Sunday, November 28, 2010

Holiday Cheer

So I'm in the mood to be a bit of a consumer and hunt down some holiday cheer. Earlier this year, I went on a bit of a rampage and tossed out everything and anything that wasn't absolutely necessary in our entry closet. That included all of our holiday decorations, including our fake tree. Now that it's after Thanksgiving and cheery little glittery lights are popping up everywhere, I'm feeling like our condo needs some festiveness as well and I'm seriously regretting my impulsive lack-of-space driven anger.

I guess it's a fresh start, then, huh? So where should I begin? I'm really loving the current trend of a smaller tree hoisted up by being placed in a wicker basket. It gives the tree extra height without taking more room in storage, and plus I could use the wicker basket to keep the other decorations stashed nicely away. And there's way more room for presents. Which is always a good thing. Plus, a shorter tree is typically less expensive... so not only do we save more room, but we have more money left over. Score!

I also would like to get a bit crafty. Take a look at this adorable tabletop tree:

More lovely crafts and instructions here.

At the above site she has instructions to make some incredible ornaments and gift boxes using the same style. Perhaps I should use this to decorate my tree? I'm so over breakable ornaments!

And check out this clever and amazing Kanzashi tree:

Details and how-to found here.

It's hard for me to wrap my head around the work that is necessary to create this. All those squares of fabric, folded, stitched, glued... I don't think I'd have the willpower to complete this. The person who made this had an etsy site at one point- I would be so tempted to buy one if she still sold them. They're gorgeous!

I'm always so impressed by the creativity of the people found on both sites... I wish I had planned for the holidays sooner! Perhaps if I get started on the Kanzashi tree now, it might be ready for 2012!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Second Deadly Sin.

It's been a long, long time since I've been good about my diet. I love to bake and cook, and while I've stepped away from large quantities of junk food, I still love to participate in gluttony.

And in the spirit of researching the seven deadly sins, I was actually quite surprised that there are multiple ways to commit gluttony. As found on Wikipedia:
  1. Laute - eating food that is too luxurious, exotic, or costly
  2. Nimis - eating food that is excessive in quantity
  3. Studiose - eating food that is too daintily or elaborately prepared
  4. Praepropere - eating too soon, or at an inappropriate time
  5. Ardenter - eating too eagerly.
I'm a champion of all five, definitely. I think my favorite form of gluttony is #3 though. I love tea parties full of little dainty sandwiches and scones and delicate petits fours. I also love wedding cakes. And those are pretty fancy.

So I'm now heading back to a paleo/primal diet. So brace yourself- lots of boring food posts up ahead! And there's something really fun about trying to make your favorite dishes out of a relatively limited set of ingredients. I rather enjoy the challenge!

Friday, November 26, 2010


Today marks the third year anniversary of my father's death.

I'll never forget waking up at 7am on Monday, rolling over and seeing the three missed calls. I called my voicemail, and hearing my mother's voice tell me "Julie, I think your father is gone..". I swear that my heart stopped that moment from shock. I turned off my phone, turned to Val and told him "Dad is gone.". And that's when my heart rebooted, and the tears couldn't stop.

My father had suffered the majority of his life from a collection of illnesses that were associated with the onset of his juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. His body was crippled by his autoimmune system.

And while he suffered for the majority of his life, his pain was not his identity. His joyful spirit shone through. He loved to laugh and make others do the same - his sense of humor was one of my favorite things about my father. He also had a thirst for knowledge - he loved history, fishing, sailing, construction, automobiles and DIY. When someone had a question, they could ask my dad. He could usually point them in the right direction. Have you ever read or flipped through the book "Back to Basics"? He was basically a human resource for that book.

He was and remains my greatest inspiration. He makes me want to be a better and more productive person, to get out there and see the things that he never had a chance to see.

The world lost an asset three years ago. I lost my father, one of my best friends, and my guidance counselor. The values he shared and the joy he brought to our lives will never be forgotten.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy (Early) Pawlidays

Look - My newly dark plum nails are making a cameo here!

We ventured to our friends' home this evening to drop our doglet off for the weekend. They had some holiday outfits for their kittens lying around (their cats* tolerate them, amazingly!).

...and so we decided to deck out Abby with some festive attire, too. She's about the same size as the kittens.
This is what happens when you say the T-R-E-A-T word:

And then things got silly. Swear to god, this hasn't been manipulated
I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. Such a ridiculous picture. It has been a lovely evening. I guess I should finish packing to Sacramento, eh?

