Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I'm at a Payphone

I'm always lusting after the design pics in Sunset magazine. They've usually taken something that you wouldn't find in a house, and put it in the house, but in a way that makes it look cool. However, it's a fine line between taking a lawn chair and using it an an accent chair in your living room and buying a wheel barrow and plunking it in your living room. Although, I wouldn't put it past them to put a wheel barrow in the house and make it look somehow "re-purposed" instead of misplaced.

At any rate, I've been on the hunt for something unorthodox to put in our living room/dining room area. I go thrifting at the Goodwill on a fairly regular basis, but I haven't seen anything great there as of late. Aaron and I have also gone to a few antique stores up on Phinney Ridge, but we just weren't in the buying mood.

Cut to the Easy Street Records auction on Queen Anne. Aaron is a regular customer at Easy Street and was sad to see the Queen Anne location close down. But, given that they were auctioning off a bunch of stuff and will still have the West Seattle store, we wanted to support them. I also thought it might be an opportunity to get something that was cool, but also had meaning.

So, we got a payphone!

Well, it was just the box part of the phone. It had been used as a listening station at Easy Street, so it didn't have the phone part. We thought it was pretty cool, though. We bid on it and won! Then we had to figure out how to get it in the Mini. I was not sure it would fit, but it did.

We lugged it home and it rested behind Monkey's litter box for a few months.

Not wanting to feel like hoarders, we needed to figure out what to do with it. We decided to use it as a real phone. So, Aaron bought a pay phone on eBay, bought a pedestal online for support and got some big ass screws to go into the studs.

And, voila!

I'm so happy with how it turned out!

We got a landline and everything, so we can make and receive calls on it. The only problem is that every time I look at it, I think of the payphone song by Maroon 5, which is not nearly as cool as Blondie's "Hangin' on the Telephone". I guess "Call Me", would also be appropriate, but the only call we've received so far was from a telemarketer from Allstate insurance! So, I'll give you my number and you can call me, maybe? (I'm going to stop now...but I might go make a phone related playlist...)

Monday, April 08, 2013

There's an app for that!

In the wide world of apps, it's easy to be sidetracked by amusing apps like Fatify (What would I look like at 250 pounds? Now I know.) or Poo Log (What's your poo telling you?). However, I find apps like these tend to be temporarily interesting and then they lose their luster.

What has a bit more longevity, you ask? These are my top five favorite apps at the moment.

1. KEXP - This is a great app because of the live streaming playlist that not only shows you what song/artist is playing, but also allows you to "favorite" the song by selecting it and then touching a star icon. This is priceless to me, because I can never identify what songs or artists that I like when I hear them. Is that Pickwick? Is that song from the Foals' new album? Normally, I would never know. You can buy the song straight off iTunes, or just leave it in your favorites list for later (This is what I do, so that I can check Aaron's iTune library to see if he already owns the song/album.) The KEXP app also allows you to listen to live streaming audio or even go back and check out archived shows. It is free, but if you would like to donate to the station, you can do that from this app, as well.

2. Fab - Aaron introduced me to this free app and I love/hate him for it. I am obsessed with everything for sale on this app/site and I want to buy it all! They have art, jewelry, stuff for your home, gifts, and clothes, just to name a few. All the items listed are only on Fab for a limited time and are at a discounted price, which creates a sense of urgency. It's all stuff I didn't know I wanted, but when I see it, I have to have it RIGHT NOW! So far, I have bought mustache fridge magnets, a subscription to Nylon magazine and 8 inch x 8 inch prints from Pro Luster Prints. There have been many other things that I wanted to buy, but I exercised restraint.

Oh, and after popping over to Fab for a minute today, I see that I may also need some Spinal Tape for a gift for a friend. Thanks, Fab! Thanks for making me a penniless hoarder!

