Thursday, December 31, 2009

December 31

December 31: Resolution you wish you'd stuck with (You know, there's always next year...)

Spanish, Spanish, Spanish. Quiero hablar espanol!

I vowed to keep learning Spanish, and for a while, I was a loyal member of a group that met at the Lucky Lab in NW Portland. I took a class at PCC, went to Nicaragua in July, and went to a couple of Spanish dinners, but for the last few months, felt like I haven't practiced much at all. And I really want to be able to speak it, to at least understand people when they're talking to me.

Another goal for 2010. Obvio.

December 30

December 30: Ad What advertisement made you think this year?

I saw this via my friend Dan Klyn who tweeted about it. And it's from South Africa. Kinda cool.

Best Ad of 2009

December 29

December 29: Laugh What was your biggest belly laugh of the year?

I knew this immediately. I distinctly remember saying that I hadn't laughed that hard in a long time - like this was the can't breathe-I'm crying-I might pass out kind of laugh. Sigh, I loved this.

It was our friend (and my roommate) Molly's birthday and she insisted on not celebrating it - she was leaving for the Midwest the next day and she just wanted to go to the pub with our friends like a typical Wednesday night. So, naturally, we planned to kidnap her and take her to the Sapphire Hotel, a sweet little spot in SE Portland that makes some nice cocktails.

The plan was for a friendly kidnap, to throw her in the back of a car and maybe blindfold her, but as soon as we got talking about it, somehow I was asked to bring rope for her hands and feet, and, well, things changed a bit.

Molly made it to the pub alright, but we grabbed her as soon as she got her beer and dragged her outside. Then, on the curb, we tied her hands and her feet, and Joy had the great idea to throw a paper bag over her head (there may have been a belt). Yep. People were staring.

We popped the back of Joy's hatchback and first, had the brilliant idea of tipping Molly in face-first, but didn't realize until it was too late that her hands couldn't really support her when they were tied behind her, so she was basically laying on her face. I think this is when I was laughing the hardest.

Molly was a great sport - she laughed the whole time and didn't get mad at us for yelling at her to be quiet and lay down for the entire 20 minute drive. With a bag over her head. Thanks, Molls, for the best laugh of the year. Just wait until next year...

December 28

Best Stationery

My friend Joy is obsessed with unicorns, and I think she actually believes they exist. Yeah...

So I was home this summer, going through my old desk and all my little memories and found a pad of paper with the most beautiful unicorn on every page. I'm pretty sure it was from 6th grade (ahem...). Perfect for Joy.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

December 26 and 27

December 26: Insight or Aha! Moment

There is something that sounds so cliche about having a different perspective when you turn 30. But I can tell you that there's truth to it. Something shifts; I don't know exactly what to call it. It's like I exhaled after a long time of waiting for something I couldn't put my finger on.

I'm not where I thought I would be at 30, but I'm okay with it. And maybe that's what it is - just accepting my life as it is. Less pressure, more confidence. It's good.

December 27: Social web moment

I remember my first social web moment, ever. It was 1995, I was 16 and working as a library aide at a small, local public library. We had just hooked up to the internet with these crappy monitors - the only thing I saw was a black screen and orange text, no pictures or fonts or formatting. But it was the world wide web, and it was cool. Somehow, I found a chatroom and signed on as Princess something and started talking to people across the country. I was hooked.

Twelve years later (!), I signed up for Twitter, but I didn't know what to do with it. I didn't follow anyone, and there for sure wasn't anyone following me. I tweeted a couple of times and promptly forgot about the whole thing. Then, I started back this year - I can't remember what prompted it. Maybe it was because more people were actually talking about it. Or that I realized that I could be connected to interesting people who could teach me something.

The past several months have been entertaining, eye-opening, and generally informative - I'm learning the ins and outs of social media, checking out inspiring design projects and keeping up with news and friends across the country. I used to work in PR, and this is the stuff we were wondering about when all of this started to take off. Who would connect with who? And more importantly, why? Not exactly a moment, but a definitive, positive change in my online habits.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

December 24 and 25

December 24: Learning Experience

I worked with some cool people back in Grand Rapids before I moved out to Portland, and have had the privilege of staying in touch with them, which is why it was so distressing to read on Twitter earlier this year that one of those friends suffered a freak accident that revealed a huge tumor in his brain. David is a talented communicator and devoted husband, and he's 28.

