the birthday, round 24

The morning of my birthday I ate my a bowl of my birthday cereal Froot Loops and settled down to watch more of season seven of 24, and get this: I watched the 24th episode of 24 on my 24th birthday. Unplanned. If that isn't a good harbinger for a birthday I don't know what is.

I did something adventurous: rock-climbing with Karen and our cute friend Marie.

I know, it's like you don't even know me anymore.

I ate delicious food. For dinner we went to our favorite restaurant, Manzana's, and got rotisserie chicken sandwiches to-go (with extras of their to-die-for chicken gravy).

And then we ate them at a park.

Then Josh gave me one of my presents, Sof-Bocce ball. We played, and I won. Obviously. I mean, it was my birthday.

I Skyped my family after we got back, and we had a good time conversing with them via video chat.

The next day I made two birthday cakes: my traditional yellow cake with pink fluffy frosting, and this chocolate peanut-butter cake. Would you believe me if I admitted that I forgot to take pictures again? I know. I guess that means I'll just have to make more cake so I can photograph it, right?

My birthday cake from 2009, incidentally the last birthday cake my grandma made for me. That cake is only two layers, guys. It's my dream to bake high cake layers.

We had several of our friends over at Jeff and Karen's for a little party, and it was lots and lots of fun.

For my entire birthday weekend I felt loved and special, exactly how you're supposed to feel on your birthday.

So far, 24 is a pretty good place to be.


DisneyLand highlights and other noteable mentions

We spent three full days at DisneyLand and took the parks by storm.

:: I ate pavement before I even stepped foot inside the park and doctored my knees and hands with Band-Aids and Neosporin religiously throughout our stay. Now I have another three-and-a-half-inch cosmic bruise.

:: We waited in lots of lines. (Isn't that a so-cute picture of Estee and Jeremy?)

:: But it was so worth it, because we got to ride lots of rides like Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Grizzly Rapids.

:: We rode roller coasters like Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, and California Screamin'.

:: We even had a couple of character run-ins, like Jeremy's with Brer Bear. (Um, terrifying. This encounter had us all in fits of laughter.)

:: We also ate a lot. Like, a lot. I'm talking deep-fried Monte Cristos here. Heavens. And don't forget the turkey legs.

:: Oh yeah, and the ice cream for dinner.

:: After riding Star Tours eight times (I joined him for only three times), Josh customized his own light saber.

:: My top-three favorite rides are the Hollywood Tower of Terror (I was surprised too), Thunder Mountain, and Grizzly Rapids.

:: I really like this picture of Josh and Nicole.

:: Can I just say how impressed I am with the overall cleanliness of DisneyLand? Because I am. I wasn't even grossed out in the bathrooms.

:: We came home yesterday with sore feet and smelly clothes, and we were oh so glad that we got to spend this time with our family in the best amusement park ever.

:: Really, I'm not a big amusement park kind of girl, but DisneyLand proves the exception. So if you're like me when it comes to lines and rides and crowds (meaning you almost always avoid them), give Disney parks a shot, because they're awesome. I mean, I even liked the roller coaster that threw me upside down. I know. I had a blast, readers. So. much. fun.

:: You should check out Estee's recap of the trip. And don't forget to watch the video. Seriously, watch the video. 


the airport bag

By the time this posts, I'll be in California ready to soak in the rays and the magic of Disney Land with the Wilsons. As I'm writing this I have about four and a half hours before I have to wake up to go to the airport, so most of my packing and preparation happened tonight.

When I travel I make sure that my carry-on is replete with satisfactory entertainment. Remember when I forgot to bring the second book to work? Same principle. Thus, my airport bag contains two books, two embroidery projects, and one iPod. For a two- to three-hour flight. I'm totally ready.


some miscellany

:: Right now I'm re-watching season seven of 24, and it reminds me forcibly of when I watched it for the first time with Emily. One of the early villains is General Juma, an African warlord. He's terrifying. One time Emily and I postulated about how horrifying it would be to find Juma under your bed. A couple days later Emily presented me with the Juma Cube, a set of images of Juma that Emily printed out and assembled into a 3D cube. This way, Juma really could be under my bed. Every time I think about the Juma Cube I laugh. It's in Colorado now, and as far as I know is still intact. I wish I had a picture to show you.

