Archive for the ‘General Update’ Category

It’s the beginning of a new year, so it’s a great time to enumerate the resolutions that I’ll start on in January and abandon by March. That might sound cynical but it let’s me set some really ambitious goals. For example, I plan to grow 5 inches. That isn’t to say that I’d be upset if I only grew 4, but I want to make sure I stretch myself. Before you say ‘that’s impossible’, just the other day I was at the doctor’s for a yearly physical and they measured me at 5’5”. A little over a week later I ended up back at the doctor’s office and I had grown a full inch – 5’6”. Admittedly the nurse didn’t measure me the second time, but when she asked how tall I was I said 5’5” or 5’6” and she smiled and said, ‘looks like 5’6” to me’. An inch in a week. My only concern is that if I top 11’ by the end of the year I’m not sure where I’ll find shoes.

My slightly less exciting resolutions include continuing to run 8-12 miles a week, acclimating to my new group at MS, doing some sort of home improvement project, read as much as possible, get back to MD at least once to meet Leonie (in person), update my phone apps and try not to wait until Dec. to use all my vacation. I also want my hair to grow back from my buzz cut. I’m throwing that one there because I want to make sure I can tick one off at the end of the year.

I feel like I read a lot over last year, but I didn’t have a system for keeping track of paper books that I finished. Luckily, for Kindle books, I can just look at what’s on my device since I always move them into a ‘year’ category when I finish them.

A memory of light charnel prince Desert Spear Daylight war Dragonwing Elven star Fire sea First shift - Legacy Firstborn Heir of Novron Infinity blade Into the labryinth Ready player one Rhitmatist Rise of Empire Second shift - order Serpent mage soul meaningSteelheart the briar king The emperor's soul  The hand of chaos The seventh gate The Wise Man's Fear Theft of swords Third shift - pactvodnik Warded man Wool Omnibus

I honestly liked almost every book I read this year. The biggest standout for me though was definitely Ready Player One. The book has been around for a couple of years but I only just got around to reading it a few months ago. I highly recommend it for anyone who nostalgically remembers 80s tech and video games. It also happens to be well written and clever.

I only recently read Vodnik and was pleasantly surprised. I read a lot of fantasy (a lot) and after a while the mythology of the stories blend together. There are thousands of books about dragons and elves and dwarves. I love a lot of those books as well, but every once in a while it’s nice to read something completely different. Vodnik is a story based on Slavic mythology and that alone would make it worth reading. The Vodnik is a water spirit that drowns children and stores their souls in porcelain tea-cups; not for any malevolent reason, but just because that’s his nature. The story that Moore weaves around the mythology is both mysterious and engaging. I would highly recommend this for any fantasy lover that’s tired of reading the 500th version of Lord of the Rings.

I read a bunch of Brandon Sanderson this year as well. I’ve mentioned him several times on Facebook and he’s currently my favorite author. He hasn’t written anything that I haven’t liked, and he’s written several things that I’ve loved. I think The Emperor’s Soul was probably my favorite short story that I read this year, with Steelheart and A Memory of Light both being equally good novels. I honestly can’t imagine A Memory of Light being better given the seemingly thousands of plot lines that were still outstanding and the sheer enormity of completing a 13 book series written over the course of 22 years. Obviously if you’ve been reading the Wheel of Time then you’ve read A Memory of Light, but if you haven’t started The Eye of the World yet I strongly recommend it as hugely engaging and of staggering enormity. I would only caution that the series could have been several books shorter and it’s likely that you’ll want to rip out certain people’s braids about half way through. The end of the series is awesome though! Steelheart was face paced and read a lot like a graphic novel. I could easily see a movie being made from the series at some point.