*All cats shown here are considered "Good Cats." These types of cats are rare and hard to find. Do not assume that all other cats are forgiven for their heinous behavior and crimes against my furniture and sleep patterns

A First

So call me crazy, but today was the day I finally lost my virginity.

My toe virginity, that is. Before you think I'm a pervert, let me clarify: I had my first pedicure.

Don't get me wrong, I take great care of my feet. I was blessed with lovely toes, and I do what I can to take care of the one asset that I actually like on my entire body. But this was the first time I let someone else do the work. It wasn't half as weird as I thought it would be. And my toes look lovely. And those jetted tubs? Amazing. Especially on such a gray and gross day.

This is the darkest nail color I've ever worn, by far. I'm rocking OPI's Lincoln Park After Dark. It's nearly black, but with a plumish warmth to it that I adore. It'll look great with my plum top I'm wearing for tomorrow's dinner.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Thanksgiving has always been a difficult holiday. This year, it falls the day before the third anniversary of my father's death. Black Friday, huh? That's a bit ironic.

Ever since my father's passing, my family has evolved and changed. It's not a bad thing, it's just.. well, different. So this year, we're mixing things up a bit. While we were invited to visit my mom's, we have decided to run down to Vancouver, WA. The hub's father is now in the state, and this will be his first Thanksgiving with his dad in seven years. Seven years!

As if one day celebrating Thanksgiving wasn't enough, we're also flying down to Sacramento this weekend for a dinner at his aunt and uncle's home. It'll be nice to see everyone- his family is so lovely and welcoming. It'll be nice to get to know them better. Plus, it'll be super exciting to see what all the hype is about regarding the new body scanners and frisking procedures.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Photos from Our Trip!

It's been exactly one month since we had arrived in Paris. And in honor of that special occasion, I finally uploaded photos.

Five of my favorite photographs:

I am pretty pleased. I had over 600 photos, all shot manually. Shooting manually gives me so much room to explore and push my exposures. All of the cathedrals and museums were no flash zones, so I really had to manipulate my settings to get the results that I wanted.

I need to get our photography website up and running. We've been asked to shoot a wedding (I had to decline - my skills are no where good enough to shoot weddings), engagement photos, and holiday photos. I'm so excited that people are beginning to think of us first for pictures. It's so much fun for us, it's the best date in the world and such a joy trying to capture the happy moments in a digital format.

More photos from my Canon EOS here.

And of course, the obligatory slideshow, for one stop viewing!

Optometrist Appt Today!

I am blessed with great vision, however with a dose of astigmatism. Essentially my eyeballs aren't perfectly round, so it takes longer for me to read and focus on something. When I go into malls or other areas with a lot of visual stimuli I will get headaches really quickly, and I am really uncomfortable driving over 45mph because by the time I really see something, it's already whirred by me. Seriously, it scares the hell out of me. Fortunately for me and the rest of the world, I walk everywhere or take the back routes (25mph, ftw!).

I've tried glasses, and having a gap between my face and the glasses causes a really distorted, drunk feeling. I can't walk in them, I've almost fallen down the stairs wearing them. They're great when I'm reading, but walking around I tend to high-step and still manage to trip over everything. I've tried two different prescriptions with no luck.

I finally got to the point where I am so frustrated by the lag in my vision that I set up another appointment with the optometrist, this time for contacts. If glasses aren't cutting it, maybe contacts will be exactly what I need. Here's to hoping.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mazda 2, Part II

I sat in no less than five Mazdas this weekend, and without a doubt the Mazda2 was my favorite. We test drove it and the results were pretty much what we expected: Incredibly sensitive handling, although a bit slow on the acceleration (100hp, after all!). The visibility while sitting inside was amazing, especially when compared to my Scion tC. I really want something I feel like I can see out of (imagine that.. lol).

I want one now, but I still refuse to buy one brand new. They may depreciate as much as $3400 in the first year. Perhaps this time next year, when all the 2012 models come out, I'll be able to snag my own lovely little subcompact. Or I'll fall in love with something else entirely. It's a curse being so fickle.

But for what it's worth, this car is the one I desire at this very moment:

Picture and More Info at

Besides, in the time I have to wait I can figure out what I'm going to name it. I'm kind of fond of "Daphne."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Mazda 2

I got to see my mom today! It's weird that we live in the same state yet see one another maybe 5 times a year.

And because I got to spend more time in my car than I usually do, it really reiterates the idea that I really want a new car. Maybe not a new,
new car... but maybe just a different car.

