11.19.2013

3 Great Things About Being Married to an Entrepreneur

As the child of an entrepreneur, I may just be pre-programmed to love with all my heart small business and the power that comes with the toil and autonomy of self-employment. My dad is a lone wolf, an eccentric in the eyes of those who thrive on (or put up with) suits and commutes, a creator by nature, not content to wait to live life until after retirement. (Enough descriptors there? I'm apparently overdue for an I Heart Dad Blog Post, but that will have to wait for another day, this post is about something else.) It was great being raised in the home of an entrepreneur and it's awesome being married to one. Why?

1. Flexible schedule 
Almost three full months in SudAmerica last year, a trip made possible by the fact that people hate running in the rain and winter so Porter had no races ( and my employer's  very generous vacation policy based on the fact that November through January nobody wants to talk to me. Nobody.) Also comes in handy for errands, chores, and mid-week mid-day lunches (we don't do those enough).

2. It's a Ride
I don't know what Porter's going to be doing 5 years from now. In a good way. He can flex around his interests (and mine) and we can plan our lives around what we want, not what boss wants.

3. Joint stress, joint success
 The Mustache Dache was this weekend, a screaming success, not just in Seattle where the sun was actually shining, but in the 10 other expando cities basically franchised out from the idea. That's right, MY idea. My hubby's hard work. My encouragement. Porter's tweaks. My help. His direction. There's nothing that makes me more proud than seeing all the crises along the way worked out and all the crazy ideas come to fruition. The things I wouldn't have seen if his office weren't across from the kitchen and I didn't hear conversations and fleshed out details from pre-dawn til post-dusk. Porter is an exceptionally hard worker, to a degree I honestly have a hard time wrapping my head around. And I get to be part of the fun (in a level of involvement more comfortable to my work ethic). 
Entrepreneurs win at life and races!

11.09.2013

3 Ways to Identify a Great Steak House

The other night, my good friend and colleague Reg treated me to a fancy steak dinner at the Metropolitan Grill, one of Seattle's oldest and most masculine restaurants I had never heard about before last week. Steak houses aren't really on my radar, so I accepted the invite not realizing what I had coming. I ended up with a delicious meal and a crash course in the trimmings of steak house greatness.

Basically, I'm an expert now. So I can tell you a steak house is great if:

Do you even need menu?
1. There's a display case of cuts in the entry.   You know how bakeries display pies and cakes? A good steak house will show you what their meat looks like. In case you had any question about what you're here for or what it looks like. The display ought to be sparse- no frills, no garnish, unevenly distributed cuts even. Because frills are for Outback and just like good steak doesn't need steak sauce, a good raw meat display needs only a slab of beef and a golden sign describing it. "Filet" says it all, doesn't it?

Aged and clean
2. High booths and a color palette that won't clash with the whiskey.
Doesn't this look just lush? It just screams "expense account" or "high end crime" (not to be confused with the fancy Chinese and Italian restaurant mafia crime vibe). Mahogany (or whatever nice deep reddish brown wood that is), class, and deep, moss green upholstery. Green curtains go great with whiskey.

Here, Vaughn dresses my full loaded baked potato right at our table
3. Waiters dress in butchers coats (or tuxedos).
At first I thought they were chef's coats and thought that was a clever way to show you they meant business. Because a restaurant with no waiters, just chefs bussing tables and recommending meals must be full of only amazing food. When I realized the coats were classic Butcher's coats, it clicked again. It's not about the cooking - the chefery - it's about the meat. And who knows meat better than the butcher himself. But in a world where butchers don't live in restaurants, we have to settle for men dressed as butchers, who, presumably know just as much about Filets and have less blood on them. And they are named things like Colton or Clayton - names that are somehow both a rugged cowboy in from the range and a high class Englishman, the kind you call by their last name in the way that makes you think it's their first name (what was that all about anyway. Did Darcy even have a first name?)

Back ups (bussers, I assume, or those who have not earned their whites) dress in tuxedos. They were almost swarming our restaurant, doing what looked like nothing important, but making me feel like I should tip better in the presence of such fine attire.

Who are we kidding, I didn't pay for the tip. I cringed at the $11 I paid for parking. Which is why fine establishments like these are such fodder for my curiosity.

3 Dates, one weekend

I always kind of laugh when people recommend date night as the key to a strong marriage not because I don't think it's important, but because at this point in my marriage, almost every day is date night. I'm sure it will change as bebis come along, and it's for sure not always that way (not in race week, especially), but Porter and I spend a lot of time together. A lot. So planning dates is an afterthought. It wasn't until last night I realized we had three dates this weekend.

1. Olive Oil and Vinegar Tasting
At a schmancy shop under the Magnolia Bridge. They suck you in with a free history lesson and taste test of a half dozen each of fancy olive oils and vinegars (any more than 6 of either is a bad idea for your taste buds. The other man in the session maxed out at I thinke 3 or 4 olive oils and 2 vinegars. Weak sauce). The ulterior motive, no surprise, is that you drop a small fortune on something you could get in change at a regular grocery store (maybe not change, but scrounged loose bills at least). We caved, of course, and bought the cheapest expensive vinegar they had, plus another fancy ingredient that will likely be part of Christmas.