Wool was a recommendation from a friend that I hugely enjoyed. Unlike almost everything else I read this year it was closer to SciFi than Fantasy. As far as I can tell the story is being regularly expanded through various serial novellas (ala The Green Mile) and then being collected into larger works. Unfortunately this makes keeping and distinguishing between the most recent versions challenging, and sadly Amazon still sucks at being able to associate multiple books in a series. Regardless the first 5 books (the Wool Omnibus) were extremely good and I would definitely recommend them. I found the 6th, 7th, and 8th parts of the Silo series to drag on a bit and I haven’t read past that yet. The first 5 books are a complete story though so worth reading even if you don’t finish out the whole series.

The Riyria Revelations and The Demon Cycle were both fun reads, but eminently forgettable. I wouldn’t suggest them unless you want something relatively brainless and quick. The Death Gate Cycle is something I re-read every few years because I love the story and authors so much. Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman were really the first Fantasy authors that I read (The Dragonlance Chronicles) so I find it hard not to go back and re-enjoy their stuff every once in a while.  The Death Gate Cycle is very good from a world-building (4 worlds actually) perspective and contains a pretty original mythology. I also give the authors a little bit more slack with respect to re-using all of the cliché monsters because, outside of Tolkien, they pretty much wrote the seminal works. Separately, I would definitely recommend the Dragonlance Chronicles for that reason alone. It’s basically the baseline for AD&D and there have been dozens if not hundreds of books based on the world and mythology that Tracy, Laura and Margaret started with that series. I find the writing style of the Chronicles (and the Death Gate Cycle for that matter) to be a little rudimentary, but the story makes up for it.

Soul Meaning was recommended by Good Reads and I would suggest skipping it. It reads like the screen play for the next Michael Bay movie with lots of gun fights and explosions without any character development. It’s the first book I’ve read in that style, and I don’t understand the appeal. It’s an extremely quick read though, and it’s not at all boring. Sadly you’ll likely have forgotten what it’s about by the time you finish reading it (assuming you can ever infer it from the endless action sequences).

I’m still reading The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone so I’ll reserve judgment. I very much enjoyed the first two books, though I also read them on our Hawaii cruise so that opinion may be somewhat colored.

Happy New Year!

As promised, I took some pictures of the areas of the house I have been working on.  Let’s start in the kitchen 🙂

I went through all of my old Tupperware and matched every tub to a lid.  I decided that things get too messy when I keep the tubs and lids separate (even if it does save space).  I kept only the tubs with lids and only the ones that were in good enough shape to continue using.  They fit pretty well alongside my holiday serving plates.

Next up were the pots and pans.  Again, I started with matching up the items with the lids.  We had about 3 sets of lids from over the years—they matched nothing in my kitchen.  Gone!

I purchased an organizer that holds 2 pans and all the lids. It works perfectly because it holds the one pan and lid I use for cooking on a weekly basis—easy to take out, easy to put away.  Unfortunately, because of the way the cabinet is designed, I had to put it in backwards (which means it can’t slide in/out).  I don’t mind though.  The top shelf in the back is full of my baking dishes (pie pans, cake pans, bread pans).  I’m pretty happy with the results.

Next up, the pantry (complete with the letter “r,” just for Eric Lawrence).  It’s not perfect, but it works. We used to have a lot of extra appliances all over the place and you couldn’t walk in the door.  I got rid of the old appliances we never use any more and the ones that were broken/missing parts. Now, everything has it’s own place—even if it does still look cluttered.

The laundry room was actually finished a while ago, but I thought I would share.  Different bins for all the cleaning supplies, organized by room/cleaning surface. Works pretty well. Now I just have to start using the cleaning supplies 🙂

Master Closet—this one took a while.  I got bins for the top shelves to hold the clothes that were stacked on top before.  Across the back, there is a small stack of extra blankets and then new blue bins. They hold towels for the master bath, sheets for the master bed, and the last one has hats and purses.  On the floor there are a couple of containers of clothes being stored for different kinds of weather.  Anson and I both have a set of drawers for our work out clothes.  Hanging on the left side are my long-sleeved items organized by ROYGBIV. Along the back are my short-sleeved items, then pants, skirts, and dresses. Anson has the right side and he gets to organize it however he wants 🙂

