "work" and "life".

In lieu of entertaining stories and links, I present to you an entertaining video provided by my friend Maile. This is how everyone should start their day!

City biking

On Saturday I completed my first downtown Seattle trek by bike and survived to tell the tale. Mark and I rode to the Sounders game and I was pleased to see that the hype really is true – Seattle is very bike-friendly, even bustling downtown. We had our own bike lane most of the way to the stadium and only ran into one snafu – a lack of bike racks at Qwest Field (someone should really get on that).

I don’t have much experience biking in traffic and through crowds of pedestrians so the ride was a little nerve-wracking at times but I got through it. I still have much to learn though, like how to effectively shift BEFORE I start up a hill (I’m still trying to figure out how and when to change gears) and how to un-jam a bike chain (good thing Mark was there or I would’ve been walking home).

I cannot tell you how many cyclists I’ve yelled at (inwardly of course) for running red lights and stop signs but I now have a little more of an appreciation of the stresses they encounter every day. Although, knowing now how an accident can occur at any moment, it still bewilders me how some cyclists still choose not to stop or even LOOK at intersections when they don’t have the right-of-way. I’ve put together a little list of why you too should bike in the city and how it will make you a better person.
  1. You will become a better cyclist. This first point is quite obvious – you will grow more comfortable biking in stressful situations and adept at weaving within crowds. There is no better teacher than trial by fire. You’ll be able to better anticipate the actions of drivers/cyclists/pedestrians and leave yourself a way out – expect the unexpected.
  2. You will become a more vigilant driver. Putting yourself in the cyclist’s shoes opens your eyes to the decisions (some smart, some stupid) that cyclists make on the spot. Honestly, I now assume a cyclist on the road will not obey the rules of the road and that knowledge has probably saved me (and them) from an accident. Really though, this should be our attitude to everyone on the road, car or bike. Would it be wise to pull out into an intersection if you see an approaching car who doesn’t appear to be slowing down for the red light? Just because the cyclist is more vulnerable doesn’t mean he’ll make a decision based on his safety – in fact, he’s more apt to think “They’ll stop for me.” I’m not saying we should bend to the whims of cyclists, but the goal is to keep everyone safe and not try to teach someone a lesson.
  3. You will become a better pedestrian. As a frequent runner on Seattle trails like the Burke-Gilman, there is no greater stressor than being nearly mown over by a bike approaching from behind. I’m a firm believer that bikes should announce their intention to pass, whether by bell or by voice, but that shouldn’t replace a runner’s or walker’s awareness of their surroundings. When we were biking downtown, I found unaware pedestrians to be more of a danger than cars (although we were in a rather crowded section of town, Pioneer Square). Solutions? Pedestrians, know where the cyclists are. Cyclists, don’t expect pedestrians to sense your presence and get out of the way. It’s common sense – avoid sudden movements and never assume!

Garden Update: 3 1/2 weeks in

Look who finally decided it was time to enter the world. The cucumbers have finally surfaced! One mound looks much better than the other so I took a picture of the healthier-looking one.

The zucchinis are also popping up. Just like the cucumbers, one zucchini mound looks healthy while the other looks like it needs help. Hopefully every plant will just suck it up and pull through. The only downside to this gardening attempt is that as careful as we are, dirt still ends up getting tracked into the house. Commence vacuuming.

Midweek Tidbits: Home and Garden edition

I'm kind of lost when it comes to interior decorating. Luckily my hubby has a creative eye and is slowly teaching me how to find mine. For example, he cut a small branch from our curly willow tree (I'm not really sure if that's what kind of tree it is... but that's what it looks like) and put it in a vase in the kitchen. I wasn't a huge fan but nearly every visitor to our apartment that week asked where we got it.

Apartment Therapy has lots of tips for small spaces - perfect for urban twenty-somethings like us. I love before and after pictures!

As a newbie gardener, I've been scouring the Web for gardening advice and stumbled onto This Garden Is Illegal - the musings of a woman who really is obsessed with gardening. She's funny and honest and, let's not kid ourselves, I might've cried when I read her post about the passing of her beloved cat.

This veggie garden looks like a rabbit heaven. And honestly... do the leeks look like giant green daddy long-legs to anyone else? It's kind of creeping me out.

Did you know that the coriander spice comes from the cilantro plant? We have a cilantro plant on our deck and are hoping to harvest the seeds eventually - this video shows us how! It looks like it'll take a lot more time until they're ready to harvest.

I guess this post really tipped toward the garden part of the scale... shows where my focus is.

My news/media diet: What do you read?

The Atlantic Wire is doing an interesting series where they interview prominent authors and journalists and ask them where they get their news - what their media consumption looks like on a daily basis. For example, one of the latest interviewees was Terry Gross of National Public Radio's Fresh Air. Of course she had to say NPR's Morning Edition, but who knew that serious Terry Gross is also a fan of Jon Stewart?

