Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Slaughterhouse-Five

Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, 1969. (205 pgs.)

This is the third book I've read for the LOST Books Challenge. It's one of those books that I've heard people mention for years, but I'd never read it. In fact, I really didn't know anything about it at all until I got it from the library. I knew it had something to do with the firebombing of Dresden during World War II, but knowing that Vonnegut is the author should have clued me in that it would be more Sci-Fi.

It is the story of Billy Pilgrim, who has "come unstuck in time." This is why the book finds its way onto the LOST Books Challenge list. Although it is a story about WWII, it is also largely a story about time travel. And aliens. Yeah...see, Billy was once kidnapped by a spaceship full of aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. Billy learns a lot from the Tralfamadorians, and I'm wondering if the writers of LOST learned a lot from them, too. These aliens can see in four dimensions, and they explain to Billy that: "when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past.... All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just the way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one...and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever."

So if you're a fan of LOST, think of what this means for the show/story/characters. Many of the characters have obviously "come unstuck in time." This is how some of the characters can be in 1977 while others are in "the present." This also would explain what Farraday said...that nothing you do in the past can change the future. Those things in "the future" have already happened. That also means that no one who has died on the show is truly dead...those characters are still alive somewhere in the past.

I know...it makes my head spin. If you've gotten this far in the post and you're not a watcher of LOST...well, then I applaud you. And I tell you, you've got to start watching the show. Just don't try to jump in now...go back to Season One. :)

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Total number of books read in 2009: 16
Total number of pages read in 2009: 6329

Our "hike"

Early last week, we decided that one day this past weekend, we would go for a hike. The two of us haven't really gotten outside much together lately, so we made a point of reserving a day to get out and do something. Unfortunately, Shawn was kinda sick for a large part of last week, and so when the weekend rolled around, he didn't really want to go out and do something that would just exhaust his still-recovering system.

For his birthday back in November, part of Shawn's gift was a book called "Hiking in Snohomish County" (which is where we live). So for Sunday's day out, Shawn looked through the book to find a hike that looked like it wouldn't be very far away, and that would be pretty easy. He found one that claimed to have no elevation gain, and it would only be about 3 miles. (And yes, for us, 3 miles would be a really short hike.)

We followed the directions in the book, and we found ourselves in a park. Really close to a town. In fact, I'm pretty sure that we could see nearby houses from almost every part of the trail we were on. So we decided that a more accurate term for our activity would be a "walk," not a "hike." We had both worn our hiking boots (expecting something more strenuous), but it turns out that was a good thing, since the park we were walking through had somewhat recently flooded. The trail was nothing but mud, and in places, we had to walk through the huge puddles that were still covering parts of the trail. In fact, part of the trail no longer exists! The park is next to the Skykomish River, and when the river flooded, large chunks of the river bank were washed away...including part of this trail.

Overall, our walk wasn't quite what we were expecting. But hey...we got outside. In fact, we even got to enjoy a little bit of sunshine! And we were able to appreciate the nature of the Pacific Northwest. We both love to see how all the moss grows all over the trees in this area.

Have I mentioned before that I'm married to quite a talented photographer? Shawn has a knack for taking amazing pictures, particularly of flowers and other things in nature. This is my favorite from Sunday. We're planning to look this up, but if you know what plant/bush/flower this is, please feel free to let me know!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Subbing

So...have I mentioned yet that I'm subbing? My long-term sub job started on March 16th. I'm now working every day, and frankly, I'm kinda tired. I'm teaching 5 sections of Freshmen English every day, and all of the classes are pretty big. The good thing about it is that all 5 classes do the same thing, and the teacher who went on maternity leave had all of the lesson plans done long before she left. So most days, I don't really need to do much in the way of planning (although I have tweaked some of the lessons and changed a few things around here and there). However, I am on my feet most of the day, and I tend to do a lot of talking. Today, I actually lost my voice. Should be interesting tomorrow. :)

Generally speaking, the job is going well. There are a few students who manage to drive me nuts just about every day, but that's pretty typical for 9th graders. But have I mentioned before that I'm really not a morning person? Yeah...I have to get up at 5:00am every day. Not so much fun. Now granted, school is done by 2:00, and I can technically leave for the day by 2:30 (although I almost always stay later than that). But when I get home, I'm usually exhausted. And then I have grading I should do.

