Thursday, January 31, 2008

See the world

TJ got his passport today - yay! The new ones are gorgeous - they have pictures of different US landmarks and landscapes on each of the pages, and a very cool quote on each page. Those folks at the State Department have done a lovely job with the design, that's for sure! Makes my 2-year-old passport look lame, in comparison.

I also sold a pair of earrings to a friend (yay!) and have 7 pieces for 2 custom orders to work on. So this Sunday will be very busy!

Tomorrow night is the Tesla concert at the Showbox. I'm so mad, because when I bought the tickets, it was at the Showbox at the Market, but they recently moved it to Showbox SODO which is a craptastic concert venue. (You may also remember that it's the venue where I saw HIM with my friend Dave, and proceeded to get quite toasted on the lemon drop martinis.) And then flamed for it on some lame-ass music site.

But there will be no drinking, because I'm saving it up for our Groundhog Day Party on Saturday night. We invited a few friends over, and hired a bartender. We did this around Christmas time last year, but this year it was just too hectic to think about. So we thought early February would be a great time for a "6 More Weeks of Winter" party, given the depressing nature of a Seattle winter.

Oh, and now that Christmas is long-gone, I can start posting pictures of the cool stuff I made for other people as custom orders during the holiday. This will be the first in a series entitled "Why My Etsy Shop Has Only 28 Items".

This is a bracelet I made for Trista, inspired by the Stolen from the Sea bracelet I had on Etsy, which she bought for her mom. It was commissioned by her fabulous husband Paul, who went to Caltech with us. I love the hexagonal aquamarine beads, and am saving a couple for a bracelet for myself, which I'll get around to making someday!

I keep imagining that I'll make enough stuff to amass 50, or heck, even 100 items in my shop, but my fabulous friends and relatives are keeping me busy with custom orders. And believe me, I'd definitely rather create a custom piece of jewelry intended for a specific person! So thanks to everyone who has supported my little enterprise. It's been a lot of fun. There's no danger that I'll quit my day job anytime soon, but I am having a *lot* of fun with this. And learning a lot too.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

It's so beautiful here, she says

Hello everyone! I'm writing this from a cozy cabin on the Olympic Peninsula, the far northwestern corner of the U.S. (not including Alaska, of course). TJ and I decided to take our new car for a road trip, and I found an awesome place to stay called the Manitou Lodge that allowed us to bring Spike and Peanut.

Since it's wintertime, and the off-season, we're the only guests at the lodge. They even gave us an upgrade to a nicer room. I can't say enough good things about this place. It's back in the woods, and *quiet*. There are two friendly dogs who live here and are very interested in what Spike and Peanut (the city dogs) are doing. Our room (a suite, really) is half of a detached cabin, surrounded by trees, and furnished in a very cozy style. I was worried about being warm enough, but it's got electric heat and a ton of blankets so we were nice and toasty last night.

This morning we went to Rialto Beach, which is just 3 miles from the lodge. I haven't been to the beach in Washington, though Spike and I hit some of the Oregon beaches on our trip to California in 2006. Rialto beach was gorgeous, quiet and empty. Black sand and tons of huge driftwood piles, plus the total lack of people made it seem like something out of a movie. The dogs *loved* it. They ran around like crazy, chasing the waves, then came running back when the waves started chasing them. It was freezing cold (in the 30s) so we left after about 30 min, to forage for food in the nearby town-let of Forks.

TJ bought himself a carhartt hat at the Forks Outfitters. I'm pretty sure I'm not cut out for small-town life full-time. I just like big city choices way too much (which mall, coffee shop, or restaurant do I feel like today?). This weekend is definitely not about the food. I packed some snacks and oatmeal, and we got breakfast as part of our room, so the food is pretty simple, which is just fine with me as I contemplate how to gain better eating habits. (Again.)

TJ is surprised I like this kind of vacation - with no TV, and nothing to do but read the books we brought (and of course enjoy the free high-speed Internet!). I'm totally cool with it. I wanted some time to chill out and really *think* about how I'm going to achieve my goals for the year. I already feel like I'm in that stressed-out, running-all-the-time, picking-up-new-projects mode. (Hello new sewing machine!). I read somewhere the mark of a geek is unhealthy obsession with a given project. I guess that's me. On the bright side, I sold another set of my GeekMagnets on etsy today. And I've got a couple of other custom projects to work on so I look forward to doing that once we're back home.

