Sunday, December 27, 2009

ABCs Arizona Adventure?

So we arrived in Arizona later than expected - we originally thought we'd get here about 8pm, but didn't drive up until midnight. We've got 4 days and need to stay somewhat close to the house since A is "technically" on call. We also want to maximize our time with our host, M, who flew in (from very far away) and is suffering from major jet lag, no small thanks to our late arrival. So what are we to do?

Despite the many plans and suggestions from M's wife, G, we didn't do a lot during our 4 days in Arizona.

Wednesday - A and I took the car and vacuumed it out and got the outside washed so that M wouldn't think we were complete slobs and I have to say, the old girl cleans up pretty good. It was actually pretty embarrassing that state I'd let it get in and I'm so grateful that A just cleaned without judging. We grabbed some lunch and headed back to the house. G wanted to get her dogs nails trimmed and Chibo needed his done, too, so we went along. Unfortunately, we missed the groomer by about 10 minutes. We should have gotten in the car that minute and returned home as we had dinner reservations and still needed to shower, but G ran into some folks she wanted to talk to...an hour and a half later, we headed back home. A also hadn't showered, so he and I had to rush to get ready.

Dinner was a great little Thai place in Scottsdale for which G had Groupon's. Because of the Groupon's, G ordered way too much pre-food. We got two plates of appetizers and soup. When it was time to order entrees we realized that we couldn't finish four, so we only ordered two, but unfortunately both were meat dishes so A and I were left to pick around it. Probably I should have spoken up, but it can be hard to do, especially when you're still reeling by your friends and dinner companions just calling you "namby pamby liberals" . . . over dinner!

Thursday - Since we missed the groomer, I took all the dogs to get their nails trimmed while G did her riding lesson. I will never repeat this experience and if A is smart, he'll remind me of it when I think of getting a second or third dog. Not only did the dogs jump around from front to back to on top of me and cry the whole way there and back, they also got hair all over the (remember?) freshly vacuumed car. I still have scratches on my arms from holding her crazy puppy while the groomer clipped her. After this, I went back to the house - since no one else was home, I dropped her dogs off and walked Chibo down to the park and talked to my friends on the phone. Nothing like a lifeline!

Friday - Christmas day! Most of this day was spent preparing for supper. We broke out the Wii. A played tennis much of the day and I did a bit of bowling. When G's parents came over, her mom was really interested, so I taught her how to play and she loved it. A nice Christmas meal together, clean up and then early to bed.

Saturday - Boxing Day, G had a riding lesson, so while she was doing her lesson, M, A and I got dressed and went to the farm to see their petting zoo. It was very cool, but I love all opportunities to get close to animals. What's especially great about their petting zoo is that all the animals are rescued - it's not like they bought a camel specifically to have for a petting zoo, but they acquired him as a rescue. The other especially great thing about this petting zoo is that it has an interesting animal blend that I'm not sure you could find anywhere else. Zebra + Donkey = Zonky. Goes by the name Pippi, like Pippilongstockings. Very cute, very special.

After that, we headed to Los Dos Molinos for lunch. A had a special fondness for this restaurant, although we went to the new franchise opened in Mesa instead of the original one and he wished we'd driven to the original for the ambiance as this one was located in a business park next to a car repair shop. After that, (yes, this was our most active day yet!), we decided to go see Avatar in IMAX 3D - yeah, we were dreaming. We just showed up and no, we didn't get in. We also couldn't get into the current flat screen 3D showing. We purchased tickets for a later showing and headed home for a nap. We couldn't decide when to go back to get good seats and ended up leaving later than we'd planned, so we ended up in the front row, which sucked, although the movie was good. A now tells me that IMAX 3D is 17.50 per person and I just can't swallow that, although I bet the movie is great that way. I bitched about the crick in my neck until the next night, when I was able to finally cure it in Palm Desert.

So, that was our time in Arizona. What we learned from this part is that we probably don't want to commit to staying with friends for any certain length of time on our vacation - even with people that we love and even though I love to rest and relax on my vacations, laying around at someone else's house is just about as much fun as laying around at your own. If we're going to fly or drive 1500 miles, we want to DO something!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

ABC's California Adventure Part 2

Arrived in beautiful Burbank, California with time enough to check into our retro hotel, the Safari Inn and then head over to Universal Studios theme park. Our hotel is cute - 1950's style, but updated in the 90's so it's got modern amenities. They also allow dogs for only $25 per stay which was as reasonable as we could find. They don't allow the dog to stay in your room without you, though, which makes us even more grateful for Universal Studio's free kennels. So, if traveling with dogs, these are the questions I recommend you ask any hotel:

1. Do you allow pets/dogs?
(Check for size according to your breed)
2. What is your pet fee?
3. Is the pet fee per day or per stay?
4. Can the dog be left in the room? In a kennel?
5. Do you offer any dog walking services?

We liked the Safari a lot, though, and we ended up leaving Chibo in the room when we went to dinner with no problems. We put him in the bathroom with his crate and blankets and he was fine. We tested knocking on the door before we left and had also learned from the night before to leave a fan running to help block noise. We decided to stay an extra night at the Safari.

But when we arrived Sunday, we just threw our bags in the room and headed immediately over to Universal Studios, which was only 10 minutes away. Parked in Jurassic Parking, walked through CityWalk to the gates and dropped Chibo in the kennel through guest services and then we were in the park with 3 hours to play. We managed to fit in a couple shows and rides before we collected our dog and went back to the hotel.

My mom had recommended we go to this restaurant built into the cliff face, but we weren't sure what it was called and couldn't figure it out, so we got cleaned up and headed over to Olive's Bistro down the street from our hotel. The restaurant was empty, and I mean empty, but the small bar was full of local flavor. Paul, our bartender, was friendly and expressive and told us all about the other characters in the bar, including an animator from Ren and Stimpy fame, a local couple he affectionately referred to as The Bickersons and others. A had a couple of martinis and was feeling pretty jovial by the time we left, but we tried to get to sleep so we could get up early and enjoy the park some more.

A was feeling slightly conflicted about our plans for Monday - having enjoyed the park on Sunday, we weren't sure if we should stay all day. We had the option of touring another studio and/or leaving town early. We needed to decide that morning so we could check out and pack the car or not. Our minds were made up when we realized some friends who were also vacationing in SoCal were going to Universal that day. We booked the hotel for another night and decided to visit Warner Brothers the next day. Since we were so close to the park, we just showered, ate and checked the dog in for an early start.

We found our friends right outside of the Shrek 4D Experience getting their pictures taken with Shrek and Fiona - Fiona has asked our friend Sara, "Is this your ogre?" about her husband. Hee hee! We enjoyed the day with them, riding all the rides and seeing the shows we had missed the night before. It was a fun day and we especially enjoyed the studio tour. By the end of the day, my legs were aching, though, from so much more walking around than I am used to doing! We closed the park and headed back to our hotel where we promptly fell asleep at 9pm.

The next morning, we headed over to Warner Brothers studio for an even more inside look at television and movie making. As our guide explained to us, most of the back lots and sound stages on the studio lot are used in television productions, because movie budgets have allowed locations to be used more extensively, but she pointed out the location of Spiderman's famous kiss, the casino from Ocean's 13 and we got to see the Friend's Central Perk set and even walk on the set of Chuck. It was really fun - they were filming the new Nightmare on Elm Street and she tried to let us see Freddy Kruger, but it didn't happen, much to A's regret and my relief!

After that, we headed east towards Arizona with plans to arrive while our friends were away at dinner. We were, however, delayed when our missing California hosts, my aunt and uncle, returned our phone call. They had been in LA for the weekend, but had just arrived to their home in the desert. As we were about 30 minutes away, we decided to stop in for lunch. It was great to see my family and A loved them, so lunch turned into dinner and we got out of their way late! A drove like a trooper, though and got us to our friends' home in Arizona about midnight without incident. Whew! Time for some sleep now!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

ABC's California Adventure Part 1

Friday night after work, A and I packed our bags, loaded the car and drove down to Grants Pass to begin our California (and Arizona) Christmas Adventure. Our plans have been somewhat touch and go, because both our employers asked us to work during the holidays (after pre-approving our vacation plans!), some pressure from our Arizona hosts and no response from our potential California hosts. In the end, we decided to just do it and we're on our way!

Friday driving was hard with rain, fog and traffic, but we made to our friend J's house without incident by about 11pm. We planned to breakfast with J and get back on the road and my quote of the evening was, "I'll feel like we're starting really late if we leave at noon." A said he'd like to get on the road by 10. After cleaning Chibo's urine off J's carpet and my luggage and being awoken by him crying in the middle of the night, we woke up later than expected. Breakfast was a delicious frittata with asparagus, zucchini, carrots and onion, toast and coffee and lots of time spent working on our new netbook trying to find a hotel for the next night.

