Saturday, October 30, 2010

Backlog blog #2 - Mustache party!

A few weeks ago Robyn asked if I wanted to attend a Tom Douglas event at the Palace Ballroom downtown. It was an “Extreme beer and mustache” party. Even though it was pouring rain and traffic was more stop than go, we were determined to get our mustache on. Here we are preparing for the rain:

As soon as we walked in we were greeted with a ‘mustache making station’ full of sample patterns and creepy, hairy cloth. I opted for the classic eye-liner stash. Our friend Shanda met us there and together we were quite the trio:
I’m not sure why mustaches and extreme beer go together, but to match the beer was some really weird food. That was good for me since I’m not much of a beer drinker (though I did enjoy the peanut butter brew). Among the delicacies were pickled pig ears (kinda weird), fried pig feet (DELICIOUS), and donuts with peanut butter sauce.

Apparently Robyn and Shanda have a long history of ‘dares’ in which Robyn gets dared to do something ridiculous for a minor reward… and always does it. That night it consisted of approaching a group of 3 good looking, seemingly single dudes and doing a series of moves with her mustache. Now, I will do all manner of ridiculous things, but when it involves strangers I get wicked embarrassed. I. Was. Dying. I even hid in the corner while she started it, but got the courage to watch the end. It ended up being just what those dudes needed because they were total drips.

Of course, after all that beer the extreme food hadn’t really cut it so we headed over to Mama’s in Belltown for some greasy Mexican food. I left my mustache on and got a lot of stares and comments, which resulted in us crashing the table of a reunion of random guys who had flown in from around the country (possibly for a wedding). Somehow they managed to get all three of us riled up: me because someone was shouting that Boston sports are the best of all time (I loathe Boston sports teams and fans); Robyn because one of them said he was pretty sure that "Chilean sea bass is on the GOOD list" for seafood you can eat (it's actually one of the worst); and Shanda because one of them said that "animals don't have rights."

Fake mustaches: check. Weird beer and food: check. Greasy Mexican: check. Fighting with total strangers: check, check. Good times!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Backlog blog #1: Autumn bake-a-thon

What is it about the fall that makes you want to bake your heart out? For the few weeks before I moved I was cooking like crazy. This was partly due to a large harvest of apples for the organization Lettuce Link. Morgan, Adam and I picked close to 200 pounds of apples from a huge tree in Ballard. The ones that weren’t nice enough to donate to the foodbank we took home in giant bags. K and I cooked from my 2 bags of apples for about 3 weeks. This included apple sauce, multiple apple crisps, and two apple pies plus two mini turnovers:

The one with the heart cut-outs was for our friend's birthday and the one with the owl and "mouse" cut-outs was for us:

The apple bags also provided a giant pot of apple butter, using my grandma’s recipe. This led to my first ever canning experience. It was easier than I thought!

I was also prepping for this year’s chili cook-off. I won in the vegetarian category last year with Mole chili and knew I needed to bring it big time this year. So, I did a weekend of trial chili cooking and made three experimental versions including lamb and fava beans, eggplant, and avocado. I started everything from scratch, including roasting my own tomatoes and other veggies (the start of some applesauce is also pictured):

Eggplant chili was not my best idea ever. The rest of it was tasty, but non of it was award winning. So, I started from scratch and did experimental chili weekend #2, this time with 3 versions of what I ended up submitting. Here is round 1; close, but no cigar:

Then one weekend K and I started going crazy in the kitchen and produced a ton of muffins and apple bread, and also this pot of wild rice, squash, and sage soup that we made up based on what we had in the house and brought to some friends who just had a baby. It was like Thanksgiving in every mouthful, which inspired my second chili idea. More on that in the chili cook-off post!

Even though it's no longer my kitchen I think many more such inventive and productive days will take place there. (That is some foreshadowing for a planned "jamming and canning" day taking place tomorrow . . . I can hardly wait!)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cali, the best little white dog ever

This post is in memory of Cali, the Westie that brought us so much happiness these last 10 years.

My parents and Tessa got Cali right after I went to LMU in August of 2000. They named her Cali since, at the time, Anne and I were both living in California (or at least that's what they told us). She was a shelter dog and my mom won a very competitive lottery to get her. It was clearly meant to be.

