Monday, April 28, 2008

Seattle: Day 2

It's easy to get an early start on the day over on the west coast. Being ready by 8 still means that you get to sleep in (if you're any-other-timezone-American), which is the key to any vacation.

On this day, we left our hotel at 8-ish and stopped for breakfast at a local establishment, Dave's Diner. After some slow but very friendly service and regrets that I didn't order pancakes (always order the pancakes, Emily!), we decided that we should set out for Mount Rainier National Park. It's about 2 hours from Seattle. Our drive took us out through Tacoma and Puyallup (which we decided to pronounce Pull Y'all Up). It was beautiful. I don't have much any mountain experience, but this made me want to make some future vacation plans. Considering that God formed this beautiful and huge landsculpture, what a testament to how much bigger our God must be. Amazing.

Here's the fam at the entrance to the park.

We drove quite a ways up into the mountain and got out at the visitor's center. There is a lovely little lodge called Paradise Inn inside the park so we drove through there as well. This is sad, but that's probably the most snow I've ever seen. What can I say--I love the beach.

Brad and me at an overlook

When I started wondering aloud how much property costs in the area, my dear husband reminded me that the weather we were experiencing (high 60s-low 70s and lots of sun) was not the norm for this part of the country. And since I complain that my feet are cold in the high 70s, perhaps this is not the proper retirement location for me.

After taking in the soaring vistas and beautiful valleys along with some pretty little waterfalls, we headed back to Seattle to walk through the Capitol Hill area for a while. There are quite a few local coffee places, American Apparel, Urban, and other stores of that nature. Drew wanted to check out Sonicboom Records and Easy Street. Very cool to browse through.

We ended the evening with pizza at Zeek's down near Pike Place before turning in our rental car. And that is the end of Day 2.

Here's a peek at Mt. Rainier from a Boeing 737.

We got back yesterday afternoon. I have since been climbing a mountain of laundry, and tonight's activity is the yard. We are expecting a love note from our HOA any day now about how we should have mowed our lawn a week ago since it's all of 3 inches tall. (Can you tell I am a fan of the HOA?) I'll keep you posted.

(Clarification: When I say tonight's activity is the yard, that is code for "I will watch Brad do the yard while giving words of affirmation." Way to go Brad!)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Seattle: Day 1

We had an action-packed, fast and furious weekend in Seattle. And it was so fun! The weather was absolutely perfect the entire time we were there--no rain and barely cloudy. The whole fam left Thursday evening on the Company Plane and arrived there late that night to be ready for a Friday of adventure.

Friday morning after breakfasting, we headed to the Seattle Center, first stop: the Space Needle. The view from the top was beautiful. Here's a family pic:

On our way into the city, we saw REI, which immediately sparked the interest of the gentlemen in the car. I humored them (I was the driver) because as I mentioned in my previous post, I had shopping designs of my own. The store was huge! Two floors, a huge rock climbing wall, an incredible number of bikes, tents, and even a restaurant. It almost made me want to become an outdoor enthusiast. After we all grabbed a souvenir (I got socks because unfortunately, I packed everything including the kitchen sink, but no socks), it was time to head on out to catch some more sights.

Next on the agenda--the Pike Place Farmers Market. Of course we stopped at the Fish Market (if you've ever seen the video you know exactly what I'm talking about) and watched along with the crowd while they tossed huge fish around at one another. I bought some Strawberry Jalapeno jam from one of the vendors--it was so good I had to! My mom and I could not believe how inexpensive the flowers were there. Bouquets that would cost upwards of $50-$75 here started at $15. They were beautiful and made me wish I could come grab a bunch every Saturday morning. We also walked past the original Starbucks (very crowded, of course) and got cookies from Three Girls Bakery. I highly recommend it.

From there, we walked over to the waterfront and wandered through some of the shops and antique stores before eating seafood out on the pier. At this point, it was time for my pick. We headed over to 5th Avenue for some shopping. I found my "souvenirs" and ignored the complaining that I was taking too long. Typical. After I finished up, we drove to Safeco Field for the Mariners game that night. It was Ichiro bobblehead night, but unfortunately we weren't in the first 25,000 patrons who received them. Mariners fans are crazy for Ichiro. Too bad for the Mariners--they lost to Oakland, and it turned cold!!!

On our way back to the hotel, the car steered itself into the nearby Krispy Kreme. You can see Drew is enjoying a Mariners sprinkle donut.

After that, we headed back to the hotel to rest up for Day 2--Mount Rainier!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Space Needle

Space Needle, originally uploaded by emgentry02.

It's cold but beautiful at the top of the Space Needle. Built for the World's Fair in 1962, it stands 605' and has a wind resistance of up to 150 mph.

Someone please get me to a mall.

We passed the largest REI in the world and have made a deal that I can go to the flagship Nordstrom if the boys get to visit there. I will hold them to it.

