Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Disclaimer: I never read The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and I didn't know much about the story at all. I should have read it, considering when it came out I was still in the teaching world, but, I did not.

If Martin Scorsese is directing a film, you just go to see it. A huge departure from his other movies, Hugo focuses on an orphan boy who lives in a Paris train station, and struggles to stay hidden. He holds close a treasure his father found, and is determined to keep it and fix it, as his father always wanted to do. A run-in with a shop owner changes everything for Hugo and he has to fight to keep what is his. Fortunately, a beautiful, intricate story unfolds.
We went to see the movie in 3D. This wasn't our intention but was our only choice for an evening showing at this particular theater. The 3D didn't seem to add much to the visuals, other than some cool clock gears here and there.

However, the visuals were stunning in their own right - the costumes and the scenery added an incredible depth to the story. And the story was good. I felt it was a little long, or lagging in some places, but the scenery and the acting made up for it. I also thought that the story felt incredibly original and a nice break from many of the kids' movies that are out today.

Monday, December 19, 2011

12k Race (wherein I want to die)

Well, it happened.

I ran that 12k yesterday.

A pretty good way to sum it up is to say that in the middle of the race I thought to myself, "I hate races. I'm never running another race again." And then at the end of the race I thought, "hey, that was okay".

The 12ks of Christmas race was held in Kirkland, Washington. I was encouraged to come run the race by Stevie, Adam's sister. She started running last winter, and has run a few races. I imagined that signing up for a 12k would help motivate me to get back into the running shape I was in before.

When signing up for the race, I mentioned to Stevie, "I should check out the elevation map on this thing", knowing that hills and inclines are not my best friends. Stevie replied, "Kirkland's flat!" Aha! Okay! Spoken just like somebody who knows what they are talking about.
Except she lied to me, and by the time I was already chugging up the second huge hill I was mentally shaking a fist at her. Unfortunately, she was long gone, in front of me.

The first half was brutal. Absolutely brutal. We realized after we arrived at the race that there was a larger hill at the very beginning. We thought this was doable: attack that hill and then the rest had to be downhill or flat. So, so wrong.

Instead, there were big hills for almost the entire first half of the race. And like Stevie commented after the race, you would get down with a hill, level out, and then go up another hill.

I made fairly good time during the first mile and a half (about a 9 minute mile), and that gave me a good head start, but those hills really did a number on me. I even had to stop and walk 2 times, and I've never walked in a race before.

Fortunately, there were downhills, and I made good time at the end of the race. My official time was 1:17:33, which makes for an average of 10:25 miles. I can't help but think that that's not bad for having walked a couple times, and for those stupid hills.

I also can't help but think what my time would have been had the course been flat. Grrr...

Adam snapped this picture of me at the end of the race.
 And this picture of Stevie and I in our post-race eating frenzy. No, I do not know why I'm making that face.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

23 1/2 hours

I found this video on Mark Remy's blog at . I think it's great, not just because the drawings are great (they are) or the presentation is interesting (it is), but because of the message (which is not just about running).

Czech it out!


Child door locks are great. They work effectively about 98.8% of the time (estimate). Every time a little child tries to escape from my car when another car whizzes by is another chance for those child door locks to save her life. Also, it's fun to laugh under my breath when they try to get out and they mutter "what... ?"

But today... today. I had parked the car at a funny angle when I dropped the oldest off at school, and the car parked next to us was really close. To avoid scratching up their car (and my car door) while trying to buckle in the little one, I devised a plan. The plan was to go down as such:

1) open door, hold door
2) let little one crawl in
3) shut her door
4) let her settle herself in her seat (as she MUST MUST MUST do every day, no matter what)
5) go around to other backseat door
6) lean over
7) buckle little one

This was a great plan. I felt confident. 

I slowly started step number 6 when I realized that I needed to get a little closer in order to buckle her carseat  buckle. And just as I crawled in, and the door latched behind me, I realized - child safety locks. The door had not completely shut, but it was latched, and although I wished with all my might that it would open, it would not.

Commence crawling over front seats, which, incidentally, is not easy to do in a small sedan, nor on a steep incline.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I don't usually write about movies on my blog, as I usually don't have much to say besides "I loved it!" or "It was terrible!" A great movie reviewer, I am not.

However, I would like to take this minute to say that Manfriend and I saw The Muppets on Sunday, and it was awesome. We, as two fully grown adults, sat there smiling and laughing the entire time.
As an added emphasis on how great this movie is: I did not grow up watching the Muppets. I'm not sure why. I remember Muppet Babies, but not the regular Muppets show or Muppets movies. Still, I thought it was a fantastic movie. So much so, that when I got home I e-mailed my sister in law to ask if my nieces had seen it yet. And when I got to work yesterday, I gushed about it. A good time, that movie is.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Running Week

Last week I decided I had to get serious about my running. Of course, this doesn't usually happy two weeks before a race, but in this instance, it did. After my 8-mile run, I did 3 easy miles on Monday. On Wednesday I did 4 miles, but did fartleks (short spurts of fast running, followed by easy running) for 2 of those miles. The fartleks helped so much, as on Friday I did 5 miles, and made awesome time. Okay, not awesome, but incredibly improved, and I was able to hold it for 5 miles.