The last few months Cali hadn't been feeling so hot and it was eventually discovered that she had cancer. Last weekend she was put to rest. My mom says that she's with Abbey now (our first childhood dog who we had for almost 15 years) and Abbey is telling her how spoiled she was, which is true, but she more than kept up her end of the bargain with lots of love and entertainment. I especially miss watching her run laps around the house like an insane wind-up toy and Tessa getting her to "roooooll over!"

I resisted writing this post because it was so sudden I couldn't wrap my head around it, but after visiting the house and seeing it without her in it, reality sank in.

RIP, Cali. You are and will continue to be missed!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Epic Tale of an Easy Move

I wrote most of this as it was happening and before I knew it it was 4 pages long. I figured I’d go back and edit it down but now I’m feeling too lazy, so I’m posting it in its entirety. I encourage all but the most dedicated (or bored) readers to scroll for pictures and ignore the rest.

Friday, October 1: “Easiest Move Ever”

Friday after work I met Robyn at my building to pick up the keys. Then it was down to Columbia city to meet Casey and Joseph and load our cars with my well-packed goodies which I had arranged on the stairwell for easy transfer (plus M’s truck with my sweet new dining room chairs). Joseph described it as the easiest move ever, which I’m totally grateful for because I hate asking people for help. (I will never move without movers again – see why below.)

I think Casey and Robyn were competing for most hard-core mover. I frequently saw each of them stack a heavy box on top of a heavy box (Casey: “It’s not that heavy”) and hoof it up the 2 flights of stairs to my apartment and sprint back for more, while I was totally gasping for air with my one box.

The time span between when we started loading in Columbia city to when we finished unloading in Capitol hill – including 20 minutes of drive time – was 1.5 hours. Not bad! I meant to take pictures but it went so fast I didn't get a single one.

I took Casey and Joseph out for Mexican at El Gallito afterward, and had taken Robyn to Catfish Corner before… I may or may not have had two heavy, fattening dinners. But hey, it was moving day! Which I applied, more or less, to the whole weekend.

Saturday: There’s always time for acupuncture and a party (especially if you have movers)

Saturday was jam-packed. It was my last night/morning a the Columbia city house, which naturally started with waffles and acupuncture (where I got extra needles for ‘energy’ and ‘stress’ to help me through the move). After that K and I separated our kitchen items and I packed more of my stuff and headed over to Capitol hill (with a pit stop at Lowe’s) to clean the disgusting carpet pads before putting down my gorgeous Persians. (Did I mention it’s been a lifelong goal of mine to own Persian rugs, and I realized that dream thanks to this awesome woman? She only sells hand-knotted rugs and it was so fun choosing which ones to get.) I bought a huge “palace rug” and a runner with bats embroidered into it for protection, both from small villages in Iran. So awesome. Here's the palace rug (it's 12 feet by 9 feet):

K came later to help me put away my new kitchen and unroll and position the Persians, and then – bless her- came BACK (with Toddler J, snacks, and flowers) to help me decide where to put the furniture. Which brings me to… the furniture.

Robyn and I had gone to Sansaco the weekend before where I bought, for the first time in my life, new furniture. I got a micro suede chocolate brown chaise lounge couch with a huge ottoman. It is so, so comfortable.

I also got a bedroom set (of which only 2 of the 6 pieces of furniture are actually in the bedroom and I sold the frame that came with it), and a big, beautiful, dark wood trunk. I also bought a new bed. Not only was all of this delivered to me, but I talked the furniture guy into swinging by the Columbia city house to pick up a dining table and a desk that K generously gave me on ‘long-term to permanent loan.’

Can I just say that I have never been so happy to pay for a service?? For $200, two people who were not me or any of my friends or family hoofed ALL MY SHIT up two flights of stairs, removed the packaging, assembled items, and positioned it all exactly where I wanted it. I gave them each a sparkling water and a $20 tip and we were all happy.

I spent a lot of Saturday making discoveries about my new space, some delightful like my vacuum fits perfectly in the little closet next to the door. So does Toddler J:

Also, I have adorable kitchen cabinets that open every which way, and my bathtub is abnormally large. Others not so great, like my showerhead still wasn’t fixed; the toilet doesn’t flush properly; there is only one electrical outlet in the bathroom and it’s near the ceiling; and I had measured poorly and although my dresser fit in the closet, the drawers couldn’t open (nice work, Arch). It’s fun discovering all the personality traits that make me feel more and more intimate with a space I hope to occupy for a long time. I might even throw a “it’s been 6 months and I’m not moving!” party.