Fun fact: the French historically didn't have many olives, so they 'buttered down' their olive oil to stretch it out. The result today is that French olive oil is processed to have a more buttery taste, now preferred by many.

Fun fact number two: Vinegar lasts forever. Doesn't go bad at all. Eat your heart out food storage.

2. NMN
Movie night counts as a date night, right? We don't watch many movies in theaters or at home, so it's always a special occasion when we do. This time it wasn't Redbox or library check-outs, but the other usual, illegally downloaded torrents. Because Redbox doesn't usually have it (they do have an inordinate amount of horror movies and action flicks I've never heard of every time I check) and the library takes too long. Saturday night's movie was Drinking Buddies, with the guy from New Girl and one of my celebrity girl crushes: Olivia Wilde. AND Anna Kendrick, who I'm pretty sure all girls think they could be best friends with if she was in their neighborhood (I do). And the guy from Office Space.

The movie was pretty good, done in the style I found out they're calling Mumblecore, which means it sounds less scripted. In this case, it's because they didn't have scripts, they just had scene ideas, and surprisingly enough, it totally worked. Way more alcohol than I ever anticipate seeing in my entire life, but an interesting and enjoyable look at that blurry line that is friends with people of the opposite sex. Roger Ebert HATED IT. Go figure.

3. Couples Massage class
The great benefit of there being a bazillion online deal sites, is that they all seem to offer credits to sign up. This one gave me $50 bucks to start so the 2 hour class was only 10 bucks. Win!

There were some 12 couples and 12 massage tables in a trendy-looking yoga studio in Georgetown. The first hour I practiced massage on Porter, then second, he on me. The teacher's shtick was pretty routine, but we volunteered to be the demonstration couple, so we each got double the massage, one from someone who was actually good at massage, one just us practicing. Double win.

Bonus
deeply relaxed
teacher's pet
And between it all we squeezed in a walk around Lake Union!

Dates are fun!

10.22.2013

3 Lessons Learned from Replacing My Car Engine


First off, I'm an idiot and, full disclosure, did not change the oil in my car so my engine exploded. In my defense (a little) I think there was a mix-up last time I took it in to get serviced, but it's a pretty lame defense even still since that was long enough ago I should have had my oil changed since then. 

1. Change your oil.
For real. Before the oil light goes on, if possible and you are on top of life enough to track miles or months. Whatever they say on the Jiffy Lube commercials. If you don't track time and the reminder sticker they put in the corner of your windshield is still somehow confusing (guilty), change your oil when the light goes on. Don't wait a day, or 3 like I did, then try to drive in 90 degree weather up a mountain pass. Your engine will explode, dousing dirty, nasty, filthy oil all over the parts of your car that can't handle the goo and it will haunt you.

Also, when your car is getting fixed, don't tell anyone it's because you didn't change your oil. You sound like an idiot and most people will rib you for it in that well-meaning, not hurtful, just annoying way. It gets old fast, making self-deprecating comments about car maintenance. Just say it's a mess enough times and people will stop asking why.

2. Pick a mechanic near you. A nice one.
I made two huge mistakes when replacing my engine. One, I purchased an engine from a shop 40 miles from my home (whose main guy had a thick Japanese accent and condescending attitude). And two, the guy I chose to install my engine was, found on Craigslist, 45 miles from my home. The Craigslist part didn't turn out to be such a problem in terms of quality or know-how, but the guy was not trained in the art of customer service, or really human communication. Run-on sentences in emails were full of terminology and grammar I couldn't understand, and talking in person was a headache. Doable, though, because I got enough of a deal of an install. Problem here was that it takes at least 45 minutes to drive to the shop or the guy's driveway, meaning any time I needed to inspect it, I had to slot in an hour and a half of my precious time, and any time I needed to pick up the car (because oil ruins not just engines but other parts too, and you don't always find out til after you've driven away, because cars are the worst invention ever), Porter had to do it too.

For my final inspections, I took the car to a third mechanic, a 15 minute walk from my office, 2 minutes from a bus stop, a 20 minute public-transit commute from home. Not only was this guy polite, respectful, and helpfully instructive, he was the easiest person in the world to get to. And I will take all my business to him for the rest of my life (as long as he's still close and nice). I sent out a mass email to everyone in my office to go there I liked him so much.

3. Walking is great
Silver lining time. Over the last several months of back and forth between mechanics and replacements and tune-ups, I have been bound to foot-traffic. Porter works from home, so I could use his car sometimes, but the appointments he has are in random places at random times, so I commuted a lot by bus. I love where I live- just 10 minute walk from a major bus stop. The walk in the morning always cleared my head and got me ready for the day. There were a few days where I had random appointments where I had to track down bus routes and make transfers and that part I'm not so good at or fond of (and somehow almost always ended up on crowded buses standing up near the front. How could I almost always be the last one on??), but walking from point to point was GREAT.

There's tons of research out there (you know there, in the world of research and the internets) that talks about how weight-lifting is great, and aerobic exercise is great, and both are important for an elevated level of fitness, BUT if your main goal is a high quality of living (mental health, emotional health, physical well-being, etc), the very best thing you can do is walk. Walk a lot, regularly. As fast as you want (briskly is good, but power-walking isn't necessary). And it's totally true. I felt great breathing in late summer and early fall air. And I should continue to do it even though I'm back behind the wheel.