We got out of there at 1pm and I may never live down my quotable deadline from the night before, at least in J's mind. He thought that quite funny. A drove the next leg of the journey and repeated many of the same behaviors that I had done the night before, eyeing the GPS every minute or two and lamenting that we weren't getting there faster. I had kept that to myself, but A kept talking about it, which just made it worse. This day was also foggy and dreary.

We spent the night in Tracy, CA at a Quality Inn. Ate dinner from the food I brought along, which was nice because we didn't have to go out of our room and the town of Tracy smelled a little funny. We also snuck Chibo into the room and so I had to dive bomb him and wrestle him every time he barked, which was, unfortunately frequently as some young gigglers were just getting their room at about 3am. A considers that these may be town gals getting a room with their boyfriends after the bar closed. Maybe.

Continental breakfast, including boiled eggs and mini bagels (yum!) and we were on our way again, for a slightly less difficult, but no less boring, drive down the rest of California.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Came TWICE this Year

A and I joined COSTCO. I feel very suburban, but seriously, the savings are intense! A bought my VitaMix there and in addition to mine, we got one for E and another that we sold online (at just enough profit to pay for our Costco membership, thank you very much). When A saw the VitaMix there (which only happens once in a while), that was the tipping point to getting our membership.

The challenges in my mind about a place like Costco are:
1. Purchasing products that are manufactured by children in third world countries
2. Purchasing from a big box store/warehouse instead of a small local business
3. Purchasing things we don't really need just because they are less expensive

When I was guiltily discussing this with my colleague at work, she reminded me that I can still choose ethical brand names and that these companies love working with warehouse stores, because they know they will sell at volume. Number one - check. Regarding buying things just because they are less expensive, I already know that we're doing that, because we bought 40 ounces of pomegranate juice that neither of really enjoy drinking straight. I'm putting it in smoothies and mixing it with orange juice to use it up. I think it might be the nature of a place like Costco that when you first join, you overbuy, but I am confident that we will normalize our buying habits pretty quickly.

My second concern is a little harder to figure out, but my second Christmas gift from A is the best example of this that I can come up with. I have had a mild interest in sewing for a while and E bought me an old Singer sewing machine a few years ago. The machine needed a tune up, got pretty dusty sitting in my garage and has never been used by me. Now that my friend R has started sewing and I paid $12x2 for hems that I know should be a snap, my interest in sewing has increased again. So, I hauled my old Singer to the small locally owned sewing machine sales and repair shop near my house to see what we could do.

For $100, I could tune-up my basic 3-stitch machine, though any needed parts would be extra. I asked about trading in and they weren't interested and asked about upgrading and was referred to a computerized 120-stitch machine for $399. This was days after Thanksgiving and on sale mind you! Yesterday, we found the same machine at Costco for $170. I cannot justify supporting my neighbors small locally owned business by purchasing a machine there for more than twice the cost at Costco. I can buy fabric, thread, notions and classes there, but I don't even feel guilty about buying my machine at Costco - the price is just too much better.

So, that's my second Christmas gift - A bought me a Brother XR9000 sewing machine. He extracted a promise from me to sew on his buttons and hem his pants, but I think I can handle that. And I'm going to clean up my old machine and gift it to my friend T who would also like to learn to sew. So, everybody wins - even the local sewing machine shop, because I probably will take my machine there for service and may even take a class there so that I don't mess up every pair of pants that A every buys!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's Complicated: Loved It

Got to see a free sneak preview of It's Complicated, starring Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin tonight. A signed us up for this website that allows us to check out free films - we saw 2012 a couple nights before it opened, too. No opinion surveys, no photo ops on the evening news, just watch the film. I'm thinking they are creating buzz around the film with these sneaky previews and decided to do my part.

I LOVED It's Complicated. You should go see it.

There, my work here is done.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Goods - Liked It

Watched The Goods today as a free rental from Netflix. Seriously, I should bill this blog as a way to live cheaply, because I feel like I'm always talking about how we get our entertainment for free! Anyways, I didn't like the previews for this film and wasn't that interested in watching it, but was pleasantly surprised.

It's a fun film. Give it a go.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Blind Pilot: Loved It

Was invited by friends to attend the Blind Pilot concert tonight. They rock. Loved them.

I'm finding it difficult to figure out the language of loving bands. The way that I want to express my admiration and affection for them is to say, "I want to have sex with every single member of the band." Do I really want to have sex with every single member of the band? No. If for no other reason than that one member of the band is a woman and I'm not that gay. But I probably don't really want to have sex with the male members of the band, either - I'm happily blissed out in my monogamous relationship.

But I do find myself attracted to the band and its members in a very visceral way. It's the music, it's the fun they are obviously having and, at the risk of sounding like a dirty old woman though I'm only thirty-something, I think it's also their youthful energy and angst. So, into monogamy or not, go see Blind Pilot - they are awesome.

P.S. Accordion player, I might actually want to have sex with you - you have a beautiful right arm and an electrifying smile. I'm no good with temptation, so please stay away from me.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Prestige: Loved It

Watched The Prestige at a friends house tonight. Holy crap - what an amazing film! Can't say anything more about it - if you haven't seen it yet, go see it. I don't know how I missed this one, but I remember A saying this one and The Illusionist in the same sentence and saying they were about magic - my response to that, "meh!" I haven't seen The Illusionist yet, but I will be putting it in my queue now that I love The Prestige, because I realize I may have missed another great film in that one.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Came Early this Year

I got a Vita Mix blender for Christmas. A tried to tell me I'd have to wait until Christmas to open it, but I wheedled and whined until he relented. I'm actually finding myself a little intimidated by it, but am starting to find my way. This blender is amazingly powerful and much more of a machine than it's brothers by Oster. I watched the intro DVD and can't wait to put it through all of it's paces, although I must confess I'm not sure I'm ever really going to "cook" soup in it (yes, the blades create enough friction that you can actually cook in it!).

So far, I've made smoothies, pudding and ice cream in it and couldn't be happier. As I work on my weight loss goals, I'm happy to have this tool on my side. I make a smoothie every morning for A and I and we end up feeling full and nourished until lunch time. And when dessert is just yogurt + frozen berries (basic frozen yogurt recipe) or a pudding made of banana, berries, avocado and even greens, there is nothing to feel guilty about. I even told A that I've been putting greens into the smoothies and he didn't bat an eye!

Thanks Santa A - I love my Christmas gift and won't be sad when I don't have anything to open on Xmas day!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Un-PC Opinions

I was thinking this morning about something that was not very PC. At this point, I can't even recall what it was, but I realized that while I wouldn't want to bring it up at work, with my in-laws or in mixed company, that blogging about things/thoughts/ideas that aren't that PC is one of the beauties of the system. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting, not do I condone, just slamming things online because of the anonymity of the net, but rather that writing up a thought process or working on an opinion online may sometimes be safer than bringing a fledgling dissenting opinion out into the light before its time.

I write that and realize that I sound like a bit of a scaredy cat and perhaps I am. After all, I hate conflict with a passion. I think my partner would be surprised to read that, as I am always contradicting him and giving him a hard time - "riding" him, in his own words, although that was only said out loud once. I suppose it's safe for me to have conflict with someone like my partner who I know loves and accepts me and usually accepts my sincere apologies.

I wonder when my sincere apologies won't be enough?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ack, Where have I been?!

I was dismayed when I noticed by beau not blogging any more, but now it's me! Is this really so wrong? If I'm participating more fully in LIFE, I would say it's just to the good. But perhaps the loss of valuable self-reflection, composition and creativity time is to the bad. I guess I won't make any promises, especially as I'm attempting to create a daily entry (that is again, EVERY DAY!) on my professional blog, but here's to going at it again.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Gym Rats

I was leaving the gym a couple days ago thinking "gym rats" with some lip curl. Lip curl, being a universal sign of disgust, surprised me at myself. My thoughts went something like this:

Gym rats - ugh.
Whoa, what's with the disgust?
Disgust is just the start of intolerance...oooh.
Wait, I used to be a gym rat ... well, okay, I used to go to the gym a whole lot more.
Wow, calling someone a gym rat means I certainly wouldn't want to do that.
How self-limiting name-calling is!

This whole self-conversation was very revealing to me. Basically, I came up with the idea that calling anybody a name is bad. Guess I could have learned that in kindergarten.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Oh, yes, I remember Office Hours

Filling in at my old job and am enjoying my "office hours" once again. I'm working, I've even already finished the main task that I was here to execute. But I'm also blogging, have balanced my check book and have emailed a few important emails that needed to go out. Office hours do quickly and easily turn into "Tiny Task Time."

In Christine Kane's blog and newsletter, she cautions about not letting email become an all day affair - that is, if it's open on your computer, it will be a distraction from other work and accomplishment. How many times do I swap tabs when I see that my email inbox goes from zero to one? Pretty often. And it's probably revealing that my inbox is in a near-constant state of zero. It's not that I don't get a lot of emails, but that I obsessively read them as they come in.

