Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Adventure Smells Like Sunscreen and Gasoline

Gracious!  What happened to May and June? Well, actually, I can tell you what happened; in May, I moved and I went to Arizona for three weeks in June.  The combination of unpacking mountains of boxes and battling the "dry," Arizona heat temporarily derailed the critical thinking center of my brain and I was unable to write.  Luckily, July is here, I (finally) have internet access in my apartment and my mental faculties have returned!
This picture has nothing to do with today's adventure, other than I took it in Arizona...

The first of many blog-worthy adventures I had in Arizona was four-wheeling with my step-dad.  *Brief time-out to address this verbiage: I'm not really sure what to call my mom's husband.  Saying "my mom's husband" is cumbersome and it implies a sense of cold ambivalence that I do not feel.  But step-dad is also awkward because they were married just last year, when I was well into adulthood.  He did not participate in my upbringing, and so I don't feel like he's really earned the "dad" part of that title.  I do not have this issue with my step-mom, who's been around since I was young and has invested a lot of "mothering" in me.  Any other grown step-children have advice?* 

Somewhere between Phoenix and Prescott. I can't tell you exactly
where because we were off the map!

Anyway, he is quite the quad enthusiast and I was super excited to explore Northern Arizona with him!  I was particularly pleased that he chose to ride in an area called "Breezy Pines," because it sounded especially whimsical! 

I made the womanly choice to wear SPF 45 sunscreen, forgoing a lovely, golden tan because the Skin Cancer Foundation told me to, we gassed up the quads and headed for the high country!

We rode thru Breezy Pines (which was pretty darn whimsical and smelled dreamy, like a hot pine forest, a smell I always associate with summer) and over a very rough road, and suddenly we were off the map!  Now, I am not a very reckless lady, in fact, I'm often annoyingly look-before-I-leap, but something about being on a quad in uncharted territory turned me into a wild woman!  I was flying over jumps and barrelling full-force thru deep puddles - not something I'd recommend, unless you like being covered head to toe in dirty, smelly, standing water. I had only ever ridden a quad one time before, but I was driving like I thought I was a professional.  And I looked least in my own mind I did... 

Me, thinking I looked like a professional on the ride.

Pretty much the dirtiest I've ever been in my life!

My quad, Flipper, and I became great buddies as I rounded corners too fast and bounced up, over obstacles just a little larger than might have been sane.  At times, I questioned my wild riding.  On more than one occasion, I remember wondering whether my chiropractor, who I apparently consider the voice of reason, would approve of my choices, but in the end, I'm glad I rode with such wild abandon. It was a great adventure and I feel like I really embraced the "old West" spirit of Arizona.  I explored the desert, ate a lot of dust and refused to let clear thinking stand in the way of a good time! I'm so glad my mom married that guy, so that I could spend some quality time with him, riding like a bat outta hell! 

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Part of my journey to womanhood has been realizing that being a woman is about more than crafting cute things and being a whiz in the kitchen.  It's also about being healthy mentally, financially, and physically.

Aside from a clumsiness-related sprained ankle or two, I have been tremendously healthy.  I've always worked around lots of germs (first with kids and now at a kids' hospital), so I have an immune system that's roughly as tough as a mixed martial arts fighter.  I've never had a major illness and rarely even catch a cold. I'm realizing now how blessed I've been!

To make sure that my body stays on track, I took the ultra-womanly step of making 3 doctors' appointments in one day, the dentist, the eye doctor and my primary care doctor, who I hadn't seen since 2005.
The eye doctor was easiest; in, out, new geeky gasses!  The dentist...anxiety, terror, poke, poke, scrape, scrape, scrape, giant bill, done.

Me + new, geeky glasses= <3 (Unfortuantely,
this picture also = Me + Uneven Bangs.)
  Side note: how many pictures of yourself do you get to post on your
blog before it becomes a fashion blog?

