Wednesday, December 31, 2008

San Francisco, Part Two

After spending a few days at Shawn's brother's house, it was time for us to take a little anniversary trip on our own. Mid-afternoon Saturday, we went to a hotel near the San Francisco airport. It wasn't exactly prime location for visiting the city, but it was only a little over a mile to the closest BART station, so we just walked there and then took the train into the city.

On Saturday night, we explored North Beach, which is an Italian neighborhood. We found a really good Italian restaurant for dinner...they even make their own pasta right in the restaurant. We also made a little stop after dinner at Cafe Grecco for coffee and a cannoli!
On Sunday, we started out by walking through Chinatown. Then we went through part of North Beach again, since it was on our way. Our walk also took us past a few really nice churches, like Old St. Mary's Cathedral (which was originally dedicated in 1854 and partially survived the 1906 earthquake and fire), the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assissi (which, ironically, is run and taken care of by Dominicans), and Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral (which is the church that Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio had their wedding pictures taken in front of). We eventually made it down to Ghiradelli Square (where we bought some chocolate and stopped for really good cupcakes), followed by Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39. Here are a few pictures, although we realized that we didn't take very many, for some reason.
Oh, and I forgot to mention Lombard Street. Lombard Street is famous for being the "windiest" street in the country; there are 8 switchbacks in one block! Shawn's brother drove us down it on Friday morning, and here's a picture of the angle that we saw on Sunday. You might have to click on the picture to make it big enough to see the cars going back and forth at the top of the hill.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

San Francisco, Part One

We're back home! We had a good time, and I'll post some pics on here over the next few days to catch up on everything we did.
We got to the Bay Area last Tuesday, and we stayed with Shawn's brother and sister-in-law until Saturday. It was nice spending a few days with family, and we enjoyed our Christmas there. On Friday, the entire family went down to San Francisco. We started our day with breakfast at The Buena Vista Cafe. It's famous for its Irish coffee; they claim to have introduced the drink to the U.S. (although both Shawn and I find that a bit hard to believe, since it wasn't introduced there until 1952). We didn't take any pictures in the restaurant, but these pictures were taken from the corner outside.
After breakfast, Shawn and I went with his brother, sister-in-law, nephews, and mom to Golden Gate Park, where we spent some time at the Botanic Gardens. After this, we headed down the coast for a late lunch, followed by some time spent tide pooling! I'd never been tide pooling, so I thought this was really interesting. Unfortunately, we couldn't go out very far (where Shawn tells me the more interesting pools are usually found) because the harbor seals were there. We were able to see lots of snails, crabs, and anemones, and we even saw one little baby octopus! It was a lot of are some pics from the beach with the tide pools!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone! Last year at this time, Shawn and I were in sunny, warm, wonderful Jamaica! This is one of the Christmas trees in the main building of our resort. We wanted to make our first Christmas together a particularly memorable one, so we thought Christmas Day would be the perfect day to go climb Dunn's River Falls! This is a well-known waterfall that wasn't far from our hotel. It's about 600 feet high, and it ends on the beach, with the fresh water pouring into the ocean. What's really unique about it, though, is that the rock under the waterfall is primarily limestone, which doesn't get very slippery when wet. So you can literally climb up the in, through the water (not next to it).

So here are a few pictures of our first Christmas together!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Traditions

My friend Kim, over at Newly Woodwards , tagged me for this little blog post. I love the idea of Christmas Traditions, and during our little snowy hike on our anniversary Sunday, Shawn and I talked a little bit about some traditions that we'd like to start or continue.

This will be the second Christmas that Shawn and I have spent together. Last year, we were in Jamaica on our Honeymoon, so there's not much we did last year that we'll be able to continue as a tradition. This year, we're going to his brother's house, so I'm not sure what might turn into a tradition from this year, either. But there are a couple things that we've agreed we'd like to be traditions.

First, when we were in Jamaica last year, we bought a gorgeous hand-painted ornament. So I like the idea of trying to buy an ornament every year that somehow signifies something that we're doing or that's important to us that year. Since we'll be in the Bay area for Christmas this year, I'm going to look for a San Francisco ornament while we're there...hopefully on sale! :)

Second, on Christmas Day last year, we climbed Dunn's River Falls. We've decided that we're going to try to make it a tradition that we'll always go out and do something active in nature on Christmas Day. I think Shawn's really excited about this particular tradition. :)

So far, that's all we really have. At my parents' house, we usually have cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Christmas Day. I wouldn't mind starting that tradition with Shawn. :) Also, my family also does normally tend to go see a movie on the evening of Christmas.

