Saturday, December 07, 2013

Thanksgiving, Blogging and Christmas

It has been a week since I finished up blogging for 30 straight days in the month of November for National Blog Posting Month. The last two days I realize were cheap versions of the awesomeness you are you used to around here. BUT--in my defense--I was out of town on the Oregon Coast and where I was staying didn't have wifi and had very spotty cell service. I did what I could with what I had. (Chris is skeptical.) So while you may forgive me for that, you are probably seething with anger and wondering why I would leave this space empty 6 whole days. Today is day 7, but I am not including it because I am currently blogging. I would love to give you some extravagant reason but there really isn't one. Just be happy I am back :)

Our little weekend trip to the Oregon Coast was to celebrate Thanksgiving with Chris's moms side of the family. They had rented a house where they all stayed, and we stayed at a friends little beach house. Aunts, uncles and cousins galore. A fun time was had by all. (Chris agrees!) The weather wasn't exactly nice but that didn't stop Chris and I from enjoying it and spending a little time down at the beach with the dog.
 
 
 
I figured with Thanksgiving done and over with, we would be well into Christmas mode by now. Truth is, we really haven't had any time this week to even get our Christmas tree. (Chris has been too busy.) The only Christmas decoration I have in my house at the moment is a little mini tree that we bought two years ago as a table centerpiece. I never put it away after last Christmas. Ha! Today I am off to a Christmas cookie exchange which should be fun. I made Peppermint Chocolate Chip Pretzel cookies and they taste pretty darn good. (Chris wholeheartedly agrees!) I think tomorrow morning we will head out to the tree farm to find and cut our tree. YAY! I love getting our Christmas tree and it is always an adventure, which will officially kick off Christmas season for us. We always put it up while drinking wine and watching Elf. Hopefully Chris will be able to get the Christmas lights up tomorrow as well.

Being that today is already the 7th, I am wondering if we will even get Christmas cards out this year. Fingers crossed. Fingers crossed even tighter we will get our Christmas shopping done in time and shipped where it needs to go. It's crunch time, and I sense a busy week ahead. If I can get the tree bought, up and decorated, the lights up, shopping started and a photo taken for our Christmas card done by next Sunday I will be a happy camper. Then I can just relax for a week or so before Christmas and do fun things like make Chris take me to see the Zoo lights. (Chris maybe agrees.)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Endings

Today is the last day of National Blog Posting Month and sadly I'm out of town with barely any internet service. So my apologies. All you get is some pictures. Tomorrow when I am back in internet land I will be sure to entertain you all with something much more deep and entertaining.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Dinner Time

Top sirloin with dungeness crab and Hollandaise sauce with garlic cream cheese mashed potatoes. Yum. At Pirates Cove with Chris and his mom.  One of our favorites. Washing it down with 14 Hands Cab Sav.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gobble Gobble

Chris and I have had a rough year financially, emotionally and health-wise. Not really what either of us had envisioned for 2013. What's awesome though--is at the end of the day--we are happy and healthy and looking forward to the future. I am thankful we both made it out on the better end.

We had a quiet thanksgiving today at home...just the two of us. Well three--we can't forget Belle! This morning we got up and went to the 11:20 matinee of Catching Fire. It was awesome, by the way. I loved the first movie so much--but I loved this one more! Can't wait till the last movie next year. Part of the reason we decided to go to the early matinee was to avoid crowds. I hate busy movie theatres. This is what the parking lot looked like when we arrived. Ha! 
After the movie we came home and enjoyed football and beer with beef stick and cheese. Followed by a turkey dinner for two. Mmm!
Even Belle got in on the turkey dinner action. She was a VERY happy girl!
Dinner was followed by the Oilers game (they won, woohoo) and more football. We are now sitting on the couch enjoying some wine and are about to dive into dessert. Key Lime Pie.
Tomorrow we are headed out to the Oregon Coast for the weekend. Saturday will be a big family Thanksgiving dinner with Chris's moms side of the family. Always a fun time when the Williams clan gets together. You just never know what might happen.

I hope you all had a wonderful day with family and friends filled with all the turkey you could eat. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Boston Strong

Patriots Day.
A day to observe the Battles of Lexington and Concord that took place in 1775, the first battles of the Revolutionary War. It is recognized in Massachusetts, Maine and Wisconsin. It is held on the third Monday of April...Marathon Monday.

The Boston Marathon. Chris and I lived in Boston for 5 of them. There has been a Red Sox game scheduled at Fenway Park every year on that day since 1959.
Marathon Monday or Patriots Day, They are one in the same, a holiday in Boston. Schools and banks are closed and people gather all over the city for various reasons. Crowds gather in and around Fenway Park for the Red Sox game. People line the streets all along the route of the marathon to cheer on the thousands of runners who will participate. Elsewhere, people gather for war reenactments. A proud city and state coming together in the name of tradition.

For 5 years, Chris dreaded the business of marathon Monday. He dreaded the service calls that would come in for downtown Boston. The times he had to go down there, he always made the effort to go really early before the marathon. Too much traffic, too many people--plus they close down half the streets. Its a nightmare to drive around downtown that day. One of the neighborhoods I walked dogs in was right along the marathon route. I have watched the runners on more than one occasion.

Chris no longer has to worry about a service call in downtown Boston, and I no longer have the opportunity to watch the runners during one of my walks with a four legged client. Living back on the west coast now, the extent of my marathon watching is on the TV. Watching for people I know in the crowd, recognizing the landmarks and streets I became so familiar with during our 6 years there.

