Thanksgiving Recap

We’re back from Oregon, and Thanksgiving was overall a very enjoyable experience. We got about another inch of snow Wednesday night, but luckily the roads weren’t too bad for our drive. We arrived in Vernonia with plenty of time to relax and visit with Paul’s parents Wayne and Kathy, and his Aunt Ronda and Uncle Mike. Mike and Ronda have two daughters, Stacy and Lindsay. Stacy’s my age, married with a three year old daughter, so she wasn’t at the house for Thanksgiving (she spent it with her husband’s family). Mike picked up Lindsay though, and we all ate dinner together and then played Dominoes.

Friday morning we were up by three thirty to drive to Hillsboro for Black Friday shopping. Our first stop was Fred Meyer. Ronda and Lindsay stocked up on socks, and Paul and I picked up a couple movies. We bought “The Hangover” for Mike and Ronda. We also checked out sales at Kohl’s (where the crowds were just too much and I convinced Paul to walk across the parking lot to Del Taco to get iced tea), Target, Best Buy, and Costco. Kathy and I wanted to go to Barnes N Noble, but they didn’t open until nine, so we grabbed coffee at a nearby Starbucks and talked. Then everyone joined back up and headed over to Shari’s for breakfast. We weren’t all that impressed with the food: the bacon was limp, the hasbrowns were barely cooked, and Lindsay got eggs over easy instead of scrambled, which grossed her out.

Back at the house, we watched “The Hangover” and relaxed until dinner, which was baked lasagna that Paul and I picked up from Pizza Bank. We exchanged Christmas gifts with Wayne and Kathy. We got Wayne both of the newer “Batman” movies, Kathy a wine bottle stopper that’s shaped like a crab (she’s a Cancer, like me), and gave both of them Windows 7 for their computers. They gave Paul and I each a gift card for $100 to Eddie Bauer, so we could get warm jackets for our vacation to Yellowstone in February.

Saturday, Paul and I drove to Beaverton to meet up with my cousin Melanie and her husband Bryan. First we went to the Washington Square Mall to spend our gift cards. We eached picked out a coat. With the sales, Paul’s gift card covered the price of his coat, and I only had to pay $34.95 for mine. I was amazed by the mall and wished we had more time to check out the stores in it. We were meeting my cousins at eleven though, so we headed t McMenamin’s pub to have lunch. I love Bryan and Melanie. They have three kids, Caitlyn, Cristyn, and Camryn, and had all but Caitlyn in tow for lunch. We spent a very nice afternoon munching and hanging out. Then we went back to Vernonia, where Ronda had prepared ham and scalloped potatoes (one of our favorite comfort food dinners). After dinner we played cards. Game nights are one of the things I miss the most about living closer to Paul’s parents. Meeting up in Vernonia worked out really well for us.

On Sunday morning Wayne and Kathy headed out early to go home. Paul and I drove to McMinnville to have lunch with his cousin Stacy and her husband Curt. They had their little daughter Hallie in tow, and she was easily one of the cutest kids I’ve ever seen. We ate at a local Mexican place, and the food was fabulous. Better than places I’ve eaten at in California by far.

After lunch we headed home. Traffic was heavy but not too slow, but still, it was a long trip home. I was tired and ready to be in my cozy bed, and I missed the kitties. I always miss my cats when we’re away, but since I have been away and haven’t had my mom to watch them, I worry about them more. For this trip I didn’t get a sitter, and just left out lots of food, water, and extra litter boxes. We finally got home, checked in on our babies (who were just fine and glad to see us), and went to Boston’s for dinner. They have a s’mores martini. Paul wasn’t all that enamored, but I think it’s fabulous and could drink lots and lots and lots of them.

Monday I decorated the house for Christmas, and Paul helped me put up the tree. So far the cats knocked down six ornaments overnight, and four while I was at work. Overall I’m pleased with how the decorating turned out. Since the downstairs area isn’t all that big, a little bit of decorating goes a long way.