 But oh, my doctor, amazing!  I LOVE that tiny, Asian woman!  She chatted with me for like 45 minutes about why I think 29 is too old for acne and how my deep, abiding love for baked goods is conflicting with my new love of jeggings, and then she drew blood and put me on a very sane and easy-to-follow diet.
My naturopath doctor did not prescribe a bunch of drugs, but she did recommend a bunch of vitamins! 

I went back two weeks later for my first weigh in and the results of my blood work.  The great news is that I lost 5 pounds ! (My adorable doctor actually hugged me as I stepped off the scale.)  Also good news is that my glucose was normal.  After 20 + years of carrying some extra junk in the trunk, I'm terrified of Type II diabetes. 
Less great was that my liver function is a little bit "sluggish." (It must be from all those delicious margaritas that I haven't been drinking!)  My doctor is not super worried about it, but she told me to eat "liver friendly" foods, including bitter greens and beets.

Dandelion greens.  A woman in the store stopped me to ask how I was going to cook them.  I used this recipe from Epicurious. Turns out "bitter greens" are appropriately named.  Also turns out I'm not a fan of dandelion greens, but I choked back a whole bunch.  You're welcome, liver.

So, now I'm in week 3 of my diet, which I prefer to call a "life-style" change, discovering new vegetables to cook (brussels sprouts, yes! dandelion greens, no!), getting skinnier every day and so, so grateful for my health!  Going to the doctor and following her advice feels like the most womanly thing I've ever done!  (I'm also so, so grateful for normal glucose levels, so that I can continue to adore gummy bears and cupcakes!)

PS Can you tell I'm a little obsessed with my iPhone and used it for all these pictures?  I also used Instagram on most of them.  L-O-V-E!

PPS I ran into Michaela today at the mall and told her that I follow her blog, then we talked about the fact that our nails are shellac-ed.  She was very sweet; I was a little creepy.  It was awkward.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Compost Cookies

I really wanted to call this post "Why I Might Not Ever Make Plain Chocolate Chip Cookies Again," but in addition to the fact that it's quite a mouthful, I read that you should have blog post titles that draw people to your site from search engines, so I called it Compost Cookies.  It would make me feel better, though if you'd try to keep in mind the real title of this post as you read on.
If you've read many of my blog posts, it's probably not surprising to you that I have a sweet tooth the size of Texas. When I was in college, I indulged my sweet tooth with gummi bears... so many gummi bears that I got sick... more than once. Actually, this happened with such regularity that my boyfriend at the time finally had to save me from myself by confiscating my 5 lb. Costco bag of gummi bears and dolling them back out to me a few at a time. That's not really a shining example of womanly-ness, and I chose to believe I've done a lot of growing since then....

...Except when it comes to chocolate chip cookies! These delicious morsels of refined sugar and white flour are pretty much the pinnacle of dessert perfection. They're so satisfyingly delicious that even now, in all my womanly glory, I always eat too many. However, my sugary world has been rocked by my coworker, who introduced me to Compost Cookies, which just may have dislodged good ol' chocolate chip cookies from their position as number one in my heart!

I'm super left-coast and have definitely never set foot in New York City, but apparently amongst all the trendy places frequented by the urban elite dwells Momofuku and their bakery, Milk Bar, where they create trendy, salty-sweet treats, including Compost Cookies. (They also created Crack Pie, but that's a little bit off topic. Let me just say I've made Crack Pie too and it did NOT change my life, like Compost Cookies did and I certainly wouldn't pay $44 for it.)

I found several different recipes for Compost Cookies on the internet, and they were all a little different. For my first go round with these delightfully eclectic cookies, I went with this recipe from the Amateur Gourmet, which for some inexplicable reason seemed most authentic, but I added a packet of Starbucks Via because it sounded good. They were good, very good, but whipping the butter and sugar for 10 minutes took a toll on my little hand mixer and waiting for the dough to refrigerate took too long for my impatient sweet tooth. I decided to make my normal chocolate chip cookie recipe but add in all the crazy extras that make Compost Cookies so very irresistible. I don't like to throw this word around, but the result was AWESOME! I'm pretty sure I've reached cookie nirvana! No seriously, these suckers are fantastic! They are so compulsively tastey that plain of chocolate chip cookies may never again fully satisfy me.

