Friday, July 31, 2009

I heart cross stitch!

Gotta love this! I really like that pattern and am already picturing it as my valentine wreath!!!!

Pacific Northwest Vacation: Day SEVEN

Yes, it is almost over, I know you are as happy as I was. Day seven I was bored. I was done with trees and mountains and my butt was sore after hours and hours of riding in the car. The heatwave, heatwave (jazz hands) had really and truly arrived and the temps were in the triple digits! We were headed back to Seattle to catch our red eye flight back to the east coast. We were stuck in traffic. The funniest part about this is that the night before when I was dropping off to sleep I was thinking how happy I was travelling with my sweetheart and how I never wanted to go home. I guess it was the traffic that made me cranky.

We had a yummy lunch at a quaint little diner in Raymond, WA where I had the yummiest french dip I have ever tasted. Plus my favorite part was that they offered cottage cheese as a side dish. Nice alternative to french fries!!

As we were sitting in a back up on the freeway Sheldon's phone rang. It was a former co-worker of his that he had tried to contact when we landed in Seattle. Somehow Dan had missed the message until Wednesday morning but he was glad to hear from Sheldon and they chatted for at least 30 minutes. When he realized how close we were to his house (about 20 miles) and how long we had before our flight (8 hours) he invited us over. As we pulled up in front of his house our car themometer read 110 degrees. Sheldon looked at me and said "I hope they have AC." They didn't. Dan was melting. He gave us a tour of his lovely home and then we left to hit a local watering hole that we hoped would be cooler. Um, no. It was hot there as well, but we got a booth in front of an open window and now and then we got a nice breeze.

About a half hour after we sat down Dan's lovely wife Michele showed up from work and the real fun began. She and I bonded instantly and had a blast getting to know each other. We hung out until it was time to head for the airport and then HOME!

Vacation Tips

Day 4 and 5 of my vacation have blended together and evaporated from my memory. I told Sheldon that 4 days was about all I could take, but he managed to schedule our flights in such a way that he got a full 7 days out of town. I thought I would take a small break from my narrative of the vacation to share some tips I learned this trip.

Things to remember on vacation:

1. all chargers for everything that ever needs a charger
2. computer/car stereo cord in case the rental car has an outlet
3. hiking boots or sneakers
4. socks
5. warm jacket and at least one warm top
6. plenty of reading material, preferably e-books
7. dohicky to connect carry-on bag to suitcase so I can lug my stuff through the airport without breaking my shoulder

Pacific Northwest Vacation: Day Four

Day Four (Sunday)
We didn’t stay out too terribly late at the wedding and we didn’t drink much either because we knew we had a full day on Sunday. We hopped out of bed bright and early and headed into downtown Portland. I had discovered several weeks earlier that there was a brewfest in town that day and Sheldon had been researching it and found out that there was a bike tour of the city that went through several neighborhoods and told the history AND pointed out nine breweries. Needless to say we jumped at the chance to do that!

Oh! What! Fun!

Our tour guide was a great guy who could be Morgan Spurlock’s younger brother. His name was Miles and he did a great job. At first there were five of us on the tour, me and Sheldon and then a girl and her boyfriend who were locals and her mother who was visiting. The bike ride was advertised as an easy nine mile trek and it was exactly that. After we had gone a mile or so the company van showed up and dropped off another rider. Now the first thing you need to know is that if I am on any kind of tour I always like to stay close to the tour guide because you can hear everything he says and in between stops you can ask other questions and learn more about the area. Well the new girl was the same way. At first this irritated me because I had been right on Miles’ back wheel the whole way and suddenly I had competition. I relaxed after a little while though, because I realized that she was exactly like me and was doing the exact same thing for the exact same reason. Her name was Kim…more on her later. :)

As we were biking through town enjoying the scenery and the beautiful architecture and weather we came upon a bright pink panel van. The name of the company was VooDoo Donuts and Miles immediately stopped and encouraged us all to have a donut. Although I had never heard of them they are a Portland tradition and people come from all over to have them. This was a mobile shop but they have a real shop in town and Miles told us we were lucky to come upon the van because the regular shop always has a line out the door. Although we hadn’t eaten breakfast I really wasn’t hungry and wasn’t all that interested in the donuts. I must have been suffering from brain damage because I’m pretty sure that it was the first time in my life I didn’t want a donut. Anyway, Miles kept talking and describing the various donuts and pretty soon I was calling out to Sheldon who was standing in line to get me one. The one I chose was called a VooDoo Doll and it was beyond delicious. It was shaped like a person and was filled with marionberry filling with chocolate icing on top and a pretzel stake through the heart.