Saturday night was Robyn’s 6th annual wine party which is always a scene unto itself. I double-whammied Robyn since not only did I NOT help her with the party, but I made her help me move as well. Mad props, RB. The party, as always, was a ball, and even though I was exhausted I was among the last to leave, and even gave people rides home. Despite a new, comfortable bed my calves were aching from all the up and down. From my front door it’s 2 flights of stairs up, but from my parking garage it’s 4. I will become very intimate with these stairs over the next few days.

Sunday: IKEA yes, football no

Once my legs were appeased by aspirin, I slept well in my new bed in my new room and woke up later than usual on Sunday morning (“usual” and “late” being relative since I woke up before 10, whereas not 2 years ago 10 would have been early) and, failing to get a hold of any of my football buddies I decided to take the plunge and go to IKEA, thinking – naively – that I would make it back in time for the 1:00 games.

Oh, IKEA. What a trip that place is. It’s so freaking huge. I started getting discouraged when after 30 minutes I only had 1 thing in my cart and had to stop for fuel at the cafĂ© – I resisted the 15 meatball special (and by “resisted” I mean “gagged at,” especially since one could, if one wanted to further clog an artery, add 5 more for $2) and got a bowl of Italian wedding soup which probably had my weekly sodium allowance but I felt better and continued on the trek. By the time I got to lighting I was super punchy and going through the curtains was an utter blur, but I somehow managed to make it home with a cartful of mostly relevant and useful items, 2.5 hours and $500 later. Considering the most expensive thing I bought was $40 (and the next most expensive was $15), that was a lot of hoofing up the stairs from my car to the apartment. Here's my receipt, for posterity:

It’s funny… I’ve moved an average of once every 6 months for the last 5 years. But never once during those moves did I have to furnish an apartment. I completely forgot how much STUFF you need in a household. Ok, “need” is totally relative because I absolutely did not NEED a dining room table runner or candlestick holders or under-cabinet lighting, but I wanted them to make my apartment feel more like my home.

I spent a good portion of the rest of Sunday scraping IKEA stickers off all my purchases and screwing the knobs into the 25 drawers on my dresser, sideboard, and end tables, and didn’t watch a minute of football. I did, however, win my fantasy game, which made me the dark horse winner two weeks in a row.

Monday: Back to work and finding things to put in all these drawers

I wasn’t rested when I got to work on Monday but I was thrilled to be walking to the office, plus I was pretty well moved in, except for my bedroom which was a disaster. The apartment has been painted so many times (and the wood has warped over the years) that nothing closes like it should, and the bar to hang clothes on in my closet was so abnormally large and so coated with paint that it was impossible to get a hanger over it. This – along with many other things – will get fixed on Tuesday.

I spent a lot more time unpacking and organizing Monday night after meditation class. A lot of my giant bins have been packed for a year – since I left for Argentina – and it was a little like Christmas opening them up. Some things I was really excited about, and others I was totally baffled by why I had saved them in the first place.

Late Monday evening my friend Brian came over to assess some projects I’d asked for his help fixing. I gave him my keys for him to come back the next day and go to town.

Tuesday: 95% done. Awesome.

True to his word, Brian spent the better part of the day working on my apartment. He: installed a new closet rod (hanging up clothes has never felt so good); sanded down several surfaces so doors would close properly; hung a shelf above my stove (which involved some customizing); hung lighting under that shelf; and installed a new faucet since I didn’t like the one my kitchen came with. He also solved a conundrum with a lamp in about 30 seconds that I spent a good 15 minutes scratching my head over.

I also (finally!) got the landlord to get the maintenance guy to fix my showerhead, and it was my great and pleasant pleasure to realize that, despite being on the top floor on a hill, I have very reasonable water pressure!

Meanwhile, Brian and I went to my friendly neighborhood bar, the Redwood, literally a block away. I bought us drinks and dinner and then he finished up the last job and we each went on our merry ways. Thanks for coming through for me, BK!