April 15, 2013, Marathon Monday. I had actually forgotten all morning that the marathon was even happening. I remembered just before noon, and went to turn on the TV. I turned the TV on just in time to see the breaking news on every channel about the explosions near the finish line. I watched in shock as the story unfolded--hand to my mouth, I grabbed for my phone to call Chris and tell him what had happened. I'm not from Boston and I may not have loved everything about living there, but it is a part of our story. We spent the first 6 years of our marriage there, and we met a lot of good people and friends there. Boston is always going to be a part of us.

We have friends who like to go watch the marathon. A couple of friends who are doctors work in one of the medical tents not far from the finish line. Chris used to service the Starbucks right next door to where the second bomb went off. He had been to that very store on marathon Monday. I immediately sent a text to make sure our friends working in the medical tent were safe. I quickly got confirmation that they were. The days that followed were filled with confusion, uneasiness and what I can only imagine was fear. No one knew who was responsible for the bombings or where they were. Were there more attacks planned?

April 18, 2013. Surveillance photos and videos were released of the two suspects, and later that day they were identified as brothers of Chechen descent living in Massachusetts. Boston and surrounding areas were essentially on lock down. Halted buses and closed subways made one of the busiest and active cities in America a ghost town. The evening of the 18th, the brothers killed an MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) police officer, hijacked an SUV and led the police on a chase and ultimately a gun fight in the streets of Watertown. We have friends in Watertown. People from the church we used to go to in Cambridge had bullets come through their living room wall and hit their television. It was unreal watching this unfold on the TV and listening on the police scanners. One of the suspects was dead and the other was on the run. We watched as CNN reported live just down the street from the Starbucks where Chris frequented, because their 'shop' where they kept all their equipment and parts was in the basement. Friends had their homes searched by SWAT officers. Nobody was to supposed to leave their house, and the police chief instituted a curfew as well. The second suspect was finally captured on the 19th, after he was found hiding in a boat in a backyard only 2 blocks from where he had made his escape in the first place. It was a relief to know all our friends were safe.

The people of Boston are tough and hard. The very things I didn't like about Boston when I lived there made me proud when I watched them come together that week. Mess with one of them--you mess with all of them. Boston is a proud and hardworking blue collar town, and I wish I had appreciated it more when I lived there.
The following videos are the tributes played before a Bruins game and a Red Sox game. If you have a couple minutes to watch them they are pretty awesome.
It will forever be a miracle to me that only 3 lives were lost that day. Hundreds were injured and their lives changed forever by the selfishness of others who think it is their right to dictate our freedom. I hope the resiliency that the city of Boston and it's people showed that week will only strengthen the rest of us. Boston Strong indeed.

May Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu and Sean Collier forever rest in peace.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Boston's Finest

 If you are into real life crime shows, this is a fantastic show. Chris and I started watching when the first season aired last year and loved it. It follows Boston police officers from different departments in the day to day. Sure--part of the attraction for us is recognizing street names and landmarks, etc. The Boston accents take me back to the 6 years we spent there. Tonight was the premiere of the second season. It's on TNT and if you are into real life cop drama I suggest checking it out. It's very well done. 

We found out tonight that one of the officers featured in season 1 died of an apparent suicide just last week. He and his partner were our two favorites on the show. Rest in Peace Officer Pat Rogers.

Monday, November 25, 2013

What's In A Blog?

Chris and I started this blog back in 2004 when we moved out east to Boston. The idea was, it would be an easy way to keep our family and friends up to date on what was going on with us. The reality is we are all busy, and it is sometimes hard to keep in touch. This blog would allow others to keep that connection with us in between the phone calls, emails and text messages.

I have gone though phases with this blog. There have been times I have wrote every boring detail of our weekends, and there have been other times I have gone months--and most recently a whole year--in between posts. I have often thought of closing up shop, but never really could bring myself to doing so. I like this little place. It is my little corner of the Internet where I can blab about whatever adventures we are in the midst of without feeling like I am boring or bombarding anyone. I mean, no one has to come here and read what I write. I would like to think most of you wait with baited breath for what I will write next. But for those of you who don't...its totally okay. I will likely never know you didn't read anyways, so there so there is no need for guilt on your part. Although--you should feel guilty anyways.

Even though this is my blog, I have always felt the need to be censored. We all share so many different thoughts and beliefs and views of how we think we all should be. I never wanted to step on toes and have people fight with me about what I think about this or that. I have been thinking lately that I am gong to change that. The reality is--what I think and feel about any given situation is part of who I am. So why should I be afraid of ruffling feathers? And as we have already covered, no one has to read what I write here.

One of the things I love most about my different relationships with friends is our differences. I don't want to be only friends with people who are exactly like me or believe exactly what I do. That is boring. Don't get me wrong, it is nice to be able to sit and talk with a friend who shares the same ideas and passions as you. But overall I think surrounding ourselves with those who only think like we do just leaves us sheltered and closed off. I think learning to have successful relationships regardless of differences is refreshing.

All that to say that going forward I am going to loosen the reigns a little. You don't have to agree with me. But, we DO have to respect one another. Maybe if we spent a little more time respecting one anothers thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, we would spend less time fighting and hating each other.

Okay, lecture over. You may now return to your regularly scheduled activities. That is until I post another blog. Then I expect you to drop what you are doing and focus on me!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Beastquake Please!