Tonight it’s pouring rain. Paul and I are curled up on the couch watching tv, and everything is good. I’m happy it’s the Christmas season, happy that I have Paul and the kitties and a wonderful life.

The Weekend in Review

It was a weekend that could be considered bad, but I will look past the bad parts and state that overall, it was still good. Saturday I had to work. I started off the morning with a gingerbread latte from Starbucks and overall had a nice day. When I got home, Paul had wrapped his Christmas present for me and done some chores while I was gone. He seemed out of sorts, and I couldn’t really pinpoint what was wrong with him. When I asked he denied anything being out of the ordinary, and finally said he had a bit of a headache. In my mind this settled the question, he often is a bit melancholy when he gets headaches so I didn’t worry about anything further.

We headed out to go to dinner, look for a Christmas present for Paul’s dad, and do our weekly grocery shopping. In the car, Paul revealed that he had found my gift to him while searching for gift bows. I had been really excited about my gift to him, a twelve-piece set of high quality kitchen knives. He loves to cook, and has been drooling over the set for months. Since buying them, I have looked forward to seeing his excited face when he unwrapped them.

Paul and I have a history of Christmases in which he has money to spend and spoils me, while I fail miserably at making him happy. This year, I finally was able to get him a really good gift, something that would really show how much I love him. Finding out that the surprise was spoilt, I was completely upset. I began to sob, wailing that Christmas was ruined yet again. I’d never even considered that he would find the gift before I had a chance to wrap it. I’d stashed it in the guest room closet, where he never goes….unless he’s looking for bows.

Damn. It. All.

Paul was horrified that I was crying. Since I was driving, there wasn’t a lot he could do to comfort me (and was probably not too confident in my ability to sob uncontrollably and steer the car at the same time). He put a gentle hand on the back of my neck, under my hair, and rubbed it soothingly. He assured me it was all right, he loved his gift, he wasn’t disappointed, and he would have me unwrap my present when we got home and just do Christmas gift exchanges very, very early this year. Slowly I quieted down. “Is that why you were acting weird earlier?” I asked, sniffling.

“Yeah, a little,” he admitted. “I debated over whether or not to tell you.”

I wiped my nose on my sleeve. “It was good you told me,” I said, considering things. “You have no poker face.” (He doesn’t.) “I would’ve seen your face when you opened them and known that you knew what you were getting.”

“That’s true,” he agreed.

We went to Azteca for dinner and actually had a pretty nice time, despite my meltdown over the discovery of his gift. At home later, he let me unwrap my gift. I was hesitant about this. I always want to wait until Christmas morning, this year more so than ever because we wouldn’t be visiting family or having traditional Christmas, but he was insistent (and he and I have never made it until Christmas to exchage gifts anyway). I unwrapped the large box he presented me with and found a Kitchenaid mixer, an item I have coveted my entire adult life. It’s black and gorgeous and perfect for baking! Paul may be the cook of the house, but I adore baking and have only recently begun indulging in this enjoyable hobby again.

On Sunday we decided to take a bike ride together. Since I didn’t own a bike, the first order of business was to go to Target and purchase one. As we walked outside, Paul said, “It’s snowing.”

“Yeah right,” I muttered. Weather reports had been calling for snow, but I wasn’t buying it.

“It is,”he insisted. “Look.”

Sure enough, snow flurries were falling.

We still went to Target for my new bike, but decided it would be more fun to take the Jeep out to Highway 20 so we could see thicker snow. That road gets closed down for bad weather conditions in the winter, but this early in the season, it was a great place to see snow. We packed some cheese, ham, and crackers for lunch and went out on our drive. As we followed the road east, the snow grew heavier and the road icier. After lunch, Paul had me slide behind the wheel to get some practice driving in the icy conditions.

