23 December 2011

News

George and I have some news to share with you: we are going to be parents in 2012!  (Now you know why I didn't go skiing/snowboarding a few weeks ago. :-))  I am currently about 13 weeks pregnant, and our baby is due to be born in late June.  Given the history of late births in both families, I fully expect to still be pregnant when we celebrate America's birthday.

The pregnancy has gone pretty smoothly so far.  We will be finding out the gender, but not until January 30th, assuming that our squirming baby moves into a position that allows us to see the goods at that time.  It's going to be an exciting journey to watch him/her develop and grow over the next six months or so.  After that, the real journey will begin!


Because I can't help myself, I'm going to share our most recent ultrasound photo.  Just as the baby is going to be a part of our lives, it'll be part of the blog.  However, I am going to do my best to minimize the baby coverage as George and I will continue to have other interests as well.  Welcome to this new chapter of our lives!

14 December 2011

'Tis the Season

Today was a perfect day for this season. I started my morning with this creamy hot chocolate.


It kept me company while I listened to Christmas music on Pandora and worked on Christmas cards.


At the end of the day, I (finally) made a Christmas ornament from one of our leftover wedding invitations, inspired by Misha. Check out her blog for the full tutorial.



05 December 2011

Joy to the World

Yesterday, George headed up the mountain while I opted to stay home and get crafty. I got inspiration from, first, an HGTV show where the host painted the words "Joy to the World" on a big wall map and, second, from a display that I saw at TJ Maxx made out of recycled magazine. For less than $20, I brought a little joy into our house, and I'm pretty happy with the final product.

I started with 12" paper mache letters, paper Mod Podge in gloss finish (used about a half container), an atlas from 1987 that I picked up for $1.00 at an estate sale, and a clean old paintbrush.


I cut out a bunch of maps from the atlas that had places of interest and interesting, colorful borders. (Although I didn't, I would recommend putting down some clear plastic or paper before starting because the Mod Podge is really difficult to clean up, though technically cleanable with soap and water.) Using the brush, I applied a thin coat of Mod Podge to the whole back of each piece before placing it on the letters. I ended up cutting almost all of the maps into much smaller pieces. It looked best to start with the corners of the letters and  then fill in the flatter parts later so that the maps in the flat part would cover some of the corner patches. (I didn't take any mid-project pictures because my fingers were covered in Mod Podge.)

Once all of the letters were covered, they dried in front of the dehumidifier for about 2 to 3 hours. Then, I applied three coats of Mod Podge over the top for a glossy finish, letting the letters dry for approximately 20-30 minutes between each coat.

This is the final product:


And here is our Joy to the World as part of our holiday display:



I'm really pleased about how the different colors around the borders come out with the purple and turquoise bulbs.  I'm also thinking about how many ways this project can be adapted.

25 November 2011

Still Thankful

It's the day after Thanksgiving, but we still have so much to be thankful for.  On that long list are friends and food, which is how we spent yesterday. Per our tradition, we shared an amazing meal with our friends, Sam and Brian. This year, we hosted, though we shared the cooking load.


Our feast included appetizers, Oregon Pinot Noir, ginger-cider drink, hamloaf, turkey, gravy, stuffing, dressing, cheesy potatoes, candied yams, baconated brussels sprouts, marshmallow salad, apple sauce, cranberry sauce, apple pie, and pumpkin pie. We'll be eating leftovers for a while. :-)

15 November 2011

"The two of us were partners in life."

If you know me, you know that my mom is one of my closest friends, confidants, and supporters in life.  So when I heard this story on NPR this morning, it really resonated.

05 November 2011

No More Grumpy Old Man

I was sad to wake up this morning and learn that Andy Rooney passed away last night. I grew up watching him on Sunday evenings on 60 Minutes, and George and I made the same habit our Sunday evening tradition. George affectionately referred to him as "Grumpy Old Man." I think it was his ordinary frankness that made him feel almost like family. Anyway, you'll be missed, Andy.


22 October 2011

Healthy Bread

You know your bread is grainy when the squirrels react like this:

video

21 October 2011

Time

Our dear friends, Pierre and Anna, welcomed their second son at 8:43pm on Friday, October 21st. It's 7:54pm on Friday, October 21st right now. How's that for a mind bender?

In all seriousness, congratulations to Pierre, Anna, and big brother! We can't wait to see you all in a few months and meet the newest member of the family!

09 October 2011

What's waiting just around the corner?