On Sunday I set out to do 9 miles. I only ended up doing 8.75, but I stuck it out. I did not get euphoria, I did not feel super great, but I did it. This week I'm taking it easy and will probably run some fartleks tomorrow (Wednesday), an easy run on Friday, and the race is on Sunday.

I'm pretty nervous for Sunday, as I have no idea what my timing will be like at all, but I'm excited to run a race again.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Running on Autopilot

Well, that felt good.

I went into my run this morning thinking (knowing?) it would be a complete dud. As I continue to lengthen my long runs every Sunday, I assume that each one will be harder than the last. It's nice when it doesn't work out like that. Last week's 7-miler saw me counting everything (miles, minutes, paces), out of desperation for it to be over.

I had a girls night last night with my bestie, Steph. We ate Korean bbq, and then afterward got candy, soda, and sat down to watch Bridesmaids on DVD. I knew that was a bad idea the night before a long run, but I did it anyway. I dreaded my run this morning, thinking I would be uncomfortable, tired, and cranky the entire time.

Not so. I ran out to the 4 mile mark, turned around, and felt completely fine. After a while I realized I was on autopilot. I had found a sweet spot of a pace (although much too slow, in my opinion), and felt the flow. It was actually fairly amazing that it felt this good. I had only run about 7 miles in total this week, and I thought that would have hurt my run. Instead, I felt great, breezing through the run.

While I do believe that it is sometimes beneficial to monitor the many facets of running, doing it on autopilot proved this morning's run fun.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


It's easy to forget how wonderful running can feel. The last 8 (!!) months have found me dreading running. Since September I've started to get back into it, and under the pressure of having signed up to run a 12k in December, I've been pushing up my long runs in order that I might even cross the finish line. Chalk me up for 7 miles today, the my longest run since February.

Today on my run I was counting every digit imaginable - miles run, miles to go, paces, average pace, and imagining where my turnaround point was (it was much further than I anticipated). It was a great morning for a long run - no rain, and perfect temperature: cold enough to keep me cool the entire time, but not too cold that I was wishing for a jacket. A few weeks ago I went all out and bought tight capris - a running item I have never before even dared to wear.

This morning I got a little inkling of remembering what it's like to run those long miles. I flashed back to those weekends in Mexico, leading up to my half marathon, and remembering the high I felt after finishing 8, 9, or 10 mile runs. I'm hoping that euphoria feeling will accompany me next weekend as I try to complete 8 miles. We'll see!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Road Trip!

I had a few days off from work, so Manfriend and I decided to head down to Southern Oregon to visit my brother's family. Living 5 hours from my nieces is much better than living in another country, so I have to take advantage of that and see them when I can! They are 8 and almost 6. Kids are fun at all ages, but it's great to have them reading and so interactive with Manfriend and I. The girls (and my brother and sister in law) met in May when we all went to Disneyland together, but haven't spent any time together since, so this was a good chance for everyone to get to know each other better.

I made my sister in law show me how she makes cinnamon rolls, because every time I try to make them I fail. Fail with a capital F.
While Rinda and I were making cinnamon rolls, Manfriend played team Boggle with the girls.
Wow. That's the extent of my pictures from the trip. We did a scavenger hunt for the girls, who in turn made a scavenger hunt for Manfriend and I  - and executed it perfectly. I can barely put together a scavenger hunt without confusing myself, and these girls totally nailed it. We all went out for pizza together one night, and got doughnuts the next morning.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pizza Party

In case I haven't mentioned it enough, my manfriend loves pizza. He writes reviews for an online food community. He makes his own. He has friends who own pizza places. He's... obsessed.

But, I will say, he makes one super-fine-delicious Sicilian pizza. This is pizza baked on a cookie sheet that has an edge. Manfriend covers the homemade dough with freshly made sauce, four cheeses, and fresh basil. It's... yum.

So I've been bragging about it, and anytime you brag about a pizza aficionado making his own pizza, it means people want some. A couple weeks ago Manfriend slaved away in the kitchen to make pizza for my mom and some family friends.
Also, I'd just like to say that my Manfriend looks great in an apron.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Nike Running Watch

Someone actually reads my blog. You know who that someone is? My manfriend. Months ago I wrote about how awesome the new Nike+ running watch was. He paid attention.