So I've been looking around and daydreaming. You know how much I love little cars, right? I can't get over small, efficient vehicles. While I was in Europe I could not get over how awesome all of the cars were- they looked tiny on the outside, but had plenty of room on the inside, and lots of pep. Nothing like going 90mph down a freeway in something that looked smaller than a Geo Metro!

And then I saw this: The 2011 Mazda 2.

Photo from Motor Trend - Great Article & More Pics Here

.... did you hear that??? That was the sound of me squealing with joy.

It's a small car, yes, but it still seats 5, and starts at under $14k. And do you see that giant grin in the grill? How can you NOT be happy looking at that thing? It's too darn infectious. I might just be in love.

Alas, my love may have to wait. I generally do not believe in buying brand new cars. They depreciate so darn fast, it just doesn't seem like a wise investment.

But all the same, it doesn't mean that I can't test drive one and wax poetically over it. And who knows? Maybe I can make an exception to my rule. It might be worth having something I can actually see out of and want to drive.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Found out that Dave Niehaus passed away today. I have never appreciated the finer aspects of sports, but I have a tremendous amount of respect for that man. He could make any game interesting, and was one heck of a guy. He will be sorely missed..

Future Travel Plans

I have yet to finish going through all of my photos. I'm not sure why I'm being such a brat about it. I got some really great pictures, I'm just not really all that excited about sorting through them, cropping, and uploading them all. I really need to work on my digital organization, too.

We'll probably be on the other side of the world again come January. He has mentioned that he'd like company for his next business trip. While I'd love to visit Taiwan, I'm not too keen on sitting on an airplane for 12 hours. If we were staying there for 3 months or so, and then returning, then yes, maybe... But 12 hours one day, 6 days relaxing, then another 12? I don't know.

On one hand, I'm thinking life is too short, and things get complicated so easily.. I have my health, and we have the means... but seriously, honey... why can't we take a boat this time?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Family Decision

Our trip to Belgium was epic. France, not so much. I have a lot of things to say about the French. Ironically a lot of them start with the letter 'F.'

Anyway. Brugge (or Bruges - it's the capital of the Flemish region of Belgium) is the place my soul will haunt when I die. Seriously. I've told the husband when I die I will haunt a particular pub called Staminee De Garre. Belgium has moved me so much that I've decided that we will embrace our Flemish last name and learn Dutch, I'm going to learn traditional Flemish dishes, we will make a mecca back to Belgium once a year (if our good fortune holds), and if we ever do have kidlets we will raise them in Belgian traditions.

Gulden Draak in De Garre

The hub's father is on his way to visit today. And we are taking him to a Flemish pub in Fremont to celebrate this little decision of ours. I found a Dutch tutor (who also happens to be a fitness trainer- maybe I can have her yell in Dutch will I work out?).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Jello Chronicles

Halloween 2010 Jello Shots were a success! I love the fact that these are biodegradable too.. no nasty plastic cups to waste.

1. Half a bunch of oranges from end to end (not through the middle). I split apart 12.
2. Scoop out all the guts. Save for peel-less marmalade or orange juice or both.
3. Place orange halve bowls on muffin tins.
4. Fill with jello mixture.
5. Put in fridge. Cool for about 4 hours.
6. Slice each half into thirds.

Jello mixture for approximately three oranges:

1 8oz packet of jello
3/4 Boiling water
1/2 cup of flavored liquor
1/2 cup of vodka

I made four flavors- Found this guide to be quite helpful in planning:

1. Twizzlers -raspberry jello + peach schnapps (by far most popular)
2. Princess Peach - peach jello + peach schnapps
3. Lemon Drops -lemon jello + citron vodka
4. Fuzzy Navel - orange jello + peach schnapps

I'm working on a vegan recipe. It'd be great to come up with a healthier version that is nearly guilt-free.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

It's Halloween already??

Yeah, so we've been really out of it.

Turns out French restaurants have a much different standard keeping their food. Bacteria levels in their food tend to be much, much higher than in the US. And thus the husband became very sick, and we had to spend the majority of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday with various doctors and in the hospital. They hooked him up to three liters of IV he was so dehydrated.

France was a bit of a crappy experience all around. Pun intended. Thank goodness for beer and Belgium.

So once the Hubs stopped the process of dying and started recovering, I got the flu. And so instead of taking care of him I've been getting high off of theraflu and sleeping. And suddenly it's Saturday. I have a Halloween party to get ready for. This whole week was supposed to be dedicated to sewing my costume. And I need to make jello shots. And now I'm panicking.

