Cars vs. bikes

Since we live in a city where bike commuting is as common as riding the bus, I wanted to share an experience that should keep us all aware of the responsibility we share as drivers and also as cyclists.

Mark and I wanted to visit the Fremont Brewing Company Friday to pick up a growler of beer for our weekend trip to Portland (for consumption AFTER the trip of course). We were three blocks away from our house and, crazily enough, discussing how easy it would be to accidentally hit a cyclist when Mark said, “I think that car just hit that bike!” We were a block away from the collision and couldn’t initially tell if anything had happened but as we drew closer, we saw the cyclist on the ground surrounded by about three people.
At first glance, the cyclist didn’t appear to be in too bad of shape – he was obviously a bike commuter and was wearing a helmet but it was apparent that his leg was the primary concern. Mark asked if the car who hit him had stopped and he said yes and pointed to the other people standing around him, one of whom was on the phone with the medics. I felt so bad for them – two guys who looked like they had just gotten off work and had not seen the cyclist crossing the street onto which they were turning.

If ever I’m injured, I now know how long it takes for the medics to get to our neighborhood – about five minutes, though it seemed like much longer. We had to stay around for about 40 minutes so the attending officer could ask Mark for his version of events, and at that point we knew the beer would have to wait until another day.

It’s so easy to stop paying attention for even a moment, but that’s all it takes. Darkness and rain makes it even more difficult to see cyclists, even if they’re wearing reflective gear and have bike lights. So let’s all be careful out there!

From hygienist, with love

I went to a scheduled teeth cleaning yesterday and received the most vigorous scrub-down I’ve ever experienced. Granted, I’m not the most regular at flossing but still. I feel like the hygienist was trying to teach me a lesson: This is what you get for not flossing! I’m gonna make you BLEED! As if that wasn’t enough, I was berated for not wearing my nightguard regularly and then told a terrifying story of someone who didn’t wear his nightguard and ground his teeth over time to the point where the roots are now exposed. I suppose now the challenge is to actually find my nightguard and remind myself what it was like when I DID grind my teeth – pain pain pain! The next challenge is to hide it from the hubby at night so he still thinks I’m perfect. Naturally. :)

Midweek Tidbits

The Oscar noms are out! Nom nom nom nom nom. Could we expect some pushback on the exclusion of Christopher Nolan from the Best Director category for "Inception"?

The creator of the game "Angry Birds" is launching a physical version of the game.

While I might not recommend this response to a mugging, it is certainly admirable!

Mark Zuckerberg: HACKED.

The world's highest restaurant opened in Dubai, knocking Toronto's 360 Restaurant to second place.

Remember that bright blue wall?

We attended a birthday party at an apartment in our Eastlake neighborhood this weekend which reminded me of our old one-bedroom off Lake Union. The apartment was certainly very similar in that it sat about a block off the lake, had a somewhat similar floor plan, and even had the same Seattle neighborhood map on the wall! Physical similarities aside, I couldn’t help but think of our first year of marriage in that tiny little box of an apartment with the bright blue wall.

But as much as I loved our first year in that teeny space, I’ve enjoyed being able to spread out in our current roomier apartment. When we can get in, that is. The house was built in 1908 and the front door lock has been getting more obstinate by the day. Yesterday was its last hurrah and I had to call Mark to let me in. I felt better when I heard that he couldn’t open the lock either, and neither could our downstairs neighbors! Thankfully, both of our apartments have additional entrances but the apartment above us has no other way into the house other than the front door (and a fire escape but I’m not sure if it’s in use) so we’re hoping it gets fixed soon! As we went to bed last night I made a $1 bet with Mark that our upstairs neighbor, Aaron, would ring our doorbell to let him in, but it didn’t happen so I suppose I owe Mark a dollar…

#26 Double Feature: Chicken in a cashew sauce with a lentil-rice pilaf

Let me begin by saying that I was almost positive this was going to turn into an epic fail.

Onions played a starring role in both these dishes, and when I tasted the cashew sauce (containing an entire yellow onion) I gave Mark free rein to eat leftovers from nights past. He tasted the sauce – a blend of onion, cashews, garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper – pronounced it “not too onion-y” and ate a whole serving, along with the onion-infused pilaf. What a trooper!

This was also my first experience making a tadka, which is the method used for quickly transferring the flavor from spices to the whole dish – this is done by heating the cooking oil until it starts to smoke, then throwing in the spices (whole cumin seeds for the pilaf), and stirring constantly. With cumin seeds, you have to quickly cover the pot because they’ll spatter for a few seconds when you add them to the oil – so keep that lid handy!