He recently bought me one for my birthday. This is an actual Nike running watch on my hand. That's right, I own one.
This is the first GPS running watch I've ever owned, and I'm so excited. It comes at the perfect time - just when I'm getting up my motivation for building up my running endurance. Manfriend's sister has challenged me to run a 12k with her right before Christmas. Time to get my rear in gear!

I had some issues setting up the watch to connect to my computer. After reading around online I was concerned that the watch would have to go back - the reviews are not great. However, I ran a quick .3 on Wednesday and it mapped it perfectly.

I was concerned that on a longer run, it wouldn't map the miles correctly. However, I did 4.3 miles yesterday morning (my longest in... a long time), and it was correct. After restarting my computer and fiddling around a little bit, I got the connection to work. So far - so good!

Monday, October 24, 2011


Live theater isn't an obsession of mine. I know some people who live for live theater. I grew up in a musical household, and on classics like The Sound of Music. I was taken to see the Nutcracker and Porgy and Bess as a child. I enjoyed the plays produced at my tiny college.

It's really not until I'm in the theater that I remember how much I love it. It's not until the dance sequences start that I get goosebumps. I haven't spent much time going to theaters because, well, they cost money. However, I had a great treat from my mom this last weekend when she took me to see Portland Center Stage's "Oklahoma!"
The music was wonderful, the singing was great, the actors top-notch. It was fun to revisit a classic that I had seen many times before, because in seeing it again after many years away I was able to laugh anew at some wonderful comedy. This was all presented with a fantastic new twist: an all-black cast. Most people are surprised to hear that, but it was both intriguing and fun to read the director's note, which stated that he could not find anything in the script that would exclude African Americans from that possibility. Further in his research he found that there were numerous all-black towns in the Oklahoma territory, making it completely plausible for the story.

OKLAHOMA! TRAILER from Portland Center Stage on Vimeo.
It was a spectacular take on an old classic that even presented many of the songs in a new light, sung by characters who were most likely freed slaves, not only bent on personal freedom, but also the optimism of  a new land.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Getting back into running hasn't been easy. The gym stifled me - the heat inside was too much, and I was frustrated because I never felt I could last like I could outside. Out on the trail I can last at least 30 minutes, if not more, yet in the gym I feel like I could pass out at 12. Because it's fall and the weather is cooler, I've decided to run outside to build up my stamina. I've been using the gym for other machines on days when I'm not running.

If you ever need motivation, I've got one for you: On my way from work to the gym this morning I saw elite marathoner Shalane Flanagan out for her morning run. If that can't get your rear in gear, I don't know what can.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Yesterday morning I ran around like crazy at my job. There were fussy girls and it took me forever to get the youngest one out the door. I started laundry, cleaned up their kitchen, and finally was able to head out the door. I came to my own house, started some laundry, and changed into my running clothes in record time. I raced over to the trail in my car, got out, attached my ipod, and just as I began to run, the sun came out. And everything was good.

Janae is having a giveaway - a pair of shoes!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Life As I Know It

A full-time job leaves one pretty busy.

Well, the truth is that I am not all that busy, but I am gone from home a lot, and that makes me feel busy. I leave every morning at about 6:50am and work until 7pm. I have a very large break in the middle of my day, and since I live pretty far from work, I spend my break time going to the gym, and then eating lunch and reading at Manfriend's apartment.

What could I possibly be doing that leaves me with this much time (which is, at its most, 5 hours)? I am a nanny.

I looked for office jobs. I am not sure I want to be a teacher anymore, and I wouldn't be able to find a job anyway, with the way budget cuts are working out these days. I'm also not sure I would even want to teach a classroom of 35 children (which is what a lot of classrooms are at these days). When looking for office jobs I realized that the salary I could make on my zero office experience was crazy low. I'm not beyond working for little money - I've certainly done it before, with much more stress. But, when the opportunity of a nanny job came up, with a lot more pay - I had to take the dive. First, I had to ask my mom if she would think any less of me for being a nanny. Being a nanny is not a respected profession. Being a professional babysitter is not met with a reaction of  "oh, cool". Well, maybe it's met with "Oh, cool", if the person is trying to act not surprised by your low goals.

But, the thing is that with my resume of a human development and education degree, my years working with children both in and out of the classroom, and my ease with kids - being a nanny just fits. Sure, it ain't glamorous, but it's a job. And, I'll be the first to say - a pretty good deal.

I work for a busy family who recently moved to Portland after the mom took a job here. The dad is still looking for a job. They have two girls, C who is 4 1/2 and H who is 2 1/2. C is a sweet, precocious, assertive, and active girl. H is an ornery, stubborn, and temper tantrum-filled crazy girl, but when she smiles, it's pretty sweet. The girls actually BOTH go to school during the day. I help get them ready in the morning and take them to school. I pick them both up in the afternoon at different times, do an activity, make dinner, do baths. I do their laundry and their dishes, and walk their dog. Sometimes I think "What am I doing?" Most of the time I think "This is a pretty sweet gig."