Ugh. I just counted the days between car disaster day one and final car return last week (Summer and Fall) and I feel mad and embarrassed and disgusted all over again. Maybe I should go on a walk.

10.20.2013

3 Seattly things

This weekend my good old friend Trent finally gave in to Porter's and my regular invitations (or demands, depending on how you listen) to come up from Portland and give Seattle a proper tour. Trent has come with us on all three of our kayak weekends, but has only been to Pike Place Market. And as great as the market is (especially if you love wildflowers), the city has more for Trent, and for everyone. We only got him for a day (a foggy one at that), but it was dry and very Seattle. 

1. Water Taxi to Alki Beach
Porter lends some of his race equipment to the Salty Half Marathon -- used to be Salty's Half, but uppity Salty's Restaurant didn't want to participate anymore. It's not a huge race, but Porter runs it every year, and for the last three we've done brunch after (what is it about West Seattle that makes me want to have brunch?). Trent and I arrived for the finish line (Porter got 5th place after not having run much for the last 6 months due to an Achilles area injury, which simultaneously makes me very proud and totally grossed out that he can just up and run 13.1 miles like it ain't no thang.)

I took the well-placed finish line as an excuse to finally get around to taking the Seattle Water Taxi, which, at a whopping $3.50 each way, is cheaper than the Bainbridge Ferry, and, at 15 minutes across, a whole lot quicker too. The water taxi leaves from right south of the ferry terminal and, at least on this foggy Saturday, looked totally abandoned (it's usually a commuter ferry)(Seriously, what a sweet commute would that be- living in a condo at Alki Beach - one of the only sandy beaches in the area - and hopping a quick 15 minute floating bus to downtown. I may have just changed some life plans just now). The ride was whelming at best, but had pleasant views, salty air, and was way better than driving through the industrial district to get to the beach.

2. Underground Tour
I don't know if I should be ashamed to admit that I haven't ever been on any Seattle city tours. No Duck, no Pike Market, no Underground Tour. All are pretty famous for tourists and locals alike, so I figured with Trent in town I ought to make myself a whole lot less embarrassing and pick one. The Underground Tour is all about Seattle's very beginnings - the Dennys, the Mercers, the people who streets are named after - and how the town was essentially flooded with sewage, then burned to the ground, then was finally rebuilt a story higher than sea-level. The result is 20 some odd square blocks of underground tunnels criss-crossing under Pioneer Square. The tunnels themselves are uninteresting (and filled with piles of rubble and old machinery dumped over the last century), but the stories are pretty great.

In an odd turn of events, one of my best friends from 5th grade and only 5th grade because her family moved away by 6th, happened to be in town with her boyfriend, so they came too. There's not much like catching up with someone you haven't seen since you were 11. Facebook is the greatest. How else would I know her hobbies, profession, and travel history and how else would you have anything to talk about?
 
3. Relish in ethnic diversity (Marrakesh and Chinese Massages)
Stephanie, the 5th grade friend, commented how much diversity there is here, a compliment (is that a compliment?) I deflected, noting that we have a fair number of Asians, but we're still pretty white. Stephanie's from Kansas, and to her credit, we are pretty diverse. Case in point: dinner eating lamb and cous-cous with our hands (just as hard as it sounds) with a belly dancer and tented ceiling. and a late night Chinese reflexology massage. Both of these I've actually done before, but loved them enough to recreate them.

Marrakesh serves a 5-course meal, and only a 5-course meal. You choose the entree from about 10 options, but the rest comes to you whether you like it or not. Egg, chicken, and almond in phylo-dough with powdered sugar was not my thing, but I dug in (sans silverware) anyway. My lamb could not have been more tender, the salad curry thing more perfectly balanced, and the mint rosewater tea with honey- oh my goodness I can't stop thinking about it.

My reflexology massage, unfortunately had reverse success. Head and face massage- amazing. Foot and leg massage- pretty good. But then my masseur (I got a man. Porter and Trent got ladies. Weird?) couldn't get my skinny jeans rolled down after the foot massage part was over, and it went all downhill from there. He offered to cut them off, as if I was in some sort of emergency and he was an EMT saving my life. My calves are disproportionately large for the rest of my body, plus expansion from a hot water foot bath and all sorts of improved circulation (isn't that what massage is all about?) which I'm well aware of so I shouldn't have rolled the skinnies so high, but really, cut them off? We finally got them down, and he continued on to massage my shoulders, but by then all I could pay attention to was him chewing gum. And I swear he burped once.

Gross.

But isn't Seattle great?

9.19.2013

Three Thoughts on Activism



A few weeks ago I went to see the Butler with Rob and I'll tell you what I just fell apart. In the previews! It was the weirdest thing. I did a mental scan just now to try and remember if there was anything else hormonal or circumstantial that would have put me in an especially vulnerable state and I came up with nothing. Just several increasingly depressing and hopeful trailers in a row, followed by a full-length film inspired by true events, all about how unfair the world is and how some people rise above and make it better.