Drinking earl grey with lavender. It is delicious. It's not even 8am. I'm going to march into a Halloween store, pick out the gaudiest, ugliest garb I can find. And then I'm going to make jello shots and all will be well.

See? Disaster adverted.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Home. Safe and sound.

It was an epic trip... catching mass at Notre Dame. Getting stuck in strikes in France AND Belgium. Watching the sunrise from under the Eiffel Tower (cold but unforgettable). Beautiful, incredible Brugge.

We were nine hours ahead... so it's officially 12:20 am on Monday according to our internal clocks. Laundry. Picking up the dog. Finding some sort of food. Adjusting to home.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Planning for Flight Boredom

On our entertainment list for 19 hours of flying:

Three TV Shows on iPod: two episodes of Castle and one of Madmen
Two books on Kindle: Naked Heat and Heat Wave (Yes, I AM a castle fan)
One DS game: Harvest Moon Grand Bazaar
And a journal.

Taiwan may be in our near future, too- Sometime between November and January. I guess I need to get over the whole "I'm going to die!" thing every time I step foot on a plane.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Three Days and Counting!

In only three days we'll be packing up and heading to Europe for the first time in both of our lives. I used to be a very enthusiastic traveler, but as I age I am becoming much more apprehensive about flying. Not quite sure what happened..

At any rate, I'm very excited about our trip. We'll be arriving Paris on our anniversary. Our only plan that day is to buy a bottle of champagne, pack a picnic, and simply soak up the view of the Eiffel Tower.

That's the plan, anyway. There are strikes and travel warnings for Paris... so it could very well be an interesting trip.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Salon Woes

A while back I went to a salon for a chin length bob. And I came out with a pixie cut and a shaved neck. I cried, got over it, and waited for 9 months for my hair to grow out.

I have a habit of reviewing the places I visit, too. And while I had previously had given them 5 stars (really nice people), nice people does not only a good hair stylist make. And I knocked them down to 1 star, because I a) was really upset about my hair cut, b) was really annoyed by their bracketing my appointments and c) I always feel like I am an inconvenience to them.

It's been a long time since I've posted my review, and I just now noticed that the stylist had written me a nasty note about how hurt she was that I would say such negative things about her.

Here's a tip for companies that want good reviews on Yelp: If you want your patrons to not share to the world how much you suck, stop sucking.

And no, I'm not pulling down my review because your feelings are hurt.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Random Shots

So the other day the hubs brought home another toy. The Canon EF 35mm f/1.4. I'm not one to get super excited about camera lenses... but this lens is so dreamy and soft and reminiscent of my lovely Dianas that I can't help but feel all warm and fuzzy thinking about it.

1985 Schwinn shot by the hubs:

Our brand new juniper bonsai (his name is Bamboo) shot by yours truly:

Granted, there is a bit of post-processing involved in both photos... but the colors and the softness and.. well.. to be honest, it's the kind of lens that makes me want to scrap the whole housewife thing and become a photographer.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Meet the Dianas!

Remember my internal struggle regarding the Diana F+ and/or the Diana Mini? I now have both. I have yet to master the F+, as I've been having entirely too much fun with the Mini.

Things I've learned so far:
  1. Processing film is expensive. Even run of the mill 35mm color film.
  2. Take your film to a specialty processing lab.
  3. Black and white film is incredible. The tonal range is gorgeous.
  4. ISO 400 film is my friend.
  5. I like life more through a plastic lens.

B&W ISO 400:

Color ISO 400, split exposures:

Color ISO 800:

I got my favorite picture out of my photo experiments, too. Here's my family, all in one 4x6. Something about a plastic lens makes the photos turn out more relaxed and lovely... People don't get all weird about getting their picture taken if the camera is incapable of capturing every tiny flaw.

And the best part about this photo? It was taken the same day. At the same table. The first time my family has had a meal together in at least two years. It was a great day!

The other shoe is hiding.

Time flies when you're having fun, and this year has been exactly that.

When I look back to see how different my life is from last year, I can't help but get all teary-eyed. If I had known marriage would be so lovely, I would have married a long, long time ago.

But as good as things are, I really wonder when things are going to change. I know life rarely sustains joy for longer than a few weeks before something horrible happens. I know the other shoe has to drop somewhere. And I sometimes wonder if it's going to be on our trip.