:: When we were in Colorado last month Sarah surreptitiously reentered her name in my phone to Bruno Mars (I find all his music inane). I kept it that way and laugh every time she calls or texts. And speaking of Sarah, she started a blog too! You should definitely check it out.

:: I was online checking the TSA regulations for what's allowed in a carry-on because I want to take some embroidery with me tomorrow. They actually specify meat cleavers as an item prohibited in a carry-on. Meat cleavers. And sabers. My embroidery scissors, though, are a go.


knowing when to call it a day

I knew it was time to put the sewing machine away for the night when I sewed the zipper through the entire dress twice.

Regardless, I like how this project is turning out. Just call this a minor setback.

I'll tackle it tomorrow.

the ultimate setup

Pretty much this is the setup I've been enjoying every afternoon all week. Not pictured is the television in front of my dining-table-turned-sewing-table, so I've been polishing off season seven of Gilmore Girls and the movie Mansfield Park.

Since becoming unemployed my computer time has reduced to a mere fraction of what it used to be, resulting in over 200 unread blog posts in my Google Reader and no pinning for days. This computer break is kind of nice, really. When I hit the job search hard again, though, I'll inevitably spend more time on the computer and will hopefully return to blogging regularly and commenting and pinning.

And when I hit the job search hard, I'll have to confront the looming threat of the professional life crisis that's been hovering over my mind and emotions, the crisis that will force me to define what I want and what I'm going to do, the crisis that will very likely compel me to take some risks. But for today, I'll ignore the crisis cloud and transform the dining table into a sewing table and continue watching Downton Abbey on Netflix.


12 of 12: august 2011

I thought it was neat that this month's 12-of-12 happened to fall on my last day of work. This week has been full of many last-things, and it was relieving to finally be finished.

01. A 10 a.m. Coke Zero--obviously
02. Checking in my key and key fob
03. Talking to Josh in the parking lot because it's a really boring day
04. Job hunting (I think my search criteria was only a place, hence the engineering postings for which I am clearly unqualified)
05. The mini chocolate cupcake a coworker brought me for my last day, one of four actual acknowledgments that I'm leaving (if other people knew, they said nothing)
06. The flowers that Emily sent me! Totally made my day
07. My last FedEx package
08. Checking to make sure that time really was progressing because my day felt interminable
09. My last view of IDL Worldwide
10. My bag of personal effects
11. My average speed during the commute (10 mph--10)
12. Commute time: 1 hour, 20 minutes, a commute I will not miss


belated reminder

I know this is a little late, but don't forget that today is the 12th! Pull out your cameras and start documenting—it's not too late!

To learn more about 12-on-12, go here.


perhaps a little too ambitious—a post in which I use many italics

The end of my work contract comes at an interesting time. I'll have one job-less week before heading to Disney Land with all the Wilsons, so as far as job hunting goes, it might be hard to get going before the trip. I mean, some job searching needs to happen, but still.

All of a sudden I have this open week in which I know that I won't have to go to work. (Plus I've earned a week of paid vacation through the staffing agency that they're willing to pay me for after the contract ends, so really, I will be getting paid next week. Score.) And that week is becoming more and more magical the closer it gets.

I have many plans, the most important one being turning into Super Woman so I have a chance at actually accomplishing everything I've dreamed in my mind. My to-try-to-do list for next week includes but is not limited to the following:

:: exercising every morning
:: reading by the pool
:: finishing season 7 of 24
:: sewing two dresses—one dressy, one casual
:: making dinner more than once
:: starting and finishing at least three embroidery projects, all gifts for other people
:: cleaning the whole apartment from top to bottom
:: going to HomeGoods
:: going to the temple
:: thrifting
:: taking the car for a tune-up and oil change
:: finishing The Kennedys with Josh (thank you, Allison—we're hooked)
:: planning my cake buffet birthday party
:: and writing the great American novel (obviously)

So, yeah, it's going to be a full week. And I know, I won't be able to do all of these things. But I can have fun trying, right? (Really, though, don't worry—finding a job is still very much a priority here.)