First the Somali pirate in Captain Philips points out oh so correctly that in his home country, there isn't a much better way to make money. In Twelve Years aSlave, a free man literally is kidnapped and sold to a terrifying-looking Michael Fassbender (and perhaps a very kindly, but very OLD looking Brat Pitt). And then Mandela:


How's that for a background song? Africa and its historical plight has always felt more for me than most other issues for some reason. Not that I really could ever really get it. I'm in about the least discriminated against demographics there are. And I get that with that, I don't really get what it means to be discriminated against, but to see a person catalyze a movement, and to see the people in that movement fight so hard for so long is something that literally, apparently, brings me to tears.

The following week was the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr's famous I Have a Dream speech. Obama spoke, people gathered, and all over the radio and internet people were talking about where we're at here in America. It got me thinking about changers. The people who see injustice and fight for it. Not just with race issues, but with everything that feels unfair. Feminists and new order Mormons are particularly interesting to me, but I feel pretty inspired by those who have shaken up any other rights that get oppressed sometimes when people get lazy and the collective gets entitled.


A few thoughts on activism, activists, and their activities: 
1. It's important to hear stories.  
I was talking to my dad a few days after watching the Butler, which recounts the life of a  black butler in the White House through many pivotal moments in the Civil Rights Movement, telling him about how it blows my freaking mind that the kind of racism depicted in the movie was just not that long ago. He was telling me about what he remembers from when he was in high school, out in super white Utah, granted, but for sure relevant throughout the country. My mom went to a segregated school, for crying out loud. No wonder people cried when Obama was elected. From burning buses with no legal ramifications to a black President in one generation is pretty huge. Even more recently in Africa- Apartheid ended when I was in the second grade. Tiananmen Square happened when I was in pre-school. When my mom was young, there were such different expectations and opportunities for women that it doesn't seem real that there was a time when women rarely ran companies and kicked corporate butt. The whole Arab Spring movement might not even be happening. In most of my days, I don't feel or see the injustices that are still happening.

It's so far away from my experience that it doesn't feel real. So it's good to hear stories. Well-told ones, hopefully (recommendations welcome), that put you in the shoes of the oppressors and the oppressed. Because we've all got it in ourselves to be both.

2. I wish it was more acceptable to celebrate progress.
Feminism, gay rights, church policies, sustainable fishing. I see changes and am excited to see them, but there are always loud voices screaming that we're not there yet.

Can't we just appreciate how far we've come for a second?

I'm reading this book right now about the fishing industry and I get that there's always more we can do to make sure we can feed the worlds billions blah blah, but it's like there's no moment to say "WOW. WE DID SOME REALLY AMAZING THINGS." It's all panic and sob stories and warnings. One of my favorite blogs is Sociological Images, a collection of perspectives on all sorts of topics people are always fighting for: income equality, racial fairness, positive body image, and well beyond. Sometimes it's exhausting, though, because there is no end.

Women have great jobs... WOMEN DON'T MAKE ENOUGH  >: (
Junk food companies can't market to children... DIABETES IS KILLING US ALLLLLL
Gay marriage is legal is Washington... BUT IT'S NOT IN RUSSIA, HOW DARE A COUNTRY THAT HAS DISCRIMINATED AGAINST GAYS FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS NOT CHANGE IN TIME TO HOST THE OLYMPICS!

It's like the world is always in trouble with its disgruntled child; never satisfied, or even acknowledging progress, always demanding more.

3. Even though I get frustrated by the 'never enough' attitude, I so deeply appreciate those who always fight for better. 


One reoccurring sentiment throughout The Butler was that Cecil, the butler, would reassure his son, the activist, how things were changing, slowly but surely. Small wins were proof that people were changing and life was soon going to be FAIR. His son didn't think slow was good enough. So he sat in sit-ins, walked in marches, petitioned politicians.

Fact of that matter is, for most causes worth fighting, a glacial pace is really not quick enough. The world needs people who will see a win, nod their head, then cross their arms, dig in, and say MORE.

I appreciate active LDS church members who are posing really thoughtful questions about gender roles and policies grandfathered into our cultural idea of how things should be (like Family First Weddings). I've signed a few petitions on Change.org, so I get weekly updates from people petitioning about everything under the sun. (Stop gender targeting toys! Add a wheel-chair access button on Craigslist! Free the lions at the Buenos Aires Zoo! Legalize Marijuana! Ban Marijuana! Make the Starbucks Pumpkin-Spice Latte Vegan!)

As someone who frequently feels a rational indifference toward many a controversial subject, I feel impressed, inspired, and moved to action (sometimes) by these people who believe in something so strongly they will not rest until it changes. I appreciate the fervor. Am jealous of it. It makes me cry.

9.17.2013

Three Things You Should Do in Port Townsend

Port Townsend is really not that far away from Seattle. Great place for a Force Your Mind Away From Work getaway (much needed for Porter, entering crazy-town in his races) and right up there on the Seattle Getaways lists I feel like I ought to go through if I want to keep justifying further more exotic trips as well. The town is in the northeast corner of the Olympic peninsula, with a quaint, Victorian-style downtown and steep cliffs around the edges of town. (My parents almost [almost?] bought a house in Port Townsend when I was a kid- I remember the basement with a center fireplace- but opted not to in large part because it sat on a high cliff that had already half eroded into the ocean.)