Sometimes all you need in life is a little Beastquake. This gets me so fired up every time I watch it.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Friendship

Friends. We all have them...or at least I would hope we do.  My oldest friend that I am still friends with is Melanie. We moved down the street from her when I was just 6 years old. I can't quite remember our first meeting--Mel was a year or so older than me but we became fast friends. Over the years we would walk to school together, chase boys together, we ate dinner at each others houses, and watched TV after school. I am sure there was many times over the years both of our parents wondered, "when did we adopt a second daughter?" As we got older we hung out at the mall together, and she was always doing my hair and makeup. We even decided to go to college together at the International Academy of Esthetics in Sherwood Park. We've had periods over the years where we have lost touch, but the thing about us is that after 30 years of friendship (holy crap we are old) we just know we will always have that bond--no matter how long we go in between talking to or seeing each other. No amount of time will ever change that for us. 

We all have a handful of those friendships. I mean sure, we all know lots of people we have known since childhood. But how many of those people are we actually still 'friends' with? 


I have always had friends wherever I have been. It has definitely gotten harder over the years. Maybe because with age and weight insecurities, etc, I am more shy than I have ever been. For those of you who know me--and know me well--this may surprise you. But the truth is, I am very uncomfortable in new situations with new people. Having moved cross country twice in 9 years hasn't really helped that. However, our move to Boston and back has brought friendships into my life I never would have had otherwise. And I am grateful for that. 


It's funny how sometimes you meet someone at just the right time. Out of the blue you meet a friend you just know is going to be there for life. Over the years, I have met people at certain times and lifelong friendships have been formed. My friend Tammy is one of my best friends from back home and she actually lives just 30 minutes away from us here in Oregon. We have been friends ever since we met at camp back in 1996. She has always been an important person in my life for a lot of reasons. We don't see each other as much as we would like, but life is busy sometimes...especially with two kids. But knowing she is just a short drive away and we have each others backs no matter what is a gift.


I met my friend Aimee on a weight loss support website called Spark People. We will always have that connection and support for one another. She has blessed me in ways I never realized a friend could, and I am so grateful for her place in my life. My relationship with my friend Stephanie is an interesting story. We have actually known each other for a long time. We had a mutual friend many years ago--by many I mean probably 20 plus. We knew each other, but I wouldn't say we were really friends back then. Fast forward to this year--though we have been Facebook friends at least 4 or 5 years--and due to some mutual understanding of some situations in both our lives we started chatting. We started talking to each other quite a bit while playing Words with Friends, and it has gotten to the point where we chat everyday and it feels like we've been friends all along. Her friendship has already brought so much understanding and joy to my life. I am better with her, Melanie, Tammy and Aimee in my life.


A few weeks ago, Steph posted an article on Facebook about friendships and how they change over the years. It ended with the following paragraph:


"And I've discovered that maybe, as you get older, it's not the same anymore. You don't need to have loads of friends. You need to have a few really good ones. And when you manage to have that -- and, praise the Lord, I do -- treat them like the gold they are. You'll never have a more precious asset. And, as you may have noticed, they aren't so easy to replace."


How true is that?  We need to respect our friendships that we do have and take care of them. We need them. I am not always the greatest friend...I have a lot of flaws. Shocker--I know. But those who really know me see past it, and I am very thankful for that. Don't take friendship for granted. Love, respect and support those you have. They are here to make us better and enrich our lives.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Rest In Peace JFK!

When Chris and I were in Baltimore in 2007, one of the things we were sure to do was pay a visit to Arlington National Cemetery across the river from in Arlington, Virginia. President Kennedy is one of only two Presidents to be buried there, the other being President Taft. They are not the greatest quality pictures, but below are two pictures we took of his grave site.
  
 A sad and tragic day for America, may he always rest in peace.
"My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

"Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future."

Thursday, November 21, 2013

17 Years

 
I read on another blog a few weeks ago that we are never given enough moments in life. How true that statement is. I think it is more apparent to those of us who have lost someone close to us. When you are in the midst of life and being with those you love I think it is easy to take it for granted without even realizing it. I know I have been guilty of this plenty in my life. I try not to, I try to appreciate the moments as they come and realize how precious and fleeting they are. I have first hand experience in the reality of having those moments taken from you.

My mum passed away from breast cancer in on November 21, 1996. Her original diagnosis was about 8 years earlier when when she was barely into her 40's. After a partial mastectomy and chemotherapy her cancer was in remission until July 1996. This time it had spread and it was terminal. Unless you have ever been faced with that news I am not sure I can ever explain how it feels. It's earth shattering.

For 4 months she fought till she couldn't anymore. She gave it everything she had and in the end it was selfish for any of us to want her to stay and fight one more day. She was ready. None of us were ready to let her go but we were ready for her to be at peace and finally be rid of the pain and sickness. I remember our last conversation so vividly it's as if it were yesterday. I remember my final moments with her the night before she passed away. I have never shared either of those with anyone and I likely never will. Those moments were for me and her and I will carry those close to me everyday for the rest of my life.

There are days I feel cheated. She has missed out on so many big moments in my life. I wish she knew my husband and I wish he could have known her. She would have loved Chris and he would have got such a kick out of her accent. She was a very special lady and I will miss her always.