And yes, I do really want to finish both dresses.


a blog shout-out

My brother, John, just started a blog over the weekend! I love it when my faraway family members blog, because that's just one more way for us to stay connected when we live so far apart. He's a high school senior and super tall. And he's a wonderful, wonderful younger brother. So go and check out his blog!


Mount St. Helens, or what happens when you marry into an adventurous family

{Low-level recreator: one who is content to vacation at home, preferably while drinking Diet Pepsi and eating peanut-butter M&Ms}

When you consider yourself a low-level recreator, you may not consider yourself particularly adventurous. So when you end up marrying into a family of mid-level recreators, you sometimes do adventurous things you probably wouldn't do if it was up to you.

You may drive up to Mount St. Helens with the in-laws (which adds one more state to your Have-Been List, a list that has, up to this point, been remarkably small, a result of your low-level recreator status).

And you do things that you know you're comfortable with, like picnicking and checking out the visitors' center. You even get to watch a movie about the Mt. St. Helens explosion—it's pretty cool.

Then the adventure steps up a notch when you start hiking. Remember, your last major hiking experience was not great.

You're still feeling pretty good about this adventure, because the trail is wide and you see lots of pretty wildflowers. Your husband may love the wildflowers and insist that you take pictures of



new flower

 you see.

Even the ones that are kind of ugly.

Then the trail starts to narrow, and you find yourself on a ridge with a steep rock wall on one side and a sloping cliff plummeting a thousand feet on the other.

Don't forget that there are hikers going both ways on the trail.

One time your foot slips, and you're nothing short of terrified. And your husband almost has a heart attack, ready to dive down after you to catch you with his walking stick.

After a quarter mile of this craziness, you reach a resting point. And the view is pretty great.

So you make sure that you document your adventurous family with the pretty scenery.

Don't forget the boys. They were happy to make it too.

Then you head back, hoping that your feet stay steady.

They do, and you proceed to offer silent prayers of unending gratitude.

You make it back to the car and wind up zoning out on the drive back, because you see, you had a pretty adventurous day.

And even though you're not naturally adventurous, it's good for you to step outside your comfort zone like this.

Because really, you had lots of fun, and you realize that your husband's adventurous family is the perfect complement to your low-level recreator-ness. 

And you end up really liking that.


finding a fit

Let's get a few things straight: I may not have enjoyed very much what I do at my job; however, I have very much enjoyed having a job. Jobs are hard to come by right now, and I have been grateful every day for the job that I have. And even though my duties haven't been anything glamorous, doing my job well is very important to me.

So you can imagine the conflicted feelings I had when my supervisor informed me that the company is ending my contract in lieu of hiring a gallery director (for our lower floor) who will absorb my responsibilities. This was unexpected and carries a few contrasting emotions. Since I started this job, the end seemed indefinite, and so I tried to adjust accordingly. Now all of a sudden, I have one week left with nothing lined up to follow.

In many ways, this change is a relief. Perhaps now I can devote more time and energy toward looking for a job that better fits my skill set and that's closer to home.

When I think about this new unknown in our life, part of me fills with anxiety. I hate job searching, because it's so full of rejection and dead-ends. Also, we've really come to enjoy the reassurance that comes with that extra cushion of income each week. The other part of me, though, fills with the anticipation that so often accompanies opportunity.

I feel . . . released. I feel like I have the opportunity to find a job that fits, maybe in not every way, but in at least some ways.

Yes, I will not miss this particular job, but I will miss having a job. So here's to opportunity, finding a fit, and maybe sneaking to the pool for some reading in the interim.


OSR: July 2011

I slowed things down a bit in July when I decided to reread (for the third or fourth time) East of Eden, and I like mentioned last week, that is a book to savor. So I finished these books within the first two weeks of July.

Sarah's KeySarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was really compelled during the first half. I loved how the author told Sarah's story in tandem with Julia's research. When Sarah's narration abruptly ended, however, I was a little disappointed in how the rest of the story panned out. I liked Julia well enough, but I didn't enjoy her narration on its own nearly as much as I did when it worked with Sarah's telling.

I really appreciated this account of the Vel' D'Hiv, especially since I hadn't known about that piece of French history. Despite the interesting historic aspect, I found the conclusion unsettling and a little depressing. This book was good but didn't quite live up to its potential.

Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with FoodMindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food by Jan Chozen Bays

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Coming from a belief system that values the human body, I found the concept of mindful eating attractive. Instead of focusing on "good" and "bad" foods, the author encourages becoming in tune with the body and what it needs and wants. Bays advocates eating slowly and purposefully, stopping when you're satisfied instead of bursting at the seams. While some of the theories proposed in this book are a little too new age for me, I like the idea of evaluating the different types of hunger we feel and the goal of appreciating and valuing eating instead of controlling it.

Take what you want from this book, and don't feel bad about disregarding the rest.

Little BeeLittle Bee by Chris Cleave

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I debated between giving this book 3 or 4 stars. How about 3.75? I ended up liking the story and found the perspective of a refugee girl fascinating. I had a harder time liking Sarah's narration, because I just have a hard time sympathizing with adulterous protagonists. I did end up liking Sarah at the end, but it took me a while to get there. The writing was original and thoughtful, and the message of hope at the end was empowering. Little Bee exposed me to a world I know little of, and I appreciated that.

BossypantsBossypants by Tina Fey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you're a 30 Rock or SNL fan, you should read this. (And really, if you aren't a fan of those shows, I don't know what would draw you to this book in the first place.) Sure she gets up on her soapbox a few times, but it's her memoir, so really we can't blame her on that one. The best part about this book? Bossypants reminds us that it's way more fun to laugh at yourself than to take yourself too seriously.

And for the record, I plan on tuning in to 30 Rock's sixth season this fall. Can't wait.

View all my reviews

Yesterday I realized that I was only about 100 pages away from finishing East of Eden, and I've been so swept away by this book for the past few weeks that I haven't given thought to what I'm going to read next! I promptly put four books on hold at the library for pickup today or tomorrow. Close call, guys.

{If you don't want to wait to September to read the East of Eden review on the blog, be sure to click on the link at the bottom of the post that says "View all my reviews." The review should be up today or tomorrow.}


reunited with 30GB of entertainment

Remember when I mentioned that my iPod was fried? I went for most of July without my iPod, and it was a colossal bummer. I do realize that unplugging myself is good every once in a while, and so I tried to take advantage of the new quiet in my life . . . and ending up lugging the laptop in to the bathroom with me while I got ready in the morning so I could have some company, courtesy of Netflix streaming.

I found a refurbished player on eBay for a reasonable price, and as soon as it came I sent it off to Emily so she could restock it for me. (My laptop with most of my music won't run iTunes, so really I had nothing.) She sent it back promptly, and it arrived yesterday.

I've spent all morning looking through my stocked iPod, recompiling my playlists and rediscovering music I'd forgotten about. And of all my listening options—options that include Ingrid Michaelson, the Weepies, and She & Him—I'm currently jamming to "Entering Bootytown" from the Music and Lyrics soundtrack, because that's just what feels good right now.

I know.

If you're needing some Tuesday ear-candy, give "Pop Goes My Heart" a go. And then maybe just go watch Music and Lyrics to get the fix I know you're really dying for.

You're welcome.


locating some summer

Can you believe it's already August? July always feel like the most summery of months, and I think I did a good job this month of finding some of that summer that I've lost. My weekend was especially summery.

We played putt-putt golf and ate cake for Jeff's birthday (and I sustained a couple of mosquito bites from the mini golf, and even though we hate them, mosquito bites are very summer).

{This cake was about two inches taller when I frosted it, but the weight of the frosting smashed the bottom layer! Regardless, it turned out well enough to not make me want to throw it, and that bottom layer bounced right back after I laid the pieces flat.}

We ate lunch at the Lake Oswego farmers' market on Saturday. 

I enjoyed a genuine bratwurst (hello, bratwursts scream summer).

I also indulged in a chocolate croissant. (Do you really need a season to enjoy a good butter-saturated pastry? Of course not.)

We walked around Lake Oswego in weather perfect enough to allow shorts and simultaneously ward off sweating.

We topped off our weekend with naps, sewing, Thai take-out, a stay-in date night, embroidery, a bike ride, and some badminton.

This weekend was full of summer, and I'm ready to have another month of summer, complete with skirts, more bike rides, ice cream sandwiches, $5 movies, DisneyLand, and my 24th birthday.
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