I'm trying to get back into the swing of things, with working full-time during the days and still finding time to do the things I want to in the evenings (like reading, watching TV, hanging out with Shawn, maybe doing a little crocheting). And ideally, I'll manage to get out at least a few blog posts every week, too. :)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Animal Farm


Animal Farm, by George Orwell, 1946 (114 pages)

I actually first read this book in high school. I remember choosing it as one of my "outside reading" assignments, and although I thought it was a decent book, I didn't realize until years later that it was actually an allegory!

I first taught this book during my student teaching assignment while in college. That's probably where I first learned the history of the book, and when I learned that the entire book is really telling the story of the Russian Revolution. Over the years, I think I've taught this book 6 or 7 times, to probably 3-5 classes at a time. Needless to say, I've read it a LOT. So when I got this long-term sub job, it was actually rather nice to see that one of the units I would be teaching was the Animal Farm unit. Frankly, I probably could've taught the unit just fine without reading the book again, but I wanted it to be fresh, so I read it one more time.

I really enjoy teaching this book, largely because I enjoy teaching the history behind it. I told Shawn the other day that maybe I missed my true calling...maybe I should've been a history teacher. :) If you've never read the book before, I strongly recommend that you try it. Just take the time to learn the political history of Russia, starting with Csar Nicholas II, through the Russian Revolution, and ending up with Stalin. Otherwise, you may get through the entire book and think that it's simply a bizarre little story about a bunch of pigs and some other farm animals. :)

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Total number of books read in 2009: 15
Total number of pages read in 2009: 6124

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rugby Photos

This past weekend, I actually remembered to bring the camera to Shawn's rugby match. I did take a few photos, and I also actually used the video function on the camera. Unfortunately, it's fairly difficult to get good shots when the game is going on, and it's especially difficult to manage to get a picture of Shawn actually playing. But I figured I'd post a few.

This is a picture of a scrum. Shawn's team is the one on the right...in the white and green jerseys. Shawn is actually in this scrum, but you can't see him in the photo. He's on the other side, in the front row.

This is a lineout. It's how the ball is put back into play after it goes out of bounds. Shawn is in this picture. I'm not sure if you'll be able to see him, but his back is to the camera. He's wearing number 3, and he's helping to lift the guy in the white jersey.

And finally, this is just a shot of regular play. One of Shawn's teammates has the ball.

As I mentioned before, I did attempt to use the video function to record a little bit of the game, but it's hard to really get a good view of what's going on, especially when they're on the other side of the pitch. But here's the best video that I was able to come up with from last Saturday.

video

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Catching Up

Sorry I've been MIA. Our good friends, Jarid and Sarah, came to visit us. They got here last Tuesday night, and they just left yesterday. Since they were on vacation, Shawn and I were kinda on vacation! Except that Shawn and I went to work during the day. :(

Shawn and I rented a car so that Jarid and Sarah wouldn't be stuck at our apartment during the day, and then the four of us hung out in the evenings. There was a lot more going out to eat than usual, but Jarid also cooked for us a few times. I felt a little bad letting him cook (and I didn't cook at all while they were here!), but it's something that he really enjoys doing.

On Saturday, Jarid, Sarah, and I went downtown while Shawn went to the rugby pitch to get ready for his game. The 3 of us stopped by Safeco Field so that I could buy my birthday present! Yes, my birthday was in October. :) But for my birthday, Shawn promised that we'd get a pair of tickets to all 3 games when the Indians are in town to play the Mariners in July. The tickets just went on sale about 10 days ago, and by purchasing them at the stadium, I saved about $27 in Ticketmaster fees! Then the 3 of us went down to the Market for lunch. We decided to stop at the Athenian Inn. It's right in the Market, and it has a gigantic menu. At least one scene from "Sleepless in Seattle" was also filmed here. We sat on the second floor and had great views of Elliott Bay. Unfortunately, the food was pretty bad. As an example, my "BBQ Beef" sandwich was a few slices of packaged roast beef covered in a little BBQ sauce and slapped on a sandwich bun. Blech. But then we went and watched Shawn play rugby and the rest of the day was good. :)

Sunday, we were supposed to go sea kayaking. Unfortunately, the guide called us early that morning to let us know that the weather wasn't going to cooperate. They were expecting lots of wind and a "small craft advisory" in the San Juan Islands. Not exactly ideal for amateurs to go kayaking. So instead we went downtown for lunch, and then we took the Seattle "Underground Tour." I had done it a few years ago, but none of the rest of them had. If you ever find yourself in Seattle, I highly recommend this tour. It's only 90 minutes, but it's pretty interesting, and it's actually pretty funny, too.