Seriously though, we are having a blast!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Recent Reading: The Constant Princess

I read another Philippa Gregory book a couple of weekends ago--The Constant Princess. It was an interesting read from the perspective of Catalina, Princess of Spain who became Queen Katherine of England before she was replaced by Anne Boleyn. Beware of spoilers in this post if you're not familiar with the story.

Gregory portrays her as a great lady who was tenacious, courageous, and dignified in her defeat. Of course this is historical fiction, but it gave me insight into her mind as her character was written in The Other Boleyn Girl. Also, I loved the great love story between her and her first husband, Arthur, Prince of Wales. Who doesn't like a good love story?

Speaking of the other book, has anyone seen the movie? I've heard mixed reviews, so it's made me a little wary of going to see it (especially since I really want to see 21.)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Home Improvements

It wouldn't be a weekend without anything in particular to do unless we had a spring home improvement project. And again, Drew just so happened to be visiting. In review, Drew has visited on weekends that we hung Christmas lights, weeded our flower bed, and now, decked the attic. Now I know why people have children--it's nice to have another set of hands around. Brad had this project completely under control though, so we were just spectators. I will be so thankful when my garage is purged of Christmas decor and other random sentimental stuff that our parents have dropped off since we bought our home. Is anyone else familiar with that phenomenon? You buy a house and now all your dance recital costumes, letter jackets, boy scout memorabilia, etc. is suddenly being delivered to your front door, courtesy of United Parental Services. It's fun to dig through it all though.

We've had a productive day. The laundry is finished, the front porch has been swept, the blog has undergone a makeover, the house is picked up, and I even cooked breakfast this morning. This evening we had dinner with our friends Kylene and Justin at one of our favorites, Joe T. Garcia's. It's been a beautiful spring Saturday!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The State of Baseball in North Texas

Today I watched the Los Angeles Angels defeat the Texas Rangers. This tends to happen when you strand 11 men on base over the course of 9 innings. I observed several things:
-They have changed the parking lot signs to no longer have Texas Heroes on them. When did this happen? Back when it became Ameriquest? Shame on whoever made that decision. I would rather park in the Sam Houston lot than Parking Lot D.
-At what point do you begin to think that you do not have to listen to the 3rd base coach? If he sends you home, you run home, no matter what your paycheck is, and especially when you are 3 runs behind.
-Parking cost me more than my ticket. This should not be.
-An afternoon at the Ballpark is definitely better than one at the office.

One of my friends auditioned and was selected to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" today during the 7th inning stretch, so that's what took me out there today. It was so fun to watch her sing from the top of the dugout!

I have loved this ballclub since I was old enough to understand what the game was, but I may be searching for a new Team to cheer for, maybe from the southern part of the state. Rangers, you are on notice.

Monday, April 14, 2008

I'm it!

I was tagged by Amy W., so I thought I would oblige. If you see yourself in the last list, feel free to join the fun!

4 Jobs I have had in my life:

1. Phone Girl at a Florist (high school)
2. Student Worker at the 12th Man Foundation
3. Office Chick/Camp Counselor at Camp Balcones Springs
4. Software Engineer at an Airline

4 Movies I’ve Watched More Than Once:

1. Legally Blonde
2. The Wedding Planner
3. Apollo 13 (love the music!)
4. Roman Holiday

4 Places I’ve Lived:

1. Corsicana, Texas
2. College Station, Texas
3. Hamilton, Texas
4. Dallas, Texas

4 TV Shows I Watch/Watched:

1. ER (back in the day)
2. Ed
4. The Office

4 Places I have Been:

1. Maui
2. NYC
3. Washington, DC
4. LA

4 People who email me regularly:

1. Brad
2. Ashley
3. Alisia
4. Mom

4 of my favorite foods:

1. chips and salsa
2. chips and guacamole
3. fajitas
4. tortilla soup

4 Places I Would Like to Visit:

1. The Hoover Dam
2. Graceland
3. Israel
4. Mount Rushmore

Things I am Looking Forward to in the Coming Year:

1. visiting with family and friends
2. making a decision on window treatments in my kitchen
3. seeing progress on a life goal
4. travelling

4 Friends who I’m Tagging:

1. Ashley C.
2. Deanna
3. Hils
4. Sherry

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Service with a Smile

This weekend we did a WHOLE lot, and most of it was close to home.

Friday night, I went to a 5th and 6th grade girls slumber party. A couple of my friends, Amanda and Ashley, are Bible study leaders for this group of girls, and I came along for the fun! We decorated pillow cases and played in makeup. It was so fun and made me miss those days. (But let's be real, I still play in makeup.) I stayed up way past my bedtime!

Here is my pillow case. Aww...

