Tuesday, April 29, 2008


So I've been "participating" over the last 10 weeks in a photography challenge managed by EmilyPie, an amazing photographer. I'm a total amateur but photography has really begun to interest me.

Well, EmilyPie & Ashley have put together this AMAZING website called Exposearoonie which will be the new host of our weekly photo challenges. There's a link to it on the right hand side of my blog and I encourage any of you reading to participate too...or just check it out and vote for my submissions! (ha, ha)

So here is my submission to the first week's Exposearoonie challenge: Self-Portrait. I took it sitting down on the balcony of our condo today when the weather was particularly lovely.

Thanks to any of you who check it out!

Monday, April 28, 2008

I heart macro

I took these on our walk through Lincoln Park, signs that the Pacific Northwest is finally in full spring bloom. Yay!

Saturday Afternoon at Lincoln Park

We spent Saturday afternoon with the Montgomery family (like we usually do). But this time we went outside! That's right. It was a lovely day, sunny and cool, so we packed up a picnic, grabbed some blankets and a frisbee and headed to Lincoln Park in West Seattle by the waterfront.

Me & my honey.

Josh & Teresa

Dirty face.


Someone got tuckered out from the hiking. Note the sand everywhere.

Dylan took this picture of me just before he threw my camera in the sand.

Dylan scraped his knee pretty badly from running around the "beach" (rocks covered in sharp barnacles). He kept shrieking, "I'm bleeding!!!"

We were all slightly more than winded when we finally climbed the last of the steps that lead down to the beach from the park. But we piled into the car, stopped for slurpees and spent the rest of the night playing Mexican Train and Spades. It was a good day...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Day 12...the long drive home

I woke up early to hit the highway home. I must've been excited to get home to my hubby because I woke up with my first alarm from my phone (I generally set 3 alarms, sleeping through the first two and hitting the snooze feature on the third alarm for an hour or so). I packed up quietly and loaded my car and was on the road by 4am.

Now, I will admit that when it comes to driving I don't have a lot of patience with other drivers. But come on. I mean, how hard is it to use your blinker, people? It's just right there! And it's not a part of your car that is just a suggestion from your car manufacturer. You're supposed to use it...particularly if you're planning on cutting me off repeatedly over the course of 200 miles of highway.

Also, let's talk for a minute about the left lane. Imagine what a beautiful world it would be if all people recognized and obeyed the "left lane is for passing" rule. And when I say passing, I mean actively passing...not seeing a semi truck 1/2 mile up the road that you will want to eventually pass. In addition, if you're planning on driving the SAME speed as the person in the right lane, then there really is no need for you to be occupying space in the left lane. Particularly if you're driving 5 miles under the speed limit. I'm just saying, is all...

With every mile I got closer to home and my husband so I took as few stops as possible. After a quick stop in Portland to drop off some gifts to Thomas, I hopped back on the road for my final stretch to Seattle.

When I finally got home, I walked in the door to find my husband in the kitchen making gorgonzola topped steaks with mashed potatoes and sauted mushrooms. He'd bought me flowers (lilies, my favorites) and a beautiful new vase along with lit candles. He'd gotten out fresh pjs and a clean towel for a quick shower before dinner...such a thoughful husband!

*this is my submission to the PhotoPie Challenge...it's not terribly exciting but is sentimental as Erich got them since he knows I like Cucumber Melon scented candles*

So now I'm home, and glad to be so. I thoroughly enjoyed my road trip and the time I got to spend with friends and family along the way. Thanks to everyone who put me up and entertained me. I had a great time!!!

Day 11

If you ever get a chance to stay with Michael & Melinda I highly recommend staying in their 2nd bedroom. It could possibly be the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in. The mattress itself is super comfortable, but then add flannel sheets (yum), a down throw (mmm), a quilt (yawn), and really plush pillows (snore) and you've got yourself a great nights sleep.

Mel made a wonderful breakfast and Michael contemplated going skiing. He ended up staying home and watching the Laker game instead. Mel and I decided to take a little sightseeing trip. As we were leaving the house she noticed that the truck had been parked under the downspout from their roof and a rather large icicle had formed on the front of the truck. I'm sure I've never seen anything like it. She said it's happened before.