We leave for Paris next Friday. And there are all sorts of travel warnings for Paris in particular. I know I'm always especially paranoid and/or a worry wart.. but I'd feel a lot better if things were going crappy for us right now.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My Introduction to Film

The husband brought home an adorable Diana Mini for me to play with Tuesday night, along with four types of film. I stuffed my nose into the manual, loaded up my camera, and patiently waited for the skies to brighten enough to take decent pictures.

I wandered around for several hours loading up my film with thoughtfully composed images. Wandered over to one of the largest camera shops in the Seattle area and presented my film. The guy took one look at it and informed me they don't process black and white.

What. The. Heck.

Black and white film is relatively easy to process- my brother used to process his own films in our basement. After three different stops in Seattle, we finally found a place to process it. And apparently they're so backlogged they won't have it ready until Saturday.


I guess part of the joy of film is the development of patience. Each little click of the shutter has to be deliberate. I know my composition skills will improve because of this, but it doesn't meant that I have to enjoy that process.

Oh, and the husband bought me three rather pricey rolls of the wrong type of film- medium format film. I guess I'll have to buy the regular Diana now... It'd be such a shame to waste it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


How to have a good Monday:

Half a bottle of Jameson.
Three episodes of Madmen.
Shake and enjoy.

How to have a rough Tuesday:

Wake up after following previous recipe.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Lo-Fi Love

The hubs wants a new camera. Not that this is a surprise, as I knew his skills and his love of photography would propel him towards a more advanced camera. The sad thing is, he's having a heck of a time finding just the right one. As much as I love traveling to camera store to camera store, I do know that he's getting antsy finding his photographic soulmate.

And even sadder news, I managed to fall into a torrid little camera love triangle myself. So we've got two antsy photonerds under the same roof, both bemoaning our inabilities to find just the right camera.

He's going into a more technologically advanced direction. Software engineer, falling in love with something complicated and tricky? Yup, sounds like my husband (explains why he likes me, doesn't it?). Meanwhile, I fell in love with something simpler and artsy. Yup, sounds like a graphic design geek.

So, I know it's not Wishful Wednesdays... but I think these merit a bit of discussion, especially with trip next month.. I want to make a decision quickly so I can get a few rolls of practice in.

All three cameras are lo-tech, low fidelity cameras. They are valued because of their cheapness- the plastic lenses, bleeding light, and old school film technology- these traits cause magic to happen- beautiful vignetted, dreamlike photos. Sign me up!

So without further ado, let me introduce you to the ladies:

Camera #1: Holga.

Pros: Great name. Cheapest lady of the three. Beautiful vignetting. Medium format film. Cult following, lots of great and fun photo competitions.
Cons: Fixed lens. Because of shoddy construction, only one real aperture: f13. Kind of large. Have to tape it with electrical tape to prevent light flooding (in some cameras).

Camera #2: Diana +:

Pros: Sleek design. Softer, more dreamlike pictures. Also medium format. Lots of lenses to play with, including fish-eye.
Cons: Less vignetting. More expensive than the Holga.

Camera #3: Super sleek design, easy to pack. Uses normal 35mm film (easier to process)- can put two pictures side by side on one exposure- up to 72 pictures per roll of film!
Cons: No additional lenses. Less vignetting than the Holga. More expensive.

Sample photos of the three:

Picture from Here

Diana +:

From Here

Diana Mini:

Picture found Here

So I'm kind of stuck. Yesterday afternoon I was adamant I wanted the Holga. Last night, the Diana. This morning, the Holga. Now, the Diana Mini.

My current thoughts on the matter are: I'll be packing my Canon DSLR as it is, so I want something small and light. The double frame option will allow more creative compositions: I can snap an establishing shot then something all artsy in the second frame... It'd be a nice way to capture our trip. Or attempt to capture our trip.


Tough life, isn't it? Can't help but feel blessed that this is my major worry of the day.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Just purchased round-trip tickets to Paris.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Gagasaurus Rex.

I have to admit... I am ashamed I didn't think of this first.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Officially debt free.
Climbed into another financial bracket.
Found out I'm going to be an aunt.

I'm speechless. And thrilled. September 1, 2010, you've been a wonderful, delightful day.

Wishful Wednesdays #4

Damn, the hubs knows how to bargain. I'm not sure where he's picked it up from, but he knows just wait to say.

As he was leaving for work today, we were jovially talking about what to do with his bonus. He wants a new camera. We have nice cameras, but not REALLY nice ones. Knowing my neutral enthusiasm for his daydream, he casually throws out "You could get a Ghia.."

Ouch, right through the heart.