So what's my media diet? I also start my day with NPR's Morning Edition on the drive to work. My morning just wouldn't be the same without Steve Inskeep educating me on world news. When I get to work, I check The Seattle Times, The New York Times, and BBC. Depending on my appetite for local news, I may also check the Seattle P-I (may their print edition rest in peace). Slate is an absolute must - I'm addicted to that site. As the morning turns into afternoon, my news hunger seems to taper off. I check The Seattle Times continuously throughout the day but it's rare for me to consult any other news site after I get home from work. And let's be honest, the day wouldn't be complete without a hit of the clever fashion forward girls at the Fugly blog.

Aside from straight-up news, I've gotten more into nonfiction lately (see the list on the right). I'm swinging back over to fiction though, as I'll soon start the next installment in The Three Musketeers series - Twenty Years Later.

What about you? Where do you get your news or your entertainment?

To all you jewelry owners

Listen up ladies! If you have any kind of ring that encourages any sort of upkeep (i.e. rings with set stones), I'd encourage you to take it regularly to a jeweler for cleaning and possible maintenance. We got my engagement ring at E.E. Robbins, and we're supposed to bring it in every six months for a cleaning and an inspection. We took it in yesterday and they discovered that the stone was coming loose in its setting, so I had to leave it with them to be fixed. I wouldn't have known the stone was loose until I had already lost it, so thank goodness that was avoided! My finger feels naked without the ring but that's better than losing the diamond somewhere in Seattle.

Congratulations brother!

My twin brother, Richard, has been working on a master's in counseling at Denver Seminary for the past three years. Today he was recognized for all his hard work with his diploma! Congratulations Richard! We really wish we could be there and can't wait to see you when you come out in July to visit!

The picture above was taken in 2007 at Richard's undergrad graduation at Biola University in Los Angeles. I miss you brother!

"Check out" your energy usage (hehehe)

Seattle residents:

Have you ever wanted to actually monitor how much energy your phone charger, computer, etc. actually uses in your household? The Seattle Library is checking out these handy devices that measure your energy usage - just plug it into an electrical outlet and see how much energy you use. I'm not sure how this would work for apartment dwellers whose energy is shared with the rest of the tenants - I'm guessing it would monitor the entire building.

Knowing me, I would turn this into a competition with the device and run around the house turning off or unplugging all sorts of things so I could get the number to go down. Sigh... I am who I am.

Garden Update: 2 1/2 weeks in

 As you can see from above, the garden is actually growing! Not that I'm super shocked. But it's still exciting to me. The picture above shows how quickly our snow peas are growing. They've almost reached the trellis and then hopefully they'll cling to it and start winding their way up.

Above is our row of lettuce. The lettuce was the first to sprout in the garden, and it's been growing steadily. Apparently I'm incapable of planting in a straight line... I'm not sure what happened there.

The carrots have been a little slower to sprout but they are steadily making it. I wish I could see what's going on beneath the surface! The cucumbers and zucchinis still haven't sprouted. I haven't given up hope yet - I read somewhere that cucumbers will germinate slowly in colder conditions and the weather hasn't exactly proved to be spring since I planted. I did catch a cat relieving himself on one of my zucchini mounds so I'm hoping I won't have to re-plant. Has anyone grown cukes before?

Midweek Tidbits: Crafts Edition

I've been feeling super crafty lately... I haven't acted on it and actually MADE something but I've been visiting crafting blogs and sites like an obsessed person. Below are some cool projects I found.

Jared Leto and crowdsurfing memories

In case you were wondering, Mark and I didn't actually ride our bikes to the 30 Seconds to Mars concert last night but we did stay for the whole show and bask in the punk glow of Jared Leto. I don't have any pictures, unfortunately - I didn't take my purse because I didn't want to hold it the whole time and a camera doesn't really fit in my jeans pockets. So you'll just have to deal with my description and use your imagination.

Neon Trees opened - their lead singer was either drugged or trying FAR too hard on his rock star act but at least he was entertaining to watch. Mutemath was next - the New Orleans-based band is one of Mark's favorites and definitely worth seeing live. Jared Leto was the main attraction though - pink mohawk and all. I'll probably forever associate the words "rock star" with him - he knew how to create loyalty with his fans by interacting with them, bringing people onto the stage and encouraging crowd surfing and sitting on shoulders (usually banned, depending on the venue). At one point, he somehow made his way to the back of the crowd and played a couple of acoustic versions of songs, including a segment of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance". He was quite the showman so if you ever get a chance to see 30 Seconds to Mars live, it's well worth the entry money.

It had been about three years since my last concert and it brought back memories of concerts past...

1. Jason Mraz, 2005. Jason was incredible to see live - don't you love it when the live performance is even better than the album? An unknown James Blunt opened the show - who knew he'd shoot off into fame the way he did. After the show, my friends and I were walking back to our car when one of us (Nicole, I think?) happened to glance into a hotel lobby and saw, of all people, James Blunt! We ran in and snapped a picture with James and his keyboardist, Paul. Now the moment is immortalized...