I guess it's one of the hazards of living in the mountains. But I thought it was pretty cool.

We headed into town to look at all of the adorable shops. First stop was the coolest toy store I've ever seen. Very Babes In Toyland with old fashioned toys mixed in and amongst newer toys on a wall of old built-shelves. Even candy in jars on the sales counter filled with sour patch kids, assorted gummy bears and worms, jawbreakers, butterscotch discs and gumballs. The woman running the shop told us that they're eventually going to be expanding into the place next door which they're planning on turning into an old fashioned ice cream parlor/soda fountain. Fun, right?

We also went into a variety of shops in Truckee which is such an adorable town.

The main downtown strip is lined with buildings dating back to the 1800's, and filled with boutiques, cafes, kitchenware stores, and bars. It feels very much like something out of a movie.

My favorite store is a place called The Pharmacy (I believe) which was at no time an actual pharmacy. It used to be a theater, once upon a time, that Charlie Chaplan performed in. It's filled with fancy (and expensive) lotions and candles, lingerie and bedding.

After a lovely lunch and more window shopping Melinda took me to a spot in Truckee where you have a great view of the whole town.

We headed back to the house and sat back to watch Sweeney Todd (love it!). As it was getting on to 7pm, we decided to fire up the grill and have some burgers and grilled veggies. There's nothing quite as entertaining as watching Michael on the grill when it's 30 degrees outside.

We sat around and reminisced about the good ol days and even perused a couple of photo albums. But it got late and we all needed to get some sleep, so we said our goodbyes since I would be leaving before either of them got up. I always hate saying goodbye to Melinda who has always been the sister I never had.
Thanks guys for putting me up and letting me tag along on your weekend adventure. I love you!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Day 10

I left Bakersfield bright and early (6:00am) after stopping by Starbucks for some fuel. Driving along Stockdale Hwy that early in the morning is something pretty amazing. With the windows rolled down the air is crisp and earthy. There aren't many other drivers on the road then so everything is really peaceful. I secretly love driving by acres and acres of fields while the sprinklers are on...something about the "click, click, click" that's so hypnotic and relaxing.

The only thing worth mentioning from this drive was my neverending search for the least expensive highway gas. I'd drivin almost all the way to Sacramento and was getting a little low (but not hurting) so I started checking out the prices...regular unleaded $3.97 (too high, I can do better)...regular unleaded $3.77 (better, but I bet if I head further north the price will keep coming down)...regular unleaded $3.67 (awesome, but maybe one more exit?). I pull off on the next exit (the gas light is now on so it's time to fill up) but I couldn't see the gas price from the freeway. And of course it would be $4.09!!! Serves me right for being greedy, I guess.

I made it to Truckee around 11:30 and drove straight to Michael & Melinda's new house. After big hugs we piled into the car to take Michael to lunch. He works at a Ski Shop (I'm not sure what the name of it is, but these two words are most prominent on their store front) and seems very much in his element. We ate lunch at the Dragonfly ("If I could have a salad with fries instead of lettuce, that'd be great") where the food was extra good but the service was a bit lacking. We weren't asked if we wanted anything to drink and so poor Michael had to drink water instead of the coke he so desperately wanted. It also took a half century to get our food which we all had to eat quickly so that Michael could get back to work.

Mel and I ran a few errands in town. Someone had to get all new makeup since someone caught pink eye. We cruised back to their house to hang out and catch up until Michael got off work so the three of us could drive to Reno for Michael's improv show. His troupe is Empire Improv and it was so much fun. I haven't had an opportunity to catch much improv since I graduated high school where it felt like we went to Comedy Sportz every week.

After some sort of miscommunication, I got the chance to play bartender that night which was kind of fun. Lucky for me the drinks everyone ordered had exactly 2 ingredients (rum & coke, crown & water, vodka tonic, etc.). I totally felt like Tom Cruise from Cocktail! Except without the flair or feathered hair...

I had such a good time that night and laughed (embarassingly) loudly on more than one occassion. They've got more shows in the future, Saturday nights at 8pm, I believe. So if you're in the Reno area and are interested in a great night of comedy, check out Empire Improv.