In PT, I would recommend any visitor to:

1. Stay at the Old Colonial Inn
We hit the jackpot with this Victorian-style Bed and Breakfast up on the hill. It was one of the last rooms available in the city (I booked two days before because I'm a grown up at plan ahead real well), was a completely reasonable price, and was perfect for us. Because we're old. And love books and solidly built furniture and hosts in period outfits (seriously). The three course fancy breakfast didn't hurt, nor did the chocolates hanging on our doorknob before bed. A cookie light signified fresh baked cookies (I had at least 4), there were sitting nooks and a porch swing for conversation.



2. Eat at Lanza
Pizza, pasta, italian sodas. The entire place smells like a gluteny, garlicy dream. Bonus: the store next door sells coffee, steam punk costumes, and videos.

3. Make fun of hippies at the Food Co-op. 
Port Townsend is a haven for hippies. What? I had no idea. We spent a loopy evening after dark walking off our garlic overload amazed that such a store exists. And in this stiff Victorian town, no less. A few highlights from the local store:

Totally normal magazines for a grocery to sell: Wooden Boat, Mindful, Buddadharma, Mother Jones (yes that is freaking Kate Upton on yet another fashion mag. Because she is everywhere. And even Victorian hippies love her boobs).










Also15 different flavors of Tom's toothpaste, along with bulk ingredients, bulk candy, bulk nuts bulk seasonings, bulk lotion, and organic everything you could ever think of

The corner bulletin board was particularly entertaining, stuffed with advertisements for alternative currency and a song circles, local escargot and conscience-friendly GMO-free eggs. My favorite: this couple looking for a place to live. Don't worry, they are both Masters of Fine Arts in Poetry. It makes for good tenants, don't you know.



Porter's suggestion for how to enjoy PT: "Boats, duh. Revel in maritime history and modern boat-making industry".
Duh.

In that vein, the Wooden Boat Foundation is well worth a visit. I'm almost sold on buying a Pygmy kayak-building kit. There are wooden boats everywhere- handsome ones.

8.27.2013

Three Things That Give Me Road Rage

I don't have road rage most of the the time. But when I do it's because people are idiots. Road rage is different than road panic, which I get often- usually when I've waited to long to fill my gas tank and I am in a gas station desert. Or when I have to go to the bathroom and I'm in a public bathroom desert. Worst ever when they strike at once (that's how I ended up in this gas station bathroom with no light, door handle, or ceiling). No, road panic makes for poor but meaningless driving decisions. Road rage turns into a crazy person.


What makes me crazy?

1. Driving with no headlights on, in the rain or at dusk. Bonus points if you drive a silver car. Here in lovely Seattle, we're surrounded by a beautiful silvery gray. The water, the sky, the highway, and yes, a third of cars are all about the same color. The only thing that keeps me from telling the difference between you and the mist? HEADLIGHTS. Don't want to get side-swiped, buddy? Try being visible.

2. Stalled lane changes. You know how sometimes your lane will inexplicably come to a stand-still while all others proceed at normal pace? That's because some moron decided to put their brakes on and wait for someone going 50 miles an hour to slow down to a pace where they can merge. They stop, you stop, even though you're 30 cars behind them. It's cause and effect at it's most infuriating.

3. Early mergers. Merging should take place where the merge lane, ahem, merges with the continuing lane. Most polite drivers recommend zipper style, one car at a time. If you follow this protocol, merging generally happens with little stalling, back-up, or confusion. Higher speeds occasionally merit alternative timing, but merging generally happens at low speeds, so it is rarely an issue of deciding. Problems occur when drivers merge preemptively, making a back-up in the receiving lane and a huge hole of useless road in the ending lane.

--Last week I got honked out because I merged into the continuing lane as my lane was ending. The driver behind me gestured a "WTF?", to which I responded with a mimed "Merging! That's what this lane is for! It only started 50 yards ago!" To which he mimed back "Merging's supposed to happen back there!" Back there, in this case, being an intersection where cars were skipping the merge lane entirely, blocking 2 other routes of access to the freeway, and 50 yards of open lane that could mitigate the entire hold-up. The exchange had been surprisingly coherent up to this point and I was frustrated I couldn't mime my rational for using the spare lane instead of blocking the on-ramp, which in turn blocks the intersection behind it, which in turn blocks the on-ramp to another high way.

(The intersection in question, if you're curious, is the beginning of I-90, coming up from the Stadiums. I come up from 4th Ave, many others come up from 1st. There's another car source I'm not sure where it comes from, but it's directly across from 4th. Every time it's the same: blockage in the intersection where all 3 sources convene, and an entirely unused lane up above. I just don't get it.)

8.19.2013

Three things I learned about woodworking

One skill long on my hit list has been woodworking. I trace it back to the preponderance of wood holiday decorations in my house growing up, usually a result of a Relief Society Homemaking night. The craft seems to have been replaced by wood blocks spelling out a word like LOVE or FAITH or the family's name. You can buy them from the money changers at Deseret Book. Back when the go-to decor of Mormon moms was a cutely painted bunny rabbit or jack-o-lantern, someone, somewhere was cutting them out. I think it was Nancy Long. I remember seeing industrial-looking tools in her (or someone's) garage and being blown away that she used it for crafts. Tools were for furniture. And fences. Right?