We took Jarid and Sarah to the airport last night. It was great to have them here, but I'm kinda looking forward to getting back into our normal working/eating/sleeping habits. And I'll try to get back into blogging more often. :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dolli and Ken

I think it's been awhile since I've talked about my knottie/nestie friends on this blog. So as a reminder...there are a number of women who I consider to be good friends of mine, and yet I've only actually met a handful of them. I "met" all of them originally through theknot.com, where we would chat via message boards as we were planning our weddings in 2007. In fact, all of these ladies were married in the same month as Shawn and I...December of 2007.
If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you may remember my friend Jill. She was one of my nestie friends, and she lost her fight with cancer in September.

Another one of my nestie friends is Dolli. She's seriously one of the sweetest people I've ever met...even though I've technically never "met" her. She married Ken the week after Shawn and I married. Although Dolli never really made a big deal out of it, we all knew that Ken had been diagnosed with colon cancer sometime before their wedding...I believe it was before they were engaged.

Sadly, we learned that Ken lost his battle with cancer on Monday morning. I believe he was in his early 30's. My heart is just breaking for Dolli; I can't imagine what she must be going through right now. The funeral is being held on Friday, so please keep Dolli and their friends and family in your prayers.

Yeah...cancer sucks.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Romp to Stomp

Oops! I realized that I haven't posted pictures and an update from the Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer! I particpated in the event that was held in Frisco, Colorado, last weekend (March 7th). I spent Friday night at Mat and Abby's house in Denver, and then the three of us got up before dawn on Saturday to drive up there.

When we arrived in Frisco, it was in the low 20s, and, once the sun finished rising, it was actually pretty sunny. There were five Romp to Stomp events this year, and the one in Frisco was the largest. There were approximately 2200 participants there! I haven't yet been able to find any numbers that show how much money was raised, but judging by the number of enthusiastic people that were there, I'd say the event was a success!

This was Mat and me, getting ready to go get our free pancakes!

This is Mat and Abby. In the middle is Abby's friend Connie. Connie didn't snowshoe with us, but she is a breast cancer survivor, so she came to cheer on our group.

Our group did the 3K walk. There was also a 5K (which we simply didn't have time for), and there was a 3K race. The race took place first, so this picture shows the crowds of walkers waiting for the racers to come in across the finish line. It gives a good idea of the fun outfits people dressed up in, and you also get a good view of the beautiful mountains we were snowshoeing near!

The 5K walk officially started at 9:30am. There were so many people that snowshoers were still "starting" the 5K walk about 10 minutes later!
Eventually, the crowds thinned out a little. It was a really laid back event, and in most places along the route, there was plenty of room to step off the trail and rest or take pictures.
I had a really great time, and I'm glad that I participated in this event! I'd love to do it again, and if you live near a Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer, I definitely encourage you to look into doing it next year!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen, 2006 (335 pp.)
This is the book that I actually took with me on our honeymoon and started reading in Jamaica. If I remember correctly, I ended up reading the last half or so on the plane back to the States, and I think I finished it at home.

So why am I blogging about it now? Because I just read it again this week. It was the book that was chosen for our March book club (which was scheduled for this afternoon), but too many people had conflicts this week, so we cancelled it. Even if we end up choosing a different book for April, I'm still glad I read it again.

Water for Elephants follows the story of Jacob, a young man who, in the summer of 1931, finds himself aboard the train of a circus...the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Although the author does include some details that give some insight into life during the Great Depression, the story really focuses around what life was like on a traveling circus, which is certainly unique. One interesting twist about this story that I like is that the narration goes back and forth between the 23-year old Jacob (and his circus experience) and 93-year old Jacob, who's in an "assisted living" home.