I have just finished my second week of working with the family, and things are coming around. There are still cries for mommy and daddy. There are still temper tantrums. There are still very difficult discussions about dinner choices - but we're coming around. This afternoon, as I picked up H from daycare, she ran to me with open arms, a first. She actually let me carry her. C has started protesting when I leave at night. Things are looking up.

I cannot deny that this has been a gift from God. I remember sitting in my room in Mexico, looking at this job opening and thinking "Should I?" I called the nanny placement agency when I got back to Oregon, had two interviews, and the job was mine, and I know they had their choice of nannies. I'm extremely grateful for this job - I could have been searching forever, and instead I have a great job. Also, big huge thanks to my brother who is letting me borrow his car (without which, I wouldn't be able to have this job).

Friday, September 30, 2011

Books: American Wife

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

Sometimes I just want to read a book that is fun, interesting, and easy to read. I've found fun books and easy to read books, and even books that are fun and easy to read. Or maybe even just interesting. I was expecting perhaps fun and easy to read when I picked up American Wife. Sittenfeld's last book, Prep, was basically just about the social lives of students at a boarding school. Reading it, I felt like I was reading a gossip magazine. American Wife, though, surprised me. It's quite obvious that Sittenfeld expanded her storytelling abilities. Not only was it a good read, it was thought-provoking and entertaining.
American Wife is a novel based on the life events of Laura Bush. Well, I think Sittenfeld would say that no, it's based on a compilation of many different first ladies, however the really large events mirror Laura Bush's life. What really propels this book is the lead character's compelling introspectives and personal anecdotes on life in the limelight. It feels weird to say this, but I now see politicians differently. As a country we've put our politicians on a pedastal - perhaps not a glowing pedastal, but a pedastal nonetheless, where we expect them to be the perfect image of Americans. The private thoughts, worries, and ideas that we never see would indeed surprise us.

All in all, American Wife is a great story. It is told by a great storyteller, and I look forward to Sittenfeld's next book with anticipation.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


There is a tasty by-product of dating a foodie. While we dated long distance for 7 months and we went to plenty of good restaurants on our short trips, I don't think I correctly imagined living in the same city. I have been back in Portland not quite 3 weeks, and I already have a bevy of new restaurants that I like (or even love).

I'll forget a bunch of them, but here's a great rundown:
**We ate at Firehouse last night as a celebratory dinner (because I got a job offer for a nanny position!). Everything was delicious - baked corn, salad, margherita pizza, and gnocchi with spring vegetables.
**We went out to dinner with some of Manfriend's family at the Sunshine Tavern. It was a relaxed atmosphere (and not at all like a Tavern), with pretty good food. The best part was the honey soft serve ice cream. Great location on Division.
**When other members of Manfriend's family were visiting we went to two great places, one of which I had been to before. Little Big Burger serves proportionally wonderful hamburgers (with great cheeses), and just-crispy-enough fries. Simple menu, great prices. They are opening quite a few new locations. We have been to the one down in the Pearl by Powell's books, but there are other locations opening, including one on SE Division.

**We also found a great Mexican place in the outer reaches of Northeast Portland. At 162nd and Glisan there is Tortilleria de Leon, a grocery store/bakery/restaurant. In the back of the store you'll find a glass case filled with cooked meats. The best deal (and what most of our group got) was the "combination" plate, which was actually beans, rice, and the meat of your choice, served with a mountainload of handmade tortillas (your choice: corn or flour).

~~My manfriend wrote an article that just went up today about great doughnuts in Portland. Voodoo is notably not on the list. You can read it here. It's pretty great.

**We recently went to see "The Interruptors", a movie about... well, I'll let you watch the trailer. It was a really great film.

** We rented "Never Let Me Go", an imaginative story, chronicling the lives of three schoolmates who are part of a project where people are bred and raised as organ donors. Not in anyway sci-fi, it did a good job at predicting what the emotional implications would be. Visually, it was a beautiful film. The dreariness of English (and coats, sweaters, boots, scarves) always does something to me. It must be in my blood.

**We also started watching the TV show "Breaking Bad", but I haven't made up my mind about it yet. It has made me want to gag, and has made me hide my face behind Manfriend's shoulder. The jury's still out.

**A friend posted this video on facebook. It made me cry. This principal is doing everything in her power to change her students' lives. What an inspiration.
video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Mates of State's new album, Mountaintops, is out today. They're one of the few bands I still actively follow - they always make me happy.
And there you have it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Books: Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

I will just admit this right off the bat: I never read this as a child. Oh, I had the copies. Someone in my extended family gave me both Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea in beautiful hardcover editions, yet I doubt I barely cracked a page. I decided it was time to read it.