It. Was. Beyond. Yummy.

This was probably the point where Kim and I bonded. She took a picture of my donut. We all gathered under a tree to eat our donuts and she and I started chatting. The tour ended back at the brewfest which was just getting started. We got our mug and map and stood there trying to figure out where to start. Kim was right there with us. Turns out that she is a Travel Nurse and is on assignment in Salem, OR and was there alone. We immediately invited her to hang with us and she was glad for the company. The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering from tent to tent and beer keg to beer keg tasting microbrews. We were each given four tokens with our mugs which would buy you either a full mug of beer or 4 tastes of different beers. Sheldon and Kim bought more tokens later on, but four tokens suited me just fine. I actually loved being able to get a little at a time because beer usually gets hot long before I finish it. I tasted a peach beer and a watermelon beer that I loved and a third one that I wasn’t so fond of. My last token was spent on another serving of the peach which was my favorite. I managed to get pretty sunburned even though I did my best to stay in the shade all day. I have to say though, that one of the benefits of getting older is that sunburns don’t bother me anymore. When I was a kid they were torture, but now they don’t even hurt and they fade away pretty quickly. I don’t think I’ll even peel this time.

By the time the festival was over I had bonded for life with Kim and we had exchanged Facebook and email information to stay in touch. She actually took most of the pictures I have of that day! Sheldon and I headed back to our hotel and hit the showers and went in search of dinner. We ended up at another brewpub, they are EVERYWHERE out there.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pacific Northwest Vacation: Day Three

Day Three (Saturday)

We heated up our blueberry bread in the hotel microwave and enjoyed that treat immensely. Then we set out to find some letterboxes. We were looking for indoor letterboxes or ones without a real hike because I had not brought hiking boots or sneakers in an effort to pack light. I actually enjoy the letterboxes left in businesses and I like to support the businesses that support letterboxing. We found that one business was gone, but the second was the Iron Mutt coffee shop and that one was lovely. Then we found one planted in a family’s front yard. It had been planted by a grandma and her daughter on mother’s day. The daughter happened to be visiting again on the day we were there and when they saw us outside they came running out to exchange stamps. They were so cute. I know I would have done exactly the same thing and Sheldon and I have already planned to plant a letter box in our front yard too.

While we were exploring the town of Beaverton, Oregon I called my friend Margo who I went to high school with. I knew she lived in the Portland area but imagine our delight when it turned out that our hotel was right across the street from her house. Sheldon and I headed back to the hotel and Margo picked me up and took me to Acorns and Threads a local cross stitch store. I have discovered in the past that shopping in local cross stitch stores while on vacation is a very enjoyable pursuit. I’m not sure that any group of women laughs more often or laughs harder than a group of stitchers! This shop had table set up outside in a breezeway and at least twelve women had set up shop out there and were enjoying the breeze and one another’s company while they stitched.

I have to interrupt this story to tell you that the weather reports for the Pacific Northwest during this time was calling for a HEATWAVE (jazz hands) but up to this point the temps hadn’t gotten out of the mid 70’s, so Sheldon and I were getting a big laugh out of the HEATWAVE (jazzhands).

Margo and I were hardly inside the store before one of the ladies who worked there was talking to us like long lost sisters and explaining how to find everything. She had bunches of things that I liked and tons of finished projects on the walls that I was drooling over. We stayed and poked around until we absolutely had to leave to get Margo to work on time. I bought one new project and Margo even bought small thing to try. She has never really been in to cross stitch but she decided to give it a try in my honor.

She dropped me back at the hotel and Sheldon and I went out on some errands and found one more box at a Baskin Robbins. I was so happy about this one because the employee who handed us the box was SO ENTHUSIASTIC when he handed it to us. Seeing other people act as goofy as me always makes me happy!!!

We headed back to the hotel and got showered and changed for the wedding and headed out to a lovely wedding grove at a local brewery. I got introduced to several of Sheldon’s high school friends who I have heard tons of stories about and then we got seated. At this point the temperature was probably in the high 90’s and the locals were melting. We were pretty hot too, but it was normal July weather for Virginia and it wasn’t NEAR as humid as it can get in the DC area! I’m sure the bride was wondering why her wedding day had to be the hottest day of the year.

Speaking of the bride she had on the most gorgeous dress and hat combination. I will upload pix if I can. It was taupe colored and just lovely. We had actually seen her in the parking lot and although I was pretty sure she was the bride, Sheldon was convinced she must be the mother of the bride because it didn’t look gowny at all.