Just in case you're now dying to try my Compost Cookie recipe, Here it is...

3/4 cup Butter or Butter Flavored Crisco
1 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
2 Tbs. Milk
1 Tbs. Vanilla
1 Egg
Mix well.
Sift in:
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
Once combined, add
1 1/2 cup savory ingredients (I use crushed pretzels and tortilla or potato chips)
1 1/2 cup sweet ingredients (I use 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips, 1/2 cup butterscotch chips and 1/4 cup coconut)
Bake at 375 degrees for 7-9 minutes, until just golden brown. Then (this is the magical key), as you pull the cookies from the oven, drop the pan a few times to knock them flat.  Move to a cooling rack right away and try not to eat the whole 3 dozen cookies all at once!

(On a totally seperate note, I just got a new 50mm lens with a really big aperature.  It's tough to get used to the fixed focal length, but look at that AMAZING depth of field!)

Seriously, go make these cookies right now as a reward to yourself for making it all the way through this long, rambly post!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

Origami hearts I folded from Ikea napkins to decorate work for Valentine's Day!

Even though Valentine's Day is mostly a commercial holiday and even though some of my friends call it "Singles Awareness Day," I think the womanly thing to do is embrace it!  So this year, instead of thinking about the hot date that I'm not on, I'm celebrating all the love that fills my life.  I'm blessed with a wonderful (and eccentric) family and delightful friends who I love so, so much, and that really is worth celebrating.

Here's a Valentine from me to you courtesy of Kate Spade. (Seriously, if you haven't seen their amazingly adorable Valentines, you need to stop everything and go take a look!)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Birthday Reslolutions

I was born in early January.  For my mother, this meant that she spent the fall and early winter slipping on icy Pullman hills with a belly so big that she resembled a turtle.  For me, this meant that I spent most of my childhood disliking joint Christmas/birthday presents and feeling monstrously put-upon when the birth of Christ overshadowed my birth.  As an adult, however, I love the fancy, spendy presents that come when Christmas and birthday resources are combined (Thanks for the shiny, new iPhone, Mom! [And also for giving birth to me.]), and I have grown to appreciate the proximity of my birthday to the beginning of the year. 
Firstly, I appreciate that it condenses my quarter-life anxiety into a brief time span.  The turn of the year is a really natural time to take stock, evaluate your life and wonder where you're headed. In my case, this often leads to career related angst, single-ness angst, financial angst, biological clock angst and general feelings of "what am I doing with my life?"  These thoughts also tend to surface at birthdays along with the bonus of long sessions in the mirror trying to detect new wrinkles or gray hairs.  Lucky for me, I get this all over with at once and then get to settle back into my default cheerful mode.
Secondly, I get to do a trial run with my New Years' Resolutions to see which ones stick.  I make "rough draft" resolutions in the end of December and then by the time my birthday rolls around, on January 7, I have a better idea how new, better lifestyle choices will fit into my normal routine.  I then make Birthday Resolutions.  In theory, this leads to more lasting change....
Here are my Womanly Birthday Resolutions for my 29th year...
Take more pictures (especially with my shiny, new camera lens [thanks, Deb!]):
So far this year, I'm doing well.  I downloaded an app on my iPhone that reminds me to take a picture every day.  They might not all be masterpieces, but they are all a snapshot of my day.  My gut feeling is that I'm going to have to get really creative about photographing my job in interesting ways.
Another success in this arena is that I shot pictures for this very post.  Good showing, but I think I will be more successful in this endeavor after my lease is up in April.  My current apartment does not have great light, and I'll definitely be looking for more windows in my next place!