You've gotta love Reno too because after the show was over, we decided to get a bite to eat. We hit up one of the casino restaurants where you can get Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner any time of the day and with the most interesting people. I saw a woman with the most awesome hair ever. It was bleached blonde, well, somewhere between banana yellow and platinum, and SUPER frizzy. Her outfit was made out of lycra and her companion was sporting a very serious mullet. Only in Reno...

Oh, and it was snowing as we were driving home...aahhh...cold. Loving it!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Day 9

Today I spent at home in my pjs just relaxing with my parents. We just lazed around eating and snacking, chatting and playing Mexican Train (which, if you've never played before, is pretty fun). It was the perfect way to wrap up my trip to Bakersfield and the best prep for heading back out onto the open road.

As a tribute to my time here in Bakersfield, I have decided to compile a top ten list of the reasons why I love my home in Bakersfield.

#10-Our house is on the corner. I always loved this about my house. We had a huge front yard, and for my whole childhood, a long side yard that was all lawn...perfect for slip 'n slides, water balloon tosses, and running through the sprinklers on a hot summer day.

#9-My parent's new pet...a stuffed cat. 7 years ago when our family cat, Cinnamon, passed away from a sudden and massive heart attack, a friend of my folks gave them a stuffed cat who pretty nearly resembled Cinnamon, who was a 30 pound long-haired Calico. I remember more than once walking into the living room on a visit home and seeing this stuffed animal on my dad's chest. He was petting it while reading a book and said it's been the best pet they've ever had. Never eats, poops, scratches or sheds. It cracks me up every time I see it.

#8-Steve and Gladys, our lemon & satsuma bushes. Both my paternal grandparents passed away when I was very young so I have very few memories of each. A number of years ago, my parents planted a citrus bush in each of their memories in our backyard...a lemon bush for my grandfather Steve, and a satsuma (orange) bush for my grandmother Gladys. Each year they yield a lot of fruit which my folks are able to enjoy with fond memories.

#7-Ceiling fans in virtually every room. I know that ceiling fans aren't aesthetically pleasing, but they sure are practical here in Bakersfield. Yes, the days are hot, but even summer nights can cool down considerably and I really loved having my window open at night to feel the cool breezes and hear the crickets and having my ceiling fan on low to circulate the air. Sometimes, even in Seattle, I wish we had a ceiling fan as I am always lulled to sleep by the low hum of the ceiling fan motor and a soft breeze on my cheek.

#6-Cinnamon's marker. When we moved to Bakersfield in the summer of '88, I was mourning the loss of my cat Mikey. We had had him in LA for a number of years until we began to pack for our move north and he suddenly disappeared. I was heartbroken. So once we settled in to our house, I pleaded with my parents to get me another cat. I remember the day I looked through the newspaper classifieds and was disheartened to find cats for sale for upwards of $100. I couldn't fathom paying for a cat! As it happened, the same day our new next door neighbor had found a small calico kitten that had gotten stuck on his roof and needed a home. My parents had me do the responsible thing and take the cat around the neighborhood to see if she belonged to anyone. No one claimed her and I was thrilled to have a cat again. We named her Cinnamon for her coloring and I loved her instantly. She, however, didn't take to us, well, ever. She was difficult, fiercely independent, and a real bully...but I loved her nonetheless. When I was a junior in college I got a voicemail from my parents saying Cinnamon, who was quite old and had arthritis in 3 of her paws (in addition to being at least 25 pounds) had, what they believed, to be a massive heart attack. In her honor, they placed a marker in our backyard so that we would always remember her.

#5-My parents' master bathroom. *swoon* This room is one of the reasons my parents bought our house in the first place. You can't tell really from the picture I've uploaded here but their master bathroom is HUGE. It's easily as big as, if not bigger than, our bedroom in Seattle. Tons of closet space with mirrored closet doors, a long bank of cabinetry with 2 sinks, a separate little room for the toilet, a shower that could fit 3 people easily, and a vaulted ceiling with a skylight. They just don't make 'em like they used to...