I've wanted a VW Karmann Ghia for a little over 10 years now. I still have a picture hanging on the wall from the very first Ghia I had ever seen. I remember taking that picture, getting it developed and running it to my dad. He held the picture gingerly, "I'll be damned... I used to have one of those.. I had to sell it to get a boat."

The heart wants what it wants... and despite being a very slow car, it's got a load of charm and would be a joy to haul groceries with.

It's a lovely daydream.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Time Flies

Lady Gaga. Migraines. Terminal cancer. VW Buses. Mt. Rainier. Strawberry rhubarb pies. Belgium and France in October? Japanese. Shin splints. Trees almost a thousand years old. Longing for a house.

Life is good and weird and complicated.

You know, the usual.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fat to 5k Friday: Week One

This summer has been terrible to my waistline (*cough* as if I have a waist). I feel off the wagon from a paleo-based diet a long time ago, but I credit that diet with getting me into cooking and creating my own meals entirely from scratch. When I think back to the way I ate before paleo, I'm just in awe that I managed to not be heavier.

So now I'm eating relatively healthy, measuring my portions and calorie counting. You know, trying to lose weight the old-fashioned way. And part of the old-fashioned way is working out.

Wednesday I started a training program at my gym - Training my body in 8 weeks to run 3.1 miles (5k) without stopping. It's a brilliant system- I have a podcast that tells me when to walk and when to run at various intervals. The first day was liberating- My heart felt good and my body had no problems completing the 30 minutes. It's motivating, too- I would love to be able to run- we have so many nice trails here it'd a shame to let them go to waste.

There are a lot of 5k races in the area, too. I'm tempted to sign up for one of them to keep my motivation.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wishful Wednesday #3: The Thursday Edition

Just when I thought nothing could cheer me up. Behold, silly (yet amazing) kitchen stuff!

NINJABREAD MEN™ - they’re cut out for action

These stealthy warriors are set to sneak into your kitchen and stage a cookie coup! Cut, bake, decorate…and then watch them disappear! Ninjabread Men are molded from rugged, food-safe ABS plastic and packaged in a colorful giftbox.

TeaCupCake - Cupcake Mold
Bake and serve your cupcakes right in these teacup-shaped silicone molds and delight your tea party guests! We’ve included four reusable, food-safe silicone baking cups complete with saucers for a most elegant presentation. TeaCupCakes are 100%-pure silicone and phthalate-free plastic.

Both items found at Bonus points for the name!

Whoever designed these things needs a high-five and a raise!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I used to be pretty active in the animal rescue community. I worked for a pet nutrition store, went to countless veterinary seminars and screened people for animal adoptions, and put in my time and money (when I had very little of either) into various fundraisers for abused and/or abandoned animals.

I'm not one to give up on my animals. I know that they're a lifetime responsibility. Every critter in our home gets treated rather well- human-grade quality food, freeze-dried treats, a plethora of toys... I once had a feeder mouse as a pet who had cancer. She went through surgery, survived another 6 months and lived to a healthy mouse-age of 2 years old.

And if you had asked me a week ago, I would have told you that I would never give up on any of my pets.. they're family to me.

But when there's a direct threat involved, and a cat turns into a whirlwind of fangs and teeth, and violently attacks other members of the household.. something has to be done.

The last six months things have been escalating between our two cats. Both neutered males- the older one is a large, lean, black manx that weighs a good 16 pounds with very little body fat. The other, a shorter, plumper, younger cat who has decided that he now wanted to be alpha male. Every night there was a fight. Screaming and hissing. There would be bloody ears and skin lacerations. We would jump in and split them up, of course, but the damage they can do in a few seconds was hard to avoid.

The other day it went from bad to worse. Both cats were gazing out of the screen door when someone walked by with a large dog. It spooked both cats, but the younger one became violent and started attacking the older cat. Apparently this is called "Redirected Aggression," when they can't attack the object they want, they go for the nearest possible thing. And that happened to be another animal.

We were able to separate them, and things were looking promising. We re-introduced them, fed them together and gave them scritches and treats- trying to create a positive environment. Everyone was getting along fine- I was thrilled- often with redirect aggression it lingers for quite some time.

In the middle of the night we were woken by screaming and yowling. Tufts of fur were everywhere, and the older cat was visibly terrified and the other cat had cornered him. It took us a while but we were able to get the older cat into the bedroom where he'd be safe. The aggressor was trying to get underneath the door to get at the other cat.