You don't ever stop missing those you have lost. It gets easier as years go by, but you never stop missing them and wishing they were here. Wishing for more moments with them. Instead you are left with memories. I cherish those. I was blessed to have her as my mum. I had her for almost 19 years and I learned so much about life and who I am from her. Having her in my life made me a better person and I will be forever thankful.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

100 Things--Updated

Back in 2005 I did a '100 things about me list' here on my blog. That was 7 years ago so I decided to update it for your enjoyment. You're welcome.

 1. I was born in Scotland
2. I moved to Canada when I was 3
3. I am a UK Citizen
4. I have 2 older brothers
5. I have little to no contact with either of them and it is very sad
6. I didn't get my first smartphone until 2 years ago
7. I love to do puzzles (even though Chris refers to me as an old lady when I do)
8. My mom passed away in 1996 at 49 when I was 18 and I miss her a lot
9. She is buried in Sherwood Park, Alberta. I hate it is so far from where I live now.
10. I often wonder what it would be like to talk with her now that I am married and all grown up
11. My dad is remarried to a great lady named Lynne
12. I have never been back to Scotland but hope to in a few years
13. All of my grandparents died when I was young or before I was born
14. I have 3 nephews on my side of the family
15. I have 4 nephews on Chris's side and 2 nieces
16. I had a cat for 15 years, his name was Sparky
17. I also had budgies and hamsters when I was younger
18. I have a dog now, her name is Belle
19. I am a huge animal lover
20. I am a HUGE hockey fan
21. The Edmonton Oilers are my favorite team
22. I also love baseball
23. Chris's mom turned me into the baseball addict I am today
24. My favorite baseball team is the Seattle Mariners
25. I also like football, our favorite team is the Seattle Seahawks
26. Chris and I are both sports nuts
27. Chris and I celebrated our 9 year wedding anniversary in September
28. We met on online on a christian dating site
29. We have been together since January 2002
30, Our first date was at the Cactus Club in Vancouver, BC
31. We moved to Boston, Massachusetts 5 days after our wedding
32. We met some great friends and got to do some fun things but the west coast is still the best coast
33. I love fall
34. I love winter more, I wish it snowed here
35. I am a coffee addict
36. I have been to New York City a handful of times, my favorite being during the holiday season
37. My favorite drink at Starbucks is a Grande, nonfat, no whip, pumpkin spice latte
38. I love Christmas time, I am like a kid
39. I love snow
40. I love to read
41. My favorite author is John Grisham
42. I love movies
43. The funniest movie I have seen in a long time was The Heat
44. My favorite movie is The Princess Bride
45. I waited in line to see the first Lord of the Rings movie
46. I love music
47. My favorite singer is Sarah McLachlan and I have seen her in concert A LOT
48. I wish I went to more concerts but I just never think about it until after the fact
49. My favorite band is U2, I have seen them in concert twice
50. I have played the trumpet/cornet since I was 7 years old
51. Every summer I went to music camp and looked forward to it all year
52. I love classical and brass band music
53. I love jazz
54. I love Wynton Marsalis and Chris Botti
55. Not a lot of people know the above 5 things about me
56. I have a Scottish accent, but it only comes out when I talk to my dad or brother
57. My American friends and family think I have a "Canadian" accent
58. My favorite hockey players are Ryan Smyth and Doug Gilmour
59. I love camping but not in the mountains, I am scared of getting eaten by bears and mountain lions
60. I have a very dry sense of humor
61. I love TV, probably too much. Our DVR is always full
62. I have Acid Reflux Disease
63. I used to be a dog walker
64. I like to dye my hair and I do this often
65. I have a degenerative eye disease called Keratoconus
66. Chris taught me how to golf
67. I love taking pictures
68. I want to write a book
69. I have lived in Scotland, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Washington, Massachusetts and now Oregon
70. I have lived in 3 different countries
71. Chris and I have driven cross country twice
72. I am very stubborn
73. The Oregon Coast is one of my favorite places, and I love it is less than two hours away from us
74. I am VERY shy until you get to know me, people perceive this as snootiness
75. I broke my wrist tobogganing about 16 years ago
76. I am very insecure about my weight, it is a battle I will one day win
77. I am a runner
78. My favorite colors are blue and pink
79. My eyes are blue
80. My oldest and closest friend is Melanie and we are still friends to this day
81. Once I fell out of a bus when I slipped on ice and severely sprained my ankle
82. I like rain
83. I talk in my sleep
84. I love apple juice
85. I also love orange pop
86. My favorite alcoholic drink is a Bellini
87. I also love Cosmopolitans
88. I like beer, it is an acquired taste...kinda like coffee
89. Chris and I are huge wine lovers. We drink it regularly
90. I once had a giraffe nuzzle my neck
91. Since I moved to Canada when I was 3 I have never traveled outside of North America
92. Belle was a Valentines Day present from Chris
93. I saw her picture online (Petfinder) and I knew she was the one I wanted
94. I want to go to Germany someday
95. Alias is my favorite TV show of all time
96. Animal Planet is one of my favorite channels
97. I never put the cap back on the toothpaste
98. Chris and I love watching those infomercials about music CD's
99. My favorite smell is Lavender
100. I have lived near both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, I love the ocean

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Let It Snow...Please. One Flake.

No really, I mean it. We are well in to our rainy season here in Oregon. Contrary to popular belief, it is actually quite dry and warm here in the summer right through October. But then when the rain does come...it is here for the long haul. Which I don't mind too much. It is so beautiful here, and all the rain is a big reason for that. But this isn't about rain--it's about snow. It's about how it doesn't snow here and how sad that makes me. And before those of you who live in the snow tell me how if I lived there I would feel different...I wouldn't. I promise you that. I HAVE lived there and I love snow and I always have.