If you haven't read this book, I definitely recommend it. Don't worry...there's much more to the story than just "circus life." That really is just the setting. Of course, that also means that most of the characters are circus performers, workers, animals, and freaks. :)
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Total number of books read in 2009: 14
Total number of pages read in 2009: 6010

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Crab Cakes

Since it's Lent, I need to make meatless meals on Fridays. This is a pretty big deal for me because both Shawn and I are definitely carnivores. I pretty much never cook without meat being the main course (or at least in the main course), and my version of cooking fish is putting the frozen fish filets in the oven. When I was looking online for some recipes to use during Lent, I came across this recipe for crab cakes.

For years, I would've told you that I dislike crab, and in particular I dislike crab cakes. I don't know how or when it happened exactly, but at some point over the last few years, I tried crab cakes and realized that I actually find them quite tasty! I think I might've first tasted them when Shawn and I went to the Capital Grille a couple years ago (such good food there!!).


I tried making the crab cakes last night. It's a super easy recipe, and is obviously "sponsored" by Kraft. :)

All you have to do is mix all the ingredients together in a big bowl.

Then, form the mixture into patties. (I did discover last night that Shawn gets kinda grossed out by raw meat and mixtures like the crab cake mixture...he didn't want to look at it.) The patties should be refrigerated for about an hour.

Then, simply heat a skillet with cooking spray, and cook the cakes about 3 minutes on each side.
They ended up tasting pretty good! Some of the cakes didn't want to stay together in the skillet, but that was really the only problem I had. I do think I want to find another recipe that A) might stay together better, and B) doesn't "cheat" by using Stove Top stuffing. :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thursday Thirteen #7

(This image provided by Samulli.)

It's Thursday again already! For this week's Thursday 13, I decided to make a list of some of my favorite things that Shawn and I have done together over the last four years.

1. Play Pool: On our first date, after eating dinner, Shawn and I played pool together for a couple of hours. We had a really fun time that night, and we still like to go play pool on special occasions as a reminder of that night.

2. Climbing 14ers: There are 54 mountains in Colorado that are more than 14,000 feet high. The first summer we were dating, Shawn and I left my apartment at 2:15am so that we could reach the summit of Gray's Peak by sunrise. In 2007, Shawn took me up Mt. Bierstadt.

3. Rock Climbing: I was really excited when I met Shawn to learn that he likes rock climbing. It was something I'd always wanted to do. Our first climb was at the Flat Irons in Boulder. My favorite place that we climb is the cliffs on North Table Mesa in Golden. I like the fact that these climbs are shorter, so that I can challenge myself on a harder route, but I don't have far to get to the top.

4. Climb Dunns River Falls: This is a waterfall in Jamaica. The riverbed makes natural steps, so you can literally climb up the waterfall...and that's in the river, not next to it. We did this on Christmas Day in 2007, on our honeymoon.

5. Snorkeling: Before we went to Jamaica for our honeymoon, I would've admitted that I'm kinda afraid of the ocean. My problem is that I get a bit freaked out when I'm in the water and can't see what might be swimming with me. So I was thrilled to find how clear the water was in Jamaica, and I was able to overcome my fear to the point that we went snorkeling! The boat took us to a reef off shore, and it was beautiful!

6. Game at Yankee Stadium: I'm the baseball fan, of course, but I think Shawn had a good time at Yankee Stadium last year, too. As much as I hate the Yankees, I can appreciate the history in New York, and the game was actually really fun.

7. Game at Fenway Park: I couldn't put one and not the other. :) We did both parks in one vacation. We couldn't say this to our friend Jarid (who is a huge Yankee fan), but we both agreed that Fenway was a nicer stadium, and that game was also really fun.

8. Sea Kayaking: This is one perk to living on the west coast. We were able to go sea kayaking in the San Juan Islands a couple years ago, and it was a great experience! We're actually planning on going again next weekend, and I'm excited to do it again.

9. Whale Watching: We did this last fall, when I came out to Seattle to visit Shawn before we'd officially moved. It was so awesome to see the Orca whales breaching out of the water. It was pretty surreal.

10. Tidepooling: I'm not sure that's really a word :), but we did this near San Francisco the day after Christmas this past year. We went to this particular beach at low tide, and it was really interesting to see all the little creatures who have made their homes in the pools that get left when the tide goes out.

11. July 4th Hike: The first year Shawn and I were dating, we decided to go for a hike on the 4th of July. Of all the places Shawn has taken me hiking, this particular trail is hands down my favorite. So we went back to hike the same trail the next 4th of July. And the next one. And the one after that. We've gone 4 years in a row now to hike the same trail, and we have tentative plans to be in Colorado for July 4th this year, too, just so we can go back to the same trail.