I'm going to throw email into a category of important, but not urgent tasks called "Tiny Tasks," which include organizing, scheduling, prioritizing and list making. These are relatively important and I will even argue that the are vital to me getting anything done, but I think that when I'm doing Tiny Tasks all day long, I'm not really accomplishing my larger goals.

I'm not sure where blogging fits - at work, on my work blog, that is, it's less of a distraction and more of a job, because I do need to do a little research and take the time to write something reasonably well thought out, but my personal blog...? Well, it's more for my personal entertainment, so it's probably not a task at all. That is, it's not on my To-Do list for the day, but more like taking a good friend's phone call.

In any case, I think I need to schedule Tiny Task Time and in that time, figure out what I should be doing during the rest of the day to accomplish my larger goals and to focus on items that are important but not urgent.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Oh What a Busy Weekend!

Friday
  • Indian food with friends - yum! (Using a restaurant.com coupon - thank you!)
  • Watching a movie @ their house. Earth - AMAZING!
Saturday
  • Breakfast and coffee @ home (Scrambled eggs with leeks, poblano chile and grape tomatoes with Dave's Killer Bread toast - with great ingredients, you can't go wrong!)
  • House cleaning - okay this one isn't happening in the way we'd planned, but we've already set the tomatoes to drying and put all the sheets in the wash machine, so we're at least started
  • Veg Fest - fun!
  • Visit TRee and see the new baby who is cute as a button!
  • Mini golfing birthday party

Sunday

  • Maybe breakfast with friends from DC at the farmers market
  • Kayaking - time and location TBD, but we are DEFINITELY GOING!
  • See the baby if that didn't fit into Saturday's schedule
  • Doggie Palooza?
  • Mt Angel Oktoberfest?

Oh, there are so many options. I imagine that we'll come home after kayaking and finish the house cleaning, but there's always fall when the weather is bad, right? (The correct answer is: wrong, because in the fall and winter, there are all kinds of exciting and interesting indoor events, too, but I'm going to let it slide this time. I'm sure we'll be able to get the guest bedroom and bathroom picked up for our visitor next weekend and he doesn't care anyways.)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Hot and Heavy

A friend on FB said, "Today is a coffe day." To that I reply, which day isn't? But I do agree - it's a cold, cloudy morning, perfect for a cup of creamy, dark bittersweet perfection which I picked up at Dutch Brother's this am. After a few tries, I learned how to properly order my drink of choice:
medium 1/2 decaf vanilla soy latte - no foam
And when they handed me my drink, I made a comment akin to the old, "I like my men/women like I like my coffee..." when I said, "ooh, it's just how I like it: hot and heavy."
Funny, eh?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Best Laid Plans

Okay, so none of that happened last night, but we did purchase a Yakima dry dock and saddles for our kayak transportation needs (which we'll hopefully use this weekend!) and got to see some good friends afterwards (with whom I hope to spend some time this weekend and with whom we're camping next weekend!). That was nice, although the high I've been on since I passed my exams needs a house-cleaning outlet. I can feel my nerves growing! I may have to clean tonight after my event even though I have to work early tomorrow!

I should have cleaned this morning, but got distracted by A & E, no not the channel (we don't do cable), but the people - first, A joined me upstairs and then E called after A had gone off to work, so I spent much of my early starting morning with them. I did, however, get some things done today, including:
  • ordering my birth certificate long distance
  • calling several patients that I need to follow up with
  • getting all the things collected that I need for my event tonight
  • sending several letters that needed to go out in the mail
  • picking up dry dog food and raw meat to make fresh dog food
  • getting fingerprinted for my licensing application

So, I'm heading off for some prep time at my event location, giving the talk/demo and then heading home as soon as possible. Maybe I shouldn't be drinking coffee these days - I think it just makes the mania stronger.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Exam Finished, Now What?

I wish that were true, but I know what I must do:
  • Clean bathroom x 2
  • Clean kitchen
  • Change sheets in bedroom and guest bedroom
  • Vacuum/sweep entire house, including spider webs
  • Dust entire house
  • Make raw dog food, buy dry dog food
  • Start sauerkraut and pickles
  • Start kombucha
  • Start sprouts
  • Blanch and freeze green beans
  • Find a recipe for fresh garbanzo beans and make it
  • Shred and freeze zucchini
  • Make yummy raw borscht
  • Figure out how to make beet green palatable
  • Make eggplant rawvioli and eggplant dip
  • Plan meals for the rest of the week, including brown bag lunches for A and I!

And that all depends on which of the veggies have gone rotten in the fridge. I'm giving away two heads of lettuce today, because we just can't keep up - we're salad'ed out! If I end this week with no fruits and veggies in the bin, I think I'll actually be a happy woman!

Board Exams Passed

$300 Exam Fee - first time around ($300)
$300 Exam Fee - second time around ($600)
$180 Practice Test Website Subscription Fee ($780)
$55 Practive Test Website Subscription Extension Fee ($835)
$15 iPhone Practice Test Application ($850)
$65 Hypnosis Session ($915)
+ Supplements for Brain Function ($925)
+ Coffee and food while studying out and about ($950)

Passing My Final Board Exam: Priceless

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Squirrely Day

I started my day with a "meeting" which could really have been a 5-10 minute phone conversation and a hand off. It was also social, though. Not sure how I feel about that since I'm trying to keep my social obligations nil this week.

Keeping social obligations nil this week, because I'm studying hard for my last board exam. I just worked for 2.5 hours straight then broke for a late lunch and after this post, I'm back at the books for another 2.5 hours.

A misheard me Sunday night when I told him and some other friends that I wouldn't be out much (socially) this week due to my exam next Tuesday. Somehow he heard me say that I had an event at the Siam Society this Tuesday and we went around and around for hours before we figured that out, because I swore that I didn't know anything about an event at the Siam Society.

The CSA weighs on my mind. I haven't been blogging what we get because I just don't know. I haven't been keeping up with knowing what we get or doing anything with it. I know we get lettuce every week and I think that two grown salad-eating adults with healthy appetites should be able to get through a head of lettuce every week, but I've had to start giving it away. I'm making pickles and sauerkraut this weekend (and freezing green beans) to try not to lose everything. We also got a beautiful eggplant, with which I look forward to making rawvioli.

So, it's back to the books now for me and the window out of which I hope to spy the little squirrel that I watched rolling around in the dirt while I ate my lunch. I grabbed take-out and drove back to the library, parked in the shade and listened to my book on CD while I ate. He was little and really cute and I wished I had a video camera to film his adorable antics. That and some food will have to sustain me a couple more hours while I finish my studying for today.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

This Week From The CSA

This week's CSA bag includes:

  • lettuce
  • green beans
  • a fresh-cut herb - if we're lucky enough for this to be basil, I'll be making B's Basil Balsamic Mashed Potatoes with that and the Yukon Gold's below - they're just so good, you have to try them!
  • summer squash - probably eat these shredded with a little cheese or nut cheese again or maybe grilled in our new grill wok
  • cucumber - mmm...sliced with some tomatoes and beans, a little rice vinegar...refreshing
  • Yukon Gold and/or Red Chieftan potatoes - whatever doesn't get mashed, I'd like to roast in the grill wok with some rosemary
  • leeks - might try a raw Cream of Leek soup - looks pretty good
  • blueberries - always good raw for breakfast

We haven't used much from the last bag, except we ate the fruit fresh right away. I'm hoping to make some Scrumptious Green Beans tonight from my Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Recipe Book maybe with last week and this weeks green beans. We'll definitely do a big salad each tonight, too to finish off the lettuce from last week. Seems we're always playing catch up with the food from the week before. It's too hot to cook much, so as much as I can do raw, we'll do raw. Hoping to clean the kitchen, make some food and take the dog to the dog park tonight before going to a social outing at the local roadhouse pub. Ambitious schedule, but I feel pretty energetic after a morning taiji session and a 16 ounce double shot latte.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Free Weekends!

Wow, what a weekend. Friday night after work, A and I loaded up the car with camp chairs, air mattresses, life preservers and all manner of thing we weren't sure we needed and didn't end up using and drove up to Mason Lake in Washington to spend the weekend with friends. We BBQ'd, we picnicked, we swam, I snorkeled for lost treasures (and found only fish that seemed to follow me through the water), we went tubin', A rode on our friends jet ski (which is like a small open speed boat and accelerates faster than a Ferrari!) and Chibo got to learn some social skills with two boxers, a golden retriever and a border collie. Needless to see, he was out sized by all and more than a little freaked out, but I think he had a good time nonetheless. We certainly did.

After all the water sports on Saturday, we found ourselves with a few aching muscles, but luckily no sunburn and decided to head home a little early, but taking the long way around on the coastal highway. It wasn't as scenic as we'd have liked, but we enjoyed the country air and some cherries from a fruit stand just the same. The Astoria bridge isn't as bad coming over from the Washington side, but was still a thrill and we stopped by the beach in Seaside to let Chibo run around a little more before heading home. A and I played "catch" with Chibo - I called him to me then sent him to A, A praised him for coming over and sent him back to me. Since Chibo won't catch a ball, we just send him back and forth to wear him out. It works pretty well.