This afternoon, George and I decided to explore a short hiking trail near our house. We found some pleasant surprises...and all within our zip code.


How's that for some scale?


She may not have her top, but she is still massive.


Check out this sunset that greeted us at the end.

27 September 2011

Pandarific

Trust me when I say that you will smile after you click here.

24 September 2011

Family

Look at that family!

23 September 2011

OH-IO

Last weekend, George and I made a quick visit to Ohio to see family and attend my 10-year high school reunion. When we flew back to Seattle on Sunday evening, I felt totally satisfied. It was such a spectacular weekend filled with old and new memories and people who I love.

On Friday night, my mom, David, George, and I watched the local homecoming parade and then went to the high school football game. (It was George's first high school football game and, I think, truly a cultural experience.) I watched high schoolers being high schoolers while hoping against hope that I was like that. It was also interesting to see, ten years after leaving, how the town comes together on Friday nights during the fall. More than ever, the entire town comes out to celebrate and idolize the high school football team. I say more than ever because I don't remember there being toddlers, preschoolers, elementary school kids, and middle school kids actively participating in homecoming when I was there. It helps me to understand the persona that we gave the athletes when I was in school, but it still doesn't make a lot of sense to me. On the other hand, it was refreshing to see the community interact. In such a small town, everyone really does know everyone else. And...the halftime marching band performance is still the highlight of any Friday night. Even though I hated being in the band, it brought tears to my eyes to watch the band and recall the memories of many hours of rehearsals, the pride of performing on Friday nights, and the fond memories of my band friends.

A visit to Ohio wouldn't be complete without seeing as many members of my family as possible. My brother's family was sick, and my cousin (and his wife) in DC were at a wedding. Otherwise, we got to see all of my mom's immediate family. We started with a visit to my grandfather, which was a bit hard to take. It could well be my last with him and is definitely not how I want to remember him. Grandma, on the other hand, is spunky as ever. The gathering with the rest of the family reminded me of the "good ol' days" when we all lived in Ohio and gathered to celebrate every person's birthday, Christmas, and a few summer picnics. I feel immensely blessed to have a family that gets along, jokes with each other, and enjoys each other's company. I wish we could have last Saturday every Saturday...but the fact that we can't makes the rare gathering that much more precious.

Kristi (and Bryan) were visiting from Georgia at the same time. It was the first time we've seen them since 2009 and the first time I've been in Ohio with Kristi since probably 2006.

This is father and son having a moment on Grandpa's Ford. All of us grandkids loved driving that tractor, and I'm so glad that another generation enjoys the feel of the springy seat.

Cousins and partners...ahhh...

As if Saturday wasn't special enough getting to see my family, we had the class reunion that night. George and I started the evening by sharing a bottle of wine from 2001 with Denaye and David. From there, we joined the party at a local winery (yes, there are wineries in Ohio - kind of incredible, huh?). As George noted, the reunion was much more like a party than a reunion now that we live in the social media era. Most people had at least a vague idea of what the others were doing, though it was really nice to catch up in person and actually have a conversation. It was definitely worth the trip, and I think I'll go back in another ten years.

Denaye and me at the after party - she always gets me into trouble.

As I told Denaye, I think we've done pretty well finding these two in the last 10 years.

JAHS Class of 2001...ten years later.

Sunday morning included some lounging and coffee drinking with my mama followed by a tour of the property by David (in his new and very hip golfcart on steroids). Then, it was time to head for the airport for the return trip in which I learned that two 3-hour flights and a 2-hour layover make you appreciate the 4-hour direct flight between Seattle and Cleveland. Even though I have zero desire to live there, Ohio will always be one of my favorite places to be.

Some more photos from the weekend are here.

06 September 2011

Love / Hate

We're back from a lovely weekend escape to Las Vegas. I'll sum it up this way:

Things I hate about Vegas:
5. Too many choices - There are about 394,782 shows, 482 types of food, and all too many choices.
4. Advertisements - I did not need to see the pores on Garth Brooks's face larger than my face on a billboard. I never want to see Carrot Top's face ever again. I had no idea that Cirquedu Soleil put on so many different shows. Enough ads already.
3. Difficulty getting around - Long, snaking taxi lines can be found outside of most hotels. There are three or more disconnected monorail systems. Walking a block on the strip requires weaving around paths, through people, and across footbridges. Ah, well - best to sit down at the nearest table or slot machine and stay a while.
2. Drunken frat boys and drunken reunions of former frat boys - Enough said.
1. Smoking - Almost all spaces in Vegas are open to smoking. Gross. Gross. Gross.