For some reason the idea of a woodworking class had been on my mind when Leslie and I went for lunch at Evergreens and she pointed out to me that the back lot of the restaurant was a tool shop and they taught woodworking classes. I signed up the next day, opting for the Women's class not because I'm afraid of woodworking with men, but because it started sooner (plus, I wanted to give the teacher a few words about how calling the Women's Class project a garden tote and the Men's/co-ed Class project a toolbox when they were, in fact, the exact same project, was ridiculous and unnecessary, and really quite patronizing if you'd really like to know).

A hundred fifty bucks, 5 weeks, and a garden tote tool box toiletry caddy later:

1. The band saw is quite easy and not scary. I look scared here (or scary?)(band saw behind me on the right) but it was surprisingly easy to not cut any of my appendages off or get my clothing stuck anywhere. The table saw, on the other hand, did not cease to be terrifying, even though the table we were on had technology built in to keep fingers from being sawed off.
 2. Women are pretty great. There were five women in my class, all interesting in their own endeavors. Just wanting to make things out of wood because, why not (probably for Easter decorations)


 3. I have no plans for purchasing large woodworking tools in the near future. I enjoyed the course, immensely. I especially enjoyed the router and sander. Hand tools are pretty great and I actually really loved the multi-purpose woodworking tables with levers and adjustable just about everything. But getting into that kind of equipment is upwards of a thousand bucks a piece, even for the table. It would be pretty great if I could somehow inherit a garage full of planers and jointers (and preferably also a full storage of high quality wood so I don't have to buy any). Any recommendations of childless neighbors with a wood shop, kindly advise.




3 best moments in Alias



Damn you, Netflix. I started watching Alias when I was at the gym because Michael Vartan is a babe, I'd heard good things about the show, and I needed a show I could follow loosely through water breaks. In that order. I've finished all 5 seasons now and possibly wasted m:y summer. It's addicting, even though there is way too much techno, one season of truly awful bangs, and far too many turtlenecks and overcoats for the series to be realistically based in Los Angeles.

Favorite moments:

1. When Bradley Cooper finds out Jennifer Garner a spy (Season 1, Episode 21).Will had been digging around about Sydney's fiancee's murder, was abducted, and Sydney needed to rescue him. She's undercover as a French lounge singer (complete with bustier and hot pink wig) and she pretty much blows his mind. It's ridiculous and over the top, and Bradley Cooper reacts in just the way you would if you found out your bookworm friend (and her dad) just saved your life with karate kicks and guns. 
Check out the video 0:50-3:10

2. When Sloane sneaks back in to lead all the main characters in a Black Ops CIA team and is just giddy about it (Season 4, episode 1). He was a bad guy for the first three seasons, had a minute where you felt for him because of his dying wife, and you know he's going to end up a bad guy again. Sydney knows it and throws a fit. Sloane's reaction? "This is exiting!"

3.When Sydney comes back and is horrible because Vaughn is married and she has no memories of the previous 2 years, she's barely holding it together and then she sees her Dad, with whom she has a seriously complicated relationship, and she just needs him (Season 3, Episode 1). Their relationship in the show is so tumultuous. Sydney is so emotional about who her dad is and what his intentions are and Jack is so serious and mysterious about everything. Killed people? Sure. Blackmail? Tons. Friends with the bad guys? On purpose. Loves his daughter? No question. As some Alias geek writes, "He’s stiff and brittle and broken and pretty much over everybody else because everybody else is incompetent. He doesn’t really do relationships. But if you hurt his daughter, he will bury you. Look how much he doesn’t care."
Apparently Jennifer Garner and Victor Garber are real life besties (like he officiated her wedding and is a frequent house guest) which makes it all the more awesome.

Outside moments, Lena Olin is entrancing in every scene until the last season when she's just ridiculous and the guy who plays Marshall Flinkman a total win always. And of course, Mr. Vartan, dreamy as ever, has the "I want you but can't have you" face down (turns out most screen shots he looks angry or sad, which is I guess what wanting but can't having does to your face).



8.16.2013

3 things I learned from my mom about house-cleaning

"Mom! I'm married and you're the first person I want to tell!"
My mom is better than yours. No really. She's better than most everyone. And it's her birthday today, which means she gets a shout-out. She doesn't get shout-outs often enough. No mom probably does. And my mom, most of all, deserves one. Most people who meet her know how warm and and genuine she is. What people might not know is that she's done a great job teaching me about house cleaning. Believe it.

1. It's amazing what can be done with a sprint clean. Mess begets mess begets mess, you know how it goes. Sometimes the best thing you can do to get back on track is just down the spoonful of sugar and blitz your way to mostly clean. Sometimes you get on a roll and everything ends up shining, sometimes you just prevent the mess from getting worse.