#4-My bathroom. My brother and I shared a bathroom (gross) for 6 years and almost immediately after he moved out I begged my parents to let me paint it. It was originally off white, everywhere. They resisted. In fact, I'm pretty sure they had their Sunday school class pray about it. They finally gave in. I was super into celestial stuff. So I picked a really pretty shade of blue for the walls and painstakingly hand stamped tiny cherubs and stars in gold paint on the walls. I found other cherub knick knacks to hang on the walls and pictures of cherubs that I framed. What's not pictured here is the dozens of tiny picture frames I made out of cardboard and painted gold with pictures of all of my friends which created a frame around the mirror. I loved being surrounded by my friends when I was getting ready for school in the morning and getting ready for bed at night. I can't believe after all this time (13 years later) that the bathroom still looks the same. Maybe they're waiting for me to paint it back the way it was...

#3-The big kitchen. I'm ruined for life because I grew up with a HUGE kitchen. My parents have updated the appliances, replaced the countertops and flooring and restained the cabinetry, but it has always been this large. I used to dance around the kitchen with the music blasting while my mother was cooking dinner (I'm sure, much to her chagrin) and during the holidays we could comfortably fit 4 people in there all cooking at once. There's a small bar on the other side of the stove which I think I ate breakfast at nearly every day of my youth. It is definitely the hub of the house and one where I have many of my memories.

#2-The pool. Ah, the pool. I used to live in this pool when I was younger. My dad would jokingly check me for gills and webbed fingers and toes at the end of each summer because I spent so much time in the water. I'd have to get a new bathingsuit every summer, not because it was fashionable, but because I'd worn it so often that the chlorine was starting to disintegrate the material. Oh, and my hair! It'd start to lighten up from being in the sun all day and then it would start to turn green from all the chlorine! We even had a ridiculously large floating mattress which had to have been the size of a queen bed which I'd lay on at night, covered with my towel, watching the stars. Though the thermometer today said 73 when I dipped my feet in the water, it was still too chilly for me to take a full swim. But I do love this pool and miss it in the summertime.

#1-My folks. With all the great things about this house, though, the thing I love most about coming home to visit are my parents. I really value our relationship now that I've grown up and we've become friends. I golf with my dad and shop with my mom, get advice on how to invest my money, and appreciate their partnership as I've begun my own marriage. I wish we lived closer so that we can be a bigger part of each others' lives and definitely when Erich and I start our family. I only got to see my grandparents a couple of times a year and I want desperately for my children to know their grandparents...the wonderful, generous, caring, compassionate, loving, funny, and wise people that they are.
*aren't they adorable?*
Tomorrow I head off to Truckee to spend a couple of days with my good friend Melinda and her husband Michael. We'll laugh a ton, no doubt, and enjoy their new home.

Then it's a quick pit stop in Portland before I head home to my husband, whom I miss desperately and love completely.

Day 8

Today was nice and relaxing after the past couple of days. I was able to sleep in again (YAY!) after not sleeping well since before the wedding 4 1/2 months ago. Maybe all this Bakersfield sunshine and heat is plain tuckerin me out! Hopefully, once I get home to Seattle, the good sleeping will continue. There's nothing quite as painful as still being awake when my husband is waking up to go to work in the morning.

Anyway, today I was able to spend most of the day at my parent's house. I did a load of laundry (so I don't have to take a suitcase of dirty clothes home) and took my time getting ready for dinner at the Chambless's. My mom and I went to Gottschalk's so that she could purchase a Willow Tree figurine for a co-worker who is retiring and moving to Colorado. While we were there I couldn't help but puruse the baby clothes section (sorry, honey!). They were actually having quite a nice sale so I found these adorable onesies for the twins.

After we got back to the house, I took off to the sticks to Scott, Lorie & Henry's house for dinner. I stopped off at Trader Joe's to pick up 2 crowns of rolls for my contribution to dinner (on Lorie's suggestion...and they were SO good!). I had a few minutes once I got there to catch up with Scott, with whom time seems to have always stood still. We're always able to pick right up again teasing each other and hurling insults...you know, in a loving way. Soon Marky Mark, Christie & sweet baby Sam showed up. It was so surreal to finally meet Christie and Sam whom I feel I already know from blogging. Christie is every bit as sweet in person as I would've guessed and Sam is every bit as adorable. I got to hold him for awhile and get spit up on, but who minds a little bit of spit up when you're holding a precious child? Marky Mark is the same. Firing off question after question in true interrogation form to find out as much information about my life now in as little time as possible. Though he terrorized me as a child, I can see that he's grown up to be a pretty fantastic husband and father, and I couldn't be happier for him.

