Love & Hate

In honor of Kristen's 27th birthday today, I have compiled some of her greatest loves and most passionate hates. Happy birthday, honey!

Love // Mashed Potatoes
Hate // Stuffing

Love // Christian Bale
Hate // Tobey Maguire

Love // Sewing
Hate // Washing Dishes

Love // Back to Nature's Chocolate Delight Granola
Hate // Oatmeal

Love // Death Cab For Cutie
Hate // Neil Diamond

Love // Reading, Writing
Hate // Arithmetic

Love // Dr. Pepper
Hate // Lemon Water

Love // Daniel Craig
Hate // Roger Moore

Love // Kids Sleeping
Hate // Kids Whining

Love // Cheesecake
Hate // Blue Cheese


The Five Stages of a Hot-N-Ready Pizza

1. Fresh from the heat lamp
You'd better step on it. Your $5 is living on borrowed time.

2. Still warm
Don't think. Get out of the car. Go straight to the kitchen. Hork down three slices before you can even say "dinner's ready."

3. Lukewarm
But why must you eat so fast? Well, there is an unspecified temperature barrier that, when crossed, makes the Hot-N-Ready go from "eh, not bad" to downright inedible.

4. Cold
Inexplicably, the Hot-N-Ready regains a certain "I hate myself for eating this, but this kinda reminds me of college" quality when chilled.

5. Reheated
You fool! Once you attempt to reheat the Hot-N-Ready, it crosses over into treacherous gastronomic territory that even drunken hobos fear to tread. You should have just eaten it cold.


Our Oregon Trail, Pt. 3

I had to be back in Portland on Monday for my press check. Due to the uncertain nature of printing, my press time kept getting pushed back, which allowed us a more leisurely drive back from the coast.

We stopped to see the Portland Temple, located a half hour south of the city. This is one of the only temples I have been to where you can't see it until you are pulling into the parking lot. It is very well hidden amid a cluster of towering evergreens. The grounds were quite peaceful, with autumn leaves gently raining down all around us.

Next up we checked out the Chinese Gardens in the heart of Old Town, had lunch at Besaw's, and took a stroll through the Nob Hill shopping district before my press time finally arrived.

While I was working, Kristen and Violet visited Pittock Mansion (and noted the location of a Ben & Jerry's for future reference). After a break in my press schedule, we had some amazing pizza at Apizza Scholls, and started our Christmas shopping at Powell's. My second press check rudely arrived at 3:30 am, but at least it concluded the business end of my trip.

What visit to Portland would be complete without getting VD? Voodoo Doughnut, that is. We hit up the famous shop for breakfast on Tuesday morning. This beauty I am showcasing has an unrepeatable name, but is decadently topped with chocolate frosting, oreo chunks, and streaks of peanut butter. We weren't daring enough to try the maple bacon doughnut.

Doughnut power fueled our exploration of the Columbia River Gorge, highlighted by the majestic Multnomah Falls. Throughout the trip, Kristen and I had been searching for the perfect souvenir for Eddie. Here in the gift shop, we found a sparkly blue toy car with a surfboard on its roof. Eddie loved it, although he initially mistook the surfboard for an ironing board.

From the falls we continued east to Hood River. At Panorama Point above the town we surveyed the surrounding orchards, but the sun was in the wrong spot to get a super clear view of Mt. Hood. (Luckily, we got a surprise overhead view of the snow-capped peak from our plane window on the flight home.)

On our final morning we rode the Portland Aerial Tram, then went to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. We didn't enjoy the museum quite as much as we had hoped, due to it being flooded with hundreds of middle school kids on field trips ('nuff said). But that mild disappointment couldn't dampen how much we enjoyed this vacation. We already want to go back.


Our Oregon Trail, Pt. 2

After leaving Cannon Beach, we carried on up the coast to Astoria. Situated near the mouth of the Columbia River, this picturesque little town has served as a location for such classics of cinema as Short Circuit, Kindergarten Cop, Free Willy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, and most famously, The Goonies.

Since Kristen is the resident goonie in our family, it was her honor to pose in front of Mikey's house, aka the goondocks (although she couldn't be convinced to do the truffle shuffle). Our other stop on the Goonies tour was the Clatsop County Jail, now serving as the Oregon Film Museum.

The museum itself is pretty small and only took about 15 minutes to explore. You can peruse posters of movies shot in Oregon, recreate famous scenes from said movies, check out the jail cell of Jake Fratelli, get your mug shot taken, and even leave messages for the Goonies. (Kelly needs to rethink her life, methinks.)

Next up was the Astoria Column, which sits atop Coxcomb Hill, the highest point in the surrounding area. 164 spiral steps took us to the top.