It was hard at first. The Jeep wanted to wiggle every time I pressed down on the brake, so I tried to just alternate between gently using the gas pedal and coasting. I was starting to feel a little more comfortable, just as red and blue lights lit up behind me. I’d been watching the road and not the speedometer, and had unknowingly been doing 40mph in a 30mph zone (and, a few hundred feet ahead of me, the speed limit increased to 45mph). The cop who pulled me over was a giant douche, lecturing me about weather conditions and cars in ditches. Whatever, asshole, I thought as I forked over my license and the registration. My vehicle is what yanks cars OUT of ditches. He wrote me the ticket, and Paul rejoiced that I’d managed to be pulled over in front of a full, heated restroom.

We resumed our Sunday drive, and had no more run-ins with the law. We pulled into a viewpoint that overlooked a river, and Paul snapped a few pictures. Then we took turns skidding the Jeep and spinning it out in circles on the icy, snow covered parking lot. That was good fun. When it was my turn, I tried to get in using the rockrails but they were solid ice. No problem, I reached up and grabbed the steering wheel and swung my leg up to pull myself in.


If you guessed that the sound was my jeans splitting at the seam, from thigh to crotch, you’d be right.

And if you guessed that Paul threw back his head and laughed at my plight, you’d also be right.

Damn cheap jeans. Nothing to make a girl feel fat like splitting her pants.

We headed home to make a yummy dinner of bacon-wrapped scallops, baked potatoes, and green beans. While we waited for dinner to cook, we watched a movie and drank Scarlett O’Haras (these are drinks made with Southern Comfort, cranberry juice, and lime juice).

Today it’s snowing harder at home, with weather reports predicting we’ll get anywhere from two to six inches before the storm blows through. Zumba has been cancelled, which bums me out because a lot of people from work were going to come. Ah well, we’ll all get together next week. I made delicious cupcakes with my new mixer. Half have cream cheese frosting, and the other half have peanut butter frosting.

It was interesting trying to get my baking supplies on a snowy day. I ventured out earlier this morning, before the storm had really gotten going. I quickly discovered that the roads don’t get plowed in Marysville. I watched two different accidents occur on my short trip to the store, and saw one older car just sitting in a ditch. People don’t seem to know how to drive in the snow and were skidding everywhere. I was relieved to get into the store.

After the grocery store I headed to Costco for cat litter and margarita mix. Cars were parked at crazy angles throughout the lot. Since the parking lines were still visible, I found snow a poor excuse to park like retards. People are stupid and lazy. I couldn’t be grumpy though, because it was snowing!

I made it home without incident to enjoy my baking and to do some laundry. Now, cupcakes are done, and I’m sipping hot coffee and relaxing. I’ll be glad when Paul’s home from work.

And now the dryer is beeping, so it’s time to get off my butt and fold towels.

Sunday Out

This morning I finally woke up feeling truly better, for the first time in a week. I think this was partially because I went to bed by 7pm last night and didn’t emerge from sleep until 8:30am today. Sleep truly is the best medicine.

Since I had some energy for the first time in days, Paul and I decided to bundle up and go for a walk. This has become one of our favorite pasttimes on Sundays. We find a nice walking trail and explore it together, and afterwards we try a new gourmet cupcake place. Today we started our journey at Marymoor Park in Redmond. I love that park. We headed out on the Burke-Gilman trail, which is one of Paul’s favorites from childhood. We’ve done part of it, a couple of weeks ago, starting in Bothell and walking a little over two miles to Woodinville. The whole trail is huge: it’s eighteen miles long, beginning in Seattle and extending all the way to our starting point last time in Bothell, where it intersects with the Sammamish River Trail. It’s a great place to do some walking or biking. Today, we did four miles total. On our way back to the car, the sun even broke through the clouds. It was a beautiful walk. The fresh air helped me tremendously and I held up way better than I’d anticipated.