Things I love about Vegas:
5. Gambling - Ok, yes, we gambled. I ended up on top by the end of the weekend, but George ended up down just a little more. I do enjoy a good game of blackjack after the semester in Ecuador in which I must have played 1000 hands of 21.
4. Anything goes - One can wear anything or nothing in Vegas. I love a little excuse to dress up, and Vegas is the perfect place to do it. Because anything goes, it also makes for some great people-watching.
3. Sun - The sunshine in Vegas is warm and soothing and the perfect antidote to a relatively dreary summer in Seattle.
2. State of mind - Vegas is not just a place; it's a state of mind. It's a place where, even though you haven't seen 2am in what seems like years, you manage to stay up that late repeatedly. It's a place where, even though you can never manage to veg by the pool for more than 5 minutes, you manage to pass a whole afternoon there. It's a place that feels a world away from reality.
1. Food - We ate our way through Vegas. There are amazing chefs and a fair few celebrity chefs preparing tasty and interesting food around every corner, and what a treat it is to try their creations! George had his best-yet burger; and I had my best-yet risotto. Oh, yum.

27 August 2011

Fresh and Local

Morning at the local farmer's market and butcher means evening with fresh and local food (ok, except the delicious Irish butter).


24 August 2011

More Backyard Wildlife



Our resident Raccoon family came for a visit this evening and hung out long enough for a few photos...



I think it's pretty clear who keeps knocking over the rabbit...

23 August 2011

Willamette Wine Weekend

This past weekend, George and I took a little get away to the Willamette Valley in neighboring Oregon. We didn't have a particular reason for going, but I'm so glad that we did. Few and far between are the days we get to spend together...just the two of us. It was nice to have time for serious conversations, hoping and dreaming, and being completely silly. I didn't think that it was possible, but at the end of the weekend, I love my husband even more than I did last Friday.

We started the weekend at our favorite Italian restaurant: Piazza Italia. It's run by an Italian family, and each time we've been there (4 times and counting) the father has been there dancing with flirty customers and the daughter has been there running the show. We love the food, wine, and ambiance. It's a good thing that it's in Portland, otherwise our waistlines would be significantly larger.

We tasted wine on Saturday and Sunday. We usually have some reason for going to a particular winery, and I generally judge experiences based upon the surroundings, the wine, and the character of the characters at the winery.

On Saturday, we started at St. Innocent. We enjoyed a bottle of Pinot Noir made by St. Innocent at our first anniversary dinner at Canlis. Unfortunately, the same bottle of wine is not available any more, and, while good, none of the wine really spoke to me.

The folks at St. Innocent suggested that we try out Bryn Mawr after we expressed interest in Tempranillo. Bryn Mawr is a hidden gem. It overlooks a beautiful valley and produces some very tasty wine. My mouth waters every time I think about the wonderfully sweet but refreshing rose they made in 2010...not to mention their Pinot Noir. Because it was so quiet and off the beaten path, we got to spend our tasting chatting with the owner, Jon.

From there, we headed to our non-negotiable (and the reason for the trip, if there was one): Eyrie Vineyards. Our friends, Sam and Brian, introduced us to Eyrie back in 2009 while tasting over Memorial Day. That day, we met and received a personal tour from the winemaker, Jason. He described himself as just another type of farmer, and that image has stuck with me. Jason took over the winemaking at Eyrie from his father, David, who made my favorite bottle of wine to date: 2004 Pinot Noir Reserve. Of course, Eyrie was tasting some amazing Pinots and some pretty good white wines as well.

We rounded out the day at beautiful Anne Amie. The patio outside the Anne Amie tasting room may be my favorite place to spend an hour. The folks at AA make some great inexpensive table wines. They make some fancier things, too, but George and I find ourselves loving their Cuvee Pinot Noir year after year.


On Sunday, we started at Elk Cove. We dug out the menu from our wedding and discovered that we served Pinot Noir from Elk Cove with the main course of our wedding. The grounds and tasting room at Elk Cove are beautiful, but we didn't love the wine. There's a trend with this sentiment and the first taste of the day...maybe we need to skip the toothpaste before tasting - just kidding.

Then we went to Panther Creek, which is in a beautiful old warehouse in downtown McMinnville. A few bottles of Panther Creek fueled some of our wedding week festivities, so we have lots of happy memories surrounding Panther Creek. Indeed, they still make a great and peppery Pinot.