David had been blogging before about life, but started writing about this from the first hospital bed. And he writes straight from his heart about how he is choosing to respond to this - what he's found is that finding a tumor in his brain is something he's entirely grateful for. Grateful. For a tumor. He's taking leaps like never before, pursuing his dreams and genuinely loving the people around him. No regrets. Most importantly, he is trusting in God and discovering what his faith really looks (and sounds) like.

I'm learning a lot from David. And I'm not the only one. You can follow his blog here: Jump David Jump.

December 25 Gift What's a gift you gave yourself this year that has kept on giving?

Netflix. I love it. I've seen Mad Men, so many amazing episodes of Friday Night Lights and rented old classics like Breakin'. Yes, Breakin'.

This week: Veronica Mars, Season 1. Sigh. This was such a good show.

Monday, December 28, 2009

December 22 and 23

December 22: Startup/Business

I know of a cool little production company that's been doing some good work with a guy named Josh Shipp, and I like what he has to say. His advice videos to teenagers crack me up - not sure what that says about me, but trust me, his stuff is good. He was also nominated as one of Inc. magazine's top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs of 2009.

Josh is quirky, a little silly and gives smart answers to tough questions. If you have teenagers, check him out. And if you don't, well, you should still check him out.

December 23: Web Tool

My brother-in-law introduced me to when I was home for Christmas last year, and I've used it ever since. I actually like the reminders, and I love being able to see everything - my credit cards, investments, accounts - in one glance. I could have used this a long time ago.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December 18-21

I was in Michigan last weekend, and had been dying to write about it, but it was a major surprise trip, especially for my dear sister who had no idea I was coming into town. Crashing her party last week was definitely a highlight of the trip. And so were my niece, nephews and Christmas time!

All that to say, you get a few days' posts in one. Giddyup.

December 18: Shop

I am nominating Art of the Table in Grand Rapids, Michigan for my shop of the year. They helped me in a pinch for my sister's birthday - she wanted a neoprene six-pack holder, which they carry and they also have a lovely stocked fridge in the back of the store full of hard-to-find beers. So, Amy put together a little bag for Lynn, I called her on her birthday, told her to stop in for a birthday surprise, and she picked up her holder and the beers she wanted. It was perfect.

December 19: Car ride

My favorite car ride of the year: the bus ride to the markets in Masaya with Beth in Nicaragua. Nicaragua is the old schoolbus heaven and every bus is named (ours was "Siempre mi nino"/"Always my child") and decorated - with bright colors and interesting drivers. We sang Mambo No. 5 with the locals and passed by cows and pigs, and families on bikes.

December 20: New person

So, technically, I met Margaret last year at work, but I don't think we actually became friends until this year. She works at an architectural firm here in Portland and we've been coworkers since last September - she's a talented architect. Margaret and her husband love to cook (he's a chef) and they invited me to a tasty Brunch-B-Q earlier this year at their house. They also brew their own beer, which I have tried and will tell you that it is GOOD. Margaret gives me good advice and laughs at my jokes even when they're kind of lame.(Wut? Wut?)

I'm not going to be working with Margaret much longer, which stinks. But there are happy hour plans in the works. And hopefully another Brunch-B-Q. Seriously.

(This is Caitlyn, Margaret, me and Shane (all coworkers) at the Oregon Brew Fest last year.)

December 21: Project

I haven't gotten very far in two months, but this chair is going to be amazing when it's done. I've got next week off and some good ideas. More pictures to come.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

December 17: New word/phrase

I can't take credit for this (Joy), but the best new word use I heard this year was "trick" as in, "I love my new cowboy boots - they are so trick!"

Think it will catch on?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December 16: Best Tea

Best tea this year: Egyptian Licorice from Yogi. And a short story: (apologies in advance for trying to cover something so special in just a few short paragraphs)

A few years ago, I went to Haiti for a week to hold babies, and had one of the most powerful experiences of my life.