By the time we got home, all three of us were ready to crawl into bed and sleep off the weekend. Not exactly the most restful of weekends, but definitely a celebration of having weekends off from work! The friends who hosted us this weekend already invited us to join them for camping next weekend, too, so it looks to be an eventful summer.

When I was speaking to my pregnant friend, R, she was telling me that despite being pregnant, she's been able to do most of the things she had put on her list of summer goals, like camping in a fire lookout and other outdoor activities. Not having had weekends off for so long, I haven't really thought of a list of summer activities I'd like to do, but since this December marks the end of my 1001 days, I guess I should re-evaluate my outdoorsy or seasonal goals from that list:
  • 23. Teach a QiGong class
  • 27. Go outrigger paddling again
  • 28. Go for an overnight backpacking trip
  • 29. Go backpacking for more than one night
  • 49. Plant an herb garden (or at least 4 kinds in pots) - 1 down, 3 to go - I've got a mint in a pot out front.
  • 50. Plant a vegetable garden - well, this isn't going to happen, but maybe I can get a squash plant into the ground or a tomato plant in a pot for the house?
  • 51. Plant Tiger Lily's bulbs - Yeah, I'd like to plant some flowers, but I think I missed my window - aren't these supposed to be planted in spring? Or maybe it's really fall?
  • 59. Hike 2x per week for 2 months - Not sure I like hiking all that much, but we could do a few short local hikes and I'm sure A would love that!
  • 72. Renew SCUBA certification and go diving! Everybody at the lake this weekend was interested in taking a class, so we could probably at least do that part.
  • 80. Go to the zoo - We did this last week when we attended a zoo concert, but I'd like to go again.
  • 81. Have a day of gracious living - tell people about the concept. Will have think about this one.
  • 95. Take the train to Seattle - we have a coupon!
  • 97. Have a cocktail party - make a new drink for friends! I can't wait to do this one!
  • 100. Go to Olympic National Forest - wow, we could have done that this weekend! Guess we'll have to try for that next month when we head up that way again!

Looks doable. Let's see how we go.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

This Week From The CSA: Thank God, it's FRUIT!

Went nuts cleaning out the fridge last night - we ate salad with garlic roasted fava beans, zucchini hummus with pita and loads of pea pods raw. Delicious and just in time for another bagful of produce from our CSA. I'm really not keeping up, but I'm doing my best. This morning I made us a savory veggie tofu scramble (including cabbage, carrots, onion and zucchini from the CSA) which we both enjoyed. It was weird eating it with toast, but somehow it worked.

This weeks bag includes:
  • lettuce - salad, maybe taco tonight?
  • a legume of our choice (pea pods or green beans) - probably cleaned and eaten raw as snacks again - they travel well and are delicious
  • fava beans - will be roasted with garlic again, they were yummy.
  • blueberries - yum!
  • Kotata blackberries or gooseberry or jostaberry - yum!
  • black cherries - yum!
  • fresh cut chives - these will go well with the potatoes I've been craving
  • summer squash - if it's zucchini, more zucchini hummus - it's so good - or shredded and lightly cooked with a little cheese - like mac and cheese, only I feel slightly less guilty

Note: the CSA recommends cooking the three types of berries we're getting into a cobbler and I say, no way. These babies are going to be enjoyed fresh and raw! I may like cooking, but I have to say that the raw food movement has definately taught me that some things are best enjoyed in their natural state and berries are one of them! I can't wait to give myself a sweet treat tonight - hope A doesn't eat them all before he gets them home!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Getting Excited About Raw Again

Working my last weekend at the market and trying to be very diligent, but it's challenging. A is picking me up here after work, we're buying some sack suppers and heading out to a concert at the zoo. Meeting many friends, including some who planned a "masala" wedding and now have a lovely child, with whom A is smitten. Should be fun.

In the meantime, I've eaten both a bagel and macaroni and cheese today, but am dreaming about raw food. I want a Vita Mix blender so bad that I'm considering just purchasing one on my credit card. Oh, bad American! Slap to the wrist. Anyways, I got ahold of this book from a friend of mine and can't wait to make some of the recipes in it. The pictures make the food look mouth-watering-ly delicious!

I mentioned the possibility of a raw entree at our wedding, but A thinks not so much. I reminded him of his earlier assertion that it's my wedding and I should have it the way I want it. I am tempted to ask for some really off the wall things just to see how far I can push it. At any rate, having a raw entree doesn't seem like such a wild idea to me. If everyone selected this option, we could have trouble keeping up, but I think most people would not be into it. But I know that I and my lady-in-waiting* certainly would.

*I haven't chosen or requested anyone to be in my bridal party yet as I'm waiting for a count from A, but assuming I have any bridal party, I assume she is waiting to be asked, hence, lady-in-waiting. And it's very regal and even though I don't really want to be a princess and certainly don't want to be a princessa and just is fun to say.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

This Week From the CSA

I went through the fridge last night and cleaned house. We still haven't touched the cabbage, but that'll keep a little longer. I made a chili with some of the dried beans, but though soaked, they hadn't cooked last night - I'm hoping the day in the slow cooker will do the trick, because I'm looking forward to a bowl of warm chili this afternoon. I threw in a bunch of peppers that I got free at the market, some of the onion from last weeks bag, some corn off the cob and a tiny bit of broccoli I found in a bag hiding in the fridge. It might seem weird to put broccoli in chili, but the best chili I ever made was thrown together with bits I had in the freezer once when I was poor and hungry and included a whole bag of frozen broccoli. Spiced it all up with a little chili powder, some cayenne and a lot of chipotle powder, because I just can't get enough of it.

We had taco salads for dinner last night using Fantastic Brand black beans - they were delicious and a great addition to the salad despite being pureed. If no chili tonight, then bean dip! Used up most of the remaining lettuce and decided to cut and clean the lettuce immediately as it arrives for easier usage. It's hard to want to make a salad in the evenings after work when I know it involved cleaning cutting so many veggies.

So far, what we have left from previous weeks includes:
  • rhubarb - going to make another pie, just need to get some berries
  • lettuce - just a bit, probably eat today as side salad
  • pea pods - these got lost in the fridge - we'll probably eat them raw because they are sweet and delicious
  • onion and dried beans - these will last a while
  • cabbage - need to make saag one of these nights - that'll make it go quick. If that doesn't happen, then I'm making sauerkraut
  • zuchini - raw pasta makings! Or raw zuchini hummus. Or dog food. :)
  • carrots - general use and A keeps eating them raw which is great!

This week's bag includes:

  • lettuce
  • pea pods
  • fava beans - never eaten this!
  • cabbage
  • blueberries - I've been eating blueberries as a nice light breakfast and it seems to be quite nice.
  • summer squash
  • a fresh cut herb
  • sedum - never heard of this! It appears to be a garden plant and NOT necessarily edible. So far the other two plants are still on my kitchen window ledge, but A says he's got potting soil somewhere and I know we have pots, so I'm planning on digging in the dirt a little later today!

We'll see what we end up doing with this bounty!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Instant Karma

I may be a little bit evil, but it was my delight this morning to see the cops pull over this yahoo who speedily and dangerously crossed 4 lanes of traffic. It's always frustrating when people are driving badly and there is no cop. I feel more satisfied today that there is justice in the world.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Reading List : Growing Again

I just went crazy with my library's online hold program. Mostly books on CD, but a few paper books as well:
  • Botany of Desire (from my reading list/permission slip)
  • The Secret Life of Bees (from my reading list/permission slip)
  • Prince Caspian (because I enjoyed listening to Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe and forgot to continue!)
  • Blink (never finished reading it before)
  • The Tipping Point (because I enjoyed Blink so much)
  • The Limbreth Gate and The Windsingers (because I discovered that one of my favorite authors writes under not one, but two pseudonyms!)
I don't think I'll even be increasing my reading time, but with the schedule change, I'll still be able to listen in the car, read on breaks at work and now, not feel guilty about it!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Wedding Registry

It's interesting trying to think of things to go on a wedding registry when A and I both already had a pretty well set up household before we moved in together and I'm trying to clear even more clutter now that we're keeping house together for good. Some friends told me not to forget sheets and towels - they registered for Ralph Lauren sheets when they married 11 years ago and are still using them and have about 40 towels that allow them to have some in the wash and never run out.

It would be easy for me to put a lot of decorative serving ware on a registry, but I think of that stuff as a bit of fluff - what if I miss something that would be quite good on the registry?

And do we register for things like silver silverware and china? I don't know if A and I are really china and silver people, but maybe if we had such, we would be...?

And some of the items that make my wish list are items for which it would be difficult to register without having a separate "wish list" on the registry list site - for example, items not available through a big box or chain store and a particular sporting good.

On another hand, I remember when A and I have used registries to buy gifts for people's weddings and struggled to find gifts that reflected our shared experience of that couple...how do we put items on the list that our friends and family will also want to give us?