I grew up in Sherwood Park, Alberta which is a suburb just east of Edmonton. When I was a kid I would spend hours playing in the snow, building forts with my brother. My friends and I would go door to door with our shovels in hopes of shoveling sidewalks and driveways for extra money. I remember being called in for dinner and not wanting to go inside. With my cheeks rosy from the cold, I would finally be coaxed inside and my dad would help me get out of my boots and snowsuit. As I got older, those hours outside playing in the yard turned into ice skating with my friends OUTDOORS--like it should be. If no ice skating...then surely there was a snowball fight going on somewhere. When I was in high school, we would go to a friends house who had a hot tub and soak in it while surrounded by snow. Sometimes this would lead to jumping in a snowbank and then back in the hot tub. Insane? Perhaps. But oh so much fun!

I think any of us who grew up in the cold knows that feeling of excitement--you're a kid and that first snow falls...and you know the next day you will be at the nearest hill to go tobogganing. I remember so many winter days all bundled up, headed out crazy carpet in hand...not a care in the world. One year I was at a weekend church camp. On Saturday, a bunch of us were tobogganing on a hill behind the cabins. My friend and I decided to go down the hill on huge innertube. We both laid on our stomachs and got a big push from a friend...and we were off! Problem was--there wasn't as much snow as we would have liked and there were some grass patches here and there. Quick math: Two girls+innertube+downhill+non-snow covered grass patches=we didn't make it very far. The tube hit one of those patches and stopped--and we didn't. I landed first, which would have been okay except my friend landed sort of on top of me--and my arm, which was almost at the same time I had put my hand out to brace myself. Combining the impact of me landing--and then her landing on my arm...I heard snap crackle, pop. Not exactly a good sound. I was in shock at first, but by the time I got to the top of the hill and looked at my arm I knew it was bad. All the color went from my face and then the pain hit. It. Was. Horrible. I was off to the hospital which resulted in an overnight stay. I had broken my wrist and the orthopedic surgeon needed to perform a closed reduction. But because the break was so bad they had to put me under. There is no way they could have set that thing with me awake. At any rate, I am not sure I have been tobogganing since.

One of my favorite things is when it is a cold crisp winter night, ground covered in snow and a clear sky filled with stars. The cover of snow makes everything glisten and quiet. Going for a walk during that time is one of my favorite things, so beautiful and peaceful. Another thing I always loved was sitting warm and cozy inside watching a storm outside.

Chris and I experienced some pretty wicked snow storms out in Boston. In fact--the first month we were there we got slammed with a crazy storm. 24 inches in one night...our inaugural Nor'easter! One year when we were living in Revere, we had a crazy storm and we had somehow left out shovel behind at our old place. It had been snowing so much that day and night there was no way we were driving anywhere to get a shovel. So we bundled up and we headed to Walgreens with the dog. The snow was so deep the only place to walk was in the grooves in the road from cars. Don't worry--at that point there were no actual cars out since there was way too much snow. The half mile walk took forever, but we got our shovel and it was actually a lot of fun.
Over the past few days all my peeps back home in Alberta have been getting slammed with snow. It is this time of year I miss living there the most. My friend Steph sent me some pictures this morning. So pretty...I would love to wake up to that tomorrow.
 
 
It is pretty cold here tonight. It almost feels like it could snow. In fact--the weather did say we could get a flurry or two. I'd be happy with a flake or two. Fingers crossed.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Foody Goody

When we first moved to Boston, one of the first things we wanted to do was find a few good places to eat. Yes--we are fatties, but that wasn't really the reasoning. We don't eat a lot of fast food, at least we certainly try not to. And sometimes you just don't want to go to the same old chains when you go out. (Other than Chili's. I'll always have room in my heart for Chili's.) The first place we lived in--Hyde Park--had this little place nearby in Roslindale called the Pleasant Cafe that had pizza that Chris absolutely loved. Right in the middle of Hyde Park was a Chinese restaurant called the Talk and Wok Cafe. It was a hole in the wall place we tried one day at the recommendation of our landlords, and it was some of the best Chinese food we have ever had.

When we moved to Revere, we were sad to leave those places all the way on the other side of the city, but we quickly found some new favorites. The Revere House of Pizza was about 5 minutes from us and we loved their pizza. Score! Right at the end of our street was a tiny little Italian joint called Uncle Nino's. It was so good. We frequented that place. Especially on the weekends or just after a long day when we didn't feel like cooking. We could call in an order and walk over and get it. It was literally a 30 second walk. Broccoli chicken with ziti and the steak tips with a salad was our usual. Man...my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

And who can forget Anna's Taqueria. Oh, how I miss thee, Anna's. It is probably one of the things I miss most about Boston. We LOVED that place. They make the best burritos we have ever had--hands down--and nothing has even come close before or since. Anna's is a small local chain with 6 locations in Brookline, Cambridge, Somerville and Boston. Absolutely delicious. They steam the tortillas like most places--BUT--they put a long slice of cheese on the tortilla before steaming it, so when it comes out...its like this cheese glue that holds everything together and makes my heart happy. Plus--whatever they marinate their steak with is stupid good.
 