As a child I much preferred contemporary realistic fiction. I was into the Baby-Sitters Club, Mary Downing Hahn books, and Lois Lowry's Anastasia series. I didn't have time for flowery, overly descriptive, antiquated books. I liked lots of dialogue and something I felt I could relate to. Now that I've read through Anne of Green Gables I can see why I would have never liked it as a child. Anne is such a dreamer that her page-long diatribes would have driven me wild.
As an adult, I loved it. Anne is hilarious, Marilla's attitude is biting, and Matthew is a sweet man. Anne is the kind of girl you'd hope to have: all heart and warmth and genuine imagination. Her mistakes only make her more endearing and her affection toward others is rare.

The pacing of the story bothered me quite a bit The first year of Anne's life in Green Gables was slow and more detail driven, while the next few years of her life flew by with only a few incidents. Other than that, it was a great book. And I cried at the end. I cried! Montgomery does a fine job building characters you fall in love with and care about, which makes the events in their life so much more moving.

Friday, September 9, 2011


With the hot weather still persisting in Portland (90+), my mom and I planned to go up to Long Beach, Washington, to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousins. We looked up the weather forecast - 81! That sounds perfect!

It was not 81 degrees. It was not even close. I was so thankful I had decided to grab a heavy sweatshirt on the way out our door Wednesday morning. I was so cold that I had to change into jeans.

Knowing it would be cooler in Long Beach, I took along my running clothes. Long Beach is a nice place to run because the roads aren't busy, the weather is cool, and it's hard to get lost. When I arrived in Long Beach I realized I had forgotten my running shoes. In my lamenting, my 14 year old cousin stated that she had some shoes I could probably use. And use I did.

I went running yesterday morning for the first time in four weeks. I had resigned myself to the thought that I would have to take walk breaks, but I ran the entire 30 minutes. It seems like such a silly goal and success after what I've accomplished in the past, but it felt so incredibly good. I got up with the same intention this morning, yet my (very) sore muscles and a bad sore on the back of my ankle (from the shoes) kept me well under 30 minutes.

At the very least, it has encouraged me to continue, and I believe I'll head out to the trail on Sunday morning.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Books: Prisoner in Tehran, A Memoir

Prisoner in Tehran: A Memoir by Marina Nemat

I read Reading Lolita in Tehran a few years ago, so this topic intrigued me. While Reading Lolita is told from a professor's point of view during the enforcement of a fundamental Islamic government, Prisoner in Tehran is told by a student. Marina Nemat was a Catholic high school girl who was mildly interested in politcal change. She was motivated by watching her close friends, yet held back by the belief that the protestors' chosen governmental systems would not work either.
The book is the story of her arrest, torture, imprisonment, and oddly appointed freedom, yet the book bounces back and forth between her personal story, her family's history, and the political mess of the country. There is a great balance memoir and history.

Another great perspective is that of her religion. As a Catholic (with non-practicing parents), Marina is forced to confront her own religious beliefs against the backdrop of her Muslim tormentors as well as co-prisoners. Nemat does a great job at describing the personal agony of disovering gray areas in her faith along with contemplating the matter of saying something versus really meaning it. There are a lot of great lessons in the book, and Nemat tells it well.

Friday, September 2, 2011



On August 22nd my mom, Lucy, and I woke up early and hit the road for Oregon. We stayed in the home of some friends in L.A. (with their Weimereiner), stayed in southern Oregon with my brother's family, and arrived in Portland that Thursday. It's been a weird week, moving into a new place, and also trying to find a new home for Lucy. We quickly realized that although Lucy is the sweetest, calmest dog we know when she is comfortable, she really needed someone to be with her in the condo at all times. That was not going to work for us. My mom and I agreed that we really hadn't thought through the Lucy situation as well as we should have, and we immediately got to work trying to find her a new home.

Luckily, today, I got a phone call from a wonderful lady with two sons who was so extremely excited to have Lucy. I could tell from the very beginning that this was it. She talked about how she had a golden retriever in the past who also had hip pain, and was so reassuring that she knew that it would take a little while for Lucy to adjust. It just felt right. Although I was sad to pass her off this morning, I know that Lucy will enjoy her daily walks and living in a home where she is loved on. And I know this family will love on her!

So I'm looking for a job - I had a nanny job interview that went well, and I go back for a second interview next week. The parents seemed extremely down to earth and very realistic about the nanny's position and responsibilities (plus the girls were really cute and they live in a great part of town). I really, really like them and want that job, but also have an interview on Monday for another job. We'll see what happens.

I don't have that much more to report except that we've been enjoying the weather here in Portland - it was really warm (80-90) when we got here, was cool this week, and will warm up to 90 for the Labor Day weekend. In true Portland fashion it will be sweltering the first couple weeks of school!!