Shortly thereafter Sarah Jane & Ryan arrived. It's always so much fun to catch up with these two. We chatted about teaching and got to hear some really hilarious stories of students and co-workers. Ryan always manages to find himself in the most unusual situations which lends itself nicely to great stories. In any case, it's always nice to visit with friends who haven't changed completely just because they're adults. We still laughed at the same poop and fart jokes...

Finally, David showed up to round out our crew. I just adore David. He has always been a kindred spirit of mine, and though we didn't get nearly as much time together to talk, I still thoroughly enjoyed visiting with him in the context of our old group of friends.

We sat down to a wonderfully prepared dinner of chicken from the grill, roasted potatoes and a great spinach salad with tomatoes, and gorgonzola (and rolls!). It was such a fun time of fellowship and remembering old times. Christie even made snickerdoodles which we completely devoured forcing Lorie to bust out some chocolate chip dough from the fridge.

Eventually, we made our way back into the living room to watch The Office (which had a sweet moment that Lorie and I totally 'girled out' over) and 30 Rock ("We count those votes too"). But it was getting late, and soon it was time to say goodbye.

I always hate saying goodbye to my friends here because I never know when I might see them again. Especially with my parents thinking of eventually making the move to the Pacific Northwest, it breaks my heart to think that I wouldn't have an excuse then to come down and visit them. I'd love for my children to be friends with their children, but as life goes on, it seems to get in the way of these hopes being realized. But I really enjoyed myself last night and even thought as I drove home that I think I'd be able to eventually get used to the weather and live here if it meant getting to see these friends more often. I dunno. I guess for all of my youthful 'big talk' about NEVER moving back to Bakersfield, the valuable realtionships I've been able to maintain with life-long friends can soften those hard edges.

Thank you, Chamblesses, for opening your home for our little reunion last night and for graciously feeding all of us. Your generosity of heart and home made it a night to remember. I'm so glad to have blogger to keep in touch and up to date with all that you have going on in your lives. Know that I think of you all often and with much fondness...

I love you all!

*I regrettably didn't get any pictures of last night. Between the chatting and the eating I didn't grab the chance to take my camera out...and truthfully, I was pretty intimidated to take pics with my little point and shoot in the presence of both Lorie and David*

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Day 7

Today was all about hanging with my folks. And we had a really great day together...

Both my parents had some work to do earlier in the morning at the office which was fine since I slept in again. By the time I was up, my mom had come home to take me to lunch at The Country Rose Cottage & Bistro which is a really sweet little house on H Street where a lot of antique stores are located. It's been around for over 60 years boasting that nothing but a new bay window in the living room has changed since they've been open. It is a really quaint older building filled to the brim with knick knacks and tea sets. They sell specialized lotions and soaps, teddy bears and special teas. It's the kind of place that would serve as the perfect backdrop for a bridal shower or a birthday tea party for little girls.
My mom and I both had raspberry iced tea (delicious!), half a turkey croissant sandwich with cranberry sauce and cream cheese, and a cup of cheesy potato leek soup. It was the perfect lunch and very reasonably priced. We had a great time chatting and just spending quality time with each other...something we haven't been able to do in quite some time. Sometimes a gal just needs her mom and I've got a really great one.