Next stop, the upstairs! Hopefully I’ll be able to blog about it next week 🙂

We’ve gotten a couple of emails recently asking about what we have been up to. The short answer is: nothing interesting.  Anson works. I work.  Though my job is way more awesome—today, Alex and I went to the zoo and fed the giraffes (Zoos are so much more awesome now! When I was a kid…).  Anyway, I thought I might try to share some of the stuff I’ve been working on—then you can have a better understanding of what I mean when I say “nothing interesting.”

I know it’s a little late for “spring cleaning,” but I’m finally inspired to fix up the house a bit.  I just wish I were better at it!

When I started to think of ways to re-organize and better-ify my house, I had a TON of ideas.

1. Turn the library into Anson’s office.  To start this massive task, I went through all of my old books and sold/donated anything I wasn’t going to use ever again.  After 3 trips to Half Price Books (approximately 11 bags of books), I walked away with about $50 and gained some empty bookshelves.  I managed to move one empty bookshelf into the common area as well as one full bookshelf.  I was ready to move Anson’s desk into the office when Anson pointed out that there was no internet hook up in that room. Oops.  So, we ordered a 50ft cable and are waiting for it to arrive before moving anything else. 

2. Organize the Master Closet.  The closet was fairly well organized in terms of hanging items (yes, I organize my closet according to ROYGBIV).  The shelves above the hanging items are super tall and had random stacks of clothes thrown up there.  We also stored towels and sheets for the master bedroom on the shelves. Due to the height, it was almost impossible to make things look neat and tidy without using a step ladder to put items away.  We also have random bins, suitcases, etc all over the floor.  I started by going through the bins and taking out any old clothes that I will never wear again—donated—gone!  I got tubs to fold and place the clothes in before they go on the shelf.  Now it’s easy to access and put clothes on the top shelf.  I’ve still got to go through the rest of the tubs on the floor, but it’s a start.

3. Board game infestation under control.  Anybody who knows us knows that we have a bajillion board games.  I discovered just how many when I was trying to fill my trunk with games for a Game Night at my church.  I realized that we not only have a ton of games, but we store them all over the house (coffee table, closet downstairs, closet upstairs, etc).  I bought some shelves from target and built them inside the guest room closet.  I managed to locate all of our games and put them on the shelves (to be fair, only half fit on the shelves—the rest are stacked on top).  Done (sort of)!

4. Spiders are no fun.  Anson showed me a spider that can only be described as “Holy Moly that’s a GIANT spider” in the garage.  Clearly it was time to clean the garage.  I built a set of shelves and got our garage items (toolboxes, gardening tools) off the ground.  I also sprayed the garage with lavender essential oil and water. It’s supposed to deter bugs. I hope it works!  Unfortunately, we still have some items in the garage to get rid of, but I can’t do that without renting a truck.  Also, the amount of garbage/recycling I collected has completely filled the bins.  Now, there’s not room for any more trash or recycling this week. Naturally, I have tons.  There are a couple of cardboard boxes around the house that are slowly being filled with other boxes, cans, bottles, etc.  And they are just sitting around the house.  This drives me BANANAS!

5. Kitchen Chaos.  I don’t often cook. I use 1 pan and 1 pot consistently, but that’s it.  So, as I was looking around the kitchen the other day and noticed the STACKS of pots and pans in the cabinets, I thought it might be time to downsize.  I also noticed STACKS of tupperware that may or may not have lids and STACKS of random stuff in the pantry.  I bought a couple of organizers for the cabinets (lid holders, can holders, racks), but haven’t even touched them yet.  Maybe I’ll start on this over the weekend.