And there is something to adjust to in the idea of making a list of gifts that we want...I mean, it feels a little strange, a little selfish and more than a little greedy. I'm glad I put our wedding website through the I Do Foundation so that we (and our friends and family) can at least know that if people do choose to buy items from our registry that part of the purchase price will be donated to charity.

If this is supposed to be the fun part, I wonder how well I'll enjoy the rest of the wedding planning process...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Barbecue

BBQ'd tonight with friends we met on the wedding cruise this past December. Though these folks live just 15 minutes away, we haven't seen them since then and have only spoken to exchange pictures immediately after the trip and to coordinate dinner plans for tonight. I don't know why we let such time go by as they are delightful. Our mutual friend, the bride from the cruise wedding, came up for a visit, so we all got together for a barbecue dinner and long visit.

Our meal was delicious: Dr. Praeger's California veggie burgers - brushed with EVOO before grilling, eaten with condiments between lettuce leaves - delicious! Watermelon, cob corn, grilled asparagus and strawberry shortcake and white wine for dessert. Two important lessons: 1. EVOO brushed on garden burgers before grilling helps them stay moist and 2. no white wine for me - I woke up with a hangover despite only drinking about 3 ounces.

I had a good time catching up with everyone and even found out about a local adoption agency that some friends of our hosts adopted a baby through. Even though I felt fatigued by the late evening and woke up not feeling well, it was a great night and gives me the idea of something to look forward to - only 2 more weeks until I have a reasonable work schedule again. It may satisfy some need to overachieve to be able to respond positively when asked "do you work..." but I will be even more satisfied to share my evenings and weekends in the companionship of my partner and good friends.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Working 9 to 5

I can't WAIT to work 9-5 M-F! And it's finally going to be my happy state!

For most of the last year, I've worked 6-7 days of the week at one or another of my jobs. At present, I'm on Day 9 since my last day off in a string of 21-24 days depending on if I need to go into the office next Wednesday. And I'm exhausted with it.

It's sad when your dream of the weekend is to clean house and do yard work, but that's even a part of my fantasy weekend, enhanced every time I walk into my kitchen and smell the pot soaking in the sink, every time I try to find something to eat or drink in my overfull and disorganized refrigerator, every time I walk around a pile or mess and every time A tells me how much time he spent working on the yard and how my help would be most welcome.

I also dream of waking up late, of heading to the beach to run with the dog just because we don't have anything better to do, of meeting friends for breakfast, of going dancing and staying out late without dreading having to wake up early the next day and of having more energy to live.

I don't have more energy yet. I'm not up for increasing my social calendar yet and in fact, want to keep my weekends to A and myself for a little while just to build up some reserves and express my joy and appreciate for him, since I couldn't and wouldn't have weekends off without his help. I know life will be better for both of us with this change and I'm just trying to get through the next two weeks without falling completely apart.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

This Week From the CSA

I haven't had a chance to even look at this weeks bag. A brought it home and put it away and our fridge is getting very full with all this produce. It doesn't help that I did a pretty good sized shop or that the top shelf and door of our fridge are relatively unusable because of a delicate seal. So, in my effort to plan and not waste as much as possible, here's my ideas of how to use this week's produce:
  • lettuce - to be made into salad hopefully before it browns! Taco salad? Tomorrow!
  • cabbage - mmm...Indian cobi saag - should make this in the morning or evening and eat as leftovers.
  • broccoli - more?! I love broccoli, but I can't keep up!
  • a sample of the first of the summer squash - where is this?
  • edible pea pods - eat raw?
  • rhubarb - another pie, probably
  • orange carrots - guess I shouldn't have bought that 5 lb bag!
  • an herb plant (mint) - still needs to be repotted

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I'm Engaged ... So Now What?!

It's funny, because I remember A regularly mentioning us getting married early on in our relationship and me kind of freaking out. He was very superior when he would say, "well, clearly, you're just not ready for that yet," but I think he was always a little relieved. Well, now we're engaged and all the things that used to freak me out have faded out for a new batch of OMGs.

How to announce our engagement, for example...his parents were traveling with us when we got engaged and I called my parents right away. His parents took on calling his extended family and I'll get around to calling mine sometime...(see?!) After my parents were notified, I told A he could put it online if he wanted so many of our friends found out through Facebook, which seems pretty weird, but which, I was reassured, was fine. I asked a married gal pal how she did her announcements and she said that no matter how people find out, the important part is that we're engaged and that people get to share our happy news. But also, do I tell people who probably don't care? It's weird talking about it at work in front of people who don't care without including them...but I also don't want to force them to congratulate me or listen to my romantic sap. And does sending an announcement, even an informal one, automatically construe an invitation to the wedding?!

I also get a case of the heebee-OM-geebees from the rock on my finger. I'm very conscious of it and my hand feels like it's suddenly reached ginormous proportions. I think everyone must notice this sudden sparkly new addition to my usually nonexistent accessories, but no one really does. So do I shove it into people's faces with the announcement? That seems gauche, but seriously, it's gorgeous and I want people to see it! A did such a great job finding me a vintage ring. When I think about it, I really sent him down a rabbit hole with that request. It wasn't that I specifically wanted a vintage ring, but that I did NOT want a blood diamond, so new diamonds were out and after we went to Malloy Jewelry, we knew I really liked the vintage 1920's styles. But I'm also really afraid of hurting the ring and am always checking to make sure the diamond is still in there.

Lots of questions, few answers. When? Where? Engagement party? I told A that we should just enjoy being engaged for a little while before we start making these major decisions, but then he came back with a proposed location for the wedding, so I guess we're starting planning sooner than I expected. Whew, it's been a nice week enjoying the engagement - time to get down to business! Here we go...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

This Week From the CSA

This week's bag contains and was used to make:
  • rhubarb - Rhubarb Daquiri
  • edible pod peas - eaten raw as snack
  • lettuce - used as a wrap for garden burgers, perfectly sized small leaves
  • onion - saved for later use
  • dry mixed beans - saved for later use (maybe chili?)
  • beets - steamed greens and beets (not very successfully); plan on finishing beets cold in salad
  • broccoli - steamed greens and ate with macaroni cassarole; ate "tree" part separately
  • cauliflower - Broccoli Bisque soup from Blossoming Lotus cookbook, modified for cauliflower
  • a potted marigold flower - needs to be re-potted, still sitting on my windowsill dying

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It may be New, but it's still Mexico

Traveled with A and his parents to New Mexico and found New Mexico charming. I was pretty enthusiastic the entire trip and found myself exclaiming about how "cute" everything was. There are a few words I dislike, among them and high on the list, are cute and stupid, so I felt pretty stupid blathering on about how cute everything was.

At any rate, I loved New Mexico. We landed in Albuquerque Sunday afternoon and spent the day with our friend D who showed us the sights of Albuquerque including old town, the plaza and Tingley Beach. She explained that many of the towns in New Mexico are centered around a plaza and church, which shopping a restaurants all around. We saw a lot of life in these plazas including tango dancing, choirs, Indian vendors and even just locals having a lunch break. Shopping around the plaza in Albuquerque had better prices than around the plaza in Santa Fe, but there is ever so much to see in both places.

I learned that barter is still practiced in New Mexico when a pair of earrings we were looking at dropped quickly from $120 retail to a special offer for a pretty lady at $25. I'm cheap, but I think even spendthrifts will find that they don't need to spend more than $5 to get some great turquoise and silver earrings. One great place to shop in Albuquerque is the Blue Portal (2107 Church St NW) which is a craft shop for seniors. It's run as a charity, so the seniors who's work is sold get 100% of the price you pay and there is no tax on the items. The prices were much more reasonable than at other shops as there is no mark up, but the selection was somewhat limited.

Monday morning, we picked up A's parents in our rented Prius and drove up to Santa Fe by way of Madrid, New Mexico. Pronounced mad-rid like "mad hatter," Madrid is the cute artsy town featured in the movie Wild Hogs. It was a great halfway point on our drive up the turquoise trail and we were delighted with the galleries and boutiques. I especially was drawn to the works of Ms. Liz Falkoner, a local artist in Madrid who's gallery Tombo is an old train car with a couple of dogs to welcome you out front. I also loved the gourds by Carol Lee and was especially intrigued by Liz Paterson's white clay pots and sculptures. I left Madrid with the feeling that I want to resume my own artistic creativity!

When we arrived in Santa Fe, we were pleased to check into the Villas de Santa Fe where we had a 1 bedroom condo - I'm sold on the idea of a condo for traveling - it's so nice to have a kitchen and a place that feels like a home. A and I even headed out to the Santa Fe farmer market Tuesday morning for some fresh produce. The prices seemed steep, but we later realized it must be hard to grow fresh produce in those local environs. We picked up some tamales for dinner that night and salad fixins. My only regret is that I didn't get the local kombucha I saw there - I thought I would see it around, but I never found it again and would have loved to try it as the flavors, like Sangria and Mojito, sounded fantastic!