Sokol Blosser is a staple in the Valley, and it was the first Oregon wine I tasted years ago when visiting our friend, Tracy. They have a great view over the Dundee Hills and make excellent, approachable white and red table wines. I must admit that we tend to gravitate toward smaller operations, and this one felt a bit commercial.

We ended our trip on a very high note. We made reservations to taste at Soter after recalling that they made the sparkling bubbles we served at our wedding as a champagne alternative. The tasting took place in the second home of the winemaker, and I could move there in a minute. The view was spectacular: 360 degrees of rolling hills of vineyards and farms. The wine was spectacular, too. We had a lovely chat with Halle over bubbles and some bold Pinots that are going to be even better in 5+ years. Of course, we came home with some bubbles for future anniversaries.
It was hard to come home after such a fabulous weekend, but we'll keep the memories with us for a long time to come.

17 August 2011

Summer in Seattle

We (ok, I...but I like to pretend that both of us write here) have been absent from blogging on account of our incredibly busy work and social schedules. Supposedly it's summer in Seattle, though we've only had about 5 days when it's reached 80-degrees (26C)...and that's just for a few brief moments. Despite the abysmal weather, there are still a few signs of summer.

Earlier this month, I celebrated the end of my 28th year and the beginning of my 29th year. Aside from working on the exact day, I had a great time catching up with friends over drinks, sushi, burgers, and brunch...and on three separate days no less. Part of my birthday was a girls' morning out, and Kate and I headed to Lake Union to have a paddle around. I hadn't been there since the week before our wedding, and it's just as fabulous now as it was in 2009. Seattle really is hard to beat on a sunny, blue sky day.




Another great thing about Seattle during the summer is Pike Place Market. I know I've sung the market's praises before, but I'll do it again now. We ended up down at the Market both Saturday and Sunday mornings last weekend. On Saturday, I stopped into my favorite produce stand to pick up fresh ingredients for mango salsa. With fresh ingredients, it's hard to go wrong. On Sunday, I treated myself to fresh flowers. It hardly feels like a "treat" with a price tag of only $5 for a healthy bunch of flowers, but coming home to beautiful fresh flowers for more than a week is definitely a treat.

24 July 2011

A Summer Weekend

Summer has been a long time coming to Western Washington. In fact, we turned on our furnace mid-week. On Saturday, however, the tides seemed to change as temperatures finally started feeling more like summer. It was good timing, too, as I had a pedicure on Friday night. Ahhhh, there are worst ways to spend a Friday evening than reading your Kindle for an hour while getting a pedicure and then meeting your man for sushi.

Today, we had a very grown up (and fun) day, and it's the perfect example of why we love living in the Pacific Northwest. Our day started with gardening. We've both been avoiding our bi-annual animal poo and mulch extravaganza, and we finally decided to tackle it. A few hours later, our garden looked soooooo much better. If summer decides to stick around, our plants will be better prepared to handle some extra warmth and sunlight. And if summer doesn't stick around, it'll still look better. I believe the phrase is "a good job done."


After gardening, we cleaned up and headed out to test drive a few cars. We're slowly beginning to shop for a replacement for my Cavalier as our service guys tell us that her engine is on its way out. She has been a good companion for the past 10 years. The local Toyota dealership was remarkably tolerable, and I managed to narrow my Toyota preference to Camry. We'll see how it holds up to the other brands.

Then, we came back to our neighborhood for some wine tasting. We're really enjoying the Woodinville wine country this year. It's just a few miles down the road, and we're making a point of trying one to three wineries most Sunday afternoons. Turns out, there are some really tasty wines right in our neighborhood. Today, we tasted Dusted Valley, Lanchini, and William Church. We preferred Dusted Valley, but the viognier at William Church hit the spot on such a warm day.

It has been a good weekend, and tomorrow morning is sure to be a tough one.

17 July 2011

Miscellaneous Fanciness


Last weekend, we made our anniversary pilgrimage to Canlis. We know that Canlis is always going to be good, but I think we were particularly blown away by our food this visit. There is a reason the Peter Canlis prawns have been on the menu using the same recipe for 50 years - so delicious. I had perhaps the best steak of my life to date. And I can't even describe the way the staff knows how to perfectly space courses, allowing enough time to enjoy every bite and moment yet preventing boredom. Each time we leave Canlis, I leave wanting to go back more often, but there is something so special about it that I never want it to become ordinary.