I would love to take before and after pictures to share, but I can’t stand the idea of taking before pictures.  The house is in a state of transition—bookshelves strewn about, boxes of organizational materials I haven’t touched yet, boxes of recyclables.  This kind of thing drives me bonkers!  I probably should have only done one of these things at a time, but I got a little excited and went a little crazy.  I look forward to sharing the after pictures though. Keep an eye out for those 🙂

I have not had the greatest experience at the salon recently.  The past two times I have gone in, they have had a completely different staff each time.  And I was becoming less and less happy with my hair.  Most recently, I had gotten my hair highlighted.  The gal couldn’t figure out the colors that had been used on my hair in the past (despite the records the salon keeps), so she “improvised.”  Also, she talked at length about how she does highlighting differently than everyone else—not necessarily a good thing.

She did the highlights a few shades lighter than I’m used to and didn’t evenly space them.  My hair looked pretty streaky and there were pockets of un-highlighted hair. As my hair started to grow out, it got really ugly.  That’s why I decided to look for a new salon.

I made an appointment at a new salon without really knowing what I wanted to have done. I just wanted to look “better” and have people who could help me do that.  Which brings me to today 🙂

Here is my before picture:

 

Before

This picture doesn’t really do my hair justice; you can’t see the odd highlighting.  The  old stylist had tried to put bangs in my hair, so I have a giant chunk of hair just pushed off to the side. Most days I would pin it back—not the most stylish look.

So, after a quick consultation, I was on the path for a whole new look!

 

During

So nervous!  This is me sitting with dye in my hair thinking “I can’t believe I’m doing this!”

 

Done

In the end, I think it looks pretty darn good.  Especially the purple layers 🙂

Purple Hair

I have tried a few times over the years to grow a plant or two.  No luck though.  I had to give up on an herb garden after one season—it completed molded over.  And the other plants have just plain died.  Likely from over-watering. Or under-watering.  I can’t tell.

We’re getting some work done on our lawn this week and I would love to plant something with flowers in my yard.  I think that individual flowers would be too delicate for me to care for and a tree would be too big for our yard. So, I’m looking to find a flowering bush that can survive in the Seattle climate.  And that requires almost no work from me. It’s probably safer for the plant that way 🙂

Anybody have any suggestions?

I’d love to plant a hydrangea or something similar.  I think it’d be pretty full in appearance and there would be some nice flowers to bring in and put in a vase.

One side of our house gets a ton of sun and the other side gets almost none—go figure!  Any thoughts?

 

It has been far too long since I’ve posted. I usually like to wait until I have some good pictures to share before I write a post, but I’m still learning to use my new camera. Hopefully that will change soon 🙂

We’ve been slowly working on our home improvement projects.  I’ve been stalling on doing any major projects because 1) it makes me nervous to make such big/expensive changes and 2) I don’t like having strangers in the house. Thus far, we’ve just been doing small and easy projects.  We had a house cleaner come and do a spring cleaning which was WONDERFUL.  She cleaned the blinds, scrubbed the baseboards, etc.  All of those things that I have been avoiding.  Super awesome.

Because I’m not too excited to have people in the house, I’ve decided the next project will be the outside of the house.  I have scheduled for the lawn to be manicured, a small hill to be moved and a gravel path put in so that we can more easily access our shed, mulch all around the yard, removal of blackberry bushes, cleaning and de-mossing the roof, cleaning the gutters, and power-washing the sidewalk and driveway. Phew!   I’m excited to see the final result 🙂

After that, I think I will start looking at re-painting the interior of the house. It is currently a purple/gray color in every room.  Fortunately, our real estate agent, Irene Nash, has offered to come and help me pick out colors. Thank goodness!  I have no sense of style or design at all. 

That’s all for now!

During December, Anson and I enjoy hopping in the car and driving around different neighborhoods to see Christmas lights.  This year we found a particularly amazing house.  There was a sign with a radio station at the side of the yard.  If you listen to the station, you can hear Christmas music synced up to the light show.  We got a little video.  Enjoy!