Not much else to say, so I'll leave you with a picture from my last Saturday in Mexico. I went with my wonderful friends Melissa and Christina to the beach. We chatted for a long time about this and that, and then Christina and I donned wetsuits (my first) and went to conquer the waves on a surfboard (her) and a boogie board (me). So much fun! It was a great day. Thanks friends!

Friday, August 19, 2011


I put this on my facebook, but I had to share it with blogger friends as well. I knew your Friday wouldn't be complete without it.

While out and about in town yesterday with my mom, we spotted Alf.

I don't think I need to say much more.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I'm a sucker for a great handbag. I'm not a purse girl. I'm not fascinated by purses, and I couldn't care less over big names. I think I've owned a total of 4 actual woman purses that weren't made by me. I love designing my own bags (which usually don't turn out looking THAT great), but I love choosing materials, function, etc.
So this design house is fun. At 1154 Lill you can buy from their own stock or you can create your own custom bag (that would be me, saying "Yes, yes, yes!"). Reality is, they're way out of my price range, but it's still fun to play with the application on their site.
You choose a bag style (and there are so many to choose from) and the fabric (which on some styles can be 2 or 3 different fabrics for different parts).

My favorite style of bag is the Roxy, which looks like it would hold plenty of stuff (along with a book), and still be cute.
And no, this is not a sponsored post in any way. I just loved their stuff. A friend posted their link on facebook today and I told her she was evil woman for showing me this website.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Running (?)

It has been a bad year for running. At least for me. I keep up on blogs and I read about everyone's runs, and I think to myself, "oh yeah. running. fun." I could run four days one week, and nothing the next, and just when I think I'm back in it, then I'm not. Too many excuses is mostly what it's about.

But here's the funny thing. Last week we had a group visiting - from my parents' home church. One of the parents in the group knew I ran a half marathon last January and asked if she could go on some runs with me. This was great motivation for me, because if I tell her "Yeah, let's meet outside in the parking lot at 6am" then I actually, you know, have to be there. And run. It was a great run - really slow (much slower than I thought we were going), but it was great to be pushed just because I was running along with someone else. I didn't want to quit!

I thought it was great and was planning a couple more runs with her during the week. Then I had an accident.

I was outlining some letters for the group to paint on our front compound wall. I was on the top step of a stepstool when its front feet sunk down into the dirt, lurching the stepstool forward, and I fell back. I fell right on my butt. I immediately started crying, it hurt so bad, and the woman who was out there swore that I fell on top of their aluminum water bottles.

My back/butt still hurts. Every day I've tested it out by a little jog across the parking lot, but running sends a shock in that spot every time a foot falls. So, of course, just as I was thinking that I really, really could get my heart back into running, this happens. When I CAN'T run, that's when I really want to. Bah!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Czech it out

I found this fun website, that shows pictures of famous people hanging out with other famous people. While some of them are really obvious and not that interesting (Stephen Colbert and Kristen Wiig), yet there are some really fun pictures, such as these:
Website: Awesome People Hanging Out Together

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

It's Peanut Butter Week! 

A friend recently posted on facebook pictures of peanut butter cupcakes. Why, I don't mind if I do! Her easy recipe just called for adding a 1/2 cup of peanut butter to a yellow cake mix - EASY! She also added half a cup of peanut butter to a chocolate frosting she made from scratch.

But let me tell you now that we had about 10 cans of frosting leftover from a visiting group, and if I can do things the easy way, I will. I could have added a 1/2 cup of frosting to the canned chocolate frosting, but I decided not to.
I'm not a big fan of peanut butter and chocolate together (don't start with me, I've heard it all), so I also frosted some with vanilla frosting.

Anna said you could also drop a Hershey kiss into each cupcake. But in my mind, a drop of jelly in the middle, topped with vanilla frosting... that sounds delicious.

Anna has just started her own Etsy shop, so you should check her out.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Peanut Butter and Jelly Time

It's peanut butter week!

In my last post I talked about my favorite peanut butter. Yum.

The true destiny of peanut butter is to be paired in eternal bliss with jelly. Or jam. Or preserves. Whatever floats your boat. My manfriend asked "okay, but what's your favorite jelly?". Well, Manfriend, I haven't found a favorite yet. This is mostly because all store bought jelly is incredibly sweet. I need to learn to make my own. However, my favorite flavor is strawberry, with marionberry coming in a close second.
So today I will expound on the heavenly pairing of peanut butter and jelly. I'm a big fan. I ate it fairly often as a kid and even asked for a PB & J sandwich whenever my grandma made roast. As a teenager my favorite thing to eat was peanut butter and jelly on sourdough - a double decker. If you've never made a double decker, let me inform you: three pieces of bread, peanut butter and jelly in between all slices. Yum city. This is success:
Apparently I made my love for PB & J well known because I received this shirt a few years ago from a friend.
 Note: I am not the man pictured above.
Everybody knows about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And you've probably had peanut butter and jelly toast. And I wouldn't put it past anybody to have made peanut butter and jelly on a bagel. 