But anyway, right now we're chilling out (no pun intended) in the cabin, surfing the Internet, reading, and napping. Which is just about a perfect way to spend a Saturday. What are *you* doing this weekend?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Dressed in black with eyes of grey

Brief post, because I *need* to spend some quality time making stuff today. But I wanted to share some of the fabulous things I bought online today. It was a good shopping day.

In the December issue of InStyle, which I took to read on the plane this weekend, I saw this gorgeous circle-link watch. And figured, in typical InStyle fashion (pun intended) that it was some kind of $10,000 designer watch. To my utter joy and surprise, it's a $65 watch from Fossil. So yay for me, and for impulse shopping on On a side note, it matches my wedding jewelry nicely, so for occasions that require a little bling, it'll be a nice dress watch.

My EtsyRain craft group was discussing this adorable Hello Kitty sewing machine by Janome on their message boards online. For a few years, I've wanted a cheap sewing machine to learn how to sew simple things. I keep thinking I should look on Craigslist for a used one, but never really remembered to do it. So this discussion sparked my interest again. Target had this machine on clearance, and it's gotten fabulous reviews online, surprising for something that looks so much like a cheap kid's toy. But alas, the Redmond Target had none. despite the display model being marked with a very tantalizing price of $24.98 (!!!). They wouldn't sell me the display model, so I found it on EBay, more expensive, but still far less than the list price. It's coming from Western Montana so I hope it'll be here next week or so. Yay!

Wish me luck, and those of you who sew should probably expect some dumb questions from me like "hey, what's this bobbin thing, anyway?"

Friday, January 18, 2008

She stepped off the bus out into the city streets

Yes, it's another episode of People Who Annoy Me on the Bus. These people make it so delightful to use public transit. Of course, after 6 months of riding the bus twice a day, my patience is starting to wear thin.

1. Flossing Guy. Fortunately, I've only seen him once. We were both walking to the bus stop in the morning and as we walked, he was flossing his teeth. I kid you not. Do people not learn from their mamas that things like flossing and applying deodorant are what you do in the privacy of your own bathroom?? When he was done flossing he just dropped the floss on the sidewalk. EWWWWW. And no, this wasn't a homeless guy, or someone who might not have had a bathroom to floss in. He was a Computer Professional, with an expensive laptop bag and everything. Just plain nasty. I'm glad I haven't seen him again.

2. Smoking Spitting Guy. This guy rides the same bus as me on a regular basis. He's quiet and unobtrusive which is the best kind of bus co-passenger. Until he got off the bus today and started walking in the same direction as me. He lit up his cigarette and then proceeded to snork and spit at every crosswalk while we waited for the light to change. After two traffic lights worth of spitting and foul cigarette smoke, I chose a different route. Unfortunately as I got closer to work, we ended up at the same intersection again. Ewwwwww.

3. Oh My Gosh, I Have to Pay?! Girl. This is actually not just one girl, it's several people. They get on the bus in Redmond in the morning, during rush hour, and seem thoroughly confused that they are expected to actually PAY for their bus trip downtown. They stand in front of the fare box, blocking everyone else, while they fumble in their purse for their wallet, and dig out money to pay the fare. Sometimes they ask the driver if he has change. What?? If you were smart enough to consult the bus schedule, were you not smart enough to also see how much it costs, and make sure you have the fare handy? The other 20 people in line, who do this EVERY DAY, are not amused. Or sorry for you. At least stand to the side while sorting out your personal problems, wouldja??

One thing I love about riding the bus: I have noticed people reading books in Spanish, Russian, some Eastern European language, Chinese, Japanese, and (of course) English. I still love that the bus I ride comes frequently enough I never have to check the timing. I just show up and wait for the next one and I've rarely waited more than 10 minutes. I also love that my bus never smells like pee. (Which I can't say about the buses that run within downtown Seattle.) And I LOVE the (almost) yearly Poetry on Buses competition. 2007 was an especially good year.

Yay for public transportation. What new transit stories do you have for me?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Still an obsession

Arghh, he's at it again. Reading this article actually made me sick to my stomach.

The Famously Intolerant, Bigoted, Dumb-Ass reverend Ken Hutcherson from the Antioch Bible Church, which unfortunately now has moved to my town of Redmond, is now calling on Christians across the nation to buy Microsoft stock so they can vote as shareholders to tell Microsoft to stop providing benefits to same-sex domestic partner couples.