I spent the last year dreading turning 30.  It seemed like I would finally be in the “adult” category of life, which I was completely unprepared for.  My closet still consisted of t-shirts, jeans, and sweatshirts.  I knew that after I turned 30, it would just be weird for me to wear the same clothes I wore in college.  I spent the week leading up to my birthday thinking of the many ways in which I was “old.”  The day before my birthday, the list looked something like this:

  • I avoid going to the movies on weekends because there are too many teenagers at the theatre. 
  • At times, I have to squint my eyes and lean forward to read street signs.
  • I can remember a time before cell phones and the internet.  Ah, the good old days.
  • I like to sit around drinking tea and playing board games.
  • I often comment that “those kids are playing their music too loud” or “their skirts are too short.”
  • I get frustrated when young people text me and use abbreviations—it’s like a different language!
  • I have actually checked for gray hairs.
  • On more than one occasion, I have forgotten why I entered a room. 
  • I pay attention to the amount of fiber and cholesterol in my diet.

I’m sure there’s more to that list, but I’ve already forgotten the rest of it (my old and addled brain can’t remember things like it used to).  So, for so many reasons, I was not excited about my birthday this year.

Fortunately, I have awesome friends who decided to surprise me!  My friend Jane asked me out to coffee.  She and Sharon picked me up and we headed to the mall. There, they took me to Nordstrom’s where we met up with Sarah (and cutie-pie baby Alex!).  At this point, I was slightly confused as to why we were getting coffee at Nordstrom’s. But, it turns out that they got me a personal shopper and a gift card for me to find a new look for my 30’s!

The dressing room was full of fun outfits to try on, as well as cake 🙂

IMG_7812

I ended up getting some new pants, shirts, sweaters ,and a dress.  Jane had me put on the dress and then they took me to Maggianos for dinner.

IMG_7813

The boys met us for the meal and we had a great evening of delicious Italian food and wonderful conversation.  I am so lucky to have such great friends! All in all, I think I like being in my 30’s. 🙂

Over the weekend, I was having some mild stomach pains. Naturally, I assumed they were the unfortunate side effect of eating my own cooking for an entire week.  By Monday they still had not subsided so Anson convinced me to go to the doctor. I thought it was unnecessary, but he insisted it was a good idea.

So, I scheduled an appointment thinking they would tell me nothing was wrong and send me home.  Not so.

I got to the doctors and they asked the typical questions.  How long has the pain been going on? A few days. On a scale of 1-10, how bad does it hurt? About a 2, I guess.  The doctor had me jump up and down and touch my toes (I did both successfully).  My only other symptom was a lack of appetite, which didn’t really worry me.  Then, she poked my belly and I said “Ouch!”.  So, she said she wanted to get a CT of my appendix and that I needed to get someone to come and sit with me during testing. 

Anson rushed over from work to sit with me as I drank my barium smoothies to prepare for the CT. For the exam, you have to drink 2 smoothies over 90 minutes.  They come in 4 flavors: vanilla, banana, apple and mochaccino. I started with a vanilla smoothie.  I normally drink things quickly, so I assumed it would be difficult to pace myself at 45 minutes per smoothie—it wasn’t.  They were not pleasant, to say the least.  For the second smoothie, I switched to banana hoping that it would taste better.  Nope.  But, we did get to sit around and chat while waiting for me to finish.  Anson thought it would be fun to take pictures:

WP_000103

They finally took me in for my CT.  The results…..<pause to add excitement>….they couldn’t find my appendix! They were concerned that it might have already burst and sent me down to the ER to get checked out. 

I casually walked into the ER and said “Hi, Dr. Liu sent me here because she thinks my appendix may have burst.”  They looked at me like  I was nuts.  Then, a doctor came out to get me (my doctor had just called them) and take me back to a room.  They took some more blood to run some quick tests and the doctor asked me about all of my symptoms again.  He came back and said “Your white cell count looks fine. Still, I’ve talked to the surgeon. We think you should get your appendix out.” 