2. Mops don't work. Kitchen floors require hands and knees scrubbing. Simple as that. I remember seeing my mom on her knees with a bucket and soapy washcloth in the kitchen like Cinderella, thinking that Swiffer needed to make a stop at our house. Turns out Swiffer is garbage, as are cloth mops, self-wringing mops, flat ones, bulky ones, the ones that look like dreadlocks. You're just shoving around the dirty water, and not that well usually. The only way to get really clean is good old fashioned elbow grease, on your knees, with a bucket and soapy washcloth. Like Cinderella.

3. There are more important things than cleaning. I know my mom thinks she's failed her children because we're all, all five of us, slobs at heart. Well I am at least. But here's the thing I learned from my mom - and this is not me justifying the pile of clean clothing I have accruing in my closet: There are more important things than cleaning. Like spending quality time with people, making them food or talking to them about whatever inane thing they love. Remembering people's birthdays and just stopping by with flowers or a card. Like thoughtfully preparing for a Sunday School lesson even though the class is 10 years old and you could wing it if you wanted. My mom does these things. Regularly. And more that I don't even see. This is what you call having your priorities straight. That doesn't mean don't clean and watch Netflix instead (my all too frequent MO), it means go love the people around you and if you run out of time to dust the Toby Mugs, so be it. You were in the right place, doing good, and dusting can wait.
Isn't she the cutest?

8.06.2013

Three MAC products I will continue to buy



A lot of people swear by MAC. I think it's because it's the brand in the department store that feels the coolest, most fashion savvy. What do I know. I think I like Bobby Brown best because someone told me once she makes great neutral-brown eye shadow palettes. They're all the same. But, I have found a few products worth going back for

1. Select Cover-up in the tube. Seriously, it lasts forever. FOREVER. I am not going to admit how long I've had my cover-up because the magazines would be mortified and anyone who reads magazines would warn me about eye hygiene. But that's what great about the squeeze-tube too. No mucky brushes double-dipping. I'm almost out now (I thought I was out like 4 months ago, but I cut open the tube and squeezed it into a pot. By the looks of it I've still got a few months left.), but I will be replacing it with the same tube next round.

2. I bought a pot of eyeliner last month and it has, I'm not kidding you, revolutionized my face. Maybe all potted eyeliners are like this and I've just been screwing around with a dull pencil or dumping money into gel-style rollers (they run out in like 3 days, I swear).

3. Returns. Not a product, no. But if you return any three used MAC containers, they give you a free lipstick. That's good.

3 ways to love the Beatles (and my father-in-law)

When Trish came down to Brazil in December she planted the seed that Jeff was turning 64 this year and she was thinking of throwing him a Beatles-themed 'When I'm 64' surprise birthday party.

Say no more. 

Brainstorms were had, Pinterest was pinterested, and I kind of became obsessed.

Fast forward 4 months and I was John and Porter was George and we were bouncing up and down to a lip-sync. (only got a partial video). Jeff was totally surprised (and maybe a little concerned that his wife is such a good sneak) and seemed to enjoy the party. I did, especially:

1. Making the Beatles' playlist and trivia was worth it even if the party were a bust (which it wasn't). They're deserving of their fame and I leveled up in both my appreciation of their talent and awareness of their weirdness.

2. Planning around a theme is just fun. Beatles' themed food (Yellow Submarine sandwiches... Octopuses Garden salad with Mean Mr. Mustard dressing, you get the idea). I'd like to throw more themed parties just for the sake of making the connection and dressing it up (and dressing up in costume if necessary).

3. There was a moment when, 20 minutes before guests were supposed to be arriving, us kids finally got together to 'rehearse' our back-up dancer moves (Tiftin and I had already planned them out. The choreography was top-notch, I assure you), and we had this moment where we all felt like silly siblings. I'm used to the feeling with my siblings, but this was the first time with in-laws who also happen to be step-siblings married together as adults. We all get along great on any day, but there's something extra about being siblings, something about being on the same team on behalf of (or against, I guess, in some cases, but not this one) parents. Four ridiculous, silky, neon costumes; lots of twirling; and a common purpose of making a fun contribution for Jeff's birthday. Siblings!





Vera, Chuck, and Dave!
feeling silly



Three Things I loved about Paris

Paris, FRANCE. Not Idaho or Texas or one of those other poser Parees. When we do a girls' trip, we do it RIGHT. Airline connections and a love of French garden literature helps.
Sitting down for some hot cocoa
1. Everywhere you turn is picturesque. Seriously. Art in the parks. A cathedral every few blocks. The whole city kind of feels like it's glowing white (is it granite??). Americans like walking around Paris because it feels like you're walking in a historic postcard. This city is just as beautiful as everyone thinks it is.
The original Bon Marche!
Not even a site listed as worth seeing. Just on the way...
Famous art in the city park. No biggie
Peek-a-boo. This is a real photo. I'm not kidding.
I'm in a postcard!