Seriously? You're the leader of a church, and this is the crusade you choose? Not starving kids in Africa (or hell, even in your backyard), or any number of other causes that would actually help some group of underserved people, but a crusade to force a public corporation to change its internal policies *that don't affect you*?

What a freakin' waste of time and resources. I don't understand why "churches" like this get to fly within the nonprofit zone, and don't have to pay taxes, yet can get all up in political and business issues.

So here's my call to action for all of you out there in my circle. If you support companies being able to choose what their internal benefits policies should be without kowtowing to some external bigot, or hell, if you support the rights of *all* types of employees to have access to the same benefits, then please consider buying a couple of shares of Microsoft stock to keep them out of the hands of this crazy and his followers.

Of course, this is just a symbolic gesture, and these crazies will not likely be able to buy enough shares to influence the internal policy at Microsoft. At least I hope that's the case. I'm still baffled at why Microsoft execs ever granted this guy an audience to discuss his 'concerns'. I'm guessing it won't happen again.

If you're on Facebook, and you work at Microsoft, you can join this group. There's also a link there to an open group if you just want to show your support but aren't a Microsoft employee.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

The power of two

My iPod has a lot of songs on it, and most of our CD collection (about 300 CDs). The sheer volume of choices often overwhelms me so I like to make smaller manageable playlists. I cobbled together a few 'smart playlists' and some quick hacky ones, but I'm waiting to find the time to create some quality ones.

I like playlists with themes of some sort. I have one where all the songs mention God or Jesus in the title. (Yes, I know that's funny for a non-religious person like me.) It's got some pretty un-religious songs like "Personal Jesus" by Depeche Mode and "Jesus Walks" by Kanye West. I just wanted a theme, and it's one of my favorites.

Another one I'm putting together in my head is one called "Song Twins", where I'll have pairs of songs that are essentially the same, lyrically. There are a number of songs in my collection that are strikingly similar. Here's the beginning of my list, and I hope the blogosphere will contribute more so I can build my playlist.

"You Oughta Know" - Alanis Morrissette/"Jealousy" - Natalie Merchant
"Stay" - Jackson Browne/"Turn the Page" - Bob Seger/"Wanted Dead or Alive" - Bon Jovi
"Shooting Star" - Bad Company/"Jukebox Hero" - Foreigner
"Love Me or Hate Me" - Lady Sovereign/"Without Me" - Eminem

I know I have more, but can't think of them now. I want to hear yours!!

It's been a long day

I nearly cried when I saw this video. Microsoft has made some pretty hilarious videos but this one is the best I've seen:

It's a fictional video of Bill Gates' last day at work, which they showed before his keynote speech at the CES conference this year. I promise you won't regret watching this - it is *awesome*.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Get it while it's hot

Post 'n' run today. Things I am happy about:

1.'s MP3 Download service. No DRM, which means I can use this music anywhere. Heck yeah, I'll pay for it, cuz I actually *for real* own the music once I've downloaded it. Yay Amazon. And they have Kix! And Poison! No Def Leppard yet, though.

2. Podfitness - download personal trainer workout audio, and their engine mixes it with playlists on iTunes. I've done 2 of the treadmill walking workouts so far, and it ROCKS. Makes me hate working out just a little bit less. For $20/month, this subscription is TOTALLY worth it. (And since I'm not paying for a gym right now, that works just fine for me.)

3. Sucessfully getting up at 6:40am to go to the dog park with Allison. EVERY DAY. (Well, on weekends we meet at 9:30am). I've never missed a day I said I'd be there. And we've only taken a handful of days off since November. Go us!

4. Spikeman is back to his usual whiny Beagle self. No more morose and sickly Spikeman. The old, happy, "give me a treat NOW" Spikeman is back! YAY.

5. I sold "A Year of Earrings" on my Etsy shop, and it was bought as a birthday gift for another friend of mine. I can't wait to get started on making the earrings - it's so much nicer to work on a specific project for someone you care about.

6. Friends. You all are awesome. For a variety of reasons, but most of all because you're honest and don't spout the party line at me. Because we can be REAL with each other. YAY!

C'mon puppies, it's time for bed.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

I got no patience and I hate waitin'

Look what followed us home yesterday:

We decided to keep him. You can read all about our long day of car-buying on TJ's blog.

Yeah, I like driving a big car. If Peanut were a car, he'd be the 2008 Dodge Nitro R/T.