The next day I tried to sneak out of the bedroom but the docile cat escaped. As soon as he did he was attacked. The dog tried to run but got caught in the middle of it. At one point I had locked myself into the bathroom to avoid getting clawed- it was terrifying. As soon as they moved so I could safely get out, I was able to scoop up the other cat and get him into the bedroom. And that's when I made my decision.

It was time to let him go.

With redirect aggression they can latch onto anyone- often another cat, but what if it was on our tiny 4lb dog? What if he had latched onto my husband? And the constant dominance struggles were getting to be too much. I called the shelter that I adopted him from (Purrfect Pals- amazing organization, btw), told them what was happening and they agreed that the best thing to do would be to separate them permanently.

So we loaded up his favorite toys, his favorite foods, his favorite treats, wrote out a donation check for $300, and drove him to the Arlington shelter.

It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I cried like a baby- they kept reassuring me that this was my only real option. Dominance struggles between two alpha cats do not usually turn out well- and everyone would be happier (and safer) being in a single cat household.

Miso, the one we had to give up, is a lovebug to people. He is a purr machine, a true lap cat, an avid biscuit maker, and highly gregarious to people. And he's beautiful- part bengal with wild gold eyes. When it comes to other cats, he's all about war. Mochi, on the other hand, is very reserved and tempermental. Pure black cats are not easy to adopt out, especially ones that are shy and enjoy swatting at people. So it had to be Miso.

It's been a really hard day. I keep thinking that he's hiding behind the blinds or he's sneaking around underneath the bed. I keep expecting him to meow incessantly (which is his way), but there has only been silence.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hard Decisions..

..are hard.

It was a decision kind of day. It was the kind of decision that you make because the alternative ending will inevitably mean more pain in the long run.

Lack of sleep is fogging my brain. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Summary of Sunday

Gray and beautiful.

Lasagna Sandwich?

At one point in my life I would have found the above video inspirational. Now that I'm eating healthier foods and watching my portions, I find it motivational- It's like watching what I could have become.

I find it interesting because they toast with these huge sandwiches and Paula proclaims "We earned this." I used to always justify my poor food choices with similar logic. Perhaps I worked out that day, I had a crabby customer at the bank, I did a lot of homework, dealing with the stress of illness within family, etc, etc. There was always a reason to overeat fatty foods, always a reason to feel like I had earned that five minutes of noshing bliss.

At any rate, it is quite an interesting concept.. There's a veggie lasagna I wouldn't be opposed to making, along with homemade whole wheat garlic bread- I might just be tempted to make a sandwich out of it.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Deep Fried Cheesecake

I cannot stomach cheesecake. I have never been able to understand the joy that this dessert brings to many. To be fair, I'm the last person in the world who needs it.

Regardless of my dietary requirements, this is one dessert I will never be trying. Behold: deep fried cheesecake.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Rocking the Boat

Nearly twelve hours on a catamaran in the San Juan Islands. Saw all three orca pods. Cross that off the wishlist of life.

I feel like the whole condo is moving and jostling around. I hope I don't get seasick trying to sleep tonight.

No pictures, yet. I took crap photos today- I spent most of my time just enjoying it and soaking it in.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Ninja Eggs

It has come to my attention that I do not like ninja eggs- eggs in baked goods that aren't predominately eggy, if that makes sense.

I love eggs. We rarely ate them growing up, as they were a forbidden food in our household (due to allergies in the family). And when we did get them (my grandmother next door would make them for us on occasion) they were divine.

My mom was (is!) the master of the baked goods, even with the egg allergy. Her pies and cakes are to die for. She's made wedding cakes, won ribbons for her pies, and understands the joy that a beautifully crafted dessert can create. I never felt like we missed anything- we even had eggless carob cakes for birthdays that were divinely decorated. I still don't know how she found the time.

Things that are egg-based I have no problem with. They're honest with their eggfulness- frittatas, quiches, omelettes, etc. They're delicious and savory and lovely. But when you put more than two eggs in a baked good, I get a little wary. That yolk taste can get a bit overwhelming and often ruins the flavor for me.

An egg-xample of eggs behaving properly. No surprises, all egg!

I made German Puff pancakes for brunch today. They were beautiful, but had three eggs in them. I was so excited, but when I took a big bite the egg taste was a bit too strong. Next time I'll do a Bisquick-type-based batter and see how that turns out.

Friday, August 6, 2010

My Mom Will Be So Proud

I think I might have inherited my mom's legendary pie gene.

Behold, my very first ever strawberry-rhubarb pie.