But what about other executions? Let me recount some for you. 

**When I was living in South Korea I couldn't find decent bread. I ate peanut butter and jelly saltine sandwiches. I'm not kidding. Little saltine sandwiches, painstakingly put together. Still yum. 
**Peanut butter and jelly on plain pita chips. Yummers.
**Peanut butter and jelly taquitos. At home, I made them in flour tortillas. Here at the daycare, Cande (our cook), makes homemade corn tortillas and then fills them with PB & J. 
**Peanut butter and jelly on a spoon. Who needs bread?

And my favorite...... 
**Peanut butter and jelly ice cream. I ain't kiddin'. My mom always shops at Grocery Outlets which very often stock discontinued items. One day she picked up four pints of Ben and Jerry's: vanilla ice cream swirled with peanut butter and strawberry jelly. After those pints were gone I began to make my own and have even asked for a specialty mixed Blizzard at Dairy Queen. 

I dare you to try it. Vanilla ice cream, top with a spoon of peanut butter and a spoon of jelly. Mix, or eat little by little.

Any other suggestions? I am open to any and all recommendations involving peanut butter and jelly.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My favorite peanut butter

I think everyone has a favorite peanut butter. I know what mine is. I haven't eaten it in a while, but it lives on in my dreams until one day I float back to the Pacific Northwest (less than two weeks) and prance into the local grocery store and purchase this peanut butter. It will be a glorious day.

Although I, like many other young American children (I am not young anymore), have mostly eaten Skippy or some other famous brand for most of my life, I eventually found my way to Adams. I love Adams. Although I should state at this point that I do not eat any nuts in whole form, I do love me some peanut butter. I can't stand the texture of any kind of nut, so I abhor crunchy peanut butter. However, even though Adams creamy is a little more texture-y than most big name brands, I love it all the same. And it has less sugar and none of that added stupidity.

One day two years ago, while I was absentmindedly picking up groceries at my local WinCo, I picked up my Adams peanut butter. I liked the creamy kind that you still had to stir (because the oils separate). I liked this kind. I picked it up and went on my way.

I got home and found out that I had picked up the creamy, stir, UNSALTED kind. PURE PEANUTS. Creamy, yes, but no salt. NO SALT? I tasted it and confirmed that it was quite strange. However, being as frugal and practical as I am, I decided I had to eat it anyway before I bought a new jar.
And guess what? I fell in love. It took a little while, like any kind of falling in love does. I had to consider my options and figure out what was best for me. But I did it. I fell head over heels for the unsalted Adams, creamy, stir kind of peanut butter. It's a mouthful, but it's worth it.

Monday, August 8, 2011


It is not recommended to fall on your butt, off a stepstool, while you attempt to work on lettering on a large outside wall. You will hurt. Very badly. Lesson learned.

I think it's going to be peanut butter week on my blog. Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tourin' the South Part 8

(Last summer my mom and I went on a road trip through the South. I wrote this recap on a different blog last year. I thought I'd write it up again, add photos, and share the trip with new readers. Enjoy!) 

Day 15 - Tuesday, July 13th - Kodak, TN to Nashville, TN
I can't believe we made it this far in the trip without Mom stopping at a thrift store, but you knew it was going to happen some time, and Kodak is where it happened. We started off our day with a trip to the thrift store. It was right across the street from our hotel, so she couldn't miss it.

We drove up to Clinton, TN, north of Knoxville to visit the Museum of Appalachia, a work of heart from a local man who began to compile artifacts, treasures, and stories of the people and neighbors in his community. The museum itself would have been enough - it was jam packed with all sorts of information, but it included a barn, various outbuildings (cabins, sheds, church, school), and pastures. And peacocks. It was a very informative and interesting stop. At one house, on the porch, there was a guitar player who we talked with and played and sang some gospel songs for us. We began talking, and I talked about how I wanted to learn the banjo, and he mentioned that he teaches banjo and has lessons online. Nice guy.
We drove on, after our visit, to our hotel in Nashville, and the Cracker Barrel.

Day 16 - Wednesday, July 14th - Nashville, TN
Our last day!! We headed over to the Hermitage - Andrew Jackson's home, which has been carefully preserved. In fact, you hear so many stories of old plantation houses being sold to different families in the first half of the twentieth century, but a preservation society actually bought Andrew Jackson's house in the late 19th century! We had a tour of the home, the grounds, and the outbuildings. It really was a warm day in Nashville.
One more stop before the airport - we made it back to Franklin to the Daily Dish to once again have their delicious food. I had to have the Greek salad again, and it was just as good as the first time. After stuffing ourselves, we hopped in the car, got gas, and headed to the airport, ready to fly back to San Diego.
A business sign in Tennessee - "Closed Sundays, Thank you Jesus"

The end!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tourin' the South Part 7

(Last summer my mom and I went on a road trip through the South. I wrote this recap on a different blog last year. I thought I'd write it up again, add photos, and share the trip with new readers. Enjoy!)