I met up with Sarah and Sarah - two amazing women who live in LA - who led the trip, and encouraged me to really embrace every part of our time there - finding hope in what seems utterly lost. We loved on babies at an orphanage in Port-au-Prince and I saw poverty like I've never seen before. I also encountered love like never before - from the sisters who work full-time at the orphanage, the grateful room moms and of course, those beautiful babies.

It was also a chance to become friends with some lovely people, especially Sarah and Sarah, who I've been able to stay in touch with over the last few years. And when I visit LA, they generously offer their couch and their time to me, which I appreciate more than they know.

These ladies are also tea-lovers, and Sarah O introduced me to Egyptian Licorice tea from Yogi the last time I was there in October (part of the reason she loves it is because it's from Oregon, of course). But also because it's just a little sweet and spicy. She's sweet herself, and packed a couple of teabags in my suitcase before I left. Definitely my best tea find of the year.

P.S. Sarah and Sarah and Nikki G and others are headed back to Port-au-Prince in a few days to continue working at the orphanage - please pray for their safety and health and time with the sisters and babies. I wanted to go so badly, but for certain reasons, I'll have to wait until next time. Prayers and thoughts for them in the meantime.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 15: Best packaging

Howdy. We're about halfway now, and I have to say, it's been a struggle to post every day. Way to go, daily bloggers.

It's been a good day - I just got my hair cut, I'm having one of my favorite Breakfast Wrap burritos and I just put some champagne in the freezer before I head out in a bit. Last night, Erica and I caught up on Glee and watched an episode of Friday Night Lights. We're not crazy TV people, but we might be just a teensy bit obsessed with those shows. Watch them if you can. Especially FNL.

December 15: Best packaging

We started buying milk in the old-fashioned glass containers earlier this year, and while it's freakin' expensive, I love the fact that I'm buying milk from a farm and not wasting anything. Kind of makes me feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder. Well, probably more like Nellie, since she would get hers from the store.

Monday, December 14, 2009

tres posts for you

Three days to catch up on - please don't judge. I've just been, shall we say, preoccupied - with good things, of course. But I'll try not to make a habit of this...

December 12: New Food

This is kind of ridiculous, but I have to say that the food highlight of my year has been the Breakfast Wrap by Higher Taste. It's an Oregon thing, and Erica introduced me to it, and I have one at least once a week. I may be their most loyal customer.

December 13: What's the best change you made to the place you live?

This has been a year of settling in for our house. My lovely roommates and I moved in last December and it's just started really feeling like home. The biggest change for me was probably unpacking everything.

We were just talking tonight over dinner about how great this last year has been for us as roommates. We are three girls living together, so there are bound to be little tiffs here and there, but overall, we really do love each other. Our house has become a place we're excited to come home to. And that's something I don't want to change.

December 14: Rush

Hmm. A rush. I had to think about this for a bit. I've done a few adrenaline-rush activities in my life (skydiving, anyone?), but this year, I would say my biggest rush has been boxing.

Now, I don't actually fight. It's just not in me to do that. But I do train like I'm going to fight. And I love it. I started classes a few years ago at Frank's Sun City Fitness - now Frank's Knockout Fitness - and couldn't figure out why I actually liked going to a class where someone yelled at me for 45 minutes to do more sit-ups and punch harder.

But it's the rush I get when I hit the bag, when my glove smacks it so hard and I know that if it were a person, he'd be in the hurt box. Or maybe it's just a chance to get rid of some underlying aggression issues. Either way, it's one of my favorite things to do, so I was really happy to find Erik's Extending Fitness here in Portland. It's my Wednesday night workout.

Friday, December 11, 2009

December 11: Best Place

Oh, how I love love love my parents' house. Yes, it's in West Michigan where it's currently 12 degrees with a forecast of snow for the next six months, I know. But it's home. My parents bought it from a couple whose daughter is a Broadway star (I inherited her bedroom, which I always thought was cool) - she visited one summer and told me and my sister that she used to throw great parties with the guys from Dukes of Hazzard. Awesome.

The house has this super old intercom system with these weird-looking plastic white phones on the wall of most rooms, and the rec room has a cool old stereo, which we used to turn up while we rollerskated for hours. In the back, there's a pool and a deep ravine filled with trees that runs through the neighborhood and in the summer, it looks like a jungle down there.