Saturday morning we went with our Care Group and worked on the flower beds of a wonderful couple in our church who have known each other since they were 7 years old and are about to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. They were so sweet and funny! I managed to knock myself in the head with a branch from one of their holly bushes and have a sweet little spot on my head as a reminder. This is one more example of why I don't enjoy nature a whole lot--my tendency to get injured, stung, or burned while I am attempting to enjoy it. But really, we had a great time and got to know several other couples in our Bible Fellowship class better, along with this couple who is leaving a legacy at our church. Such a great morning!

We rented Ocean's 13 last night because I've been wanting to see it since it came out. It was okay, but not the best. The laundry is done, I took a nap on Saturday and Sunday (recovering from the slumber party, so sad), and my closet and bathroom cabinets are organized and spotless. Brad has mowed and edged the yard, yet again. We are getting ready for our Seattle trip and looking for things to do. Suggestions are always welcome!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Spring at Our House

Last weekend we (by that I mean Brad) completed a spring yard beautification project. I was mostly project manager/consultant because in general I don't enjoy nature or its dirt. I excel in bringing out refreshments, though.

We have some new plants, green grass, and a weedless flower bed. And we discovered we have some really pretty pink bushes, so that was great. I am trying to remember what I did with all the tags we took off of our plants last summer, so we can identify what we are growing. I think I figured out that the light pink flowering bushes are Indian Hawthornes. I think they are my favorites.

I went to lunch that Saturday with a friend and her little sidekick, and when I came back, my brother (who had spent the night) was weeding the flower bed. After remembering the Christmas light event, I am worried he'll think he's only welcome if he's working as the assistant handy man. But I think boys just like playing in the dirt no matter what age.

FFF - My 5 Favorite Things Right Now

Wow! We have been 5 kinds of busy this week so the blog has been neglected, but here are 5 things I am enjoying today.

1. Lunchtime trips to NorthPark. I am all about a healthy work/life balance.
2. A strawberry snowcone.
3. Slumber Parties.
4. Making reservations for a trip to Seattle.
5. Thinking about shopping for graduation gifts for 4 of our cousins. I love my family, and I love to shop!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Brad’s Review of George Strait’s New Album

I keep telling myself that I’m going to contribute more to the blog, so I think this week’s release of George Strait’s new album Troubadour is a great reason to start. I’ve been a fan of George’s music for many years. I own close to 25 George Strait albums, including the box set, several Christmas albums, and even a couple of records (although I have no way to listen to them since I don’t own a record player).

One of the things I enjoy doing after getting a new George Strait album is listening to each song and trying to predict which songs will be released as singles. In reality, I’m just picking my favorite songs and hoping they get some airtime. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really impressed by this album as a whole. The first major release off the CD is “I Saw God Today”, which you may have heard a few times already. It’s an ok song, mildly reminiscent of a song he released a few years ago called “The Best Day”, but I doubt it will make into my iPod playlist.

Similarly, “Make Her Fall In Love With Me Song” sounds remarkably like “The Big One”, which was one of his hits off the Lead On album. This one, however, is a decent song worth checking out. And for those who love traditional western swing, then “West Texas Town” is a fun duet with Dean Dillon, who has written many of George’s hits.

“River of Love”, though, is a far cry from the traditional country sound I generally expect from George. In fact, I think George has been hanging out a little too much with Jimmy Buffett. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a Jimmy Buffett fan (Emily and I saw Jimmy, George, and Alan Jackson at Texas Stadium a few years back), but the song just doesn’t fit George. It is interesting, however, that several of the songs on this album were recorded at Jimmy Buffett’s recording studio in Key West.

I have a feeling that the title track, “Troubadour”, will be released as a single. That song, as well as “House With No Doors”, sound the most like the singles from his previous few albums. I think they will fit in with what you might hear on any mainstream country radio station.

Overall, I give the album a “B”. I was happy to hear the steel guitar featured on several of the tracks, but I wasn’t able to pinpoint any song as a potentially huge hit. I’ll probably put “Troubadour” and “Make Her Fall In Love With Me Song” into my regular rotation, but for now I’m gonna stick with the classics.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Butterfly in the Sky

Recently I managed to finish reading two books I have been working on. The first one was The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory. While it was not quite as good as The Other Boleyn Girl, it was an easy read, and I probably will go on to read the third in the series. Those Boleyns--they were some wild people.

The other book was an unexpected find in Lifeway called A Walk With Jane Austen. I had been reading the author's blog for a while before I ever saw the book in the store, and frankly I was more than a little surprised to see a book about Austen in a Christian bookstore. I don't know why, considering her books are of the utmost propriety, and her writings give clear evidence that she was a Christian. Anyway, Lori Smith takes the reader on her journey through Jane Austen's life, while she herself journeys to find what she believes and what she wants her own life to look like. It was good, but at times I had to have quite a bit of concentration to read it. It made me want to take a trip to jolly old England.

I am planning a trip to the bookstore this weekend to pick up something new, so if you have any suggestions, feel free to throw them out here.

(20 points if you know where this post title came from...)
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