 
Since moving here I wouldn't say we have found any small little places like that--yet. However, we do have some of our favorites that we really enjoy. Noodles and Company quickly became a favorite of ours. The Bangkok Curry with chicken is my favorite, and Chris always gets the Japanese Pan Noodles with steak. Panera Bread is an old favorite. We always get the exact same thing. Turkey Bacon Bravo on tomato basil bread, and a bowl of their delicious broccoli cheddar soup. Mmmmm. Chipotle--oddly enough--we never ate at in Boston...but we couldn't cheat on Anna's. For a chain they are very good, and its the closest thing out here to Anna's. Our new favorite is a sandwich shop called Potbelly. It is right next to the Chipotle we go to, and we had long meant to go there but hadn't until recently. A friend had also sang their praises, but we just never got around to it. Until last week. I have no idea why we waited to long. They are so good.

We are still on the search for a little hole in the wall local joint we can call our own. When we find it I will be sure to let you know. And now I am hungry so I will go make dinner.

My apologies to all of you who are all likely hungry now as well. Perhaps you should go read my last post about running instead...(Or eat Cheetos.)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

So You Want To Be A Runner?

In 2011, I decided I was going to become a runner. No, I didn't just wake up one day and decide. I had actually been a runner back in the day when I was much skinnier and in great shape. In 2010 I met my friend Aimee via the website Spark People. Yes, I met her online. Don't judge. Anyways, when we met she was in the midst of a massively inspiring weight loss journey. Over 100 pounds! She had run her first 5k in October of that year, and I thought to myself, "well I should do that."

I picked the Shamrock Run in April 2011. I asked Aimee to come run with me, and she did. All the way from West Virginia. In the months and weeks leading up to the race, Chris and I trained together--maybe not as much as we should have--but we tried. One day we were running at a local high school track and everything was fine. My left foot was hurting on the side but nothing out of the ordinary, so I didn't think anything of it. But after a few days it was becoming obvious something was not right. The pain was sharp and not going away, and running at that point was certainly not an option. So off to my doctor I went. The diagnosis was a hairline fracture. Doctors orders were to stay off the foot as much as possible, and in no way was I to be running at all. I was given a pretty hefty walking boot and sent on my way.

Needless to say I was super bummed out at the prospect of not being able to take part in my first race--plus the fact missing out with running with my friend who was flying all this way simply because I asked her to. By the time race day came, I was still having significant pain in my foot and knew running was just not an option. I was very disappointed. I went along anyways to support Chris, Aimee and a few of our other friends who joined us. The whole thing wasn't a loss. I did get to meet and hang out with one of my closest and dearest friends. Fatty may have broke her foot, but the "race that wasn't" helped solidify a life-long friendship.

I didn't let my foot keep me out of commission for long. A month later I finally got to run my first race. Chris and I ran in the Seahawks 5k in Renton, Washington. I was both nervous and excited. To a lot of people running 3 miles doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but when you have been overweight for as long as I have and trying to get healthy it feels like a huge mountain just to run one mile. So to take part in an actual timed race and FINISH was so awesome. My race time that day was 38.29. Not bad for a first timer. My pace was just about 12 1/2 minutes per mile. I was very happy with that and very proud of myself.
I am not sure I would say I like running, per se. I feel I can clear my head and release any crappy energy while I am running, and I like that. I like the adrenaline when you are nearing the finish line of a race, and the feeling of accomplishment when you cross the finish line. I have run a handful of races since. Not nearly enough or as much as I would like--I really need to start being more committed to it. Nothing keeps you motivated like a race looming over your head. You certainly don't want to be the fat girl being carted off to the ambulance. (Or followed by the ambulance just in case, right Aimee?!) I even got to run a race with my dad when he and his wife Lynne came to visit us a couple years ago. Well, we didn't really run with him given the fact he is like a roadrunner. No, seriously! He's 68 years old and runs like the wind. I think he bested both Chris and I by like 10 minutes and said, "oh, I just took it easy today." Grrr.
 
I hope to sign up for and run another race in the very near future. I very much need to get my lazy butt back in to shape and its the perfect way to do it.

I may never run a marathon or even a half marathon, but as long as I keep my feet moving and running I will consider myself a runner. If you are reading this and have always wanted to run but are thinking "I am too fat and out of shape," or "I can't even run a block," just stop thinking it. It is NOT true. There was a time I thought those same things, but they are lies and I can promise you that--because you CAN. Don't NOT run because you think you can't. Try it--the feeling you have the first time you cross that finish line will be exhilarating.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

My Name is Evey and I am a Crusher

Aggravating, annoying, frustrating, exasperating, infuriating, trying, vexatious, irksome, tormenting, incommodious, rebarbative.

Need I go on? What--you ask--could possibly make me start off a blog post with such words? Some of which are so big that you are probably all "awed and amazed" at how I even know them. Well...truth be told...I don't. Three of those words I have never heard of--that's what thesaurus.com is for. (You can guess which words.) However, the answer to the question is simple. Three simple little words: CANDY CRUSH SAGA! More specifically Level 147, which I have been stuck on for going on two months now. TWO !@#$% MONTHS!
Candy Crush sucks you in by looking fun and happy, and it makes fun noises when you get candy matches. "TASTY," it says. "SWEET!" And it is tasty and sweet...at first. But then...the addiction kicks in. The Candy crushing addiction. You need to play. You play it on your phone, your laptop and your tablet. Any electronic device you can get your hands on. You must crush candy at all available times. But as much as you love it, there are those levels that you get to--and no matter what you do, no matter how you crush the candy--you just can't conquer. But you keep going back. You will prevail. One day. Maybe.