Read thru the Bible:
I give myself a C on this one.  I downloaded a daily Bible reading plan and a week into the new year, I'm a day behind.  Not stellar, but I have time to catch up and get better.

Create more:
Specifically, blog at least twice a month, which I know is setting the bar low, but look where I'm coming from, and more crafting.  I think I'm on course with this one too, especially if you count the Christmas presents that I was too busy to craft before Christmas, and ended up making in January!  In this category, I'm also working on my handwriting.

Be kinder to my body:
This one is super broad, but in my mind, it makes sense to group it all under an umbrella.  Specifically, I plan to sleep more, eat healthier and get on a workout schedule.  I'm gonna be honest and say that so far, this the "rough draft" resolution at which I have been least successful, but I'm not nixing it.  I'm going to apply my hard-headedness in a positive direction and remember that I only have one body and treat it like the temple it is! (Starting Monday, after I've eaten all the delightful things that accompany a birthday!)
Photograph of Machu Pichu courtesy of Ivan Utz via Flickr
Someday however, I'll take a picture like this!

And a couple pipe dreams:
Learn to: sew (better), play guitar, draw/paint, speak Spanish (well)
Pack my bags and run away to South America
Figure out what I want to be when I grow up
Become independently wealthy and spend my days sleeping in, baking and volunteering for worthy causes

Monday, November 15, 2010

An Autumn Wedding

In the middle of October, I ran away from the dreary Northwest fall to sunny, dry Arizona. Actually, I left behind crisp, clear fall mornings and changing leaves for sun-scorched cacti and highs in the 90s. It seemed like a great idea in the planning stages, but when I landed in Phoenix at 8 am and the temperature was already 88 degrees, I thought maybe I'd made a mistake. However, when I saw my mommy waiting for me at the baggage claim, the extreme (to a Seattleite) heat became irrelevant and I didn't care if I missed every beautiful fall moment for the sake of spending time with her and the other Arizonan immigrants that I love!

Then, Mom added the cherry on my vacation sundae by showing me a giant diamond sparkling on her left ring finger! "Surprise," she said. "The wedding is tomorrow and I need your help!" Some people may have been astonished that their usually painfully methodical mother was about to partake in a shotgun wedding. Some people may have taken a second to think about the potential groom (who is wonderful and lovely and treats my mom like a princess) and whether he deserves to marry their mother. Some people may have had mixed feelings about the shifting family dynamics and adding 4 new step siblings and a step parent, but I heard the words "wedding" and "help" and was excited instantly. I was ready to spring into action with thousands of ideas fueled by my wedding blog obsession.

We spent much of the car ride home talking about what was important to Mom, and what was appropriate for a courthouse wedding. And of course, Mom had to rein me in a couple of times, when I started imagining all the beautiful and creative wedding things I could have put together within 24 hours. Mom had to remind me that her aesthetic is a little different from mine, and while sundresses with wildflower bouquets are adorable for brides in the 20s, she was interested in something a little more polished.

I thought Mom's shotgun bridal party should look like this group from Green Wedding Shoes, with
adorable bouquets and sundresses, but the bride had visions of a more "mature" wedding.

The next morning, our first stop was the florist. Mom had a small nervous bride moment, when she was totally inarticulate about what she wanted in the bouquet, but I, like a good maid of honor, helped her clarify her expectations and communicate them.

Then, we went wedding dress shopping. I have watched so much "Say Yes to the Dress" that I feel like I could be a Kleinfeld's consultant, so I knew I was up to the challenge! Of course, Dillard’s is no Kleinfeld's, and the only dress that stood out to us was something Mom would never normally try on. Just like Keasha (my favorite consultant) would, I encouraged Mom to stretch her boundaries a little bit and it ended up being the perfect dress. I indulged my inner Keasha, when I stood in the mirror behind Mom and said "Is this your dress?" It was so stinkin' fun!