After lunch we met my dad for another round of golf. We headed back out to Buena Vista Golf Course, this time with my mom who graciously agreed to tag along and drive the cart. We didn't get started until 1:15pm, so it was already a bit on the warm side (you all know what a wuss I am when it comes to heat) but there was a nice light breeze that blew through every once in awhile. I was able to hold my own a little bit more this round and tried my best not to mooch off of my dad's superior shots. I even got a couple of pars all by myself! About 3 holes into the front 9 we were joined by a couple who had caught up to us. Eric, the husband, is a really seasoned golfer who has done a fair share of golf lessons and was able to offer me some very valuable tips along the way. Christine came along for support, a new golfer who has yet to make it onto the course. We played with them for the remainder of the front 9 and then agreed to get together for another round on Friday for some more tips.
On the back 9, I finally started doing better...hitting my drives straighter and farther, chipping my ball onto the green rather than over the fence, and sinking some very impressive puts. That didn't last terribly long. I joked with my mom that it takes me 9 holes to warm up, then I'm really good for 2 holes and then I start to suck again. My dad blamed it on taking too many practice swings before I finally took my shot. I blamed it on the sun. Either way, by the time we finally eeked our way through the final 18th hole, you could stick a fork in me...I was done. In fact, the mere act of typing this blog entry makes me cringe with each keystroke. But we had a really good time together as a family, "enjoying" the sunshine, sharing some laughs, and making new friends.
What could top off a day like that? Chicken taquitos from Baja Fresh...mmm.

Can't wait til tomorrow!!

Day 6 (well, yesterday)

Yesterday was SO fun! I had a chance to hang out with Lorie & Henry for most of the afternoon and had the best time.

After sleeping in until 9-ish (YAY!), I headed out to the sticks where the Chamblesses live in their gorgeous and comfortable home just in time for Henry to wake up from his nap. He was a little shy at first (who isn't right after a long nap?) and wouldn't take his eyes off of me ("who is this chick? and what's she doing here?"). But after a little while he warmed up and was a total joy for the rest of the afternoon. Lorie says he was on his best behavior, and I think she was relieved to have such a content baby for the afternoon. We met David for lunch at Sequoia Sandwich Company for really yummy sandwiches (and a healthy heaping of carrot cake!). We even ate outside as the sun is still shining brightly, but the temperature has dropped considerably to be in the comfortable 70's. I love this brother/sister combo...they're so honest, so real, so funny, but with so much love. It was a real treat to spend time with both of them and see the truly amazing sibling bond they have developed together. It was also SO good to see David (who I'm pretty sure I haven't seen since M&M's wedding 4 years ago...and even then, only briefly). We were friends through church from elementary school through high school and even moved up to Seattle at the same time but lost touch. Yet, it feels as though little time has passed (don't you love it when that happens?).

After lunch, Lorie & the shrimp and I headed to Target (fun!) to have a look around. We managed somehow to leave the store without purchasing anything, which I consider a triumph...I don't know that I've ever left Target without getting something. By the way, Henry was a complete angel all the way through lunch and through the store. Being on his best behavior must've worn him out completely because on the way back to the Chambless home he passed out. That gave Lorie and I some time to just hang out and have a chit chat, getting caught up on each other's lives and just enjoying each other's company. I decided that Lorie is a truly amazing woman...managing a family and a household, participating actively in their church, maintaining close ties with her friends, and actually accomplishing a career that she is so passionate about. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little green with envy by the time I said goodbye.

I immediately hopped on the phone with my husband and told him that he was in big trouble.
He asked, with trepidation, "Uh, why? What'd I do?"
I replied, "Nothing. It's just that I caught the fever this afternoon."
"What fever?" he asked.
"Of the baby persuasion."
"Oh. Well, good luck with that."

I'm so excited that I'll have another opportunity to see this lovely family this week as I'll be crashing their weekly family dinner with Uncle Dave on Thursday where I'll also be able to meet Christie & Sam, and visit with old friends Mark, Sarah Jane & Ryan. Yay! It's about time for my 10 year high school reunion, and these are the folks I'd most want to see anyway.

It's times like these when I think I could really live in Bakersfield again, in a community filled with good friends from my past who knew me when I was younger (and still like me!) and love me today. But then I get in my car which is 95 degrees on a 75 degree day and remember why my body won't let me live here. I think I might be allergic to the sun...

Thanks, Lorie Henry & David for a really lovely afternoon! I love you guys!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Day 5

Day 5? Wow...I've been away from home for almost a whole week and while I am having a total blast visiting with family and friends, I am truly missing my husband. It occurs to me that in the 4 1/2 years that we've dated (and now married) this trip might mark the longest stretch that we've been apart. It sounds so lame to say but it really does feel like a part of me is missing (cue the cheesy music). Anyway, I just wanted to say that I appreciate with every passing moment the truly amazing man whom I feel so lucky to call my husband.