12. Snowshoeing: This is one of my favorite activities to do with Shawn. If I get too hot, I can usually just unzip my coat. And if I fall, I just tumble into the powder and don't get hurt. It's great. :) I also love that the snowshoes let us get to places during the winter that most hikers can't get to.

13. Napping in Central Park: The actual activity wasn't necessarily my favorite thing, but I like the memory. :) The first time we were in New York City together, we walked quite a ways from our hotel to Central Park. It was a warm, sunny fall day, so we found a rock and sat down. Eventually, we ended up sprawled out on the rock, and we accidentally both fell asleep for about an hour. We were like lizards. :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Heart of the Matter

The Heart of the Matter, by Graham Green, 1948. (242 pp.)
I originally put this book on my "to be read" list this past fall when the local library book club had chosen to read it. I have yet to attend a meeting of that book club, but I do still pay attention to their book choices. :)

I was interested in reading this book for a few reasons. When I looked for some info about the book, I learned that Graham Greene was a Catholic author, which I thought would be interesting. I also learned that this book is on the list of "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die." I'm not a big fan of the list, but I figure a book must be fairly decent to make the list. And frankly, I also thought the story sounded interesting.

This book tells the story of Scobie, a police inspector in a British Colonial town in West Africa during World War II. He feels an immense sense of obligation, both to his job and to his wife. He feels that he is ultimately responsible for the happiness of just about everyone else. As he tries to live his life fairly and honestly, he becomes wrapped up in various situations that make his decisions difficult.

I did enjoy this book, but not as much as I was hoping. This may be partially due to the fact that I read it over the weekend that I spent in Colorado, so it was much more disjointed than the other books I've been reading lately. I also think that I was just reading it for the story, and I didn't take the time or effort to look for the symbolism and themes that I know are in there.

There is one pretty important part of the storyline that I think a lot of people wouldn't understand, and that's the struggle that Scobie faces with his Catholic faith. First of all, someone who isn't Catholic won't understand at all why not receiving communion is a big deal (at least, not the big deal that Greene makes it out to be). Along with that, though, as a Catholic who understands the spiritual battle that Scobie was facing, I have trouble understanding his ultimate decision.

I would be really interested to hear what others who have read this have to say about it!
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Total number of books read in 2009: 13
Total number of pages read in 2009: 5675

My Weekend

I'm back in Seattle! I thought I'd do a quick "weekend update" post since there was a lot that went on.

On Friday afternoon, I met up with my former English department coworkers. It was really nice to spend a little time with them, getting all the gossip from the school and just overall having a good time. I always considered myself very lucky to actually be good friends with the people that I worked with. After dinner with Mat and Abby, we tried to make it an early night.

On Saturday, I was up a little before 5:00am (which, of course, was 4:00am according to my body clock). We left at 5:30 to head up to the mountains for our snowshoeing event. We had a really good time there, but I'll make that a separate post later, with pictures. On Saturday afternoon, Shawn's former rugby club had a game, so I went to watch that. Unfortunately, Queen City lost to their archrivals, but I still had a fun time hanging out on the sidelines (despite the fact that it was really cold!). A lot of us headed over to Gibby's for food afterwards, so I was able to spend lots of time with our rugby friends. The only thing missing all day was Shawn!

On Sunday, I went to my old church. It was very nice to be in such a familiar setting (I had attended that church for 8 years, and it's where Shawn and I were married), but I was a little bummed that so few of my friends were at that Mass. I hung out with Kate and Matt most of the day, and I even was able to get in a short walk in Elk Meadow (the park where I loved to go walking/hiking when I lived in Evergreen).

On Monday, I went to the high school to hang out again with the teachers during lunch, and then I headed down the hill. After coffee with my mother-in-law, it was time to head to the airport. And that, in a nutshell, was my weekend!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Livin' the High Life

It's so good to be back in the Mile High City! When I stepped out of the airport yesterday morning, the first thing I realized is that I forgot to bring sunglasses. It's so nice to be somewhere that's bright and sunny!