Every summer was filled with pool parties and diving board games and popsicles and hot dogs on the grill. And in the winter, we would watch the snow come down, filling up the patio until it covered the diving board.

I used to tell them that they could never sell it. But I think I've made peace with that - maybe it's time for someone else to find out how great it is.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

December 9 & 10

December 9: Best Challenge

The Annual Review

This was the first year I did an Annual Review, or basically a year-long plan with measurable, reachable goals for all the things I wanted to do in 2009 - learning Spanish, running, writing, etc. Thanks to Chris Guillebeau, I had a lovely spreadsheet (nerdy, I know, but I love them) to start with and track throughout the year. And it's not easy! It required really thinking through things that I wanted to do, setting goals and then evaluating whether or not I was actually working toward them, and ultimately deciding what was priority and what wasn't.

I watched some ambitions drop like flies and other interests bloom, and I loved writing "done and done" when I completed things like my first (and maybe only) 5k and listing the books I'd read and trips taken. It was kind of like breaking down my life into pieces and chasing them down, making them happen. Or kind of like a good kick in the pants. Yup.

December 10: Album of the Year

Imogen Heap | Ellipse

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

First up:

Some quotes:

I like this one today:

"Often people attempt to live their lives backwards; they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want, so they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want."

Margaret Young

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December 8: A Moment of Peace

Stepping off the plane in PDX after a good visit home this summer, and knowing this is the place to be. After almost a year and a half, I needed that.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Blog Challenge 09 - December 6 & 7

Yesterday was a busy day - in the way you wish all days could be busy - and I didn't have time or energy to post. So today's a two-fer!

December 6: Workshop or Conference

I didn't spend much time in workshops or conferences this year; however, I did go to a women's retreat for my church and, though it was a pretty low-key weekend, I took a lot away from the time spent with the ladies from The Well and the speaker. She covered a few interesting, influential women in the Bible, and by far, my favorite was the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well.

Jesus was a little cryptic, talking about living water and telling her about herself. But despite her story (and his mysterious words), this woman was not afraid to be herself, ask him questions and, ultimately, believe. (John 4:1-42)

December 7: Blog Find of the Year

It's a tie. Design*Sponge (thanks, Amber!) and What I Wore. Love them both!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

December 5: Best Night Out

So glad my friends here like to salsa. I spent more than a few nights at a great little salsa club in Santiago, Chile and love it, so I usually go when I have the chance. But this particular night was feeling really low-key, I didn't want to pay the $10 cover and it kept getting later and later. But my roommate Erica really wanted to go, even though it was past 10, so I reluctantly put on my heels and away we went to Mambo Lounge.

Back story: the last time we went to Mambo Lounge - which I love - I danced with a shorter, cologne-happy guy who tried all kinds of crazy moves with me. He was a very good dancer; I was not. I'm not bad, but I was not at his level, and at one point, he had me sitting on his bent legs and tipped back almost entirely upside down. Mambo Lounge is a big open room, and usually there is a crowd of people watching everyone. But I was more worried about falling on my head, flashing everyone or kicking someone else than looking like I knew what I was doing - it wasn't pretty. I had words with him when the song was over.

When we arrived on this particular Saturday night, I danced with a few different guys, and then I saw him. The crazy-dip guy. Actually, I smelled him first. When he asked me to dance, I said, "Hey, I know you!" And he started laughing and said, "Oh yeah, I remember you!"


This time, I was very clear with him about not doing the dip (or any other "So You Think You Can Dance" moves), and to his credit, he completely respected my wishes. He actually made me feel like a good dancer. So good that I forgot what time it was and my friends had to drag me home. It was an unexpectedly great night.

Runner-up: NW PDX Progressive Dinner - Todd's, the Price's (impromptu dance party!), our house, and Amber's for a splash of champagne. So. Much. Fun.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Best Book

So, I know I picked an article for yesterday, but that was before I read this one. I really like what this man has to say.

Today's topic: Best Book. I read - a lot - so this is sad that I can't choose more than one. But since I have to pick, I'm picking Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.

