Saturday, December 8, 2012

End of November - hello, December!


The day after Thanksgiving, my sister came over to the apartment to help me cook and to prepare for the Second Annual Friendsgiving, which is essentially a Thanksgiving-themed potluck of leftovers, et cetera. We had a little stuffing left over from the night before, and we chose to also make a green bean casserole. We enjoyed a second feasting that night, and Tyler and I ended up with a wealth of potatoes and pie.

("When," we wondered, three days later, "will we be free from the tyranny of Thanksgiving leftovers!?")

A little more than a week later, November was over, and with it the male moratorium on shaving. Tyler prepped his razor, but before he could attack his facial growth, I popped him in a suit and pinned him to a chair so I could document a month's worth of beard.

Looking very handsome..


..manly, and rugged - but wait!
Is that..glitter in his beard?

Yes, it is.


In other festive news, Tyler has a cookie exchange at work on Monday, so I made fudgy brownies for him to take in. I added chopped up candy cane to the batter to make it more Christmas-y.

I also improvised a double boiler with a pot and a metal mixing bowl in order to melt some candy cane Kisses down for a frosting. Then I sprinkled more candy cane bits over the top and stuck the brownies in the freezer.





Slowly but surely, I am starting to feel more at home in the kitchen. I'm not saying I'm going to be the next Martha Stewart or anything, but even a little victory over my domestic laziness is something to celebrate.

Friday, November 30, 2012

This is what happens when you watch too many cyst videos.

You get one of your own. Thanks a lot, YouTube.

Warning: So much TMI ahead - that is, if you're not the sort who enjoys a good chat about vaginas, the tricky creatures.

For a week now, I've had a walnut-sized bump (a walnut WITH shell, as my friend asked me to clarify) at the edge of my vulva, on the right side. My boyfriend discovered it, BUT DIDN'T TELL ME until the next day, when I found it for myself. Guess who's no longer on boob cancer watch?

I did some internet sleuthing, which turned up the usual awfulness: hernia! cancer! death! Finally I decided that it was probably a Bartholin gland cyst.

***DON'T LOOK BELOW IF YOU DON'T LIKE ILLUSTRATIONS OF VULVAS!***

Too late, you looked.

I can't see mine, so I can't confirm that it looks like this. It'd be kind of fascinating if it weren't happening to me.

















Per WebMD (that labyrinth of horrors), the Bartholin glands are two small organs under the skin of the labia on either side of the vagina. Usually they do the awesome job of lubricating the outer bits of the vulva.

However, if one of these ducts gets blocked, fluid builds up in the gland and a cyst grows. If the cyst isn't infected, it's usually small, firm, and painless. I can't even feel mine unless I touch it, but I still decided to go to the clinic today to get it checked out.

My clinician was an efficient and friendly woman in her thirties. She confirmed my diagnosis, then proceeded to stress me out some more. Apparently, the course of healing goes something like this:

1) It probably won't go away on its own, but I can try to help it heal by sitting in four inches of hot water, four times a day. (Who has time for that?? Also, I hate baths, and I suspect that I would hate this thing, a "Sitz bath," even more.) Then I can push on it so that a bunch of gross stuff comes out. (DON'T READ THIS IF YOU'RE SQUEAMISH. I had to read it because I am a masochist.)

2) It could get infected, in which case a gynecologist will need to drain it. DRAINING IT INVOLVES A SCALPEL. IN AND AROUND MY VAGINA.

3) It could get EVEN MORE INFECTED, and become an abscess. If that happened, I would have to have it "marsupialized," which is not as cute a procedure as the name might imply. Think more "creepy backwoods possum" than "adorable kangaroo babies."

When an abscess is marsupialized, it is cut open and drained, and a small catheter is placed in the gland to allow for continued drainage.

Suffice to say, this is not the most thrilling news. It has somewhat put me off my holiday spirit.

This all sounds miserable, but the worst part is when I left the clinic. My clinician sort of grimaced, and said (well, it was implied more than said outright), "Merry Christmas! Your insurance sucks," and I was charged $100.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Stuffing ourselves.


Tonight, Tyler and I made challah, celery, and mushroom stuffing for tomorrow's feast.