Tuesday night I finally felt like I could do two very important things: go grocery shopping and do laundry. I needed all the basics so even though I spent $100 at Trader Joe’s I came away with nothing for lunch the next day, but did stock my wine cabinet and bought multiple types of oils, condiments, and dried goods.

It’s hard for me to settle into a new kitchen since almost everything I cook is a combination of random ingredients in my fridge plus standards in my pantry. Since I have no random ingredients, plus no spices since I can’t find spice jars I like, cooking is almost impossible. But once I get started, watch out! I have a feeling great things will come from this kitchen.

Once I got home and hoofed my groceries up the stairs it was time to start laundry. Luckily I secured both detergent and a roll of quarters from the store. The building has 3 washers and, I am embarrassed to say, I occupied them all at once. But it was late at night and a special circumstance – I had to wash all my linens and towels that had been sitting in storage for a year, and I had to get it done before Thursday to accommodate an incoming guest. I swear I’ll never do it again! No one seemed to be waiting in line so I think I got away with my laundry faux paus.

Wednesday: Market dinner and the last 5%

Wednesday I met K to show her the mostly finished apartment and then we headed to the farmer’s market and made dinner, a Wednesday night tradition. We made tuna ceviche and chicken tacos and it was delicioso. I also picked up (almost all of) the rest of my stuff and the last big missing piece: my plants! My windows felt naked without them and they really make the space pop.

Last thoughts

I LOVE MY APARTMENT. It has great light, layout, energy. It’s spacious but cozy and not only does everything go together, but it’s all my taste and style. Minimal but comfortable. Dark woods, browns, and reds. Soft lighting. I do still have to think about hanging up some wall decorations of which I have plenty, but I’m in no hurry. For now I’m letting the rugs and the plants be decoration enough.

With all things considered (including movers and other incidentals like feeding my friends who helped me) I’ve spent 10% of my annual income on this move (living the American credit card dream) but considering I bought all new furnishings plus an entire household of random goods I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.

There's no place like home!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Meet Harriet the Lionheart - er, head

The 'what strange thing did you do?' comments have it!

Meet Harriet, my new Lionhead bunny. She's 8 weeks old, loves hay, water, and my friend Nathan's lap, and is apparently supposed to get cuter once she's fully grown. I call her Hattie for short.

They're called Lionheads because of the mane of fur around their face (and legs) that is separate from their main mane. Yes, she's two-maned. As she gets bigger the longer mane will become even more pronounced. She'll also probably put on about 1 more pound, rounding out at an even 3 lbs. She's actually a 'show bunny' with an official pedigree and all, which might sound expensive but I assure you was not.

People say bunnies are often mean and smelly, but Lionheads are known for their sweet temperament and for potty training themselves, and so far no offensive smells have permeated the place.

During the day she stays in her cage, but when I get home I let her out to roam. She likes hiding under my toilet and my side table but does a fair amount of exploring as well. If she's really digging life she'll do what's apparently called a 'binky' which is literally a jump for joy in which she hops up in the air and kicks her legs which causes her whole body to twist around before landing again. It's pretty ridiculous.

To get her used to me I put her in a 'bunny trance' once or twice a day which involves flipping her over and cradling her like a baby. She'll stay in that position indefinitely, but not voluntarily. Apparently it takes weeks for bunnies to bond with you... unless you're Nathan (and/or wearing a gray sweater) in which case she will actually LEAP OVER A TABLE to get to your lap, which I unfortunately missed seeing last night. She stayed put for a good 30 minutes.

So, there you have it. I am a pet owner. I'm working on getting attached but if it doesn't take for one reason or another I have a coworker with a house full of kids she's promised a 'cage pet' to once they move in November as a back-up plan.
Special thanks to Mike - without you this never would have happened! (Time will tell whether or not that is a genuine or ironic thanks...)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A confession and a disclaimer

Don't be fooled by the title... neither of these topics is even remotely newsworthy. (If you're surprised, you must be new here. Hi, I'm Elizabeth. I write about unimportant things, but I write it so well that sometimes people are tricked into thinking it's interesting. Everyone has a talent!)