2. P.O.D., circa 2000 or 2001. The only time I've ever crowdsurfed, and I'll never do it again. Don't get me wrong, it was quite thrilling. Being held above a sea of thousands of fans where nothing is between you and the band takes your breath away. The first time during the show, I stayed aloft for several seconds but was somehow dropped - a concrete floor ALSO has the ability to take your breath away. I got over the jolt and was vaulted up a second time, this time making my way to the front of the crowd and getting tossed over the barrier into the security guards. The guards don't take kindly to fans passing the barrier so I was shoved off to the side and got stuck near some of the speakers (my hearing wasn't the same for days). I'll never forget the feeling of crowdsurfing but I have absolutely no desire to repeat it... one show was enough.

But enough of my reminiscing! Any favorite shows you've been to?

My new wheels

Meet my new bike! We found it on Craigslist and picked it up on Thursday, just in time for the great weekend weather. The ad said the bike was perfect for someone 4'10" to 5'2" and they were not exaggerating - the frame is TINY. We raised the seat and now it's good to go! We celebrated with a ride around Lake Union. It's so nice to have a bike that actually fits me!

We're going to a concert tonight and we'll probably ride our bikes to it. Here's a link to a music video of the headliner, Thirty Seconds To Mars. See,

A favorite song

Has anyone ever asked you what your favorite song is? Whenever someone asks me that, I usually say something like "Ummm, uhhhh, errrr, there are too many to choose from!"

I've finally decided though that U2's "Where The Streets Have No Name" is at least ONE of my favorite songs. I included the lyrics below and the video. Whenever I hear this song, I feel inspired to stretch out my arms and take off running. I've never watched the video until now... it really shows this song's age. :)

I wanna run, I want to hide
I wanna tear down the walls
That hold me inside
I wanna reach out
And touch the flame
Where the streets have no name

I want to feel sunlight on my face
I see the dust cloud disappear
Without a trace
I want to take shelter from the poison rain
Where the streets have no name

Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name
We're still building
Then burning down love
Burning down love
And when I go there
I go there with you
It's all I can do

The city's aflood
And our love turns to rust
We're beaten and blown by the wind
Trampled in dust
I'll show you a place
High on a desert plain
Where the streets have no name

Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name
We're still building
Then burning down love
Burning down love
And when I go there
I go there with you
It's all I can do

Our love turns to rust
We're beaten and blown by the wind
Blown by the wind
Oh, and I see our love
See our love turn to rust
Oh, we're beaten and blown by the wind
Blown by the wind
Oh, when I go there
I go there with you
It's all I can do

Color-coding and Babies-R-Us

I’ve only entered the doors of a Toys-R-Us once, several years ago. I remember it as a hellish experience – completely unorganized, kids throwing fits and dragging around harried mothers, and tons of little flashing lights, beeps and electronic melodies. It was an assault to the quietness of my soul. Naturally, I expected Babies-R-Us to be similar. Right?

I walked into Babies-R-Us with a clear plan, as I normally enter most retail establishments. I needed to find the registry kiosk, print off the list, find an item within my price range, and get the heck out of there. I expected to be barraged with crying babies and flashing lights, or at least to see disorganized clothing racks. Instead, the store was quiet, clean and marvelously color-coded. Next to the registry kiosk was a large map of the store, each section color-coded according to its contents – furniture, bedding, etc. And the racks of tiny clothes! No rack was overstuffed with too many hangers, and every size was exactly in its place – the NB behind the 3M, behind the 6M and so on. It was amazing! I found exactly what I was looking for and didn’t want to leave… I’m pretty sure every store should be color-coded.

I used to color-code my work projects with different colors of Post-Its… but my Post-It pads kept disappearing so I’d have to keep changing my color scheme and eventually I gave up. But my Google calendar is completely color-coded!

A letter to a deviant feline

To the cute neighbor cat living somewhere down the street:

You are cute – this I will admit. But you HAVE to stop peeing on my zucchini mounds. Mark caught you IN THE ACT yesterday so you cannot deny you’ve been using my garden as a litterbox. I know a giant mound of dirt must be like a magnet for you but I’m counting on that hill to yield zucchinis this summer so please – STOP. In the event you do not cease and desist, we will resort to drastic measures.

We have a BB gun… and Mark knows how to use it. Consider yourself warned.

A misty Mount Si morning

Our friend Nicole gave us a book called "Washington Hiking", detailing over 400 hikes within driving/ferry distance of us. She gave it to us a year and a half ago but, sadly, I can only claim to have gone on three hikes so far... the latest of which was Saturday.

Mount Si is #113 in chapter 3 - the northern Cascades. My friend Lori and I tackled the eight-mile trek and emerged victorious if not soaking wet. We didn't anticipate a snowy trail for the final mile before the top and our tennis shoes were not equipped for such slush. Honestly, snow in May? Come on!

Midweek Tidbits

Welcome to Wednesday... halfway to the weekend. Bring it on.