2. Quick snacks. The real fast food. I've often lamented that the only way to eat in America is a packed lunch, a sit-down restaurant, or crap food on the go. I'm on the go a lot (or I'm too in a hurry to spend time just eating food and not doing something else at the same time. I'm trying to learn from France on that one [and most places in the world], but it's a hard habit to break when my options are so awful), and I don't usually think far enough ahead to pack a lunch (and Porter always eats my leftovers!)(but he makes up for it by cooking for me all the time)(I might starve without him). Wouldn't it be nice if there was a nice crepe shop for when you're not starving, but a granola bar just won't do? Or pre-made baguette shop (Subway is not fast, I'm telling you). Or falafel stand. Or all of these everywhere, between the cafes where everyone seems to find hours to breakfast lunch and dinner. Who needs to sit when you can eat on the go?
A freaking baked potato vendor. Seriously!
I'm a Perrier wino
3. Bike lanes! Who'd have ever thought I'd count anything cycling among my favorite things in a historic city? We did a lot of bike rentals to get around - you pay a few bucks for access for the day, then its free for the first 30 minutes. The whole system is pretty amazing; a huge feat of logistics. But what I was most excited about is that I didn't fear for my life while riding the bikes. People saw me. Vehicles saw me (even busses!). The bike lanes were (mostly) well-marked. No neon necessary. It wasn't the ride for your life of even Seattle-level urban cycling.

Alas, no cycling photos. But I've got more to say about Paris, three things later.

Three reasons I blog


I've been an awful blogger lately. I have this thing where I want to blog in chronological order so when I fall behind I get overwhelmed and over it. Also, I want to be clever, so blasting through them isn't really an option. So my options are: quit blogging, or blog differently.

I'll take option two.

So I've decided to blog in a way that works for me:

Three things at a time. No need for clever exposition. Plenty of room for expanding or contracting. Easy options for going out of order. Or rambling. I'm not looking for an audience, which I have to remind myself from time to time (as an avid stranger-blog-reader).

1. I'm an awful journal-keeper and excellent forgetter. You know when people ask what you did over the weekend Monday morning at work and everyone brushes through the weekend, highlighting a thing or two of note? I blank entirely and highlight the only things I can remember. At the end of the same day even, I can't count on remembering. I could be frightened (please don't let it be pre-Alzheimers. What a nightmare!) or I can blog.

2. I like the mental exercise of putting experiences to words. Sometimes I'll be in the middle of something and I'll think out the words I want to use to describe the experience. It makes it richer somehow to attach words and descriptions to something mundane. It makes something exciting feel exciting longer. I catch myself talking like an idiot sometimes (far too many 'likes' and 'yeahs' and 'or whatevers') and I think it's because my brain is out of practice. There's no reason to talk like a pro at work then mumble like a high schooler about everything else. So I blog. Makes me sound smarta.

3. I like talking about myself. Don't we all?


6.20.2013

Bend x2



I was in Bend, Oregon last Memorial Day weekend and by my memory it was sunny. Windy, but sunny. We hipstered it up, wandered around rocks and quaint, historic-looking downtown. This year, I'm gonna just say this, it was cold. First night: cold. Second night: sleet. Third night: stayed with Dave because indoors is where you're supposed to be when it's cold outside. 

Caves are also good. Lava caves. The entire Bend area is basically an old caldera with an extinct volcano and lots of volcano sites. This lava cave, where a lava flow once ran and left a mile+ long hole, was renting propane lamps for five bucks a pop but we figured our headlamps would do. And by ours I mean Trent's and Maria's because I couldn't find mine. This lava cave was a mile long and flat enough that we only regretted not renting the propane lamps a few times after slight stumbles (mostly me, the one borrowing light). I'm all sorts of claustrophobic, so it's good that the cave didn't really feel enclosed until the very end, where we had an impromptu harmonica jam session. And by we, I mean Trent because he plays the harmonica and I don't. The cave continued past a 'Please don't keep going sign' put up, I'm sure, because people have died in there. That's what happens in enclosed spaces a mile from fresh air. It's one sign I'm happy to oblige. 
Into the dark
The end of the cave
Cold air
Harmonica in the dark
We also spent some time ambling around an old obsidian flow, which was geologically pretty rad. HUGE shards of obsidian were everywhere, some melded with the also ample pumice stones. Winding paths and a huge ravine made a pumice shot-put throw inevitable:


It also snowed here:
So much for sunshine.
When we did have sunshine, we happened upon a 3 day archery competition. I've never seen so much camo-printed gear in my life. Camo shirts and pants and onesies and scarves and shoes and things that just shouldn't have camouflage print on them. The competitors were out in the woods playing out the game that didn't make much sense to me, but I know included bows, arrows, and targets in the woods. 

Back at base camp, there were plenty to try out, which I did, looking awesome and not actually doing that bad. This is a sport I could get into. Porter apparently has a fleet (fleet?) of bows he has fashioned himself and a quiver of arrows I haven't ever actually noticed and am pretty excited about. This is a sport I could get into. 
I will shoot you.

This target was 15 feet away. I shot farther too!
Lookin' tough

And also:
Yummy desserts
Yummy dinners
Footprints, after the rain

On Sunday, we stayed with our good friend Dave, who recently relocated to Bend (a year now is still recently, right?). Porter and the boys went mountain biking on what sounded like pretty amazing, well-manicured, treacherous trails that don't appeal to me at all. Maria and I took a great walk in a lovely park and lounged on this huge tree trunk.
Looking for crazy murderer men who might be hiding in the woods