It has a piano, South America, love and suspense. This was the kind of book that I read during lunch at work, the kind that I didn't want to tell anyone about right away, so I could just let it replay in my mind. And the quote I put in my planner:

"All the brilliant things we might have done with our lives if only we suspected we knew how."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December 3: Best Article

I read a lot, so it was hard to remember and pick just one, but I've referred to this article in conversation multiple times, and wondered about the idea as I've been using a lot of free services this year, like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Anyway, Malcolm Gladwell reviews a book called Free which suggests that "all information wants to be free," as in you don't have to pay for it. (Not like twirling around in a open field... ahem.)

The idea of what's free, what isn't and what should be is one of those ideas that goes round and round in my mind.

It reminds me of working for NOOMA - talking about why we charged what we did for the films (especially as a nonprofit), and the idea of value and perceived value. They were $10 for a reason. Our designers were also very protective of the brand - the logo, the intro to the films, everything. There is value to the time, energy and creativity that goes into creating a brand, maintaining an image - the intellectual property. And part of what our customers paid for was the image, whether they realized it or not.

It also reminds me of a conversation with a friend of a friend who argued that information (music, design - use of logos, etc.) should be free, but that the business model should change. He told me about Mos Def's strategy earlier this year (summary here), which I hadn't heard about. I don't know if this is where music is headed, but it's interesting nonetheless.

It makes me wonder what my kids will be paying for some day or getting for free - if they'll think it's crazy that I paid 99 cents for a song on iTunes. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

I just thought this was funny.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December 2: Best Restaurant Moment

Dinner party guests arriving in a few, and I just got home from boxing. Good thing I drafted this earlier today...

Best Restaurant Moment 2009: Navarre. April 3. One of those spontaneous "Hey let's grab dinner" nights. My roommate Erica and I had been to a book reading by Susan Isaacs - she is funny, and so is the book (Angry Conversations with God). Afterwards, we were all sort of milling around talking about dinner and two friends decided to join us and then we were outside walking to Navarre: me, Erica, Ben and Justin.

So, Portland has a bajillion amazing restaurants. All over the city. Basically, wherever you are in town, you can find a place to eat, and eat well. Justin recommended Navarre - I had never been - and its theme is local food, family style. They prepare whatever they get from local farms, so basically it's a CSA restaurant. I like that.

The food was tasty. There were greens, mushrooms (Erica tried them!), fish, duck, bread and really good red wine. And good conversation about everything - work, families, art, art communities in Texas, fishing in Alaska, being 30 (I was close enough).

Later we went to Horse Brass for beers, and at the end of the night, the boys walked us back out to my car and we giggled like we were 14 again.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December 1: Best Trip

December 1: Best Trip

I told myself at the beginning of the year that I would have to cut back on travel - I had just moved to Portland six months before, and had come basically from Chile by way of Michigan. It was going to be a "save" year.

But I can't sit still, especially not when lovely friends are beckoning from all over. So just days after the Honduran coup, I headed down to Nicaragua to visit my friend Beth for a long weekend. Not the most stable country ever, but safer than Honduras.

It was the best trip of the year because:

1. It was the real deal. The accommodations were comfortable and safe, but this was no resort. Beth knew enough about the city of Managua to get us around via public transportation or cabs at night. And I met so people who actually live there. That is my kind of vacation.

2. I made a great connection with a friend of a friend which kind of happened through Facebook. Beth and I met up with Jane, George and their family - in Nicaragua for a month to serve and travel. The kids were fantastic - 7, 5, and 3 - speaking Spanish, playing with Nica kids and totally embracing a very foreign summer vacation. They let us tag along one morning to volunteer at a home for abused women and children - we played games, sang songs, fake-tattooed their arms, and loved on some kids for a morning.

3. This trip reminded me of Chile, my precious Chile. The Spanish, the culture, the volunteering. I vow to go back.

All that to say: Visit Nicaragua - for the year-round black curtain, the fantastic coffee, the gorgeous landscape, the friendly people and just to grow your heart and mind a little bit. And there's more here. (And FYI: this trip beat out 10 days home with my family, whom I love dearly, and a long, warm weekend in SoCal with great friends and a U2 concert.)