Okay.

Into the ambulance I go!  I was taken to Evergreen Hospital where I met Dr. Kahn (how awesome is that name?!).  He explained the procedure and, after a short wait, sent me back to surgery.  Here’s a quick shot of me before surgery:

Photo_E30ED743-F2DC-A8F8-5E63-0049FDBC2CE0

Now, I don’t remember much about the OR, but there is one thing that sticks in my memory.  They wheeled me in and I could hear the radio playing.  As they were putting me under, Pearl Jam’s “Last Kiss” was playing.  That did nothing to help my nerves 😛

I woke up from surgery groggy and sore (no pictures, thank goodness!).  No complications.  I was almost expecting the doctor to come back and say that, upon opening me up, they found nothing wrong with me.  I mean, my pain level was low, I was walking/talking just fine, my white count was okay…how could there be anything wrong?  It turns out my appendix was in pretty bad shape (I think “hardened” and “twisted” were the adjectives the doc used). The doctor told Anson he was pretty surprised I wasn’t in a lot more pain before surgery. Go figure!

Since then, I’ve been recovering nicely.  I got some beautiful flowers from the Hortons 🙂

I want to thank everyone for the well wishes!  I’m getting better every day 🙂

Photo_85E81518-275A-EA1B-5D4E-8E9233576F74 (3)

Earlier this week my phone started buzzing constantly making its ‘you have a text message’ sound.  I was pretty sure I didn’t suddenly become hugely popular in the texting community, so I knew before looking that I was either getting a stupid number of spam messages or my phone number had been confused with someone important.  I was sort of hoping for the second, but not surprisingly, every message was about coupons, deals, and Nigerian princes without any other friends (well, except for the nice person that really wanted to tell me about my ‘secret crush’). 

I’m not a fan of text messages; I much prefer email.  In addition to being generally superior in every way, email also doesn’t cost extra money on top of my data plan.  I don’t have a text messaging plan on my phone because I simply don’t get enough text messages.  It costs an extra $5/mo. to get up to 200 ‘free’ (I love that) text messages.  Without the plan, each text message costs $0.20.  For those of you playing along at home that means I’d need to receive/send more than 25 text messages a month to make the plan worthwhile.  I rarely (read: never) get that many text messages, so I’m perfectly happy to save the $60/year and spend it on the lottery instead.   

Unfortunately that triggers this odd psychological effect where my passing hatred of text messaging has become a blinding rage.  While I don’t mind when friends send a text message, I absolutely cannot stand the idea that I could actually be charged an unlimited amount of money (in $0.20 increments) for the privilege of learning about the most recent Viagra deal. 

I did what I usually do and spent the week complaining about it to anyone who would listen.  Apparently everyone I know has a text plan, because they all looked at me with a confused expression when I explained the spam was costing me money which quickly turned into something I can only describe as disinterest tinged with pity. 

After my plan of ‘ignoring the problem’ didn’t actually decrease the number of spam messages, I spent time this morning trying to find a solution.  It turns out that for every text message account your phone company creates an email address.  The address tends to be of the form of MOBILENUMBER@txt.att.net’. Any mail sent to that address is converted to a text message and sent to your phone.  Spammers simply send mails to every mobile number @txt.att.net and wait to see if they get any replies.  In this case my phone company is AT&T so I went to their website to see if I could either change that email address, or simply block any messages sent this way.  It turns out that this is possible (yay!), but requires going to a different AT&T site.  That other AT&T site is http://mymessages.wireless.att.com/.  That site requires a separate registration from the normal AT&T wireless site (which, of course, makes no sense at all).  Anyway, after signing up for that site (which sends you a text message for confirmation <teeth grinding>), you can block all text messages sent to you as email.

In short, it’s been a great day. 

 

image