"Challah for the Motherland!," as my Jewish best friend likes to say.
So many questions for this recipe. How much is a sprig, the whole branch or just bits of a branch? What do properly wilted onions look like? How can I tell if something is "just slightly cooked through" without eating it? Why does this smell so good? 

The best part, other than getting to eat it tomorrow, is that I got to use my cast iron pan for the first time! I am just like Ma Ingalls.

I managed to get Tyler to go shopping this week, which is always a miracle. We found him some boots and jeans that better fit his long, slim legs. He looks very rustic hipster chic now.


You can just about see everything in those pants. Mmm mm.

First Birchbox!



Birchbox!

I received my first Birchbox package this week, and so far I'm pleased and impressed. (I also really love the thought that I will be able to expect something in the mail every month!)

Inside were these small samples:

Color Club "Put a Pin In It" nail polish.


This was my favorite. It's a pretty rose gold color, perfect for Thanksgiving! I'm terrible at applying nail polish to my fingernails, but I still wanted to put this on right away. It layers nicely and looks so fancy. The full-sized bottle is only $8. I would probably buy this.


Lulu Organics Lavender + Clary Sage hair powder. I used it this morning and it smells wonderful, very herbal, fresh and sophisticated. However, it wasn't as easy to apply as my usual spray-on dry shampoo, and I had to use more than the suggested dime-sized amount for it to be effective. At $30 for the full-sized product, I'll probably skip it.



ModelCo Fibre LashXtend lengthening mascara. This is the kind of mascara that has little lash-extending fibers in it. I'm really curious and I want to try it very badly, but I've already got these synthetic lashes on, so it will have to wait. They generously included what looks like a full-sized sample, and there's even a little mirror on the bottle!



Stella Cadente "Miss Me" eau de parfum. The description goes a little something like this: "Ooh la la. This French scent transitions from a blend of exotic blossoms to a subtle powdery finish."



I wasn't too thrilled with this one at first. I sprayed it on my wrists, and I was overwhelmed by it. I don't really like powdery, floral perfumes, so I was sure that I didn't like it, but - it quickly mellowed out on my skin into a softer, unique scent. Even now, a few hours later, I can't quite place it. It's a little like soft, lush blossoms; a little like vanilla and cream; a little like waffle cones. It keeps evolving. It's quietly sensual, sort of like a girl-next-door who takes you by surprise with a warm, mature romance. I love it.



Last and certainly least was the SoyJoy Cranberry Snack Pack. I ate that for breakfast on the bus to work this morning. The taste wasn't terrible, but it had that weird mouth feel that, in retrospect, I should have known was the calling card of a bad gluten free product. Mushy cardboard, studded with cranberries. Better than nothing if you were a starving person with Celiac Disease.

All in all, a very successful first Birchbox! I look forward to December's.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bluebird has a new brewery!


Tonight, Tyler and I visited the new Bluebird Ice Cream & Brewing location in Phinney Ridge/Greenwood for their grand opening happy hour. 


A small and mighty menu of drinks.

Row upon row of beautiful growlers.

They'd apparently been brewing before, but this is their first attempt at a permanent, public brewery, which doubles as an ice cream shop.





Tyler tried the award-winning Theo Milk Chocolate Stout as a float with Bluebird vanilla ice cream, and I had a snickerdoodle-flavored soda. 

The new space is small, but cheerful. We were lucky to show up early - the place was soon packed shoulder-to-shoulder. 


And rightfully so, with ice cream flavors like these!

Afterward, we strolled down Greenwood Avenue and enjoyed a couple of odd snacks - bone marrow on toast and blue cheese-and-bacon-stuffed dates - at Oliver Twist, for the sake of a quick and adventurous dinner.


I love the decor! Dark woods, metals, and leathers, and the walls are plastered with local art.

That time I got eyelash extensions (again).


On Tuesday I went to the Lash & Wax Boutique in Redmond and got a full set of synthetic eyelashes applied to my own. I haven't gotten used to looking at myself in the mirror yet.


I almost never think ahead, so of course I have no "before" picture.

Who let me leave the house with my eyebrows all askew?
And this wasn't even the first time I'd had it done. I got longer lashes right before my 24th birthday party, in May. They sort of looked like spiders then.

I guess you can't really see them in this picture. Also I was Frida Kahlo so that's a bit distracting.

