Back to reality…

Among other things:

  • Back to… work (actually everyone seems to be in a splendid mood, including yours truly! The pumpkin pie a co-worker brought in is helping.)
  • Cooking for myself and others
  • Housework
  • Loads and loads of laundry

Thank you to the Bluhms who so generously let us stay at their place during the break and fed us TONS of amazing food, and also to Mark’s grandparents who hosted Thanksgiving lunch! I think I’m still stuffed.

Midweek Tidbits

Happy Thanksgiving early! :D

The ultimate Thanksgiving turkey cake: layers of turkey, potatoes, and stuffing.

We twenty-somethings sure seem to be a mystery.

Last week I posted an article on shared office space - now we're onto shared kitchen space.

Top 10 bad messages from good movies. I do disagree with a couple of these and I'm a little surprised "Grease" isn't on the list. I also went through the comments and plucked my favorite about what should've been included (though I do love Finding Nemo): "How about 'Finding Nemo'? Accept the disabled woman’s help to find your missing son – but once you think your quest is over, feel free to leave her stranded hundreds of miles from home. Every time my (very small) kids watch this movie, I sit in on that scene and exclaim in horror over what a horrible, selfish person Nemo’s father is, ditching Dory like that! They pretty much hate Marlin now, too."

The advice of food magazines to reinvent your Thanksgiving menu.

The commute from hell

I was initially excited to get off work an hour and a half early due to weather conditions - snow had been steadily falling all day and the forecast said everything would freeze in a few hours. Leaving work at 3 p.m. should've given me plenty of time, right?

Unfortunately, I got caught in the absolute worst traffic jam I've ever had the misfortune to witness. I made the first 9 miles in about 10 minutes - not too bad. And then we all came to a sudden halt. And. Stayed. There. I moved four miles in four hours. FOUR HOURS. By the second hour I had grown tired of the monotonous voices of NPR and was calling or texting anyone who might have their phones on them. My phone summary:
  • 55 texts sent
  • 48 texts received
  • 8 phone calls made
  • 11 phone calls received
By 7 p.m. I had made it off the freeway onto one of the downtown exits which was completely frozen and snowed over. My car was fishtailing, the car in front of me was fishtailing, and another car in front of them had spun out completely. The joy! I made it through downtown without any significant issues and was beginning to regain my optimism until I hit another traffic jam - this time I needed to get around the mass of vehicles trying to get to the freeway. "It's pointless!" I yelled at them from the car. "Don't do it!!" Then a semi blocked our street for 30 minutes. Try sitting at a stoplight, three cars away from freedom, unable to move for half an hour.

Point A to Point B: 1.7 miles.  Time elapsed: over an hour.
I finally burst into tears (five minutes shy of five hours on the road) at the futility of it all: cars wanting to get onto the freeway would not let other traffic pass, blocking the intersection at the first chance to move forward a few inches. I thought about turning around but where could I go? To my left was a hill and barely traversed streets of ice, and to my right I'd encounter the same dilemma - traffic trying to get to the freeway. Another 15 minutes went by and I was finally free (after honking at the latest culprit to block the intersection). Just as I'd suspected, all roads leading away from the freeway were completely empty save for a couple of buses and the streetcar. I fishtailed and slid toward Eastlake, finally making the turn onto a street a couple of blocks away from my house - and knew instantly I'd made a mistake. The hill was almost too much for my little car, but I managed to spin my way into the first available parking spot (and as I discovered later, literally the ONLY parking spot) about half a block up the street.

When I got out of my car, I noticed a group of people crowded around a mess of cars a block further up the hill - nine cars had slipped down the hill and gently crashed into each other. Most of the owners were nowhere in sight but there were plenty of snow tourists with cameras at the ready. A 20-somethings couple noticed I was having a difficult time making it up the icy street in my stiletto boots (that's how I roll).

Girl: "Oh, do you need some help? You look like you're struggling!"
Me: "Yes, please!! I've been on the road for over five hours!" (Yes, by then I had descended into self-pity).
Girl: "You poor dear! Let us help you!"

She grabbed one arm, her man grabbed my other arm, and they both walked me up the hill to Boylston, our street. Less than five minutes later, I was back inside my house and reheating leftover lamb stew. That's the LAST time I don't keep a snack in the car! I have no idea who that couple was and will probably never see (or even recognize) them again, but I was so incredibly grateful. The commute took nearly five and a half hours but I suppose I can now say I survived "Snowmageddon 2010".

Thoughts on servanthood

"It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home, for this is where our love for each other must start."  - Mother Teresa

Sometimes I get caught up in my aspirations of service and forget that my own home is a sort of mission field. I like to think that I care for the people of the world, the people of my city, but how does that translate to the ones closest to me? Do I respond in love and in unselfishness? With gratefulness? Too often the ones around us bear the brunt of the burdens we shoulder - "I'm too busy," I say, "Do it yourself."

The home is the starting point to cultivate a lifestyle of servanthood. If you can't serve your spouse, your friends, the ones you say you love, how can you serve those society deems unlovable?


I’ve lately fallen under the spell of homemade sauces and soups. Eating a premade sauce from a jar or carton just seems like cheating to me (or efficient… whatever). We don’t often eat red sauces (too much pasta for bachelor Mark in college) but I wanted to make a marinara sauce to accompany baked chicken. The caveat – all the ingredients needed to be found in my cupboard because I didn’t want to make a trip to the grocery store.