Substitutions/omissions: I only added half an onion to the pilaf instead of the whole, out of sympathy for my onion-opposed man. Half was plenty.

Mistakes: This was intentional, but I didn’t remove the tenderloins from the chicken breasts like the recipe instructed. Because of this, I believe, the cook time nearly doubled.

Repeat? If I made the chicken dish again, I’d reduce the ginger – I thought it was pretty strong. I wasn’t in love with the chicken though so it might not make a comeback. The lentil-rice pilaf is a definite repeat but I’d probably cut the recipe in half – two cups of rice and lentils makes a ton of leftovers!

There are moments...

... when I hate this city and want to move to a sunnier place.

Yesterday was one of them. The Australian Open has started and international tennis tournaments always give me the urge to dig out my racquet and head for the court. I was minutes away from calling a friend to join me when the rain started. Rain rain rain. You barely have time to make a decision here before the sky opens up. Plus, all the courts are outdoors so even if it ISN'T raining, the courts are most likely still wet. And on the occasional stretch of sunny days, Seattleites get so dang opportunistic like OMGIT'SSUNNYWHEREISMYRACQUET. Cue the mad rush to the park.

January is cruel.

The Outsiders

I just watched Francis Ford Coppola's "The Outsiders" for the first time. I thought I had read the novel before, but aside from a slight familiarity with the characters' names, I didn't recognize the plot. So perhaps I haven't read the book? The film was dark and gritty, and I felt like I could smell the smoke and taste the dirt - proof of Coppola's talents as a director (as if we needed any).

Our lives are a series of choices - doesn't matter if you're a greaser or a Soc.

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

- Robert Frost

Midweek Tidbits

Good news for LoTR fans: "The Hobbit" finally begins shooting in February, and Elijah Wood is joining the cast.

I love the Pioneer Woman's tips on how to photograph food - I've tried myself and am admittedly a novice when it comes to cameras.

Seven habits of highly successful spenders.

I've been researching sleep paralysis because it's something that happens to me from time to time - upon going to sleep or waking from sleep, you come back into consciousness but feel completely paralyzed because the brain hasn't sent the signal for your muscles to move yet (otherwise you'd act out your dreams during sleep). I didn't even know this was a condition until recently - I just thought something was wrong with me!

#26: Indian brown beef stew

A mixture of coriander, turmeric, and cayenne pepper formed the seasoning base of this SPICY stew, along with a healthy helping of ginger and garlic. If you’re having sinus problems, I’ll give you a spoonful and it’ll clear you right out. My oh my was it hot – excellent for a wintry Sunday.
Substitutions/omissions: none
Mistakes: none, shockingly. I even remembered to put in the tablespoon of apple cider vinegar at the end, which is usually something I tend to forget.
Repeat? Yes!

#26: Cook my way through a cookbook

No, I haven't actually done it yet. But I DID pick out the cookbook that will be my lucky guide.

The author's premise is that Indian food shouldn't be so complicated and mysterious as to dissuade people from trying to make it, because it's actually simple and doesn't have to take a ton of time. She's singing my language! Mark and I love Indian food so I'm looking forward to trying out these recipes. Most of all, I thumbed through the book and appreciated that the author tried to mainly use ingredients you could easily find at a regular supermarket or an international market, and that she promises only to use five spices - you won't find yourself buying something you'll only use once. Plus, 50 recipes sounded like much more of a manageable goal rather than 100-300.

1. I reserve the right to forfeit up to three dishes from the line-up. These are my free passes to ensure that we don't waste energy and money on a dish that I'm positive neither of us would eat.
2. I reserve the right to make substitutions as necessary. I hope to not have to do this, but depending on the prominence of the onions, I may decrease or omit them to make the dish more palatable for Mark. Usually he's fine with onions in Indian food (the spices give them a whole new flavor) but the option will be there just in case.

Let's play ball!

Top 3 annoyances in songs today

1. Sirens.  Why on earth are these necessary? Oh right, they AREN’T. Even if I’ve heard the song multiple times, I check the rearview mirror and wonder if I should move over a lane. Why inspire paranoia?

2. Honking horns. Similar to sirens: completely unnecessary. Someday, some poor kid is going to be sitting at a red light listening to “California Gurls” and will accidentally rear-end someone when he hears the honking car horn.

3. Laughing. This seems to be getting more popular. From the Gorillaz to K$sha to freakin’ Miley Cyrus, STOP LAUGHING IN YOUR SONGS. Your giggles are not cute and I refuse to laugh with you. Refuse.