According to the girl who did them then, they were 11s and 12s. This time I asked for 8s and 9s, hoping for lashes that were not necessarily longer, but fuller, like Zooey Deschanel's (they can't be real, they just can't!).

Source.

I was informed that my lashes were longer than 9s, so I settled for 10s. I wasn't shown any examples of lashes that would be used, I think because the girl assumed that I already knew what I was talking about.

Before the lashes went on, I was given a complimentary paraffin hand treatment, which reminded me of those town fair booths where you dip your hand in wax to make a hand-shaped candle, but much nicer. After dipping each hand in wax three times, my hands were wrapped in plastic and put into mitts.

I lay down in something like a dentist's chair, with pillows under my knees and neck, and a soft furry blanket over me. The aesthetician gently removed my mascara, then put strange sticky gel pads on my lower eyelids to hold down the eyelashes there. I closed my eyes and she put tape on my upper eyelids to hold them taut. For the next two hours, the girl painstakingly attached each individual synthetic lash to each individual real one, with special lash glue. Apart from the occasional disturbances (she had locked her keys in her car and so had to keep getting up to negotiate with a locksmith), it was so relaxing that I nearly fell asleep several times.

The price was slightly less relaxing, at $150 for the first full set and $60 for a fill, and every fill has to be done every two weeks. Yikes!

November is a very accomplished month so far!


I spent Election Night surrounded by friends, devouring homemade pizza and stumbling through a conversation with a sympathetic Frenchman. It was an anxious and ultimately jubilant night.

The next day, I was sleepy and smiley and completely unproductive at work, which was further compounded by the two baby showers I had to endure for the same coworker. Luckily I was able to escape mid-afternoon to the comparative bliss of the dentist's chair.

On Thursday evening I dragged my boyfriend around Capitol Hill for the monthly Blitz Arts Walk. Tyler wanted to eat; I wanted to mooch snacks and look at paintings. We compromised: I was allowed to see four different venues, and then we would go home and I would make him dinner.

I made vegetarian "Chicken" Divan and roasted pear salad with goat cheese and fig vinaigrette, both with slight adaptations.

Source.
Source.

I surprised us both by accomplishing a very filling and appetizing dinner. I didn't even have time to take my own pictures, we ate it so fast. See, I can do more than microwave Trader Joe's meals!

Pretty rainbow cake! Source.

The next day I visited Cupcake Royale for some free rainbow cake to celebrate the passage of Referendum 74. Hooray gay marriage! I had no idea that Dan Savage and his husband, Terry, would be passing out pieces of cake, and I almost had a crazy fangirl moment when I saw them.

Source.

After a huge piece of rainbow cake, slathered in buttercream frosting, I naturally went on to attend a barre fitness class.

The next day, Tyler, my sister, Taite, and I went to CouchFest, which is essentially a short film festival that takes place in strangers' houses. We went to two of the four houses that were doing screenings, so we saw films that fell under the categories "Experimental and Intense" and "Comedy." The first batch wasn't very interesting, but I liked almost every one of the comedy films. I liked the venue, too - it had snacks!

After that, Tyler and I reenacted our first "date," which was comprised of a very hurried drink at The Sitting Room on Queen Anne (this time we ordered food, but the place was so busy and we were so rushed that we had to leave without it!), followed by a HUMP! screening. This was my third year in a row of attending the amateur porn film fest ("Be a porn star for a night, not for a lifetime!"), and it was the best bunch of films yet. It was hard to vote for a favorite out of the 27 films, but I especially liked a funny, clever stop motion piece, called "Magic Sex," and Ben DeLaCreme's x-rated version of his popular "Boyfriend" parody. You can see the PG-13 version online:



On Sunday I put a couple vintage coats up for sale on eBay that I acquired two years ago, at the height of my vintage craze. I still love vintage clothing, but I never wear these coats because they're too big and cumbersome.

On eBay!

On eBay!
On eBay!

Later, Tyler and I joined my mother, her husband, Mark, and Taite for dinner at their house. Mom made an amazing vegetable soup; Mark contributed one of his many loaves of olive bread (apparently he went SWH - Shopping While Hungry) and chocolate chip cookies; and I made butternut squash Indian pudding.

Source.

On Monday the 12th, Tyler and I celebrated officially the 365 days of knowing each other by visiting Belltown restaurant Local 360 and enjoying their Dine Around Seattle menu. I didn't take any pictures because I was too busy eating. Local 360's hallmark is sustainable, locally sourced, simple meals made well. I fully support that philosophy and I can't wait to go back for more.