3. Photolettering - Aaron suggested this app, as well. It is free and allows you to select pictures from your camera roll and then add text on the photo. Sure, you can do that in Photoshop, but Photolettering allows you to do it right on your phone. It comes with three fonts and you can adjust the size and text color. More fonts are available to download, but you have to pay for them. I have been coming up with some pretty entertaining creations, if I do say so myself.

4. Phoster - Want to come up with some cool faux album covers featuring your cat?

Well, so did I! (Yep, Monkey is my muse.) Phoster is $1.99 and has a bunch of pre-made posters that you can select. Then, you can add your own photo, change the text and font and then add some effects to the overall appearance of the poster. Prepare to lose many hours of your life to this app. Aaron recommended this one, as well. Clearly, he wants me to quit my job and spend all of my waking hours dinking around with photos of Monkey.

5. MakeupAlley - I love this app! This is one that Aaron did not recommend. I discovered the MakeupAlley website through a co-worker quite a while ago. On the website, users can check out product reviews, post a question about make-up or swap make-up with other members. I could spend all day reading products reviews, and conveniently, that is what the app provides. All for free! When you open it, you are presented with three blank fields where you can input the product line name, type of product and name of product - then up pop all the product reviews for that specific item. It's ingenious. 

So, those are the apps that I'm obsessed with lately. No wonder I have crow's feet from squinting at my phone all the time.

Monday, April 01, 2013


I have always wanted to have a pet, but it has just never seemed like the timing was right. I grew up with pets and really loved them. We had a Pekingese named Muffy,

a rabbit named Thumper, and a goldfish named Harley (his time with us was brief, as can often be the case with goldfish).

Aaron and I have seriously considered getting a pet on a few different occasions, but I have backed out at the last minute. It just seemed so daunting - would our cat scratch up all the furniture? Would our dog get cancer and need expensive treatments that we can't afford? I worried that maybe we just weren't ready.

Still, I continued to look on Petfinder and found a million cute dogs and cats that I wanted to adopt. Then I thought maybe it would never be the "right" time. All those furry faces won me over and I really wanted to go meet some of them in person. I needed Aaron on board, so I harped and cajoled until he broke down on New Year's Eve day. The Seattle Humane Society in Bellevue was having a promotion for the whole month of December where all adoption fees were waived.

So we hopped in the car and headed to the Eastside. When we arrived, the parking lot was packed and we could barely find a spot. We managed to squeeze in and made our way inside. It was a madhouse! Potential adopters were everywhere, shelter staff were trying to help everyone and we didn't really know where to begin.

The Seattle Humane Society has all their cats in groups, but in different little rooms. So, we decided to just start looking. I had a couple cats in mind, so we tried to locate them. We found one, a Siamese, in a larger room with about six other cats. This cat was NOT interested in us or anyone else. She hissed when we tried to touch her and wouldn't make eye contact with anyone. A few other cats seemed friendlier, but it was so chaotic with so many people and cats everywhere, that we were having a hard time making a decision. To make matters more stressful, we had New Year's Eve plans and needed to meet my family at Teatro Zinzanni at 6:30 that evening. It was already 3:30pm.

As we continued to look around, I noticed an all black cat that seemed to want to engage with us. He let me pet him and even started purring! His name was Spock and he was about one year old. Every time we came back to the room he was in, he came up to me and head butted my hand and purred. He was adorable!

We still weren't sure, though. I had kind of wanted a Ragdoll or a Siamese. I was starting to sweat. Whenever I have to make a tough decision, I perspire like crazy. Aaron suggested that we put our name on the list so that we could actually talk to a staff member. So I did.

While we waited, Aaron and I went back and forth with, "Well, do you want to adopt Spock, the black one? What about that orange cat named Garth?"

Meanwhile, Garth was adopted by the people on the list before us. So, when it was our turn, we took a leap of faith and decided that the little black kitty named Spock would be our new cat.

We adopted him, bought a cardboard carrier and some food and toys, and put him in the back of the Mini and zipped back to Seattle.