Frankly, I'd like to have more Christmas traditions. So if any of you reading this have any ideas, please feel free to leave me a comment! This is supposed to be one of those tag posts, but frankly, by the time I've posted this and people have had a chance to read it, it might be a little late for anyone I might tag to do their own blog posts. But again, if you're reading this, feel free to steal the idea!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I'm Kreativ...Who Knew?!

Those of you who tend to read a lot of blogs have likely seen these various blogging "awards" that go around. They're actually kinda like blogging chain letters...someone tags you, and then you pass the award on to other bloggers by tagging them. Jennifer over at This Girl Loves Pink tagged me with...the Kreativ Blogger award!
I've seen this particular award done a couple different ways, but I'll stick to what Jennifer had on her blog (besides, it's easier than the other ways I've seen!). I simply name 6 things that make me happy, and then I tag 6 other bloggers to give the award to. we go!

6 Things That Make Me Happy

  1. My wonderful husband, Shawn. I feel like I should be allowed to list 6 reasons that Shawn makes me happy, but for now, I'll just stick with making him the first one on my list.

  2. Our apartment. Shawn and I agree...we feel so grown up now, living here! It's definitely an adult's apartment, not just some random college guy's or single girl's place.

  3. My family. In the same way that I'm only putting Shawn down as a single "thing" that makes me happy, I'm putting my entire family as one "thing." My parents are wonderful people who I wish I could see more often. My niece is the most adorable thing ever. My brother's a pretty cool guy, and he's getting married soon to a girl who I've been told is pretty darn cool, too.

  4. My in-laws. Yep, I'm totally serious about this one. I know that a lot of people joke about not liking their mother-in-law, but mine is wonderful. And Shawn's brother and sister-in-law are really great people, too, with two fun and adorable little boys.

  5. Books. As a kid, I loved to read (enough that I majored in English Lit). But for a long time, it seemed like I couldn't find the time to read. This year, I made a "resolution" to read more...and I'm currently on Book #39 for 2008!

  6. Nature. I've never been a super outdoorsy person, so this is definitely one thing that I need to thank Shawn for. I'm not as into it as he is, but I really do enjoy getting out into nature and seeing the beauty of God's earth.

So, now I need to tag 6 other bloggers to receive the Kreativ Blogger award! Some of these people may have received this before, but here's who I'm choosing:

Monday, December 22, 2008

The next week

As I explained in my post a few days ago, the weather around here has been rather unusual. Unfortunately, this has been affecting travel for a lot of people. Since Seattle isn't accustomed to needing to do snow removal, they simply don't have the man power or the plows to keep the roads clear and safe. And at the airport, I believe I heard that they ran out of de-icer!! Yesterday, quite a few airlines canceled all of their flights in and out of Seattle for the afternoon and evening. This also threw off their schedules for today, as the planes weren't at the right airports, so there were more flights that were canceled today.

Why am I explaining this? Because Shawn and I are supposed to be flying out of Seattle tomorrow morning! We'll need to leave pretty early in the morning to drive down to the airport, where we'll then hopefully catch a flight to San Francisco. As of right now (8:00 PM), our flight is showing that it will leave on time. I know that some flights to San Francisco got out today, but the morning flights didn't. So keep your fingers crossed that we get to go to California!

We'll be staying with Shawn's brother and his family for a few days, and Shawn's mom will be there, too. We'll stay there through Saturday to celebrate Christmas with them. Then we'll be going to stay in San Francisco by ourselves for a couple days as a little anniversary trip! I've never been to San Francisco, so I'm excited to explore the city with Shawn.

I'm not exactly sure how much internet access we'll have while we're gone, so I've already written a few blog entries that are set to post. So don't worry...this blog will provide you with some entertainment even while we're out of town. And I'll make sure to take lots of pictures and take note of lots of stories to share with you when we get back!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Our Celebration

Shawn and I have had a wonderful 1st anniversary! After sleeping in, we braved the snowy streets and went to Mass. It's nice that we were able to go to church together on our anniversary...celebrate our marriage with a sacrament.

After church, we headed to Meadowdale Park in Edmonds. Shawn used to go to this park all the time to run, and I've enjoyed going there a few times now, too. There's a really nice trail that's 1.25 miles down to the beach of the Puget Sound. (The only bad thing about it is that it's 1.25 miles back up the trail to get to the car!) Since we've actually had a decent snowfall this weekend, we wanted to take advantage of it. We had a lovely walk down the trail, and once we got to the beach, we decided to make a snowman! many people get to make a snowman on the beach?! Unfortunately, the snow wasn't quite wet enough, so we had trouble getting the balls to stay together. It ended up looking like a snowbunny (or a snow Rabbid...for those of you who may be familiar with the video game.)

After playing in the snow all afternoon, we came home, exchanged gifts, and read the notes our wedding guests left in our guest book/"wish bowl" last year. After Shawn took a little nap, we made ourselves a wonderful dinner of grilled steak and potatoes. And after dinner, we danced to the song that we used as our first dance song last year. I'd say it was an absolutely perfect way for us to spend our anniversary!

And for those of you who are interested, here are some pictures that we took today!

Our Anniversary!

On December 21, 2007 this is what we were doing! Happy Anniversary, Shawn! I love you lots!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Our unusual weather

My entire life, I've lived in parts of the country that get lots of winter snow. I lived in NE Ohio for the first 21 years of my life, where we were close enough to Lake Erie to get lake effect snow. While blizzards aren't exactly common there, they do happen. In fact, there was a blizzard that hit Ohio between January 25 and 27 of 1978...think it's a coincidence that I was born on October 27, 1978? (Do the math....) ;)

For the last 8 years, I've lived in Colorado. Denver itself gets an average of approximately 60 inches of snow a year. However, I spent the last 5 years living in Evergreen, which is actually about 2000 feet higher in elevation than the average snowfall there is more like 90 inches a year. 2 years ago today, we actually had a "small" blizzard that dumped about 3 feet of snow in Evergreen.

When we decided to move to the Seattle area, one thing that I was excited about was not having to drive in snow...Seattle only has an average annual snowfall of 8.6 inches. I do enjoy snow; I just don't like driving in it. So I've been a bit confused this week. Last Saturday, we got snow. See my post from a few days ago...when no one came to my book club because it had snowed the night before. We didn't get anymore after Saturday night, but the local schools had 2-hour delayed starts on both Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, schools were closed. Nope, it hadn't snowed yet. They were concerned that the snow would make driving difficult when school was dismissing.

Sure enough, it did snow on Wednesday. I think we got about 4 or 5 inches that night. Schools were also closed on Thursday. And Friday. When I went to my volunteer shift on Thursday night, the store actually closed at 6:00 because of the weather. And Shawn tried to do a little Christmas shopping last night, but discovered that the store had closed at 5:00 because of the weather. Today, we decided to order pizza for lunch. Papa John's wasn't delivering because of the weather. Now keep in hasn't snowed a single flake since Wednesday night. It took Pizza Hut an hour and a half to bring us our pizza, and the delivery woman told me that they have "cut off" our area now for deliveries because of the hill that the drivers have to come up to get to us.

Now I do understand that this area isn't accustomed to treating the roads, so there has been ice all over for days now. I'm just not used to hearing people freak out after getting a few inches of snow. Tonight, they're calling for more snow. This time, though, there's supposed to be a lot of wind with it. It's my understanding that that's the thing to worry about...high winds knocking out power. So if you don't get any blog posts for a few days and I don't answer any emails or facebook messages, that probably means that we don't have power and therefore don't have internet access. Wish us luck! :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Our Early Christmas!

Shawn and I will be going to California next week to celebrate Christmas at his brother's house. We didn't want to take our gifts for each other, so we knew that we'd be giving our gifts early. However, our anniversary is on Sunday. We'll be giving each other gifts for that on Sunday, so we decided to try to spread out the gift giving days. Plus, we both hate keeping secrets. :) So we exchanged Christmas gifts last night.
I got Shawn a new pair of snowshoes. His broke earlier this year while he was out on a mountain, and I knew he was anxious to get a new pair. I actually bought them quite awhile ago. I wen to REI just to get some ideas for Shawn's Christmas gift, and it just so happened that the REI "snowshoe rep" was in the store. He was asking me a bunch of questions and suggested a pair of snowshoes that was normally way more expensive than what we'd spend, but it was on awesome I went ahead and bought them. We're both excited to get out into the mountains to do a little snowshoeing soon! These are basically the ones I bought him.

Shawn got me a Wii Fit! I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever gotten the "hot" gift of the season. :) I'm really excited about having the Wii Fit. I finally won't have a good excuse for not getting some exercise on a regular basis. :) I tried out most of the "games" last night, and I think it's going to be good for me. The Wii Fit game that comes with the balance board has a variety of "games" that includes balance, yoga, aerobic, and strength training. One thing that Ireally like about it is that it keeps track of all your stats. It is able to check your center of balance (apparently, mine is already pretty good), and it checks your weight and BMI. Each day that you use the Wii Fit, the game will keep track of how you're improving, and it also helps you set goals for yourself (and forces you to set a reasonable time for meeting those goals). I'll have to get some pictures of me using the Wii Fit, but for now, this is what it looks like.