Yesterday, I was able to go out to brunch with my mother-in-law. Then when she went back to work, I hung out at her apartment. My plan was just to spend some time reading and watching TV, and maybe walk over to Starbucks or Moe's for a bagel. Yeah...that didn't really happen. I ended up crashing on her couch and taking a 3 hour nap. But that's what happens when I get up at 3am and then have to take Dramamine for my flight (which makes me sleepy...even though it's the "non-drowsy" formula).

After dropping off my stuff at Abby's house (and chatting with her for a little while), I picked up Sarah and we went to the Wazee Supper Club for dinner. This is where Shawn and I had our first date, and their pizza is really good. Then Sarah and I walked back over to their favorite bar/restaurant, and that's where Jarid met up with us. We stayed there for a couple hours before parting ways.

Today, I slept in, and now I'm just hanging out at Mat and Abby's for a couple hours. I'll be leaving before too long to head up to Evergreen and meet up with my former coworkers when they get out of school! I really wish that Shawn were here with me, but I'm enjoying myself anyways. :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Thursday Thirteen #6

(This image provided by Samulli.)
It's Thursday! This week's Thursday Thirteen is 13 Places We'd Like to Visit (in no particular order).
1. Ireland: I've been to Ireland twice; once for about a week with my parents, and once for about 7 weeks with a group of teenagers on a missions trip when I was 15. I absolutely love Ireland, and Shawn has never been there! We'd love to go for a couple of weeks, and just wander from town to town, maybe riding bicycles. :)
2. Italy: Again, I've been to Italy 3 times now. Twice for brief visits with my parents, and once for about 10 days with a group from my church. Italy is one of my favorite places, and I'd love to take Shawn there. I love the combination of history, religion, and wonderful food and wine!
3. Scotland: Neither of us have been here, but I from pictures I've seen, it's beautiful!
4. Peru: Shawn would love to go here for the mountains; I'd love to see Machu Picchu!
5. Chile: This is another of Shawn's big desires...to go hiking in the mountains of Chile. I think it looks beautiful, too, and I wouldn't mind doing a little hiking there, too. We've also noticed that we love just about every wine we've ever tried from Chile!
6. Belize: I've wanted to go to Belize ever since I did a project on the country for Spanish class in high school (which is ironic, considering that English is the country's official language, not Spanish). Shawn wouldn't mind a visit to this gorgeous country, either. :)
7. Australia: During college, Shawn took a year off. He bought an open-ended ticket to Australia, and flew there with nothing but $1000 and the name of a rugby team. He stayed a year. I've always wanted to go to Australia, so I'm really hoping he'll take me someday.
8. New Zealand: This is another country that we would both love to see. We're actually kind of hoping to go there for the Rugby World Cup in 2011, but money might prohibit us from going then. But we both think it's a fascinating country!
9. Jamaica: This is where we went for our honeymoon, and we'd both really love to go back. It has gorgeous beaches, but it also has lots of other fun things to do. Ideally, we'd love to be able to afford to stay at the Rockhouse Hotel. We actually called to look into going there for our honeymoon, but it was booked solid for months.
10. Hawaii: Shawn went to Hawaii with Jarid and another friend of theirs a number of years ago, but I've never been. I've heard nothing but good things about the place, so I'd love to go! Shawn has fond memories, too. :)
11. Costa Rica: I'll be honest...I'm not sure why Costa Rica makes our list. In other words, I don't really know much about the country, and neither of us has been there. But we agree that it's a place that makes our list.
12. Argentina: This is another place that Shawn would love to go to for the mountains, and I'd be happy to go with him!
13. Alaska: I think that there are things for both Shawn and me here. We could go hiking together, and if we were to go in June, then Shawn climb bigger mountains while I attend the Midnight Sun Baseball Classic (a game held every year on June 21st, with the first pitch at 10:30pm, using only natural light).

Leavin' on a Jet Plane

Instead of blogging, I should probably be packing. Because super early tomorrow morning, Shawn is taking me to the airport, and I'm flying to Denver! I'm really excited about this trip, for lots of reasons! Since we've moved, I've more or less enjoyed being here. Frankly, I'm with Shawn...so it doesn't really matter to me where I live. But I've also enjoyed meeting new people, trying out new restaurants, and exploring a new city. I like our new apartment more than our old one, and I'm even okay with the weather.
But in the almost 5 months that we've lived here, I've really missed simply seeing familiar things. On a clear day (and yes, we do get those sometimes), I can see mountains...but it's the Cascades and the Olympics, not the Rockies. There are lots of trees just outside our apartment windows...but they're not ponderosa pines or aspens. I go watch rugby on lots of Saturdays...but except for Shawn, it's not the guys I've watched for the last four years.