Lots more galleries in Santa Fe - including the Mineral and Fossil Gallery where A purchased an interesting 150 million year old fossilized squid piece. We didn't even get to see that much of Canyon Road as we started out near the plaza. The drive by we took later was just enough for A to know he needed to go back for photos the next morning and me to know that I could happily return to Santa Fe another time in the future. Our other explorations included churches: San Miguel Mission and Loretto Chapel; food: Upper Crust Pizza (whole wheat crust! yum!) and Bumble Bee Baja Grill (squash quesadillas are my new favorite!); and chocolate!

Oh, the chocolate! A sweetly put together a list of the best chocolate places in Santa Fe for my tasting pleasure. It was catch as catch can and we nabbed chocolates whenever we could find them, but were surprised at the dearth of chile inspired chocolates. At Todos Santos, we tried the red chili and tangerine cream truffle - it was good, but not quite spicy enough for our local adventure. At Kakawa, we were put off by the incredible focus on elixirs, but tried a couple of truffles and elixirs anyway. From the mildest Marie Antoinette to the strongest Aztec Warrior, we decided that cocoa elixirs were not for us. We did enjoy the truffles, though. Number 1 for us was the Peach Pink Peppercorn truffle which neatly combined the sweet peach and spicy peppercorn flavors. The Gorgonzola truffle was also quite good, but we are biased to our own local smokey blue cheese truffle. Another interesting taste that we didn't love, but which is worth a taste was the paprika truffle. Basically a chocolate truffle rolled in paprika, it's strange at first because it's a whole lot of paprika, but once the flavors blend in your mouth, it's actually quite good. After that, we were on a mission to find chili chocolates.

A wrong turn put us at Chocolate Maven, but we were in no mood for distraction, so it was back into the car until we finally found our original destination of Chocolatesmith. Next time, it would be worth taking time for Chocolate Maven, but every time, it's worth taking lots of time for Chocolatesmith! Both were featured on Food Network which will make them popular tourist spots, but you don't get on Food Network for nothing! Chocolatesmith was generous with their tastings and we were able to try many things, including a white chocolate lavender lemon bark and the mountain bark (with cherries, coconut, toffee and white and dark chocolate!), both of which we loved. In our excitement over the green chiles, we even forgot to try or purchase any red chile chocolates, so those are on my list for when I go back! We walked away with dark chocolate dipped ginger; pistachio, cherry and green chile bark and a single spat all of which were consumed with great delight. It's hard to say if I liked the bark or the spat better - the spats are "Pan Roasted Tamari PiƱon (pine nut!) in a bed of Buttery Home made Caramel trimmed with Dark Chocolate" and were DELICIOUS! The sum of our chocolate tasting - yes, there is good chocolate to be had in Santa Fe!

We also spent some time in Bandelier National Park after which I welcomed the highlight of our vacation: a trip to the spa! A booked us a room at Ten Thousand Waves, but not just any room, the best room they have, the romantic Ichiban private bath house. It was an amazing place to relax and rejuvenate and an even more amazing place to receive a marriage proposal. Yes, A asked me to marry him while we were relaxing together at the spa and I said yes. This vacation and this place will therefore always hold a special remembrance in my heart.


Must do's next time I'm in Santa Fe:

  • Try local kombucha
  • Canyon Road art galleries
  • Chocolate Maven: breakfast and baked goods
  • Chocolate Smith: more spats, red chile chocolates
  • More authentic New Mexican cuisine
  • Ten Thousands Waves, again and again

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

This Week From the CSA

A and I are excited to have purchased a share in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Farm. This means we paid a fee to the farm up front and receive a share of the harvest each week through the growing season as well as free seconds, discounts at the farm stand and a few open farm days to U-pick. A has charged me with making sure that we don't waste our CSA dollars and that we eat up all the yummies we get each week, so I'm going to be blogging about what we get and what I make with it each week. Bon apetite!

This week's bag contains and was used to make:
  • lettuce - Taco salad, mmm...
  • rhubarb - Raw Strawberry Rhubarb pie
  • strawberries - gifted to a friend
  • pinto beans - dried, on hold for later use
  • onions - saved for later use in soup
  • bok choy - didn't get to this until it was already turning; edible peices cut up for dog food
  • a calendula plant - gifted to a friend
So far, so good. Hope we get bigger bags as the summer goes on.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What a Morning

It's only 8am and it's already been quite a morning...woke up very early. Not sure why - maybe the 2 cups of coffee I had at 9pm last night? Didn't seem to affect my sleep, but I'm certainly a little extra jazzed this a.m. Found out that the dog had peed on the carpet at some point in the night - did we forget to take him out for his before bed pee? Yes, we did. Oops - mea culpa. Something has to change for my poor dog. He's not happy and I'm not happy about his current quality of life. And "staying in the garage" would most definitely not be an improvement.

After many "I'm sorry"s to A for the carpet, it's on with the day, including a raw breakfast: soaked oat groats blended with cinnamon and dates with sliced apples - yummy and preparing lots of other raw foods for the next couple of days. The raw agenda: sunflower and sun dried tomato pate, not tuna salad and ranch dressing from Jennifer Cornbleet's Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People. We got tomatoes (for stacking or for slicing onto sandwiches and in salads), romaine lettuce (for sandwich "bread" or salads) and avocado. I think that gives us several options and will be quick and easy since I pre-prepped onion, celery and lemon juice. I mostly just have to process things together this morning. I might even splurge and mix up a raw cheez if I have enough lemon juice.

This morning, I also cleaned out my email inbox, created several useful Google Documents and emailed "collaborators" to join me, found 3 new old friends on FB, added a travel map to my FB page and added every city I've ever been to, using the criteria that I had to have actually done something in that city, not just drove through or flew through. I'm getting a little OCD with my FB page.

I've also recently added "weRead" in which I can keep adding books that I've read. I should have just started where I was at that moment, but it's very tempting to just keep adding books that I've read. I've already added more than 150 books and I keep remembering more authors and books and that's all fiction! One thing that's holding me back is that my aunt, all of who's books I've read, is a historical romance writer...many of my other favorites seem to be pretty sexy books and some are even categorized as erotica ... yeah, there's really not much more I want to say about that, but I just don't want people to think I only read sexy books. I remember dog sitting for a couple weeks once and reading all the crime dramas on my hosts shelves during that time frame - I just don't remember those books.

Quite a few other tasks on the list today, but most of those have to do with mailing or faxing things before I leave this weekend, especially getting my medical claims sent in so I can be reimbursed. Another appointment with the chiropractor and maybe something social this evening as A and I haven't been out to see our friends in a couple of weeks.

Whew. Tired already. Think I might have to take a nap.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ack, My Back

Haven't been able to sit down and catch up my thoughts for the past week, because I haven't been able to sit down. I herniated a disk in my back a week ago and have been in a world of hurt since then.

I find myself remembering when my dad did this in his 40's. My mom told me that was the only time she'd ever seen him cry and it wasn't about the pain - it was about not being able to take care of his family. Well, my dad ended up having surgery and was fine not long after. I'm going to be fine, too, sans surgery.

It's great having chiropractic, naturopathic and acupuncture at my fingertips. I'm taking fish oil and enzymes to fight the inflammation and am having soft tissue work, adjustments and physical therapy to recover. While I've been down, I've been watching all kinds of raw food videos and wishing that's what I was eating, but instead, I've made do with take out since I didn't want to be more of a burden on A. I do think raw food would have helped speed my recovery along, though, if for no other reason than that I wouldn't have been consuming so many pro-inflammatory foods.

I've been out for a week, hoping that workman's compensation is going to cover this time off, but needing to be off regardless, because sitting hurts and standing for too long also increases my pain. I'm bored, a little cranky, also hopeful and glad that I have a personal vacation scheduled next week.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Okay, so I didn't MANIFEST my lottery win, but I also didn't buy a ticket.

My experiment with post-dating and manifesting my desired outcome did not work out as well as I'd hoped, although it would probably have helped if I'd actually bought a lottery ticket. Despite the best of intentions, I did not. I tried, though. Twice. The first time, we had missed the Sunday drawing and decided not to buy for Wednesday until we knew that no one had won Sunday and the second time, well, I guess I didn't really try, I just forgot because my dog was sick. (No, really, he's got the kennel cough.)

What I realized since the big winner from Winner is that even when it gets reset to $20 million dollars, if I actually ever won, if I won, I would be set for life with even that much money, which is, of course, the appeal of the lottery. But does that mean I should always play? After all, there is no guarantee and in fact, it's likely, that I could play every week for the rest of my life and never win big enough to recoup my losses, even if I only ever played a dollar a week. It is, after all, for entertainment only, not investment purposes.