After catching our breath, we enjoyed the panorama of Astoria and the adjacent countryside. (Click to enlarge)

Violet proved herself to be a world class traveler on the trip. It was our unique opportunity to remember a time not so long ago when we only had one kid, with one notable difference—Eddie was never this agreeable. Kristen and I also speculated that there must not be very many babies in Oregon because Violet commanded the attention of complete strangers everywhere we went. (As opposed to Utah where a half dozen babies come spilling out of every minivan.)

Our hotel was situated on the river, right under the Astoria–Megler Bridge that connects Oregon to Washington. After a walk along the waterfront at sunset, an otherwise peaceful dinner was spoiled for Kristen by a now infamous bowl of "black glump" soup. You can ask her for details.

Next: The City


Our Oregon Trail, Pt. 1

With Stampin' Up once again sending me to Portland this past week for a press check, I decided to bring Kristen with me and make an extended getaway out of it. Violet got to tag along too on account of still drinking momma milk, while Eddie got left behind with his Aunt Cheryl and favorite cousin Sarah. We dropped him off on Saturday morning and said our goodbyes. But as we lingered to chat with Cheryl for a few minutes, Eddie notified us, "Please, you should go." Okay then. That separation anxiety phase from a few months ago has officially passed.

We arrived in Portland at lunchtime on Saturday, so we stopped in for some gourmet grilled cheese and tomato soup at the Grilled Cheese Grill—an old trailer and school bus that now serves as a makeshift diner. The unofficial motto of the city is "Keep Portland Weird," and little joints like this are making it happen.

Once our bellies were thoroughly warmed, we headed for the Oregon Coast by way of the Tillamook State Forest. After a drive through the towering trees and a lovely spectrum of fall colors, we arrived at Cape Meares. Highlights included an old lighthouse as well as the "Octopus Tree," a large spruce without a central trunk, but with limbs sprawling out horizontally before turning upward (allegedly an ancient Indian burial site). We stayed the night in Garibaldi, and feasted on freshly caught fish and chips.

Thanks to the time difference and daylight savings, we woke up extra early on Sunday. We had breakfast at the hotel, then began our drive up the coast. We stopped at Rockaway Beach to enjoy the sound of the surf and take some photos of Violet on some gnarled driftwood.

We continued northward, stopping once at a scenic lookout to feed Violet and gaze at the powerful waves crashing onto the cliffs below.

By late morning, we arrived in Cannon Beach. We pulled off at the first beach entrance to check out Haystack Rock, which appeared to be only a little ways down the coast. Well, since the rock is so large, it appeared closer than it actually was, so we got a much longer walk than we bargained for. On the way back to the car we wandered through town, passing blocks and blocks of rental houses along the way. Just as we began wondering if we were ever going to see our car again, we found a small bakery where we could rest our sore feet and refuel with a chocolate chip ginger scone.

Next: The Goondocks


Paging Mr. Herman

After last year's epic Lord of the Rings costume group and movie trailer, Stampin' Up decided to scale back on this year's Halloween festivities. It was a much quieter day around the office, with far fewer costumes and time wasting. Still, myself and a handful of coworkers collaborated on an '80s theme. After much deliberating, I settled on being Pee-Wee Herman.

First up, we paid a visit to the DI to find a slightly snug gray suit. Next, Kristen sewed a red bowtie, and even encouraged me to die my hair black for the part. My final bit of preparation was rewatching Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. It was Eddie's first viewing, and although he was quite concerned about Pee-Wee's lost bike, he seemed to quite enjoy it—no Large Marge nightmares yet.

Here's a glimpse at my transformation:


"Somebody Poisoned the Water Hole!"

This year, we attempted to give Eddie a choice on his Halloween costume. This was a bad idea. He is incapable of making a decision without flip-flopping and eventually bursting into tears. So we decided to give him a few options to choose from. The finalists were Woody, Flynn Rider, and Iron Man. Eventually, Dave and I decided that he would be Woody. Throughout October, Eddie kept insisting that he would not be Woody. Once we got all the pieces of his costume, he got more excited about it, and once Halloween arrived, he probably couldn't have cared less what he was dressed as.

Once we chose Eddie's costume, we had to find a good complimentary costume for Violet. We were about to decide on having her be Hamm. Then one day at Kid to Kid, I found the perfect dress that I could alter to make a Little Bo Peep costume. I had to shorten her sleeves and take in the neckline a bit, but the costume fit great. The biggest challenge was finding a sheep for her to tend.

After all the indecision, the end result turned out pretty darn cute. Eddie loved being able to wear his Woody costume all day long and Violet tolerated her costume, though her bonnet would not stay on straight. Her favorite part was chewing on her sheep.