I started with the grilled romaine salad, which had small pieces of authentic, thick, smoky bacon sprinkled on it, and smoked blue cheese dressing. The whole thing was as savory and as satisfying as a salad can get. Tyler got the crispy pork belly, which came with shaved fennel and rested in bourbon apple butter. He practically inhaled the thing, but I did manage to get one bite.

Next up, I had the artisan pasta with roasted winter vegetables and goat cheese cream. It wasn't the most divine pasta dish I've ever eaten, but it tasted...wholesome? Down-to-earth? Fulfilling? Somehow. It was a very evocative dish, despite its relative simplicity. Meanwhile, Tyler was busy stuffing his face with another pork thing, this time the fennel-crusted, peppery pork tenderloin with cider-braised Brussels sprouts and what looked like cranberry. It was rich and juicy and tasted like the holidays. I was also lucky to get a bite of that, and only because I thought to ask early.


We were pretty full by the time we ordered dessert, but still managed to polish off a caramel apple pot de creme with cinnamon Chantilly, and a bread pudding with pear compote and hazelnuts. Phew!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The world IS fun!

Today's goofy face! Not that I only make one per day - I make tons.


Last Thursday, Tyler and I went to a bingo night at the Kangaroo and Kiwi in Ballard, hosted by TWIF, or "The World is Fun," which is basically a volunteer and charity facilitator that puts on really fun community events. The bingo night also involved physical challenges (see below!) and some trivia.


Who can get the ping pong ball into the shot glass, using only a measuring tape, the fastest? Turns out, Tyler can.

Who can get the cookie from their forehead to their mouth, without using their hands, the fastest? Turns out, I can't, but I did make some pretty great faces AND I got to eat a couple of cookies. Sounds like a win to me!

I entered this event assuming that it would pay off. I don't want to brag, buuut I'm pretty good at bingo. I usually win something.

Tyler doesn't have the bingo touch. But he is really good at poker and also at betting during March Madness.

After a few rounds, my luck won out and I was awarded a bag of swag. I went home and celebrated by making Tyler climb the walls a few times.

I am dating Spiderman.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

We will meet again, somehow.

Music can be so dangerous, can't it? So good at unearthing odd, old feelings, relevant or otherwise. This one digs up a lot of tamped down memory for me, but I suppose sometimes it's a good thing to till the heart's soil, in preparation for new growth.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

So long, October!


October is my favorite month. There's just something about the way it smells - smoky, apple-y, mysterious - and how the landscape's temperament shifts from still somewhat summery to decidedly autumnal. Also, things get spooky as the days grow shorter, the evenings darker, and the TV specials more Halloweeny. And I love Halloween.

So, while I'm excited for the more wholesome holidays to get underway, it's with some reluctance that I say goodbye to October, though I know I celebrated properly this year, first by hosting a scary movie party...

I filled my apothecary jars with chocolate eyeballs and jack-o-lanterns. So Martha!

A ghost pumpkin and his two warty friends.
  
Tyler makes leaf cut-outs for fall-themed bruschetta.

Snacks at the ready!

...then with a costumed pub crawl from Belltown to First Hill...

There are no pictures of this yet as Taite hasn't uploaded them. Hmph.

...and finally on Halloween itself. Tyler and I joined up with Aaron and Eli to explore the most Halloweeny neighborhood on the Hill, 16th and Aloha. We visited his friend for a seasonally appropriate supper of pumpkin soup, then walked up through Volunteer Park to tour the Conservatory, mostly because I wanted free hot cider, but also because it seemed like it would be neat. And it was!

Elegantly scary decorations in the Volunteer Park Conservatory.

I'm a lumberjack who means business.

Cookie Monster and lumberjack extraordinaire.
We ended the night at the Grill on Broadway, where they were having a costume contest. We saw an over-sized camera - which really worked! - a sparkly silver Justice, a Hawkman with wings that could extend, and all sorts of other inventive and delightful costumes. I resolved to try harder next year, but it's pretty hard to beat the comfort and the swagger of a rosy-cheeked lumberjack costume.

Lumberjack pin-up.

Goodbye, October! Hello, November!
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