After our walk, in keeping with tradition, we drove into downtown Kirkland to try some fresh baked cupcakes. The bakery we went to is called Sweet Cakes. We got two cupcakes each: a mint and a Snickerdoodle flavored cupcake for me, and an Orangecicle and a peanut butter for Paul. We saved two and ate two (I ate mint, he had his Orangecicle). I looooved the mint and Sweet Cakes is my favorite place so far. Paul said that while the frosting on his really was like an orangecicle, he didn’t care for it in cupcake form. We’ll see what he thinks of his peanut butter.

After cupcakes we headed to Bellevue Square, as I wanted to go to Williams Sonoma. Lately I’ve been very into baking, and have created a batch of brownies that were inhaled at my office potluck and a batch of cupcakes that, while tasty, were not pretty. I have not yet figured out how to pipe icing correctly. At the store I found not only the book on cupcakes that I sought, but also a mechanical piping bag. I never knew such a thing existed, but I was intrigued and wanted it. I am now in possession of both my cookbook (bake book? cupcake book?) and the new device.

We left the mall and drove back to Kirkland, where we had hot peppermint mochas from Starbucks and sat by the waterfront, talking. The night was cold but crisp and I loved the fresh air.

Our final stop was back in Bellevue, at a restaurant called Earl’s. We’d eaten there in Canada and it was our favorite dining experience of the vacation. The one in Bellevue did not disappoint: we had fresh salads, superb filet mignon, buttery and garlicky mashed potatoes, and a variety of fresh grilled vegetables, including beets, which I have never been served in any other restaurant but enjoy heartily. The drink menu at Earl’s is also to die for, and Paul and I each allowed ourselves one martini. All in all, the meal was fabulous, and I tipped generously.

Even after all the day’s activities, I still feel pretty good, and I’m happy and relaxed. Today was just the kind of day I envisioned us having when we planned to move to Washington. Life is so amazing right now, I hope we are always this happy.

Learning to Listen

So it’s been a month since I started Zumba, and I’m getting good results in ways I never imagined. I haven’t dropped a lot of weight, I haven’t stuck to a strict diet, and I haven’t been miserable.

I’ve actually been having fun.

The first thing Nancy, my Zumba instructor, tells us at the beginning of each class is to listen to our own bodies. “Nobody knows your body like you do,” she says. After mulling that over though, I realized how little I really did know my own body. For my entire adulthood I’ve been struggling to put myself into what I think I should be: lean, thin, conforming to a cetain look and a predetermined number on the scale. I’ve been at war with my body for as long as I can remember. What got me to Zumba in the first place was my body’s utter rejection of my gym workouts and the realization that what I’d been doing wasn’t working.

Once I slowed down, I realized that I could actually pay attention to how I felt after certain activities or meals and see what works and what doesn’t. Zumba agrees with me. I love the upbeat dance moves and the sight of Nancy’s relentless smile as she leads us to push ourselves beyond our wildest dreams of what we could do. I also love the long walks Paul and I have been taking on our Sundays together. Fresh air is like a drug to me. I get out into the cool, fresh autumn air, and I inhale deeply and fill my lungs with that amazing fresh air and feel instantly happy.

As for food, when I actually pay attention I can tell what my body likes and what it doesn’t. Despite my love of the occasional cheeseburger and fries splurge, after eating that I realized that it made me feel tired, sluggish, and cranky. Pretty much anything greasy has this result. If I’m going to splurge, I’m better off following my sweet tooth. A cookie or a cupcake doesn’t bother me, as long as I keep it to just one. And fresh foods, salads and fresh veggies and lean meats, make my tummy happy.

Portions are also something I’ve revamped. I’ve been eating far less than my body wants for far too long. So now, if I’m hungry I eat a healthy snack, instead of waiting it out because it’s not one of my designated times to eat.

Maybe it’s that I’m not obsessing about what I’m eating for the first time in ages. Maybe it’s that I’ve found an exercise that doesn’t bore the hell out of me, that actually makes me feel good. But whatever it is, I feel better and stronger than I have in a really long time.

Not bad for only a month’s work.