After the ceremony we headed around a group of trees to a lovely set up of tables and chairs and a bar and a dance floor. We stood around in the shade and drank cool drinks while we waited for the sun to go down and the tables to be in the shade. As the night wore on it cooled down some but it was still pretty warm for Oregon. We were seated at a table with Sheldon’s friends and their wives and I really enjoyed getting to know them. The groom was also a friend of his from high school. I am always worried that I will stick my foot in my mouth or completely embarrass myself some other way when I am meeting a new group like that, but I think I did okay this time.

Pacific Northwest Vacation: Day Two

Day Two (Friday)

We headed out of Seattle towards Portland. We had our eyes peeled for a breakfast restaurant. We discovered that Marie Callender’s which is a frozen food company in our area, is an actual restaurant out there. We stopped there and were so enamored of the yummy blueberry bread, that we actually took two more mini loaves with us. (I had the quiche which was yummy, yummy and I wish they made it for my local freezer section.) We left there and hit the highway. Seattle and Portland are not far apart at all but we actually took a detour. Sheldon had been researching things to do and had never been to Mt. Rainier in his previous visits. This was the first of many times that his new iPhone came in handy! We were able to use the GoogleMaps function to find our way. Much better than a map because it shows you where you are at all times.

Mt. Rainier is incredibly beautiful and the mountains in Oregon and Washington are nothing like the mountains in Virginia. We stopped at a couple waterfalls and took pictures and then we went to the Visitor Center in Paradise. It was really breathtaking, and they had a lovely interactive display and a movie that explained the history of the area and the dangers of the mountain. Eventually I had to drag Sheldon away before he took off hiking with one of the groups that was headed up higher. I had packed as light as possible for the plane trip (didn't want to check my bag) and had no hiking boots or sneakers with me and I damn sure wasn’t gonna hike in my flip flops!

On our way back down we stopped at a lovely restaurant beside the road, the Copper Creek Inn. The menu said they were world famous for their blackberry pie and we soon found out why. The rest of the food was fine but the pie alone was definitely worth the stop! We left the mountain behind and headed into the outskirts of Portland and found our third hotel of the trip. Luckily this hotel had free wifi cause I was starting to really MISS my internet!

Pacific Northwest Vacation: Day One

Sheldon and I travelled to Washington and Oregon this week on a lovely vacation. The reason we chose this area at this time is that one of Sheldon's high school friends was getting married. I had never been to the pacific northwest before but Sheldon already loved it.

Day One (Thursday)

Actually we’ll start with the night before day one. We spent the night at a hotel in Baltimore because it was cheaper to park at the hotel than at the airport and because we wouldn’t have to get up quite so early in the morning. We woke up at 4:30am, which is my normal wake up time. Our plane left the ground around 7am. Luckily we were both able to sleep on the plane and it seemed like the five hour flight only took two hours. When we got off the plane in Seattle we were in for a shock; it was about 65 degrees! We were not dressed for 65 degree temps in July! We had both brought jackets but that did little to dispel the cold. A hot breakfast at a lovely cafe and some brisk walking made everything better. I had a sausage and egg croissant and Sheldon had vanilla French toast.

We walked through Pike Place Market, which is a combination craft show and fish market on the water front. We saw lots of pretty things but didn’t buy anything. Then we walked through town a little and found the Waterfall Park, which is a small hidden oasis in the middle of the city. It was a long walk back to the car but then only a couple of blocks to our second hotel of the trip. Once we got settled into the hotel we headed out again on foot in search of a brew pub that Sheldon had read about. It was the Pyramid Brewery and I got to taste the first of several yummy beers. This one was an Apricot Lager and I really liked it. After a few hours of beer and snacks and conversation we walked back towards the waterfront to have dinner at Elliott’s, which we had heard was worth the stop. It was a nice venue and the waitstaff was fantastic but the food was really nothing to write home about and it was very expensive. (Sheldon had raw oysters and steamed mussels and I had fried oysters.) We walked back to our room UPHILL and crashed.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I love a good chic flick!

Rent "A Walk on the Moon" immediately! Go ahead, I'll wait. It is so good. I had never even heard of it until Netflix recommended it to me, so I added it to my list and it made its way to the top of the queue and I loved it. Diane Lane, Viggo Mortensen, Anna Paquin, Tovah Feldshuh and a voice cameo by Julie Kavner. Set in the summer of 1969, the summer of love, the summer of the moon walk. Cool music, funny lines, great period piece, great story. You can thank me later.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Rambling Thoughts on the Sidewalk

I was just out on the sidewalk, walking down the street to a local deli for some grits, and these are the rambly directions my mind went...