And TJ forgot to give me props for my mad negotiation skillz, which saved us $370 and got us a price that was even lower than our initial offer, as crazy as that sounds.

We went into the dealer with our offer - invoice price for the vehicle itself, plus the destination charge, but minus all those other stupid things that dealers try to stick to you (shipping fees, loyalty programs, gas?!). We presented our offer, and the 'sales manager' had to go 'see what he could do'. He came back with some hazy explanations about not making money on the dealer holdback because they brought this particular car from another deal. (Ask me why I care, since we didn't request this.)

So he presented us with the Chrysler partner program price which was $364 higher than what we came in with. TJ was wavering at this point since he hates negotiation, and it wasn't enough money for him to continue the unpleasant process. So we asked the dealer guy to let us discuss this for a minute in private. It felt very much like the attorney-criminal whispering sessions in Law and Order.

I said that this dealer was not likely to lose a deal based on $364 and we didn't really need a car so we could just walk away. TJ was unsure, but decided to play along and hold firm on our number. Turns out, I was right, and the dealer actually ended up taking off $370, so we got an extra $6 off. Awesome!

While the negotiation is yucky, I actually don't mind doing it. However, TJ hates it and also makes me feel like a harpy when I get on my "no crap from you, salesman" attitude on, so that makes me unsure. He thinks I come across as too confrontational, but I think it's because he doesn't like even the hint of disagreement or conflict. I just don't feel like I need to be overly friendly or volunteer info that will definitely be used against us later.

We have an agreement now that I'll take care of the negotiation next time we do this, which will be several years down the road. But for now, we'll be driving our big pimpin mobile around town. It's so HOT.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

There's a hole in my heart that can only be filled by you

Sad news today. My parents' dog Mona died this morning. Despite making great progress with the treatment for lymphoma over the past couple of months, she suddenly got much worse over the last few days, so they had to euthanize her this morning.

What a hard decision to make. I do not envy them. But she lived a good life with them as their first (and very cherished) dog. She was a sweet, mellow girl. Though I haven't spent much time with her, I'll miss her, too.

Send happy thoughts their way, please. And if you're so inclined, send a small donation to your local Humane Society - that's where Mona was adopted from. Sad.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

And never brought to mind

Happy New Year, everyone! I can't believe my long holiday vacation is coming to an end. I've been off work since Dec 19, but it seems like just yesterday. Oh well.

I do feel re-energized by the break, though (of course!) I didn't get everything done that I wanted to, including trying out a coworker's BeDazzler that she let me borrow over the holidays. (It was a gift from a customer, before you start making fun!)

Last night TJ and I rang in 2008 at Canlis (where else?) with a lovely 9 course meal, and Sommelier's Wine Pairing. It was, by far, the most expensive meal I have *ever* had. And after 7 glasses of wine, I forgot to bring home the menu, so I don't even remember which wines we had. I had quinoa for the first time, and discovered I really like it, so I'll have to buy some to make at home.

But I do remember one was the Chateau Mouton Rothschild with a very cute Picasso sheep drawing on the bottle. Apparently this one goes for $90 for a single glass, according to our waiter, who was a fun and quirky guy. So apparently the tasting flight was a screamin' deal. Which I'm sure it was, if we knew anything about wine.

But I'm definitely getting a better sense for what I like and I'm having a lot of fun trying to describe what each one tastes like. (Not in official wine terms, of course. One of the wines last night tasted like a wet attic to me, kind of musty and how I imagine moss might taste. Not in an entirely bad way, just different.)

So now we will go back to eating mac n cheese at home. For a *very* long time. And of course, it's New Year's Resolution Time, so here are mine for the year. Just two, because I'm trying to make them manageable:

1. Once and for all, get down to a manageable healthy weight. (have we heard this before? Yes. But if I don't try again, it definitely *won't* happen.)

2. Get my jewelry for sale in at least one local store/salon/boutique. (This involves me narrowing down my work into a few signature lines, and figuring out how to approach store owners and market my pieces.)

These aren't exactly easy resolutions, and they'll both take a lot of time and focus. And desire. Obviously the weight loss thing has been plaguing me for years. It's a planning/stress thing for me - if I overplan and make everything regimented I start to get stressed and freak out. If I don't plan enough, then I don't eat on a regular schedule and end up snarfing down nachos when I'm so hungry I can't see straight. So somewhere in there is a delicate balance.

Here's to finding that balance in 2008! Salut!

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