But, people win. And some people win big. It's a strange form of gambling. When I'm at a casino, it's easy for me to reject it and say no way, because I know I'd lose a lot of little amounts and don't stand to win that much. But to win $20-200 million from $1 ... that's insidious. $52 per year isn't such a lot of money if I was entertained by the process, but I think I'm one of those people who would try changing around my numbers, but still want to keep my old numbers and oh, the pots getting bigger, bet get a few extra tickets and all that.

I guess that's what they call an addictive personality. Come by it naturally, though. And my whole family seems to really like gambling, so I should probably steer clear. Or at least wait for a big jackpot.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Oy! Hate When That Happens.

Was reading two good books and just finished both of them...the other book I'm reading is at my office. Can't listen to my books on CD except in the car or on my home computer at the moment. And the next book to be delivered to my library for me is the 4th book in the Twilight series, but I haven't read the 3rd book yet! My reading schedule just got wonky! I hate when that happens!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Live Long and Prosper

I loved the new Star Trek movie. LOVED IT! And even found myself excited for the new Transformers movie. Am I getting stupider?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Too Much Reading

Lately I've been doing too much reading and not enough studying. So I tried to impose a rule on myself that I'm only allowed to listen to books on CD in the car until I finish that one lingering board exam. Well, fat chance of that working. Since I instituted that policy, things have only gotten worse, although I did get a lot of studying in yesterday. Here's my current reading list:

On CD:
Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett
Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver

Books:
The Host by Stephanie Meyer
Sky Coyote by Kage Baker
Midwife...something or other... (paperback I picked up somewhere)

Also just finished:
Dead Man's Mirror and Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie (both on CD)
The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
The Ladies Number 1 Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Sushi for Beginners by Marian Keyes

On the other hand, I returned Rainbow's End by Vernor Vinge and Tiger Claws by John Speed to the library unfinished so maybe there is hope yet.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The List

A and I headed out to a show last night and it was awesome. The only not awesome part about it was that the artist was apparently someone on his list. You know the list I'm talking about - the list of people that you could totally do and your partner would stand on the sideline cheering you on. Yeah, well, in theory, that's great, but I think it changes the very nature of the list when that person is more immediately local. Yeah, it's kind of weird.

So I got all pissy and jealous cause that's just what I do, but I haven't done it in a while and it was a great miserable time for all. However, when I was asked who was on my list, I had no answers...do I even have a list? No, I don't have a list, but after a recent episode of Family Guy and this post from The Bloggess, I got curious about Alan Rickman - who the hell is Alan Rickman and why would it surprise our men that we want to do him? Well, as it turns out, that whole Snape thing just flat does it for me, so if I had a list, Alan Rickman would be on it. And probably Johnny Depp.

And definitely Harrison Ford and Sean Connery. But I don't have a list, because it's objectification and I don't view other human beings as sex objects, but instead as sexual beings.
But I'd also totally do Brad Pitt and/or Angelina Jolie - together or separately. Because they are hot sexual beings.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What I'm Going to Do Now That I Won $200 Million From the Lottery

1. Pay off all my debt, including financial debts to friends and family and mom's PLUS loan
2. Give notice to my second job that I will be decreasing work to 1 day per week or quit
3. Give notice to my career job that we will be okay or quit
4. Hire a financial planner/adviser
5. Hire the Dog Whisperer and a dog walker
6. Go to the Tree of Life for as long as it takes to feel rested
7. Take that trip to Italy that I've been longing for
8. Establish trusts for my family
9. Set up my raw kitchen
10. See what life is like debt free and with means

Monday, May 25, 2009

I Won The Lottery!

I just won 200 Million dollars in the lottery!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

What I Should Do...

Seems like I blog about once per week. Often on Saturdays at work, sometimes Sunday. And I often pre-date my items so it looks like I blogged all week. So my constant lament that I'm not blogging as often as I would like seem a little strange - readers might wonder if I wish I was blogging nonstop in the style of Twitter. No, I just wish I processed my thoughts and captured my funnier musings more freshly and frequently, rather than trying to remember all the ideas I had through the week while sucking down my large free coffee and trying to appear to be working behind my work monitor which is angled just so that other people in my work space maybe could* just see what I'm doing.

At any rate, unless I get a newer faster computer or more time (or more priorities from which I can procrastinate in the form of blogging), I'm unlikely to suddenly start blogging on a daily basis, so this is the solution that I've hit upon: I should blog in advance for the week. When you publish a blog and post-date it, it will be published on the date scheduled. I'd have to write a little extra, catch up from the prior week and then get ahead, but then I would already know what to be thinking about, what musings to experience, what social experiences to have and what dinners to make for the week ahead. It's like uber-planning. Wonder if the Universe would conspire with me? I wonder if this would manifest for me in the method of The Secret? Let's find out.

*In addition to constantly analyzing my use of double negatives, A has taken particular umbrage to my use of "maybe could," "maybe should," "maybe would" and especially the negative "maybe shouldn't" or "maybe wouldn't." I feel that my meanings are clear with my double negatives - which used to be a more accepted usage and now seems to suggest to A and perhaps scholarly sorts a lack of education, but which to me feels comfortingly middle class and homey - and with my indecisive use of modals in the random tense. And isn't clear meaning what's really important? I'm not sure if A really doesn't understand me or is just trying to correct me.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The worst thing I do at work today...

I may have written 10 blog entries by the time I leave work today. I also will have done research on various topics online (probably a little research on Jane Austen and maybe reserving some books at the library), balanced my checkbook, made various lists on the backs of scrap paper and probably refined, clarified and confirmed my plans for tonight.

I will also have drunk 16 ounces of coffee, eaten a donut, a bagel with cream cheese and probably some mac and cheese, all of which are things I'm trying to avoid while on a cleanse. I will pick up some freebie veggies, though, all of which are totally legal on the cleanse but none of which I will probably eat tonight to make up for my work hours debauch.

I might even cry at work today, though I'm doing a good job not going there just yet. My eyes have teared up a few times, but I've managed to deep breathe them away. Not sure why I'm crying all the time right now, but in a way, it feels good, cleansing. In another way, it feels like something must be seriously wrong with my life for me to cry more days than not. And in the way that matters most, it feels like I made myself sick crying and sobbing for too many hours last night so that my eyes are swollen and my throat raw this morning.

But I will also have met all of the goals of my being at work today. Not even half-assed-ly. Is that wrong? If I get my work done in less time, shouldn't I be able to steal a few moments to gather my thoughts? I think my employers would say yes to the first and no to the second. I think they would say that if I have more time at work that I should be helping out, contributing more, lending a hand to my coworkers.

It's a sad irony that my best down time is achieved at work. And that when A and I try to come up with solutions to my serious lack of money and time, that quitting this job seems the most viable solution. And that in my opinion, the worst thing I will do at work today is to have eaten that stale donut.

Friday, May 22, 2009

My New Motto / Rule / Whatever

As I walked in to work this morning with the sun in my face, I heard a friend say a cheery "Good morning, B" followed immediately by a more neurotic, "please don't judge me." I hadn't even noticed her sitting there nor the cigarette in her hand since the sun was blinding me, but I reassured her, "not at all." And that's really what I'd like.

Not at all. No judgment. Even more than non-judgment, I would like non-concern and non-notice of certain areas of my life. What I'd like people not to notice this week: what I'm eating. Unless I'm breast-feeding you, it does n0t affect you and is none of your concern. In my etiquette readings, I have learned that it's actually a rudeness to pay any mind to what people are eating. While I wish that much more etiquette would be remembered (even if means that my indelicate mention of breast-feeding gets me a slap on the wrist), this one seems particularly important when food is busy being demonized.

How this wish came to my attention was in discussion about vegetarianism with a colleague. She's a veggy, A's family are veggy, many of my friends are veggy and I usually eat as a veggy. Some of the wacky hijinks of A's family revolve around issues around vegetarianism and reasons for becoming and maintaining a vegetarian lifestyle. So I was discussing with a friend and had fondly remembered a bite of prime rib that I had greatly enjoyed and my mom's cooking which is often heavy on the meat and strikingly delicious. My colleague said something that made me pause for the rest of the day and the following night, "it sounds like you don't want to be a vegetarian."

Wow. Did I? Do I? The answer surprised me. No. Not if being a vegetarian means that people will be watching to see if I eat meat. Not if it means that I cannot enjoy local cuisine when I travel in the world. Not if it means that I have to alienate people that I love. Do I want to eat a lot of meat? Do I want to eat meat with every meal, daily, regularly? The answers to these are also no. It comes back to my not wanting to be labelled. I mostly want to eat as a vegetarian, I even prefer to often eat as a vegan, because if I'm really concerned about animal welfare/rights, I think the egg and dairy industries are oftentimes just as bad if not worse than the meat industry. But I also want to be able to take a bite of something. I also want to be able to enjoy the community and ceremony of eating meat occasionally. I mostly want to be able to be open to experiencing those things that I choose to experience without being punished or judged for them.