I don't know how many more days, weeks, or months I will be trying to pass Level 147. But when I do, there will come another level I cannot pass. And so goes the vicious cycle.

Congratulations to the makers of Candy Crush. You are crushing my soul one animated candy at a time. But I love you, so I forgive you. But I hate you. But I love you. Flip a coin.

Friday, November 15, 2013

How I Met My Doggie

When Chris and I first started dating back in 2002 and he informed me he was allergic to dogs, I will admit I hesitated a little. I love animals, specifically dogs. When I was growing up I never had a dog. In fact, I had a cat. Yes, I was a cat person. In his defense, Sparky was a pretty awesome cat. From the day we got him when I was 7, he was my buddy until he died 13 years later. After he died, I had trouble sleeping for a few weeks because I was so used to his loud purr. He would sleep above my head on my pillow and his purr was loud like a Harley Davidson. I miss him. But, I digress.

When Chris said he was allergic to dogs, my heart sank. Lucky for him, I kept dating him in spite of this revelation. On our 6 month (dating) anniversary, we were hanging out in Seattle when he asked me if I wanted to go up in the Space Needle with him. Instantly, my answer was no. For those of you who know me, you know that two of my least favorite things are elevators and heights. Put a glass elevator on the OUTSIDE of a building, and the chances of getting me in it are pretty slim. After trying all he could think of to convince me, he had what may have been the smartest and greatest idea in his life. He said that if I went to the top of the Space Needle with him, he would get me a puppy. I was skeptical at first--was he just saying whatever I wanted to hear so I would go up with him? He swore to me he was being serious, and so after about an hour--probably more like a half hour, but my gosh it seemed like three--of fighting internally with myself I decided to go for it. The elevator ride was TERRIBLE! I didn't look outside and fought panic and tears all the way up. I will admit, the view from the top was amazing but once we were back on solid ground I couldn't have been more relieved.

A year and half or so later in February 2004--Valentine's Day to be specific--Chris woke me up by telling me it was time to look for a dog. I was beside myself with excitement! We had decided when we got a dog it would be a rescue, so I immediately was out of bed and on the computer searching through dogs on Petfinder. I didn't take me long before I came across this picture. These were the first pictures I ever saw of Belle, and I was in love at first sight. Seriously, look at that face and those eyes!
 
I immediately told Chris that she was the one, so he asked me if I was sure and I said YES! She had been found wandering the streets of Wenatchee, Washington with no collar or microchip. It was as if she had run away or been left behind, but we'll never know. They estimated her at about 10 months old. Her adoption fee was $75, so Chris and I agreed we would drive out to Wenatchee to meet her the following day. After a 2 1/2 hour drive, we arrived at the shelter. A lady took us back to where all the dogs were kept, and ALL the dogs were barking and clamoring for our attention. Now--we have long suspected that she didn't have a great start in life, because when we got to Belle's cage she was sitting way in the back against the wall and wasn't making a peep. She look very scared and sad. We put a leash on her and were able to take her outside to a fenced area to play and see how we interacted and got along together. Once we were alone with her, she was happy and running and eager to play. I picked her when I saw that photo of her, but she picked us that Sunday afternoon! With the decision made, we headed back inside to pay her adoption fee. One of the stipulations of adoption is they must be spayed/neutered before they can go home. Given the fact it was a Sunday, she wouldn't be able to have her surgery until Tuesday morning. So we headed the 2 1/2 hours back home and waited for Tuesday to be able to go and pick her up.

Tuesday morning the phone rang early--much earlier than we expected--and we immediately thought something might have happened to Belle before or during her surgery. It turned out the vet office was calling to tell us she had already been spayed, so she didn't need surgery and we could come and pick her up anytime. Once again, we made the long drive to finally go pick up our dog. She was so happy to see us when we got there, and it warmed my heart. However, when we got back in the car and started driving home, she curled up in the back seat and started shaking like a little leaf. I ended up sitting in the back and snuggling with her.

We have loved every day we have had with her. She has brought us such joy! We have been very fortunate with her health-wise with no major issues. (I know this post kinda sounds like a doggie eulogy, but she's not dead yet!) She is 10 1/2 now, although you would never know it given her never-ending level of energy. Her grey/white beard is the only dead giveaway that she is not 2 years old anymore. Her stamina has definitely tailed off, but she is still full of happy happy happy doggie energy. She has traveled cross-country with us (twice!), she sleeps under the blankets in between us at night, she goes for lots of walks and car rides, she eats premium dog food and gets tons of treats, and she even gets turkey dinner at the holidays! She has had a great life and she has enriched our lives. She is truly the definition of a man's (and woman's) best friend.
 
 
 
 
 
If any of you are considering getting a dog, I strongly recommend a rescue/shelter dog. There are so many of them--all breeds, sizes and ages--needing homes everyday. Rescuing Belle was one of the best decisions we have ever made! 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Free At Last

I have long been interested in the criminal justice system. My favorite genre of books to read is crime and court dramas. It's no wonder that John Grisham is one of my favorite authors. I also love watching investigative reporting on such shows as 48 Hours and Dateline, along with true crime shows in general like Notorious and The First 48 etc. Whether it be learning about what goes on in the mind of a killer, the police investigation into a crime, or even how they get from a crime scene to a jury verdict in the courtroom, I find it fascinating. A few cases over the years have intrigued me more than others. A lot of times on a show like 48 Hours or Dateline you get a story from beginning to end in an hour episode. Others drag on for years with sporadic updates on new evidence or appeals and so on.