Last night, we celebrated the wedding of our friends, Kim and Darren. They had a fabulous celebration overlooking a gorgeous Seattle sunset. These two have been together for what seems like forever...and it was really neat to see their joining the marriage club.


08 July 2011

Life is too short.

I can't seem to find the right words to say what I want to say.

I have gotten a whole lot of bad news over the last few weeks. My high school science teacher (who is only a handful of years older than me) lost her 30-year-old husband and became a single parent to a toddler and infant twins. My stepfather's cousin was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. My aunt's father was diagnosed with advanced terminal cancer and her sister-in-law with breast cancer. My brother's best friend took his life. And, tonight, I learned that a high school classmate's husband has been given a matter of months to live due to the return of cancer.

I've been extra full of complaints lately, and all of these terrible things make me realize that, in comparison, I should have no complaints. Life is so precious, and I have been given so much of it. And now, I think I'll go spend the weekend adoring my amazing husband.

04 July 2011

Old Habits

I know that this is not the typical Independence Day post, but this one is for my mom. She spent the better part of the 18 years that I lived with her picking up my shoes after me or reminding me to pick up my shoes. So, when I was straightening the house before having guests over this weekend, I thought of her. It seems that some of my old habits are still with me.

29 June 2011

So this is what it feels like to be a lawyer.

Throughout law school, especially during the first year, there is a lot of discussion about what it's like to be a lawyer. Some professors use this topic to lower expectations for students who believe the practice is going to be like Law and Order (all courtroom action); others use it to raise expectations for students who think that the practice is going to be like Boston Legal (all play and no work). Truth be told, I think that all lawyers like to tell war stories and love to scare those with less experience. About halfway through my first semester, I was ready to pack it up and quit. I was not sure if I was really cut out for a job with such incredible pressure...from clients, from bosses, from the bench, from the profession...without any true escape. While the idea of a 9 to 5 job without a thought of work after closing time still sounds pretty good to me, I decided that I felt passionately enough about practicing law to keep going. Besides, I convinced myself, it won't be that way for me.

Today was one of those days when I know that "it" can't be escaped. I'm currently working against some seriously fierce deadlines in order to keep two clients from being deported. Legal emergencies don't know that they are supposed to play nicely and take turns. I worked a long day yesterday and even longer day today - not because someone told me that I had to, not because I was asked to, not even because I wanted to. I'm doing it because that is what needs to be done to get the job done. It's critically important to me - and even more so to my clients - that their deportations be stopped. It's not a responsibility that ends after 8 hours or even after I finally leave the office. I'll keep going until the job is done...and even then I'll probably wake up at 2am thinking about a "t" that I forgot to cross.

So back to my title: so this is what it feels like to be a lawyer. It feels like a lot of responsibility and a fair bit of nerves. It feels like you can't go to the bathroom because you don't have time to get up for even a second. It feels like you have more to do than can ever possibly be done within the time allotted. It feels like constantly thinking of the next thing that needs to happen, even while driving home and trying to drowned out your thoughts with loud country music. It feels like juggling ethical obligations with client advocacy with practicality.

I could stand a little less pressure and less intense deadlines, but I must admit that this is exactly what I want to be doing. I feel passionately about my clients' cases and enjoy the challenge of advocating for them. I can certainly see how people burn out of the legal profession, but - for today - I'm pretty happy with where I am. Today, I don't want to escape "it."

26 June 2011

Treats

This morning, George whipped up some sorbet that we got to taste after dinner tonight. The tasty and beautiful basil, lime, buttermilk sorbet looks great in Grandma's Fostoria and tastes even better in my belly. Yum!


We indulged in this treat after we ran across another treat. We went out for a walk this evening to get some exercise and, when we reached the place where we were going to turn around and head back (at the bottom of the hill), we discovered that there was a wine release party going on. The folks at Celaeno Winery were having a party, complete with free tasting, discounts on purchases, free appetizers, a friendly dog, and some live guitar music. It was a pleasant surprise. Turns out, there are some good perks that come with living this close to wine country.

Have a good week!

22 June 2011

19 June 2011

Mini Pies

We had some friends over last night for a bit of a dinner party, and we ended the night with mini fruit pies. Would you like peach, apple, peach and blackberry, strawberry and rhubarb, or berrytastic (blueberry, blackberry, strawberry, and raspberry)?


12 June 2011

Neighborhood Pride

Our neighborhood was recently annexed by the city, so it's pretty exciting to see this shiny new sign in our neighborhood: