Sunday, May 31, 2009

Nice Weekend!

As I posted yesterday, I had a wonderfully relaxing Saturday at home while Shawn was off playing in a rugby tournament. Once he got home, we both headed off to downtown Seattle.

Shawn spent his evening with the ruggers. I'm not exactly sure what all went on; I simply know that the team held a Kangaroo Court and then went out together afterwards. If you're not familiar with the tradition of Kangaroo Courts in the sporting world, here's an excerpt from the Wikipedia article:
For example, many Major League Baseball teams have a kangaroo court to punish players for errors and other mistakes on the field, as well as for being late for a game/practice, not wearing proper attire to road games, or having a messy locker in the clubhouse. Fines are allotted, and at the end of the year, the money collected is given to charity. The organization may also use the money for a team party at the end of the season.[2]
This type of kangaroo court is common in Rugby Union teams and clubs in the western world where fines are given at the end of a tour or season. The fines are dealt with either by forfeits or tasks. This usually entails large amounts of alcohol as punishment.
In 1975, the
Cleveland Indians of the American League had a Kangaroo Court where players were fined one dollar for silly offenses [3], and the New York Yankees players have held several such mock "courts" in their clubhouse throughout the team's history.

Considering the article excerpt mentions Major League Baseball, the Cleveland Indians, and the rugby tradition, I figured it was fitting to include it here. :)

While Shawn was busy with this, I got to have a girls' night! I thought ahead and contacted two other girls whose boyfriends play rugby with Shawn. Since all three of us would've otherwise spent the evening at home alone, we decided to go out together. We met up first at an Irish pub close to where the boys were starting their evening. We then went out to dinner at Gordon Biersch, where I had a very yummy pulled pork sandwich. It was also in a part of Seattle that I'd never been to before, and to which I'll definitely need to return! It's a huge complex called Pacific Place, and according to their website, it is THE place in Seattle for fashion, food, and film.

After dinner, the three of us went and saw Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. It was rather cheesy and predictable, but I did laugh out loud a number of times. And frankly, I got to spend 100 minutes watching Matthew McConaughey. Although I probably would've appreciated it more if I hadn't spent $10.50 to see it, there are worse things I could've done with my evening.

From what I can tell, Shawn had a good time with the ruggers Saturday night, and I had a great time with the girls. We're already starting to plan our next girls' night out. :)

And as for's been nice and lazy. :) We slept in and went to a late Mass. Afterwards, we headed toward the mall, where Shawn took his suit to get altered. We just bought him this suit a year ago, but he's lost so much weight in that time that Men's Wearhouse has to take in his pants 7 inches at the waist! It'll be done just in time for the End of Season Rugby Banquet that we'll be going to next weekend. We've been spending the rest of the afternoon just hanging around the apartment, watching baseball, reading, making dinner (beef stew in the crock pot), and playing video games (that would be Shawn). Hard to believe that today is the last day of May already!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Beautiful Saturday!

This morning, Shawn went to go play in a social rugby tournament. I decided to stay at home. I just figured that since it's a social tournament, the outcome doesn't really matter. And being a tournament, there would be plenty of games played that wouldn't involve Shawn.

So he got up around 6:30. I kept sleeping. He woke me up to say goodbye at 8:00...I went back to sleep. I ended up staying in bed until almost 10:30, and it was wonderful!! There was a bit of a cool breeze coming in through the window, and it was just about perfect. Just would've been nicer if Shawn was still there. :)

Now I'm sitting out on our porch with my laptop. I'm thinking this is where I'll spend most of the rest of my day...just bring out a book, some food, a beverage. Perfect. I don't think I could ask for nicer weather! I took a few pictures. :)

This is what I'm looking at right now. I'm actually just a little surprised there are no kids playing out in that grassy area right now. Maybe they're all at the apartment complex pool.

I also thought I'd post a couple pictures of our "garden." Remember what they looked like just a few weeks ago? I took these pictures on May 9. Look at them now!

We need to get stakes for the pea plants. And frankly, I need to thin them out...we have too many plants in that small pot. Hopefully we'll get that taken care of this week! Maybe tomorrow, actually.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Crab Cakes!

We had an absolutely wonderful Memorial Day weekend! On Friday night, we just stayed at home, and then we left first thing on Saturday morning. Due to a slightly later start than we originally intended and then to some heavier traffic (probably others getting out of the city for the weekend), we didn't get to Seaside until about 1:30 or 2:00 on Saturday. We actually did a quick explore of Seaside, and then we drove another 8 miles or so south to Cannon Beach. After getting a quick snack, we checked in at the hotel and took a nap before heading out for dinner.

I'm going to hold off on the actual beach info until I have pics to put up...and the camera is currently in the car (which Shawn just took to rugby practice). However, I can tell you about our favorite meal of the weekend. :)

If you ever find yourself on the northern coast of Oregon, go to Cannon Beach, and stop at Cranky Sue's. Shawn and I stopped here on Saturday afternoon, thinking it was just a snack-type of place...the kind of place where we could just walk in, order something at a counter, and walk out. We were wrong, and that's okay. :) The sign outside the restaurant talked about their "famous crab cakes," so we decided to split an appetizer of "crab bites." When they came out, they were literally teeny tiny little bite-sized crab cakes, and they were really good! After scarfing those down, we asked the waitress to bring us a "real" crab cake (which we learned also came with french fries). It was to die for! It was obvious that the crab was very fresh, and there wasn't much in the way of filler in the cake...basically it was just seasoned crab meat with a very light breading that was fried.

This crab cake (and the fries...which we think were homemade, too) was good enough that Shawn and I decided to go back to Cranky Sue's for lunch on Monday before we headed back home. On Monday, we each got our own crab cake and fries instead of splitting it. :) Shawn also got clam chowder on Monday, which was also incredibly fresh and good. I don't even like clam chowder, but this was something I would gladly eat.

It's definitely worth a visit! Oh, and like I said, we didn't take any pictures at the restaurant, but here are a couple pics I found online.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Headed to the Coast!

Shawn and I decided to take advantage of the 3-day weekend, and early Saturday morning, we're heading for the Oregon coast! Shawn has briefly visited it once before (mainly just driving by, I think), but I've never been. We're going to stay in the town of Seaside, and we'll probably explore a couple other coastal towns and parks while we're down there.
I'm really excited for this trip! We've realized that, other than our honeymoon, this is the first multi-day trip Shawn and I will have taken together that doesn't involve friends or family! Hopefully, it's going to be a fun, relaxing, beautiful weekend. We'll take lots of pictures, and I'll be sure to post when we get back!

Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, 2006 (331 pages)

I have no idea why it took me so long to read this book! I feel like I've been reading it forever (when, in fact, it's only been about 2 weeks...which I guess is long for me these days). I had heard a lot about it over the last couple years, and I finally decided to give in and try it.

The author, Elizabeth Gilbert, spent a year traveling, and she describes her experiences in this book. The subtitle is actually "One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia." After going through a very painful divorce (and a few other things in her life), she literally spent four months in each of these countries. Therefore, the book is divided up into 3 sections, one for each country.

My favorite section was the first one, Italy. This is probably because I've been to Italy (and love it), so I could more easily relate to the cultural things she was experiencing and writing about. When she was in India, she lived at an Ashram, studying yoga and meditation. I wasn't sure I'd relate to that section because of religious views, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how often she incorporated Christian (and often specifically Catholic) ideas in her meditation and in her writing. When she went to Indonesia, she quickly was able to find a town she had visited before, and it was very interesting to learn about the Balinese culture and society.

Overall, I liked the book. I know some people who have said that this is one of their all-time favorite books, but I definitely wouldn't rate it that high. It was nice to read a little non-fiction for a change...especially to read a book that incorporated travel and other cultures. Although I certainly didn't find it life-changing, I would say that it's worth reading.

Total number of books read in 2009: 24
Total number of pages read in 2009: 8785

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Weekend Hike

Shawn and I have been "planning" on going on a hike for a few weeks now, but things keep coming up that make us change our mind. So this past weekend, we decided that we were, for sure, going to go on a hike. We didn't really do anything Friday night so that we could be well rested, and I even convinced Shawn to let me sleep until about 6:00 on Saturday morning. Shawn used one of his books to pick a route that looked pretty interesting, hiking up a trail on Mt. Pilchuk.

Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny! It was just about perfect hiking weather. We left the apartment around 7:15, but then were delayed for about 20 minutes when Shawn and the guy parked behind us both decided to pull out of their parking spaces at approximately the same time. Both bumpers were dented/scratched, and info was exchanged, but I don't think we're going to do anything about it.

We drove about an hour away to get to Mt. Pilchuk. We drove up the first forest service road a few miles before we noticed a few cars parked on the side of the road. When we turned the corner, we saw why....snow! The road was completely snowed in, as far as we could see. We decided to just park the car and start our hike a few miles further down the mountain than originally planned. Shawn was feeling pretty confident that the snow wouldn't cover the entire road, but it turns out that we really should've used snowshoes. We did hike up the road a few miles, but we were walking through quite a bit of snow (probably a couple feet) almost the entire time. It was still beautiful, but it was definitely a workout! And poor Shawn was wearing shorts, so his socks and hiking boots got soaked.

We eventually came to a place where part of the forest service road had washed out at some point over the winter. (Note to self...we need to contact the forest service to see if they know about this yet.) This is where we stopped to have lunch, and this is also where we decided to turn around. See, Shawn was also pretty confident that the road would be pretty much in the tall trees the entire time, so he thought we wouldn't need sunscreen. Turns out, we were in the sun almost the entire time. So once we had lunch, we knew that we'd be getting pretty sunburned if we kept going. As it is, Shawn decided to wear my fleece shirt on his head to avoid burning his face. It was awfully sexy. :)

Overall, we had a wonderful day on Saturday! The hike was both harder and shorter than we were expecting, but we're looking forward to getting back to this trail during the summer. We've learned our lesson...bring snowshoes in May, even at this relatively low elevation! After the hike, we stopped at a great little produce stand that had amazing prices, and then we stopped off for an early dinner (where it was happy hour, so dinner cost us a whopping $9).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Job Update

Wow...I've been a bad blogger lately! Sorry about that. I was a little busy last week, trying to get things graded in time to do mid-quarter reports last Friday.

The sub job has been going pretty well. For the most part, I'm enjoying it. Right now, we're doing Romeo and Juliet, which I really do enjoy teaching. I've also done it enough times that I don't really need to spend lots of time preparing for any given lesson. I always enjoy seeing the change in kids' perceptions of the play. When I first tell them we're going to read Shakespeare, they usually whine and complain. They assume it's going to be too hard, and many of them worry that this famous love story is going to be too sappy. I enjoy watching them realize that A) they can understand Shakespeare's words if I help them a little, and B) there's a lot more to the play than just a sappy love story.

I do have a handful of students who drive me nuts just about every day. I'm trying to figure out what I can possibly do about them, but I'm at the point now where I think I might just have to put up with them for the next few weeks. Originally, my job was supposed to be over on May just two more weeks. However, the teacher I'm subbing for (her name is Meg) asked me a little while ago if I'd be okay with extending the job. Basically, Meg suddenly realized that she has some childcare issues (namely, her arranged childcare fell through). Personally, I'm thinking that she just doesn't want to have to be away from her baby yet. :) Regardless, she was able to talk the HR department into giving her two more weeks off, so I'll now be there until June 12th. Meg will actually come back on June 12th, too, so we'll have one day at school together to figure out how to transition easily. Basically, I'll be more or less finishing out the school year; the kids are done June 19th. Meg will just have to keep the kids busy for one week and submit their final grades. I was looking forward to being done at the end of May, but honestly, I didn't have a good reason to say no to two extra weeks, and it will be a good little chunk of extra money I wasn't expecting.

So...that's where I stand with the job. Because of budget cuts, I sincerely doubt that I'll be able to find a full-time job for next year, but I'll be applying for whatever I find (including some part-time jobs and some online-teaching jobs). We'll see what happens.

Oh, and we did have a wonderful weekend this weekend, so I'll post some pictures and stories in the next day or two!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Advertisers Love Us

Shawn and I have often commented on the fact that advertisers must love us. We are exactly the people they're looking for. We are absolutely swayed by and will purchase products based on creative packaging, funny (yet not too annoying) commercials and ads, and unique names. The best examples of this can usually be found in our wine rack.

This is our wine rack, as it stands today. For us, this is pretty empty. This lovely Crate and Barrel piece holds up to 25 bottles of wine, and there are currently 10 empty slots. We really need to do a little shopping.
But one thing you should understand is that neither Shawn nor I really know much about wine. We just know that we enjoy sharing a bottle from time to time. We think it's tasty. So how do we choose which bottles to buy? Simple. We normally base our choice on two criteria: price and the label.

When it comes to price, we try to spend less than $10 a bottle. If any of you reading this are true oenophiles (aka - lover of wine), please don't hold this against us. It's just how we do things. And I think lots of people might be surprised at the number of good wines are this affordable! Granted, this has also brought us the occasional bottle of really bad wine, but it's a risk we're willing to take.

When it comes to labels, this is where advertising comes in. I tend to be drawn to the bottles with interesting designs on the labels. Shawn tends to be drawn to the bottles with interesting and/or funny names. Can you tell which of us chose the bottles pictured here?

I'm pretty sure these were all chosen by Shawn. The bottle of Mad Fish is the very first bottle of wine that Shawn and I ever shared. He picked it up on his way over to my apartment when I was making dinner for him...I think for the first time. He decided that any wine with a name that included an adjective and an animal was probably going to be good. Fortunately, he was right! Unfortunately, we haven't been able to find this wine sold in any store in well over a year. We just recently enjoyed these other two bottles. Naked is a Reisling from a local Washington winery, and...well, Shawn figured that naked is good. :) And I normally prefer red wines, but this one was good. Pretty sweet. And finally, we have (Oops). It made Shawn laugh the first time he saw it, so we've bought it twice now. It's a Chilean wine (which we tend to really like), and according to the label, for decades people thought they were using Merlot grapes, only to find out in 1994 that the grapes were actually Carmenere grapes that had been allowed to grow wild. Oops.

In each of these cases, Shawn's tendency to pick wine based solely on name and price worked out well for us. Too bad I can't say the same for the bottle of Triple Dog Dare we once picked up on sale for $2.99.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Baked Pasta

For dinner tonight, I made one of our favorite recipes from Kraft Foods. It's technically called the "Easy Italian Pasta Bake," but Shawn likes to refer to it as my "yummy goodness." It's super easy to make, but it tastes really good. The recipe also makes a LOT, so there are always plenty of leftovers for lunches later in the week.

Ingredients: 3 cups penne pasta, 1 pound ground beef, 1 jar of spaghetti sauce, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 cup shredded mozzarella.

1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. In the meantime, brown the ground beef. I season it with Italian seasoning and garlic powder.
2. Combine the pasta, beef, spaghetti sauce, and half of the Parmesan.3. Pour everything into a casserole dish, and then top with the remaining Parmesan and the mozzarella.
4. Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

New Sprouts!

Shawn and I have been diligently checking on our tiny "container garden" just about every day. We had a few days of steady rain this week, and our babies seemed to like it. The tomato plant is definitely growing. And we've positioned our wooden bear to look over the plant and make sure it behaves. :)But the most fun news is that we have new sprouts! We've been noticing little, tiny green sprouts for a little while now, but they're so small I doubt the camera would pick up on them. So here are a couple pictures I took this morning. I'm pretty sure that the pure green ones are peas, and the more yellow/pink ones are the morning glories that Shawn randomly decided he wanted to experiment with.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Thursday Thirteen #10

(This image provided by Samulli.)
I'm in a bit of a hurry this week (I should really be in bed right now), but I wanted to write and post my Thursday 13 before I forgot. I wanted to keep it simple, so I decided to go with books I want to read. However...there are a lot of books I want to read. I use Goodreads to keep track of books I've read and books I want to read. I currently have 106 books on my "to read" shelf on Goodreads, and I typically add at least a couple books to this list every week. So I had my wonderful husband give me 13 random numbers between 1 and 106, and that determined which 13 books to put on my list. are 13 Random Books on my "To Read" List:

1. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, by Victor Hugo

2. Little Earthquakes, by Jennifer Weiner

3. The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets, by Eva Rice

4. The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

5. Rose House: a Novel, by Tina Ann Forkner

6. Into the Wild, by John Krakauer

7. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster, by John Krakauer

8. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon

9. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: a Novel, by Lisa See

10. Marcelo in the Real World, by Francisco X. Stork

11. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford
(*I'm actually currently #126 on the holds list for this one. That's down from #157.)

12. Perestroika, by J.L. Willis

13. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson

Like I said, this is just a very small sampling of the books on my list. Have you read any of these? Do you have any recommendations for me that I should add to my ever-growing list of books that I should read?

Bitter Is the New Black

Bitter Is the New Black by Jen Lancaster, 2006 (398 pages)

Before I say much about the book, I'd like to clarify the title. In case you can't read it on the image here, the full title of the book is Bitter Is the New Black: Confessions of a condescending, egomaniacal, self-centered smart-ass, or why you should never carry a Prada Bag to the unemployment office. Even the title made me smile. :)

I thought this was a good book. It's definitely chick lit, but it wasn't quite what I expected. This is the author's memoir, which I didn't realize before I began reading it. Jen is very successful at her job, and she likes living a lifestyle that reflects that success (like wearing designer shoes, spending $300 on her highlights, and carrying an $800 Prada bag while living in what she calls "the Dot Com Palace"). The story basically shows what she goes through when she suddenly finds herself unemployed.

In a lot of chick lit books, I find myself wanting to slap the main female characters and tell them to quit being idiots. I don't recall having that feeling with this book. Even though the characters make some mistakes as the story progresses, and even though the characters make some choices that I wouldn't necessarily agree with, I didn't feel like they were ditzy airheads who needed some sense knocked into them. And even though the characters live a lifestyle that I can't relate to (see above paragraph), I did feel like I could relate to the characters themselves.

I think this would be a good first chick lit book for someone to read. Unlike a lot of other books that fit into the genre, this book seems to have more of a solid story line with themes that a lot of people can relate to. Unlike a lot of other books in the genre, this story line was actually believable (which is a good thing, considering it's actually more or less a true story). I found it especially appropriate to be reading right now. When we start thinking about all the people losing their jobs these days and/or struggling to find work, this book is a good reminder that this isn't the end of the world. We've had tough economic times before, and we always come out of it.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, and I recommend it!
Total number of books read in 2009: 23
Total number of pages read in 2009: 8454

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Super League!

Obviously, the sport of rugby isn't as big in the U.S. as it is in other countries around the world. But it is bigger than you may realize. After meeting Shawn, I decided a few years ago that rugby is like its own secret society. It exists pretty much under the radar, but once you know it's there, it seems to be everywhere. And once you're "in" the society, you also realize that rugby has its own sayings, traditions, jokes, and even songs. But those are for a different post. :)

In the U.S., men's rugby is divided into various divisions, and those divisions are more or less based on level of ability. It's kind of like Varsity and JV divisions in high school sports. The "lowest" level in the U.S. is Division III. Then there's Division II, which is what Shawn's team in Denver plays in. Then there's Division I, which is what Shawn has been playing most of this season here in Seattle. Above that is the Super League. The only rugby above the level of Super League in the U.S. is the national team, the USA Eagles, so Super League rugby is pretty much the closest you can get to playing professional rugby in the United States. There are currently 18 Super League teams scattered around the U.S., and they travel each week to play each other.

So why am I explaining all this? Because for the last two weeks of the season, Shawn got to play with the Super League team! He actually started each of the last two games and played all 80 minutes. The Seattle Rugby Club (Div I and II) and the Old Puget Sound Beach Rugby Club (Super League) recently decided to partner, which basically means that they train together and the guys have a better chance of moving up to a higher level when they make personal improvements. Over the last year and a half, Shawn has worked really hard to get into better shape and to improve as a player. I'm very proud of him for working so hard and getting to play with the Super League team! He's already looking forward to and getting ready for next season. :)

Here are some pics from Saturday's game. Shawn was wearing #2...see if you can find him in each picture!