Day 13 - Sunday, July 11th - Asheville, NC
I really wanted to see the Blue Ridge Parkway, which was coneniently celebrating its 75th anniversary. As part of FDR's work corps program, the Blue Ridge Parkway was built as a scenic route through Virginia and North Carolina's sections of the Appalachian mountains. It is a really nice drive - windy, slow, scenic. We also stopped at the Folk Art Center, which was really neat - a celebration of Art from the Appalachias. There we saw a guy out front with an interesting instrument that looked like a little harp or autoharp, but was played with a bow.

But, we got our fill of that, and went and got lunch. Later on we ventured down the parkway to the "Cradle of Forestry" center, to catch a bluegrass concert. It was a nice, comfortable, down home sort of thing - you could tell most of the people were local - only about 100 in the crowd. It was a nice way to relax, until it started raining. On the way home we drove through downtown Asheville, just to look around, and tried to drive to see Biltmore Castle, but at 55 dollars a pop, I think we decided it wasn't worth it. 55 dollars to see a house! No thanks. That's almost as much as Disneyland!
Day 14 - Monday, July 12th - Asheville, NC to Kodak, TN
We woke up to a rainy morning in Asheville, and hit the road to head over the Smoky Mountains to Tennessee. We stopped at a few little places along the way - a shop to buy some snacks, a homemade museum to look around, a store in the Cherokee Indian Reservation, and so forth. It was sort of a gloomy morning, but it made those Smoky Mountain extra smoky, and it was a beautiful drive anyway.
As we headed into Tennessee, we got into Pigeon Forge and consumer mania took over as the whole main street is just packed with tourists. Pigeon Forge is home to Dollywood and as many kinds of musical dinner theater establishments as you can think of. We walked around a little bit. I found a craft store, of course, and a jewelry store. We got some candy. We headed back up the road to find our hotel - through the insane amount of traffic in Pigeon Forge. Wow!
That night we had a wonderful dinner at the Chop House, a steak house right there. It was really, really good.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Tourin' the South Part 6

(Last summer my mom and I went on a road trip through the South. I wrote this recap on a different blog last year. I thought I'd write it up again, add photos, and share the trip with new readers. Enjoy!) 

Day 11 - Friday, July 9th - Savannah, GA to Charleston, SC
We still had some tickets to go see the Savannah history museum, so we set off for that in the morning. It was nice... small, but nice. I'm sure my mom would also like to point out that I forgot my sandals at the hotel, so we went back for those before heading out of town. It was another hot day (skip that part!!) but we got to Charleston, checked into our hotel (which was crummy and not worth mentioning), and headed to downtown Charleston. It was nice to see Savannah and Charleston back to back to see the similarities and differences. Charleston seems a much more hodge podge city, and so we were glad to take a carriage ride around to get the lay of the land.

The carriage ride was entertaining - our guide did a good job of casually showing us around, but giving good information. Unfortunately, we found that because you're being led by a slow horse, the carriages have to take different routes around town and so you don't really see all of it. BUT, like I said - our guide was good, and our horse, Kevin, had a funny personality. It was good.
We walked around Charleston a bit, down by Battery Park, and it was nice evening for checking out the homes in the area. I was mostly amazed at these OLD, OLD homes surrounded by palm trees!! Something new to me.
Day 12 - Saturday, July 10th - Charleston, SC to Asheville, NC
We woke up, ready to leave Charleston behind, but we didn't travel far - we headed to Boone Hall Plantation, which we really enjoyed. The plantation is hundreds of years old, and supplied most of the brick that was used to build Charleston. In fact, the brick making was such a profitable business for them that they made the slave cabins of the house workers out of brick, and they are still standing! They were built from 1790-1810. That was really amazing, to stand in original slave cabins.
The best part of that visit was the presentation by Joe, about the Gullah culture, the African American culture that sprang up in that area as a result of learning English, and combining African traditions with American ways of life. It was entertaining, fun, and informative.

We drove from Boone Hall all the way to Asheville, NC. We were going to stay somewhere south of there, but decided to just go for it. They call the Charleston area the "low country", and once you get up into the Appalachias, it becomes the "high country". Makes sense, doesn't it? The weather cooled off, and the skies got cloudier, and the green hills were wonderful to see :) We settled down in Asheville for the night.
 To the bat cave!

By the way - Happy birthday to my bestie, Stephanie! She's hangin' chill (I hope) in Baltimore as we speak.