We were wandering through the farmer's market when I discovered some beautiful looking rhubarb. I convinced the hubby that I needed it to fatten him up with pie. "Do you know how to make pie..? That sounds like a lot of work.."

"I should learn, don't you think?"

So I spent the afternoon pouring over an old pie cookbook (Farm Journal's Complete Pie Cookbook) my mom gave to me. The book is old and the pages are yellow- they even crack when you turn them.

I modified the recipe (only to substitute flour with cornstarch- I had no flour!), and it still turned out divine.

The pie didn't even last 12 hours. I served it for dinner, and the next morning the husband dished it up for breakfast. I guess it was a hit.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

  • Pastry for two crust pie
  • 3 cups cut rhubarb (1lb)
  • 2 cups halved strawberries (8oz)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbls cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbls butter
40 minutes @ 400°F

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Freezer Jam

For the lovely Misses M, here's my most favorite (and very sweet!) freezer jam recipe (from Certo):

Quick & Easy Raspberry Freezer Jam

2 cups crushed raspberries
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 cups sugar
1 pouch Certo pectin

  1. Wash and rinse plastic containers (1 to 2 cup size)
  2. Prepare fruit (sieve 1/2 of the pulp if desired).
  3. Stir sugar into prepared fruit. Let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir pectin into lemon juice.
  5. Stir pectin mixture into prepared fruit. Stir constantly until sugar is completely dissolved (about 3 minutes).
  6. Pour into containers- leave 1/2 inch at top for expansion.
  7. Let stand at room temp. for 24 hours until set. Refrigerate up to 3 weeks. Store in freezer for up to 1 year.
And there you have it, super simple raspberry jam, without all the corn syrup and preservatives.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wishful Wednesdays #2

Apparently the rest of the world wants a Honda Passport C70 as well... as the average price jumped from around $500-700 to $1500 in the last week or so. It must be summer- everyone wants a nice convertible or a nice bike when the weather is nice.

So I present you my C70-backup plan.

Behold: The Flyscooter Scout.

New, more powerful, and in four different colors. MSRP $1799. Ah, sweet summer love.


Mt. Rainier is such a beautiful place in the world. We'll be back next weekend.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Monday, Monday

I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that it's still Monday. Time has been a bit weird for us- we've been so busy and life has been so good that everything has been a bit jumbled.

We camped at Mt. Rainier this weekend. Incredible.
I made my first strawberry rhubarb pie. I think I inherited my mom's pie gene. Score!
Office is populated by electronics and is almost ready to roll.
Lovely bicycle ride today- our bikes turn 25 this month.

Pictures tomorrow. But for now there is a bubble bath that calls my name.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Happiness is...

...having a reason to make cupcakes.

Tomorrow we're picking up the husband's sister and her boyfriend at the airport. From there we're heading to Mt. Rainier to spend the weekend celebrating my father-in-laws birthday.

It was all supposed to be a surprise, but now that the gig is up, I can focus more on what to bake versus trying to be sneaky.

I think I'm going with the flourless recipe, again... but this time, I'm going to fill them with raspberry jam. Nothing is quite as delicious as fresh homemade freezer jam- and along with a dark decadent chocolate? It's simply begging to be tried.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wishful Wednesday #1

So this will be the first installment of Wishful Wednesdays.

This one I discovered on the ferry to Port Angeles on Friday night. We had the joy of parking front center on the ferry, right next to the motorcycles. My eyes about flew out of my head when I saw a bike like this:

Photo by Joshua Hoffman. Featured at Bike EXIF.

Behold- A 1982 Honda C70 Passport.

I can't get over it- it's like a Schwinn/Vespa lovechild.

I used to be all about having a motorcycle. I would tease my mom about starting a biker gang- we'd both get matching tattoos and beefy cruisers that would be way too powerful for us. When I met my husband, it was a major goal in our lives... Life events kept getting in the way, not to mention the lack of garage and the increased theft in the area. It simply wouldn't be convenient.

But this makes me reconsider our lack of motorcycles. We've been daydreaming and talking about taking the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course for about two years now- it's a good way to learn how to ride as well as to get endorsed for two-wheeled vehicles. There's a class going on at the end of August... maybe it's time to make this daydream into reality.

You can find these bikes for less than $1000. Seriously! I've spent more on handbags!

Monday, July 26, 2010

This weekend...

..was full of roses from my father's memorial garden...
...and sunshine...
..and good food..
...and enjoying the bright side of life.
(It was hard to be grumpy while cruising around around in this car. Believe me, I tried.)
Couldn't have asked for a better weekend.