So, I'm setting my intention to not notice what other people eat so as to set the example for what I want. Maybe that means I'll have to ask people "how" they are eating on a regular basis, but this is no more than the same negotiation that is required when any group of people are trying to pick a restaurant or plan a shared menu. But I'm not going to notice - I'm going to let other people be responsible for their own choices and their own labels. And I'm going to reject any label and eat what I choose. And if/when I have children, I will, with my partner, decide based on what I think is healthy and good for them, how they shall eat until they are old enough to make those choices for themselves.

I guess it's not really a rule or a motto, but whatever. It's just a good feeling to stop feeling like I have to lie or hide who I am, what I want, the choices I make and the things that I really like. I hope that others can experience this feeling someday, too.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dear Potential Future Mother-in-Law

Another new blog idea...letters to my potential/pretend future mother-in-law. I would desperately like to include a sample of the kind of hijinks that might ensure were I to pursue this line of thinking, but a) I can't remember all the funny lines that were going through my head this week and b) A might not appreciate me writing a letter to his mother in such a way...in public.

It's a "you had to be there" moment when there is: in my head. Like when I was trying to remember the name of the islands my friend recently visiting and all I could come up with was Corks and Turkeys when the name of the island was actually Turks and Caicos.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Christmas in May

I finally opened my second Christmas present this week. For Christmas this year, I received two great gifts*. E got me a beautiful hot pink pashmina that I've worn many, many days in the past 6 months and look forward to wearing for years to come. And my mom got me a Food Saver. She's becoming quite the savvy Internet shopper, my mom is.

Well, the box the food saver came in was huge, so it sat under the console table in my dining room for 6 months. I finally opened it and am blown away - it's so cool. It came with two canisters that it vacuum seals and a extra lid that can be used on any jar! I think I like those better than the sealing bags, but as the produce starts coming in, I think I'm going to enjoy the bags too. A is really excited, because there are accessories we can get to speed marinading and to vacuum wine bottles.

After Christmas, I was really sad that I had only gotten those two gifts and especially since I had thought I was getting at least one other gift from another person**. I tried not to be sad - I know I'm an adult - but I was sad and cried a lot that I hadn't gotten that third gift. The UNI has offered me a fresh perspective on gratitude*** this week with the opening of my second gift and that's just this: be grateful. I am grateful that I got ANY gifts for Christmas, I am grateful that the gifts I got are really thoughtful and came from the heart. I am grateful that the gifts I got are things that I LOVE. And I am grateful, most of all, to have these two thoughtful-gift-giving women in my life, who's greatest gifts aren't material at all. Thanks, E. Thanks, mom. Love you both.

*I just remembered that I also got a few gifts at Christmas parties, including a wine journal (not yet used as I don't really drink much), some coasters and candles (also not used because A and I don't have coffee tables), and a rocket blender which I have used and LOVE. So, even more to be grateful for!

**A and I agreed not to exchange gifts since we had taken a cruise vacation and bought a bunch of stuff for the house on Black Friday, but I guess I still thought he'd get me at least a little something. Guess that'll teach me to agree to a "no gifts" holiday!

***This fresh perspective has been brewing for some time. During my DC trip, I talked to one couple who doesn't give each gifts at all, not for Christmas or birthdays or ever. They just buy whatever they want/need and don't worry about gift-giving for each other. This is sacrilegious to me, who's love language is all about gifts, but it seems to work for them. And then this week, when A's mom was here for her birthday, I was surprised that her only gift and card were the things I purchased for her on my way home from work that day. Granted, A had just taken us all on vacation, but I was still surprised that my little gift was all she received.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Change is A Foot

Amidst all of the wacky family time with A's parents and sister, I realized/remembered that "oh yeah, in addition to honoring them as family and making sure they are comfortable as guests, I need to honor myself and make sure I am comfortable!" Okay, okay, nothing profound in that...or is there? I think for people, okay, for me, that it's all too easy to forget myself, to put my own priorities in the realm of wishes, to be uncomfortable for some ideal of the greater good when it's really not only unnecessary, but also ultimately unhelpful. That quote about hiding out light under a bushel comes to mind.

This doesn't mean that I am purely individualistic, but rather that I can no longer abide not taking care of my needs. No one else is doing it for me (nor should they). A long time ago, a devout Muslim friend asked me who should I love above all else. Wanting to impress him with my own spirituality and not even thinking about the question, I answered, "God." He corrected me and reminded me that one cannot love another, even God, without first loving oneself. I love myself, but like a lover you take for granted, I haven't been very loving with myself. So, I decided to make some changes, to think about what I really need and what I really want in making decisions, to let important self care aspects be just what I do, and to let myself shine.

Not sure how that's really been working out for me this week - it's definitely easier to pursue these changes in the regularity of a daily schedule, without guests, without extra lectures several evenings of the week and without financial concerns, but I think even the mindset has allowed me to be compassionate instead of resentful, resolute instead of aggressive and genuine in my emotional expression rather than fake with myself, my partner and those around me.

Let's see how we go with a new week coming on.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Macaroni and Cheese

I may have to start a new blog exclusively about macaroni and cheese...I try it everywhere I go and have a grading system, but I think my wisdom is being lost...anyway, I'm thinking about it.

In the meantime, I had the mac at the Full Sail brewery on the way home yesterday: C-
Watery cheese sauce, little flavor. The bread crumbs and crushed red pepper were good, but were just baked on the surface and that's about all this mac had to offer, a little surface flavor. The portion was plentiful, but it consisted mostly of cheap elbow noodles and said watery sauce. I've had better vegan mac and with this mac boasting 6 actual cheeses, I expected more. Maybe with enough flavorful beer, I would have enjoyed this more.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Lake Chelan ...in Review

Drove back from Lake Chelan today. Loooooong drive back. Return trips always seem so much longer, probably because I'm not looking forward to the vacation but instead looking forward to coming home, unpacking, returning to work, cleaning up after the vacation, etc., etc.

Lake Chelan was beautiful, I loved the town, loved our condo and think I could have had a wonderful time, but I will admit that it wasn't all flowers and candy. Every day my travelling companions found something to complain about:
  • the weather sucks
  • the weather is great - the weatherman sucks
  • there's nothing to do here (despite a book with 101 things to do in Lake Chelan)
  • if there was Internet, we'd be able to find things to do
  • my back hurts, why am I sleeping on the hide a bed?
  • stop offering me a real bed, of course I'll sleep on the hide a bed
But there was also a lot that was enjoyed, including:
  • The Vogue - Internet cafe - good coffee, nice atmosphere, definitely a great community space
  • The Bear Market - Natural foods market - great selection, reasonable prices
  • The Bear Market Cafe - crepes! Need I say more? I will, though - these crepes are WONDERFUL! Go there! The crepes are fantastic and the guys working the cafe are super friendly. They even gave me the recipe so I can start making crepes at home!
  • Blueberry Hills Farms - we had lunch here one day, but the real attraction is the pie! I don't even like pie, but the mixed berry pie was yummy!
  • Tsillan Cellars Winery - I missed this, but everyone loved the winery and agreed it was the best one. Modelled after a 15th century Tuscan villa, the buildings and landscaping were gorgeous and the wine was the best. Based on the sample I tasted out for pizza, I'm inclined to agree - it's some of the best wine I've ever had.
  • A great scenic drive thru Chelan Butte, which I also missed, but which was described to me in great detail and included amazing scenic vistas and even a ghost town.
It's ironic and telling that some of the family's favorite moments were things that I missed, but A assured me that at each of those moments, my absence was noted and I was missed. I bowed out on these activities to enjoy some alone time which I spent mostly enjoying the silence and solitude of our room after the regular clamor and noise of this family. I'm not sure if my nerves can handle many more full family vacations or if I can believe A's sister's "Never again." commentary, but I do think that I learned a lot and that maybe, just maybe ;) A's worth it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Chelan's Best Pizza

Arrived in beautiful Chelan, Washington today for a week staying at a condo on the lake. Lake Chelan is a large, beautiful body of water surrounded by rolling hills and snow capped mountains. To give you some idea of the idyllic nature of the place, we encountered deer and big horn sheep on the way up! Much of the drive was freeway, but the last hour was generally through farm country consisting of beautiful fields and orchards, many currently in flower. These orderly flowering fields are the charm and romance of farm life.

Upon our arrival, we decided to go for pizza and I'm happy to say that we may have stumbled upon the best pizza in town at Local Myth Pizza. The owner/operators were incredibly friendly and accommodated our large group easily. And, most importantly, the pizza was outstanding! We ordered the Hot Bobo, a Tex-Mex take on pizza including cabbage and jalepeno peppers - it certainly is hot and delicious! All of us were amazed to enjoy cabbage on pizza, but because it was shredded, it almost looked like it was just part of the cheese and it just took on the flavors of the whole pizza.

We also got the Garden Neavau, which was chock a block with veggies and a real delight on the crispy thin crust. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs when we then ordered a third pizza, the Marguerita. After a couple slices were eaten amidst groans, we got a box and headed out.

Can't wait to see what the rest of the week brings...