 
48 Hours has extensively covered the case of a young man by the name of Ryan Ferguson from Columbia, Missouri. The basics - In November 2001, a sports editor for the Columbia Daily Tribune named Kent Heitholt was murdered in the parking lot of the newspaper office around 2 am. Nothing of value was stolen from him. Two janitors claimed to have seen two men in the parking lot, one of which offered a description to a police sketch artist. The last person to see him alive was a coworker who worked under him, but he was briefly questioned and never seen as a suspect. Despite there being a lot of blood, hair, and fingerprints at the scene to seem like mounting evidence to solve the crime...there somehow wasn't a suspect.
The night of the murder, Ryan Ferguson was at a bar with his friend Chuck Erickson. In 2004--almost 3 years AFTER the murder--Chuck saw stories about the murder and saw the sketches based off of the description given by one of the janitors from that night. He started to think he had something to do with the murder. He felt one of the sketches resembled himself. Chuck--who had a history of drug and alcohol abuse--started having dreams that he was involved in the murder. After sharing these things with a friend, that friend reported what he had been told to the police, and they ended up bringing Chuck in for questioning. The interrogation video showed Chuck having no clue about details of the murder, and basically being coerced by the detective into confessing. Reading the police reports and watching this is so frustrating, because sometimes it feels like the police and lawyers want so badly for someone to pay for a crime that they are willing to push and push regardless of whether that person is guilty or not. Ultimately, Chuck confessed and implicated Ryan and both were charged with murder. Ryan has always steadfastly maintained his innocence and after all these years his story has never wavered. Not once. Of course, Chuck agreed to a plea deal to frame Ryan in exchange for a lesser sentence for himself.

So a guy has weird and inconsistent dreams that convinces him he is a killer, and he takes his friend down with him. There is NO DNA evidence that connected either one of them to the crime, and Ryan himself had never been in trouble for anything before. One of the janitors that was there that night initially claimed that he could not identify anyone at the scene, yet all of a sudden in court was able to identify and point directly at Ryan. After 5 days the jury returned a verdict of guilty to robbery and second degree murder, and Ryan was sentenced to 40 years in prison. FORTY YEARS! No DNA, no evidence, no motive. Just one messed up druggie's claim of dreams, and a 19 year old is sentenced to 40 years in prison. That is a terrifying reality, which could easily happen to any of us. Click HERE to read some facts of the crime, murder scene and investigation. Its astounding to me this kid was convicted.

Last year Chuck Erickson admitted he lied under oath at Ryan's trial. And in an even bigger twist, the janitor who couldn't--and then could--identify Ryan admitted he also lied at the trial. He claims the prosecutor encouraged him to place Ryan at the scene of the crime, and intimidated him into changing his story.

Last week an appeals court threw out Ryan's conviction, and on Tuesday morning after 9 years and 8 months, Ryan Ferguson walked out of prison and is finally a free man. He is now 29 years old. 10 years he sat in a prison for a crime he didn't commit. I cannot imagine what that could feel like. Being taken from your life, locked away in a cold cell, living with legit murderers and other horrific criminals...yet all the while knowing you were innocent. Thank God justice was served for him. I won't bore you to death with every detail of the crime and his arrest and everything else that has happened. If you are interested, I encourage you to go to THIS website where you can read all about it.

There is a sadness for the friends and family of Kent Heitholt who now are left with so many unanswered questions. Who killed Kent? Will that person ever be found? So many questions as to why fingerprints, shoe prints, DNA, and hair somehow never led to a suspect. Now that Ryan has his life back and his family has closure, I hope and pray Kent Heitholt's family will get the same some day.

Today though, Ryan is free...and a young man who had his entire 20's taken from him will try to move on and build the life he wasn't able to for the last 10 years.

Makes you wonder how many people are sitting in prisons tonight who are innocent. People who are victims of circumstance and lies. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Picture Day

What is picture day you ask? Well it is a day when you get to see some of the most favorite pictures I have taken at different times and different places. So enjoy.

This first photo was taken aboard an Alaskan Airlines flight from Boston to Seattle back in 2008. It was a red eye flight, and this was just one of a series of pictures taken during sunrise. One of the most amazing things I have ever seen. 
In July 2012, Chris's brother and his family moved to Arizona. We traveled down to help them move in. Our drive home took us through the Grand Canyon. It was breathtaking. Pictures don't even come close to doing it justice.
One of my favorite things about living in Oregon is how open and beautiful it is. This picture was taken on an afternoon drive up through the Columbia River Gorge. It was a perfect clear day.
This next picture was taken one August evening out at Browns Point, Washington. The sun was just finishing setting over Commencement Bay when I spotted a boat and thought it was a perfect photo op. It turned out even better than I had hoped.
In November 2010, Chris and I took a week-long vacation down in Northern California wine country. Sonoma is beautiful. This photo was taken up at a winery called Paradise Ridge. It was by far one of the best views of the entire area. We had a picnic lunch out on their balcony and it was just so beautiful.
 
When we lived in Boston we made a handful of trips to New York City. In 2006, we went to the top of Rockefeller Center. Why not the Empire State Building, you ask? Well it is way more expensive, way busier and WAY too high for this girl. Also you can't SEE the Empire State Building if you're IN it. Chris took this amazing picture of the New York skyline with the Empire State Building in it. The colors were incredible.