We have now had him now for three months. We changed his name to Monkey and have been getting to know each other ever since. Monkey loves food, his cat dancer toy, and watching birds. He is not afraid to be vocal with many meows when he wants a snack or some attention.

Now he feels like he is a part of our family and I can't imagine life without him. By being his outgoing, sometimes demanding self, Monkey was really the one that chose us.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Aaron and I went to Portland for a weekend away a couple weeks ago. I like Portland because it reminds me of Seattle and Bellingham mixed together.

We rolled in at about 5:30pm, which was the middle of "wine hour" at our hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Monaco. Their esthetic is eclectic, yet swanky. It was where I wanted to stay originally, but Aaron wanted to try out luck on Priceline. And, "I'll be damned", as my Grandpa used to say. Priceline hooked us up with Hotel Monaco! Awesome! So we got to stay there for $125 a night AND they upgraded us to a suite. It was, ah, sweet.

So, they have wine hour every afternoon from 5pm to 6pm. You can have a glass of wine or beer. It's free, but there is a suggested $2 donation per glass. (The money goes to charity.) The hotel has a beautiful lobby area with seating, a piano player, video games (a Wii - Aaron said the game was Mariokart), and an art corner. They supply acrylic paint and small canvases. We didn't partake, but a lot of other people did.

The Hotel Monaco is a pet friendly hotel, so there were quite a few dogs that accompanied their people. We considered bringing Monkey. He's pretty chill for a cat, but I'm not sure he would have appreciated so much canine company.

The first night, we went to a record store called the Record Room Vinyl Lounge that Aaron wanted to check out. It was a record store, but they also serve beer and have live performances. It was cool and the bartender was really nice.

We hung out there for a while and then cabbed it over to Mississippi Ave. to see a show at Mississippi Studios.

We saw Aqueduct and Boat.

They were both good, but I especially liked Aqueduct. Aaron bought a Boat record and an Aqueduct CD.

The next day, we had breakfast at Imperial. It was delicious, but we were so full that we got sleepy. So we went back to the hotel for a nap.

That evening, Aaron wanted to go to this place called Ground Control Classic Arcade. As you might imagine, they had a ton of arcade games and pinball and - wait for it - a full bar. Whoa. They also had the coolest bathroom I've ever seen.
 I watch a lot of HGTV and they've never featured a Pac-Man tiled bathroom.

We played some pinball and had a few drinks.

After a few last games of Champion Pub, we decided to skeedaddle back to the hotel.

On out last day in Portland, we went back to Mississippi Ave. to have breakfast at Gravy. Words cannot describe. Best. French. Toast. Ever. Yum!

Then we went to a shop called Land, where I bought a print by Nikki McClure and some prints by Ryan Berkely. We later discovered that Land Gallery was where they shot the "Put a bird on it" sketch for Portlandia! 

Aaron wanted to go to this store called Control Voltage, but it was closed. I do, however, plan to steal their thread wall art idea.

After a quick cup of coffee, we hit the road to head back to Seattle.

Goodbye, Portland! We'll be back soon, I'm sure!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Walla Walla

Aaron and I went to Walla Walla for our anniversary at the beginning of September. It was pretty cool! We stayed at the Marcus Whitman hotel, which I liked quite a bit. They include breakfast and that's always a plus for us.

Walla Walla is all about the wine tasting, so did our fair share of sampling. The first place we visited was the Seven Hills tasting room. It is about a half a block from the Marcus Whitman hotel, so that is rather convenient.

We tried a few different wines and I fell in love with their Voignier. So I bought a bottle for my Mom.

After Seven Hills, we made our way to the Charles Smith tasting room.

It was very modern and industrial. There were exposed beams and ducting on the ceiling.

I loved it! We tried about six of their wines.