I settled on this sauce because I had every ingredient (thank you AllRecipes for your ability to search with or without certain ingredients) but wanted to add fresh basil from our potted basil plant. I cut off a stalk and prepared to clip off the leaves into the blender when I noticed something odd. Some of the leaves appeared to be covered with small green dots. And they were moving.

I almost let the aphids hold a party in my marinara. I panicked and threw away the whole stalk before Mark suggested we just wash them off. So we did and the marinara was indeed basil-infused. We tossed the rest of the plant though – one less aphid stronghold.

Midweek Tidbits

This kind of makes me want to buy a Columbia jacket.

Architects are sponsoring a contest to design a safe house to take refuge when the zombie apocalypse hits.

The Quidditch World Cup took place last weekend. You heard me right.

Speaking of Harry Potter, the folks at io9 have looked at the possible influences on JK Rowling's work. Conclusion: everything borrows from everything.

Wide open net and the poor guy just couldn't finish. Worst soccer miss ever.

Researchers find that smoking pot at an early age may damage brain function. Was there ever any research to the contrary?

The completed 100 list

As you may have noted by a new tab above, my 100 List is finally (finally) complete. It was relatively easy to get halfway through, but I struggled through the second half of my life goals. Through writing this list, I've learned that there are some things I just don't want to do.

Take, for example, scuba diving. I started to put it on my list (Fish! Coral! Pretty!) but then realized there would be a very good chance I'd have to actually scuba dive. For those of you who know me, the ocean isn't exactly a place I feel comfortable, and the thought of being trapped that many feet below water, beautiful though it may be, terrifies me. So I left it off.

I also left off a few items because the likelihood of getting them accomplished was very low. Like I think riding in a zeppelin (or a submarine) would be completely awesome, but at this point I'm not prepared to drop a couple Gs to do it (riding in a seaplane made the list though).

Some of the different categories my goals fell into:
  • Travel related: 29
  • New skills to learn: 6
  • Animal related: 6
  • Vehicle related: 8
  • Seattle/Washington related: 10
So what should I do first? Some aren't feasible right away (my apartment is cat-free so owning a cat or a Newfoundland is out of the question), but there are a few fun ones I could start now.

I could...
  • Pop popcorn on the stove
  • Actually FINISH crocheting a blanket
  • Bake a pie from scratch
  • Make sushi

Midweek Tidbits

A Q&A with The New York Time's Amanda Hesser on her new compilation titled "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." You may remember Hesser as the food writer who interviewed Julie Powell during her quest to cook through Julia Child's cookbook.

The Pioneer Woman is going to be famous! Well, not like she wasn't already famous, but REESE WITHERSPOON famous!

It's like "Never Been Kissed", only with a drug bust at the end.

Who do you think is Hollywood's most overpaid actor?

Speaking of actors, check out these dueling Michael Caine impressions.

A place of my own where I can work among other people but not be interrupted constantly? Yes please.

The weekend report

1. I've been trying to finish Alexandre Dumas' "Twenty Years After", the sequel to "The Three Musketeers". I finished "The Three Musketeers" in April but it's taken me until now to really get into the sequel. Dumas continues to amaze me with his fantastic storytelling and character development. I just reached a point in the novel where one of the side characters dies (it's no secret - the back of the book gives it away) and I still cried because I'd grown attached to him.

I remember the first book I read that made me cry: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' "The Yearling", about a boy and his deer. Do you cry in books?

2. We hosted a Fifa 11 soccer tournament at our place on Friday - a friend brought another Xbox and TV so we had a dual set-up and could have two matches occurring at the same time. Mark and I ended up winning the tournament, which we still find a bit shocking since every time we play the computer together, we lose. Buoyed by our Friday night success, I played two games by myself Saturday - and lost 0-2 and 0-3. My finishing skills need work.

3. You'll find us most Sunday afternoons hanging out at the Fremont Sunday Market, sampling the wares of local artisans and vintage junkies. I tasted a delicious pear jelly with hints of pinot noir and cinnamon but I can't remember the name of the vendor - and my Googling skills are failing me. I guess we'll have to go back!

Sounders my heart

Photo Credit: Mark Harrison, The Seattle Times
I used to congratulate myself for finding a husband who wasn’t a sports fanatic. You know, someone who wouldn’t plan his schedule around “the game”, complain about having to miss “the game”, or build a man-cave dedicated to his team. This was all before Seattle brought a professional soccer team to the city, and turned my husband into the man he is today. Well, he doesn’t have his man-cave (yet) but March through November are dedicated to the Seattle Sounders.

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy watching soccer too, just not to the extent he does. The first season the Sounders were in existence, we were partial-season ticket holders – we had tickets to half the games. The ownership did away with the partial-season ticket package after the Sounders’ inaugural year, so we decided to go all in and get the full-season ticket package. I don’t regret it – the home games are spaced about every other week, so I don’t get tired of going. Plus, we biked to the games during the summer and played active Seattleites!

One great thing about Mark’s new(er) love for professional soccer is the friendly rivalry it created between him and my brother, Richard. Richard is one of the biggest soccer fans you’ll meet, so now Mark and Richard have plenty to talk about (or trash talk about). I love that the two most important men in my life have this in common.

The Sounders are in the playoffs right now, and hopefully by next week they’ll still be in contention – we’ll know by Sunday. Go Seattle!

Midweek Tidbits

So not only will there be an "Avatar 2", but apparently an "Avatar 3" as well.

Asylum presents the world's most useless robots.

Gaming for a cause!

Bumper planes in Seattle. Firings all around!

I've been addicted to the New Yorker's 20 Under 40 series featuring new(er) fiction writers.