Another Volunteer Opportunity

Last week, I blogged about volunteering at PetSmart. While I do think this is a worthy cause, and I'm excited to get to spend a little time with kitties once a week, I really wanted to do something that would have a positive impact on people, not just animals. :) So I filled out an application to volunteer for the American Cancer Society!

The volunteer coordinator called me pretty quickly, but it was right before Thanksgiving. Things got hectic; we ended up playing some phone tag. But I finally was able to chat with her briefly last week. I met her on Monday, when she took me out to lunch and explained some of the opportunities they currently have available for volunteers. Then we went over to the local hospital so she could show me what I'll most likely be working with.

I'm not sure how widespread it is, but in this area, the American Cancer Society has recently started "Cancer Resource Centers" in the local hospitals and oncology centers. Basically, this is a place where cancer patients and their caregivers can come to get more information and support. There are pamphlets which give more information about specific types of cancers and their treatments. People can sign up to be provided with rides to and from chemo treatments. On Monday, the Resource Center had a basket full of hats and scarves that patients could take since the weather has gotten so cold lately.

I'll need to fill out a separate application for volunteering at the hospital, but hopefully within a few weeks, I'll be able to start working at the Cancer Resource Center at the local hospital! The volunteer coordinator is really excited to make these centers even more useful and organized, so she's also hoping that I'll be able to serve on a committee that will help to organize these centers!

I'm really excited for these opportunities. Obviously, cancer is something that affects all of us in some way. Is there anyone these days who doesn't know someone who has had to deal with cancer? On a personal note, my grandmother had breast cancer, and my dad has had cancer a couple of times. Shawn lost both his dad and his uncle to cancer a few years ago, and Shawn's brother survived cancer when he was in high school. Frankly, we never know when cancer is going to be diagnosed in someone that we love (or even ourselves). As long as I'm healthy, I'd really like to do what I can to help those who are dealing with the disease!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Lots of Goodies!

In preparation for the book club meeting I thought I would be hosting, I spent a lot of time baking and making treats last week.
First, I made Mexican Wedding Cookies. I got the recipe here, from my friend Ashlee's blog. If we're being totally honest, I've attempted to make things from her blog before, and I haven't always had the greatest of luck. However, these cookies were great! I've had them before, but I never knew what they were called. And I had no idea how easy they'd be to make! I just finished eating the last one a few minutes ago. :)

Next, I made Oreo Truffles. This recipe was also found on a Obviously, this recipe looks super easy. But hey, this is me we're talking about. I had some issues. After trying to mix the Oreos and cream cheese with a spoon, I gave up after a few minutes and just used my hands. This actually worked really well, and I'd highly recommend you use this method if you want to try making the truffles! My major issue, though, came with the chocolate. I can't remember the last time I tried melting chocolate; I just assumed that you'd need to keep it warm. So I put the chocolate in a saucepan and turned on the heat. But it all melted pretty quickly and then got thick and goopy. Definitely not something I could dip anything into! So I ran to my computer and googled "problems melting chocolate." I figured out that once chocolate seizes, there's not much you can do to salvage it. However, if it's just overheated, you can transfer it to a cool bowl and add a spoonful or two of vegetable oil, then stir vigorously. So that's what I did...and it more or less worked! Unfortunately, the chocolate was still a little too thick (and hot) to dip my Oreo/cream cheese balls I ended up using a spoon to pour the chocolate over the balls. The chocolate coating ended up a bit thick, but otherwise it was good! Not pretty, but good. :)

Finally, I made sugar cookies. Again, I used my friend Ashlee's recipe, here. When I was a kid, my mom used flour on the counter and the rolling pin when rolling out the dough. I'd never heard of using powdered sugar for this, but it worked out really well. I used my brand new cookie cutters, which I think are cute. I then decorated the cookies with simple store-bought icing and various sprinkles.
All of these were for the book club meeting, of course. This was the table set up, waiting for the girls to arrive. I was thrilled to be able to use quite a few wedding presents (like the serving plates, the tiered serving dish, and the water pitcher). Since no one got to see it in person (except Shawn), I thought I'd share the pictures with you. :)This morning, Shawn took most of the goodies to work and shared them with his coworkers. So at least they were all eaten and appreciated, and Shawn and I didn't gain 10 pounds each. :-)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Our Social Weekend

Shawn and I ended up having a rather busy, fun weekend! On both Friday and Saturday, I spent quite a bit of time baking, writing Christmas cards, and reading. Shawn came home from work a little early on Friday since he was feeling a bit under the weather, but we were still able to go out to dinner on Friday night. We met up with my nestie friend Elizabeth and her husband, Jeff. We went to a restaurant called the Diamond Knot Brewery, which is a place that Shawn stumbled across a few years ago when he first started traveling out here. What's unique about it is that most of the food comes out raw. Yes, you read that right. The raw food is brought out on a special plate that has a very hot stone in the middle of it, and you cook your food yourself at your table. We agree that it's a little funny since you pay quite a bit and wait quite awhile for raw food that you cook yourself, but it's still kinda fun. Here's a pic of what the food looks like when it's first served.
On Saturday, while I was baking, Shawn was a wonderful husband and helped me clean up the apartment. Then we went to church and came home to get ready for a party! We went over to the home of one of Shawn's bosses. Apparently, they throw a big holiday party every year, and it was a lot of fun! Their house was beautiful, and they did a great job decorating. I was able to meet some of the people that Shawn works with, and hopefully we'll get to hang out with some of them again soon. We've also agreed that we'd love to dogsit for them next time they go out of town! That way, we could hang out with their adorable English Setter Spaniels and also enjoy their awesome deck and hot tub!!

While we were at the party, it was actually snowing! The Seattle area normally doesn't get much snow, so it was really nice to watch the flakes fall last night. We only got an inch or two, but since it's such a wet snow, it stuck to everything and was really beautiful! This is what we woke up to this morning.

This afternoon, I was supposed to be hosting a book club meeting. That's why I did a lot of baking last week, and why Shawn helped me clean the apartment on Saturday. However...since this area doesn't normally get snow, most people around here don't like to drive in it. Granted, it can get really icy and there are lots of hills that can be scary to drive on. But I got everything ready and the table all set up for the book club girls. 1:00 rolled around, and I was alone. When it hit 1:15, I turned on the Broncos game (which was actually on TV here!). At 1:30, Shawn called to ask me a question, and I told him no one had come. So he decided to come home, and I ordered a pizza.

Oh well. Instead of a book club, I hung out with my husband and watched the Broncos game. I also was able to finish writing all of the Christmas Shawn just needs to sign them and I need to address them. I'll blog later this week about all the goodies I made for the book club meeting that never happened!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


When I was in high school, I volunteered at lots of different events and organizations. I always loved doing it. It was so rewarding to spend my time doing things that would help other people. I haven't done any volunteering in awhile, but it was hard to find the time to squeeze anything else in that needed to be done regularly when I was teaching, coaching Mock Trial, working at the Pepsi Center, taking grad classes, spending a little time with Shawn on the get the idea.

But since we've moved to Washington...well, I've got nothing but time these days. A few weeks ago, I began thinking again about volunteering. What was my excuse now for not doing it? Granted, I was hoping to start substitute teaching (which has obviously not exactly panned out for me), but even with that, I'd still have plenty of time in the late afternoons or evening. And with rugby, Shawn is gone at training at least twice a week.

So I started doing a little research, and I found two organizations that I thought would be fun to volunteer with. I filled out online applications for both, and I was able to get started with one of them really quickly! (Just FYI...I'll blog about the other organization next week, after I have a meeting with the volunteer coordinator on Monday!)

I am now officially a volunteer with Purrfect Pals. Purrfect Pals is the world's largest cats-only adoption organization and sanctuary. The Saturday before Thanksgiving, I went to an orientation meeting at the main shelter, and I was able to tour the facility and learn a lot about this great organization. If you're interested in reading more about it, click here to go to their website.

What I get to do is play with cats! Well...and clean their cages and freshen their food and water. :-) Purrfect Pals is the group that provides the cats that are up for adoption at my local PetSmart. So on Monday, I had my in-store training, and this afternoon, I had my first solo volunteer shift! It's probably a good thing that Shawn is really allergic to cats, or I may have already brought one or two home with me this week. :-)

Here are a couple of the cats that I've been able to hang out with this week:
This is Bubba. He's an adorable black Persian kitty with a smooshed in face.

This is Gretchen. She's sweet, but probably the fattest cat I've ever seen. She waddles when she walks. She's on a diet. :)
These two are Mandy (the tabby) and Miss Muffet (the black and white one). I doubt they're actually sisters, but they're the same age and will hopefully be adopted together. They're awfully shy, but I did manage to get both of them to come out of the cage this afternoon to play with a toy. Miss Muffet wasn't too fond of the little black kittens that we have this week, though.