So for tomorrow...I'm excited to get off the plane at DIA, hop into my rental car, and head towards those beautiful Rocky Mountains that I'll be able to see from Pena Blvd.

I'm planning on meeting my mother-in-law for lunch, spending an hour or so with my friend who's putting me up for the next couple nights, and then picking up Sarah to go out to dinner. I'm really excited to see my friends!!

Of course, the main reason for my trip is the Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer. (Click here for my donation page...I had to ask just this one more time!) But I've managed to create a pretty jam-packed schedule for myself over the next few days, going places and seeing people. And in addition to seeing people and places that are familiar to me...I'm also really excited about the fact that I won't have to ask anyone for directions or look at a map! :)
Now I just have to remind myself that this trip is no longer than most of the ones that Shawn made in those 3 years of traveling back and forth between Denver and Seattle, and that although I'll miss him, it's really going to go by quickly. I've already gotten used to seeing him every day, so that's the one thing I'm not looking forward to with this trip. I really wish he were coming with me.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Friday Night Knitting Club

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs, 2007 (345 pp.)

This is the story of a group of women who become close friends after starting a knitting club in a yarn shop in New York City. Really, knitting has very little to do with the story, although after reading the book, I am thinking that I should hurry up and finish the crochet blanket I'm working on and move on to learning to knit. :)

More than being about knitting, the book is about friendships, family, love, and "finding yourself." It's about learning who you are as an individual, regardless of what stage in life you may be in. Reading the book was a reminder that I'm proud of the things I've accomplished so far in my life, and it was a reminder to continue to set goals for myself. It also made me wish that I had a group of girlfriends nearby to just sit around and chat with. I do have lots of friends that I love dearly, despite the fact that we don't talk nearly as much as we used to. But it would be really nice to have a group of girlfriends who I live near and who gets together on a regular basis. I haven't really had that since college.

I'd recommend this book. I thought it was funny and endearing, and it also made me cry.

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Total number of books read in 2009: 12

Total number of pages read in 2009: 5433

Banana Bread

I realized the other day that I've haven't spent nearly enough time in the kitchen lately. I've gotten lazy, just making the same dinners I've already made before instead of trying new things. I've also done almost no baking since the holidays. Sure, I've made a batch of brownies here and there for book clubs and Shawn's "Friday goodies" assignments at work, but that's about it...and those were from a box.
So last week, I asked Shawn to save me two bananas so that I could make banana bread this week. Sure, I've made it before, but it's honestly been years since I last made it. So last night I pulled out the Kitchenaid stand mixer and went at it.

I forgot how easy it is to make banana bread! I just used the recipe from my "Pillsbury Complete Cook Book" that my parents gave me years ago for Christmas. The bread made the apartment smell really good...and the bread tastes wonderful, too!

Ingredients: 3/4 cup sugar; 1/2 cup butter, softened; 2 eggs; 2 medium mashed ripe bananas; 1/3 cup milk; 1 teaspoon vanilla; 2 cups all-purpose flour; 1/2 cup chopped nuts; 1 teaspoon baking soda; 1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Heat oven to 350 F. Grease bottom only of loaf pan. In large bowl, combine sugar and margarine; beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs; beat well. Add bananas, milk and vanilla; blend well.
2. In small bowl, combine flour, nuts, baking soda and salt; mix well. Add to banana mixture; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour into greased pan.
3. Bake at 350 F for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan. Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled. Wrap tightly and store in refrigerator.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Yum!!

I love this time of year! In case you can't tell...it's Girl Scout cookie time! The last few years, I've bought my Girl Scout cookies from the daughter of one of my coworkers. Obviously, though, I no longer work at that school. We don't know any Girl Scouts, so we didn't order any cookies this year.

But never fear! All we had to do was go to church. :) When we came out of Mass on Saturday night, a little girl and her dad had a table set up outside the church, so Shawn and I happily bought ourselves four boxes. And in case you couldn't tell by the picture...we both have a thing for peanut butter. :)