>The weather here in DC has been so fabulous this summer it is almost indecent! It hasn't gotten too terribly hot and the humidity has been completely reasonable. This is especially good news since I have to sit on a street corner in the sun every afternoon at 3pm for 20 minutes, and when I get to my car I have no air conditioning.

>There are several bus companies here that offer cheap service directly to NYC. One of them picks up and drops off right outside my building. Miles and I have taken this bus and it is marvelous, they even give you a bottle of water when you board. Anyway, everytime I see a line of people out there I just want to run over and say "Have a great time in New York!! I'm SO jealous!!" So far I have restrained myself, but one of these days it will happen.

>Grits are manna from heaven. I love them. I especially love them when there are over easy eggs cut up on top with lots of salt and butter. I make no apologies for this

>I have become slightly obsessed with the Duggar Family recently. I started watching the show because I wanted to see how that family compared to the Gosselin family. Well, there is no comparison. The fact that the Duggar's popped their babies out one or two at a time means that they had breathing room between each one and that about half of their 18 are over the age of 10 and able to help with the babies. I love the show. I love watching the family interact. Michele, the mom seems so loving and patient and calm. I feel renewed just watching her. The one thing that sort of puts me off though is that all the girls wear skirts all the time. No pants allowed. Why? Don't get me wrong, I love skirts too, they can be much cooler and more comfortable and I'm so glad that maxi-dresses are in style because long full dresses are my favorite for comfort and modesty. Buy why can't a girl wear slacks? The the thing that occurred to me while I was walking was how lucky those girls are though. They don't have separate closets. When they take clothes out of the dryer they hang it all up in one central closet that everyone uses. This way they are not always moving clothes from closet to closet as children outgrow things. I think this is brilliant! Basically this means that all the teenage girls get to "shop" for an outfit every day from the whole collection of skirts and tops that the family owns.

>I bought a new top at Costco yesterday and I love it completely. It is a 3/4 sleeve, jewel neckline with little jewels down one side. The pattern is a funky blue/green/grey design. I absolutely adore it. I caught my reflection in a window and thought how this top is SO me!

>I watched "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill" last night on Netflix and I highly recommend it! I wish there were gorgeous parrots flying around Washington! All we have are ugly pigeons and Presidential Helicoptors.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Poem About Toilets

I have decided that since
I hate cleaning bathrooms so much
I will clean them in pieces
Last night I did all the mirrors
Tonight I will do all the toilets
I was spoiled at the condo
I had only one bathroom
Now I have five

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My Michael Jackson Soundtrack

I tried not to do it, but I just can't stop myself. Here is the MJ soundtrack of MY life:
  1. ROCK WITH YOU: was the first song I ever danced to in public. My friend Edwina Binaca, (the blast that lasts all night) and I used to go to a club in Front Royal called JB's to dance. I had a huge crush on one of the dj's and would hang out with him while Edwina Binaca danced. I was way to chicken to dance. After a time, guys started asking me to dance, but I kept refusing. The dj didn't share my feelings, so he started encouraging me to dance as well. He helped me choose a song for my big debut. I honestly don't remember the actual dance, but every time we were there the dj would play the song and Edwina would send over guys to ask me.
  2. BILLIE JEAN: Edwina and I went to visit her older brother Chuckles in Washington, DC one weekend and saw this new thing called MTV. We didn't have cable or MTV in our small little town. We were fascinated and mesmerized.
  3. PYT: At 18 I started dating a man in his 30's. He lived in Baltimore and I was completely over the moon. I went to visit him one weekend and he put this song on the record player just for little ole me. Yes, I am old. When I was 18 cd players didn't exist. People still bought those big vinyl circles that warped and scratched and sounded like chipmunks if you played them on the wrong speed.
  4. SHE'S OUT OF MY LIFE: This was the song that I always wanted guys to listen to and cry when they suffered with broken hearts over me, but in reality I mooned over it and cried to it a lot, and I'll bet none of them ever gave me a second thought!
  5. GONE TOO SOON: When I met my ex husband he and I were both 24, his sister was 16, mine was eight. Five years later his sister was killed on her 21st birthday which is another story for another day. At the age of 28 while literally days pregnant, having never lost anyone close to me who was younger than 80, I had to plan her funeral. Her parents and brothers were too devastated to make any decisions. One night driving from my fil's house to our apartment this song came to mind as the perfect song to play at the funeral. Needless to say everyone agreed with me.
  6. MAN IN THE MIRROR: I'm a Mama. What mama doesn't look down into her sleeping baby's face and wonder how she can let the world continue to spiral out of control? This song spoke to that need to make whatever change I could. It is something I try to live by every day of my life.
Bye Michael. I'm glad you are not suffering anymore. Sleep well.