That being said, today started early with a round of golf with my dad at the Buena Vista golf course in Taft. We hit the road at 6am, made a quick stop at Starbucks (yum!) and made it just in time for a 6:45am tee time. For the first 3 holes we played separately, with my dad destroying me. After another 2 holes where neither one of us did very well we decided to switch to a scramble, or best ball. What it really is is cheating. We each tee off but play off whoever's ball is closest to the pin, or has a better lie. Once we started playing this way, our score started improving immensely (duh).

I forgot to bring my camera in my haste to leave the house on time which I immediately regretted as the morning was really beautiful. In true Bakersfield form, however, the temperature started climbing quickly by the time we finished the front 9. It was also really windy which makes a sometimes aggrevating sport even more difficult and frustrating, particularly for a new golfer like myself. Needless to say, my dad and I saw a lot of the course, probably some areas that most golfers there never know exist. By the time we finished all 18 holes, around 11:30, it was 87 degrees and I was exhausted. And that farmer's tan I got driving down here is even darker...so, that's awesome. Between the two of us we shot an 86, which my dad tells me is a pretty respectable score.

After coming back to the house to shower and change clothes I headed to my parent's office to have lunch with them and had a chance to visit with some of their co-workers, who are all so amazing. My dad's administrative assistant is a fellow blogger's mother. She is the largest ray of sunshine...so personable and sweet, so expressive and sweet, so energetic and sweet, and did I mention that she's sweet? She helped throw my Bakersfield bridal shower last summer in the midst of preparing for her own son's wedding. It's always such a joy to get to catch up with her.

But the highlight of my afternoon may have been taking my dirty, filthy, windshield-riddled-with-bugs car to the car wash (talkin 'bout the car wash, yeah). The location on White Lane has a "happy hour" from 2pm to close where a car wash is $7.99. They washed the car, hand dried it, vacuumed it, and added new car smell. Now I have a sparkling clean car that smells new. Is there anything better?

My dad is barbequeing a pork loin and roasting potatoes for dinner and we've rented Enchanted and Stranger Than Fiction for later...I'm looking forward to a quiet night at home with the 'rents.

I am REALLY excited to get to spend some time this week with my good friends Lorie, Scott & Henry; David; Mark, Christie & Sam (hopefully); Colleen (maybe); and maybe even Ryan & SJ, whom I've been friends with since the third grade.

More on that later (and hopefully lots of great pictures)!!!

*sorry today was so uneventful...I promise to have more interesting posts soon*
**also, I will post my observations on driving, but later when my dad isn't watching last night's Simpsons**

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Day 4...*yawn*

I arrived in Bakersfield around 5pm today and spent a quiet evening with my folks...

I'll post tomorrow about my long drive here from Portland, but I would like to ask a question...

It is April, right? Not August? So can someone explain to me why it was 247 degrees today along the I-5 corridor? Great, I already have a farmer's tan and it's not even May yet...


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Day 3

So, today was a little less hectic, but we still managed to get a lot done. The three of us went to "The Original Pancake House" for breakfast which was good, but not as good as Dean's yesterday. And, if I may, I find it bothersome this restaurant is a chain with locations all over the United States. How are we, the consumers, supposed to feel not knowing whether the location we are eating at is THE Original Pancake House or not? I have to say, not knowing this made the whole breakfast experience less enjoyable. Well, that and the group 9 high schoolers who came in just after we got our food and started spilling coffee all over the table and floor. Punk kids...

After breakfast we took a leisurely drive along the Columbia River to the Vista House in the Columbia Gorge which is a really cool museum/gift shop/look out over the Columbia River. The day was simply beautiful with crystal clear blue skies dotted occassionally with whispy clouds. I was able to get a pretty good shot (below) which I'll submit for this week's PhotoPie Challenge.

Oh, did I mention that the wind was blowing 180,000 miles per hour?
Thorougly windblown, we returned home to work on more wedding-related craft projects. Today it was assembling gift boxes for close family and the wedding party with a fun surprise inside (I won't ruin it for those who will be receiving them at the wedding, and who might be reading this blog). Monique is ridiculously crafty and SO creative, so each item is meticulously thought through and executed beautifully.