Then, it was time to get ready and go the courthouse for the wedding. The ceremony was quick and pretty standard, but there was a great moment when Mom was so overcome with emotion that she couldn't talk. Then, she cried a little. It was pretty sweet. Also pretty sweet was that she and my new step dad, Alan, let me pretend to be a wedding photographer and take a million pictures of them.

The whole wedding process was super quick and super fun and I was so glad to be a part of it! It was a great experience because it was so low stress, but it was also a great womanly adventure. I was glad I had a knowledge base to be able to help my mom on her special day, and I was especially proud of myself because I really listened to and focused on her. There was so much potential to try to take over or push my ideas onto her special day, but I didn't do that. Instead, like a mature woman, I was thoroughly helpful and pleasant and my mom got everything she wanted. I'm becoming so womanly!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ten Years Later

I graduated from high school in 2000.  Because of this, I've spent 2010 thinking vague and fleeting but none the less stressed-out thoughts about my 10 year high school reunion.  In January, I thought, 'I've got months to upgrade my life, including loosing 20 pounds and finding a boyfriend and becoming rich and famous and successful.'  In May, I thought, 'I'm a runner now, surely I'll be beautiful and fit by the end of summer and everybody from high school will be amazed by how amazing I am.'  In July, I thought, 'Good Lord, the reunion is less than a month away! I haven't lost 20 pounds or found a boyfriend; I haven't become rich or famous; I'm not going!'  In August, I realized that all of my stress and panic was silly, and the only thing keeping me from a 90s-music-filled evening of adventure was my own insecurity.  I decided that I'm too womanly to let the small, ugly voice in the back of my head control me and decided to brave the reunion.

Me and my great friend, Al, the summer before our senior year. Based on this picture,
I'm pretty sure neither of us had a super cool reputation to maintain at the reunion.

Me and Al  now, significantly cooler, except maybe the bad lighting and hair in Al's face.

My adorable and steadfast friend, Al, and I decided that together we could relive high school for a night, as long as it was preceded by some massive retail therapy.  We dedicated a whole grueling day to shopping.  Even though Al found her dress right away, she stuck with me through Macy's and Nordstrom and the Gap and H & M and little boutique stores, until finally I found a dress that suited me perfectly!  Then, we repeated the whole process for shoes and accessories.  Despite being tired at the end of the day, I was stoked because I felt like I was going to be able to walk into my reunion with a ton of confidence.

It took a lot of patience, but I found the exact perfect dress that's grown up but still super fun.

I even found shoes and a headband that are so totally me! 
After shopping with me, Al defined my style as "Preschool Sock Hop,"
 which I thought was perfectly descriptive.

This burst of confidence melted into panic by the day of the reunion. As I got dolled up (with a serious amount of help from another friend), I felt like there were giant, steroidal butterflies in my tummy. As I drove to Al’s, I had to call another high school friend for a pep talk. I thought about telling Al I’d been in a terrible accident and wouldn’t be able to make it, but then I thought she’d probably want to come visit me in the hospital. There was really no way to get out of it, so I sucked it up and went.

The reunion turned out to be WAY less scary than I had anticipated! It was great to talk to people I haven’t seen since graduation. I loved that there were people who hadn’t aged a day, although many, like me and Al, have grown significantly more attractive in the last 10 years. My classmates are all at such different stages. Some people have kids or spouses, some have been much more career oriented, and many are still searching for their passion. It was so good for me because I’m not really where I thought I’d be 10 years ago, and seeing my peers shows me that I’m not “behind.”

Instead of focusing on how impressive my life is not, I spent the evening trying to really connect with people. I found out even the super cool and together people were nervous. Despite not thinking my life was a perfectly polished package to show off, I feel great about going to my reunion. It showed me that I’m happy with who I am, where I am, and the choices I’ve made to be here. It also reminded me of how glad I am not to be 18 anymore.