Confession: I'm lazy

Tonight was my first free night in, I think, 15 days. I savored the thought all day and had lofty ambitions of how I would spend my time after work which included going to the gym, cleaning my kitchen, and posting my stupidly long account of the move plus starting on a whole list of backlogged entries and pictures to go with them, which at this point includes:

  • September bake-a-thon including my first ever canning experience
  • French bread pizza party - the last hurrah of my Columbia city days
  • Mustache party hosted by Tom Douglas
  • Vogue/fashion benefit show in which I was almost maimed by a stiletto on the catwalk
  • Italian festival at the Seattle Center
  • Mike's epic visit from Philadelphia
  • 10 year high school reunion (weird, weird, weird)
  • Chili cookoff - the tradition continues to be a kickin event
  • Unexpected addition to my apartment (or, as Robyn put it, probably the most random thing I have ever done)

I did clean my kitchen but that was about as far as my motivation extended. What did I do instead? I caught up on the shows that I watch when I need an evening of doing nothing else: Glee, 30 Rock, and Community. As a non-TV owner, I have to say Hulu is awesome for those times when I want a TV fix, even if it did continually depress me by showing a commercial for a non-profit that helps people battling terminal illnesses pay for their prescriptions. (I know it's a lovely organization, but when we have to FUNDRAISE to get people medication, clearly something has gone dreadfully wrong.) I have to say, I don't feel at all guilty about being in the same position now that I was 5 hours ago.

Disclaimer: I'm sorry if you feel the need to read and/or care about this

I have been giving some thought to why I blog, or more importantly, why other people might think I blog. I find myself explaining that this is like a journal that I let other people read. I write because I have a terrible memory and want to remember things that happen, and I publish it because I know there are about 5 people who seem to enjoy reading every long-winded entry, plus a few dozen more who skim and/or look at the pictures. I also need the motivation of a visible forum to actually write. (See header #1 re: lazy.)

But sometimes when I re-read posts I can't help but think that, if I were an outsider, my reaction would be, "That chick is a wee bit self-important." So, for the record, please let me state that I totally do not care one way or another if you read/skim/look at photos/catch up twice a year. I'm not on Facebook so I can't really give anyone grief for not visiting a special website dedicated just to me, all me, all the time. (Note: this does not apply to my mom, who I do habitually guilt trip for not reading and who is ironically probably my most faithful reader. I love you, Mom!)

And, just in case the cogs in your head are turning (if you're even reading this...) and you're thinking back to some exchange we've had in the past... If I ever ask 'did you read my blog about...?' it's more as a point of reference so I don't tell you the same thing you already read.

So, that's it for now. Is it incredibly self-important of me to think anyone would even care about this disclaimer?

Just to prove that I'm totally sans blog ego... I'll take votes on which blog post listed above you're most interested in me writing first. Please post your votes in the comments section, so that I know people love my blog and would be devastated if I stopped writing.

Friday, October 01, 2010

A Year Ago Today

I have once again fallen into the negligent blogger category, but it's not for want of material! I actually have several posts kicking around with lots of fun pictures. But life just keeps getting in the way of documenting it.

One year ago today, I arrived in Argentina for the second time. I remember the flight and my arrival very clearly - I had tons of electronics I was sure customs wasn't going to let me get away with, but they didn't even blink. I remember Sol picking me up and going back to her (our, for a few months) apartment and getting into the single bed that smelled kind of funny and taking a long nap, and then going out afterward to buy sheets and a comforter and other household items and getting unpacked and then sleeping for another long while. I did a lot of sleeping/lazing around in that apartment; it wasn't until I moved in with Amy that my funk lifted and I started being active and social and feeling happier. Of course I also decided not long after that that I would be returning to the states - probably forever- earlier than I had planned, and that relief helped me really enjoy the rest of my time.

Now, exactly one year later I'm making another move, this time to my own apartment on Capitol hill. I just have to get through a full day of work, pick up the keys, and then start moving boxes tonight. My new furniture gets delivered tomorrow and then it's off to IKEA for the remainder on Sunday (after football of course).

It feels like I've come a long way in a year and I like the symbolism of choosing to really settle in on the anniversary of the last time I abandoned country.

I hope to welcome you all to my new home - with new furniture for the first time in my life! - soon. In the meantime, stay tuned for updates with photos. Once the craziness has died down (my schedule for the next 10 days is kind of insane) then I'll work on the blog post backlog.

Happy October to all!