While we were working on the boxes, we had a visitor. His name is Larry and he's the closest thing to a pet that Thomas has. He is a 3-legged squirrel whom Thomas feeds on his back patio, and he's pretty stinkin cute. I think he was apprehensive to come too close since I'm a stranger, but I definitely noticed him perk his ears up when Thomas called out his name (too funny). The leg he's missing is his front left leg (which is hidden behind the branch in this picture), but he's very able and surprisingly fast when scrambling from branch to branch.
After all the excitement of the past couple of days, the three of us are pretty exhausted. I think the three of us will put on our pjs and watch Across the Universe till we all pass out.

Then tomorrow morning, hopefully no later than 4am, I'll say goodbye to my brother-in-law and future sister-in-law and head to Bakersfield...a scant 837 mile drive, which, according to Google maps, should take me approximately 13 hours and 15 minutes. I don't know how much picture taking I'll do along the way, and I might be too tired to blog tomorrow night. I guess we'll just have to wait and see if anything really exciting happens along the way.

Bakersfield or Bust!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Day 2


Today was a long day...a very productive and fun day, but long nonetheless.

I woke up this morning, very well-rested, around 8am and came downstairs to make myself a cup of tea. Thomas was already awake and watching tv so we had a quiet, lovely moment to chat. We eventually woke Monique and got ourselves dressed, and made our way to the small town of Damascus, about 25 minutes outside of Portland, where we had a truly amazing breakfast at Dean's Homestyle Cafe. This place has the really kitchy, country diner feel with customers ranging from Hell's Angels, to older gentlemen who are clearly regulars, to a foursome looking like they were on their way to tee time. I had a perfectly portioned breakfast of two eggs (overeasy), with 2 slices of bacon, and two slices of sourdough toast, complete with homemade raspberry jam and a great cup 'o joe.

Thomas and Monique had equally delicious and satisfying breakfasts (although mine was the only plate that ended up totally clean). We pushed our plates aside and got out their big box of wedding invitations...which, Monique and Thomas lovingly hand-made. Between the three of us we added additional invites to the rehearsal dinner to those family and close friends who will be included in their big day and sealed them all...155 of 'em! A sweet woman at the table next to ours warned us to beware that we could all end up dead from licking the envelopes...obviously a Seinfeld fan!
After we left Dean's we took a scenic trip to Aurora to drive by the location of their wedding ceremony and reception at the well-manicured Heritage House Garden. The garden itself is really beautiful and will serve as the perfect backdrop to their summer wedding and the entire estate is surrounded by a hazelnut orchard (mmm...hazelnuts...). I learned today that outside of Greece, Oregon is the largest exporter of hazelnuts in the world! You learn something new every day...

We dropped the invitations off at the post-office and headed home to work on the wedding favors.
These are the sweetest little envelopes that Monique painstakingly stamped (198 of 'em!) which we filled with Leucanthemum x superbum seeds (aka. shasta daisies). Monique then sewed a little card to each envelope which reads...
She (cleverly) sewed the favors in long strands so that she didn't have to keep cutting them off the sewing machine each time, leaving us with long strands of these adorable favors. I volunteered to cut them apart while watching the new The Office and 30 Rock...I know David wasn't a fan, but I was so happy to have new episodes on that I'd have watched 30 minutes of either Steve Carrell or Tina Fey farting and been plenty entertained...
After we finished up the wedding favors, we headed to the other side of Portland to visit Monique's sister (Colette) and brother-in-law (Fletcher) and their newborn identical twin boys, Eli & Dane who will both be a month old on April 18th. This is (obviously) my brother-in-law Thomas holding both the twins (Dane is on the left and Eli is on the right). The boys are a pretty healthy size for newborns, but in Thomas's big arms look like tiny dolls. Adorable.We finally made it to dinner at Ruby Tuesdays at 8pm for a really delicious dinner...but all three of us were wiped (Monique looked like she could probably fall asleep face first into her chicken pot pie if she stopped moving for too long), so we headed home to crawl into pjs and get some good rest (of course, I had to blog about the day first).

But now I'm off to bed to rest up for more fun, wedding-related craft projects tomorrow! Stay tuned for an update of my adventure!