Fly little bird, fly

For the past few months I’ve been learning to run the sound board at our church, which has turned out to be much more complicated than I originally thought when I signed on.

The board looks a little something like this:



This isn’t exactly the same board we work on, but I couldn’t find a picture of one (probably because I didn’t know what specifically to search for). Either way, you can tell it’s complicated. Each instrument and microphone is connected to a slider (the drum set gets five or six sliders) and you adjust them as the songs progress. Then of course there’s the responsibility to unmute/mute the pastor’s microphone at the appropriate times or raise/lower the volume of the music playing before and after the service. I think I’m making this sound too easy… it’s really not, I swear! At least not for this newbie.

Sometimes it’s a bit of a juggling act. The pastor finishes, I mute his microphone, unmute the CD, hit play on iTunes and fade in the music. My worst nightmare is that I’ll leave the pastor’s microphone unmuted and then everyone will hear him singing as we worship. I’ve already made my big blunder though: I muted the CD player but didn’t pause it, and when I hit a button to recall the settings I’d saved for the beginning of the worship set, the CD channel unmuted and the CD started playing right as the worship team was about to start. Never again!

Monday was the first time I had to run the sound board by myself, and I felt as if I’d been shoved right out of the nest. I only run it during our once-a-month small group gatherings, so I tend to forget nearly everything I learned until the next month. I’ve had a great teacher who has been patiently training me, but this time I had to fly solo and do my best not to screw anything up. Thankfully, the evening passed without incident, except that the lights in the auditorium decided to have a mind of their own and randomly turn back on and defy their previous settings. And then there was also a glitch when a team member nudged a foot pedal on stage and dislodged the cord, resulting in a loud crackling noise, and I tried not to have a panic attack because I couldn’t stop the crackling (at the time I didn’t know the cord was the problem). And then someone asked me if I could please turn down the music in the lobby because it was quite loud, but I didn’t know how and I certainly wasn’t going to tinker around and find out.

So… I still have a lot to learn. But I love learning new things!

Midweek Tidbits

Behold a new(ish) trend: skeggings.

The misconceptions of international aid in Haiti.

Take the Seattle Times' geography quiz! Note: it isn't easy. At least, it wasn't for me, but we all know that geography isn't my strong suit. My scores: 0% on the first section (embarrassing), 40% on the second section, 100% on the third section (redemption!), 60% on the fourth section, and 90% on the fifth section.

A critic's rating of all 15 Coen Brothers movies - I'm pretty surprised at the low rating of "No Country for Old Men."

The obligatory New Year’s resolutions post

I’ve taken a holistic approach to my resolutions this year.

Spiritual: I would like to make continual prayer more of a priority in my life. When something goes wrong (or right) and my first instinct isn’t to pray, I know change is necessary. I can look back at certain times of my life and remember what that nearness to God felt like, and I know it requires effort on my part.

Mental: I have a problem with clutter. Not that I hate it – I just can’t see it. My eyes pass right over it. My dresser tends to be my catch-all space, and when I go to clean it, I clean in waves: the first round contains the major items to throw away, then the second round I catch everything I missed the first round, and it goes on until the surface is finally clean of clutter. Usually, I catch myself saying two or three times, “I swear this wasn’t here five minutes ago!” Luckily for our apartment, Mark is the exact opposite. But consider this my declaration of war against the clutter. Because as much as I say that I can’t see it, I know that I do realize it’s there and it stresses me out.

Physical: This will be the year where I improve my core strength. I’ve had some lower back issues for the past several years but they’ve eased since I’ve adopted a regular schedule of exercise. I keep reading how poor core strength contributes to lower back problems since your back has to compensate for what your abs can’t handle, so bring on the planks.

And finally, I would like to be more active in our Seattle community this year. I’ve been reading about some great organizations that I’d love to be a part of, so we’ll see if the opportunities pan out. I feel isolated from the community around us and don’t want to exist solely in my church bubble. One thing I appreciated about Seattle Pacific University was its emphasis on community service, and I think we all have great potential to positively impact our communities.

Sock monkey

Now our wine bottles can stay warm. :)

Happy New Year!

We celebrated the start of 2011 by throwing a party with our amazing friends. We had 39 people come through the door by evening's end and at one point counted 10 bottles of contributed champagne! Thank you SO much to everyone who came and brought food or drinks - you all really outdid yourselves. I enjoyed bartending for the evening. :) I posted a slideshow below.