I liked the Kung Fu Girl Riesling and the Boom Boom! I bought a bottle of the Kung Fu Girl. It tasted good, but it also had an especially cool label. I'm a sucker for presentation and packaging.

Amid all the imbibing, Aaron wanted to work in a visit to a record store. So we visited Hot Poop.

It was cray cray, as the kids say. There was stuff everywhere - vinyl, CDs, 8-tracks, t-shirts, instruments, and posters. Nutty.

Aaron bought a record and a t-shirt at Hot Poop. I wandered around and tried entertain myself without seeming too impatient, while snickering about the name Hot Poop.

The next day, we visited four wineries. We arranged to be driven to the wineries by Bella Fortuna Events and Tours. Stephanie was our driver and she was amazing! She had a great knowledge of wine making and answered all my questions. She was very easy to talk with, but once we got to the wineries, she gave us our space and we got to take our time with trying all the wines.

We went to Longshadows, which had a minimalistic aesthetic to their tasting room decor.

We did our tasting inside the building, but there was a lovely outdoor seating area, as well. And we had gorgeous weather!

I felt like we got a lot of individual attention here and they had a really cool Chihuly piece in the tasting room.

Aaron bought a bottle of the Pirouette wine at Longshadows.

We also went to L'Ecole 41.

We tried a nice variety of whites and reds. Then we toasted to our six-year wedding anniversary. Awww. I know, right?

After our tasting, I decided that I loved their Semillon and Estate Luminesce, so I bought a bottle of each.

Then we went to Amavi. The view from Amavi was gorgeous!

We were also able to see their actual vineyard, which was beautiful.

I tried a grape right off the vine and it was sweet and delicious. We didn't buy any wine at Amavi. We were getting kind of overwhelmed with wine option by then. (Read:  We were kind of tipsy, in all honesty.)

And lastly, we went to Water's. Aaron bought a bottle of Interlude, which is a Bordeaux-style blend. The only picture we took at Water's was of me and it was bad, so it is not approved for posting here.

Overall, the trip to Walla Walla was really fun! But there are a ton of wineries/tasting rooms that we didn't have time to visit. So maybe we'll be back next summer!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Non-dairy Sweets

In addition to loving dairy, I love dessert. So just leaving behind dairy based desserts is not an option for me. I’ve never been a pint of Ben and Jerry’s kind of girl, but I do have a huge weakness for ice cream bars and ice cream sandwiches.

I started at Safeway with So Delicious Minis Coconut Almond Bars. The ice cream is velvety and smooth and has a hint of a coconut flavor and the nuts are yummy. The chocolate is not as good as the chocolate on a Magnum ice cream bar because it is not as rich and it has kind of a carob flavor. It’s a minor quibble, though. These are smaller than a Magnum ice cream bar, but they don’t leave you longing for more. The coconut ice cream, chocolate, and nut triumvirate is very satisfying. Overall, these are definitely so delicious and I would most certainly buy them again.

I thought I’d sample some almond milk ice cream, so I got some So Delicious Almond Milk Minis Vanilla Sandwiches. They carry these at Safeway. I like them quite a lot. The almond milk ice cream in the sandwiches is just like regular ice cream. I would not have known these were non-dairy if I had not seen the box. The sandwich part was good, but it stuck to my fingers. Not a big deal and I have most certainly had that issue with some traditional ice cream sandwiches. These live up to their “mini” name and are very small, so perfect for when you just want a little sweet treat. I would buy these again, but will probably try some of the almond milk ice cream bars first.

I bought a box of Luna and Larry’s Organic Coconut Bliss Dark Chocolate Bars at Whole Foods.

I thought they looked like fudge bars, which I have always liked. Oh. My. God. These are amahzing! They are better than ice milk fudge bars – so much better. The coconut milk lends a rich and creamy mouthfeel. The flavor is chocolately and smooth and I absolutely love them. I would recommend them to someone that’s not trying to limit dairy. They are decadent. I can’t wait to try the Naked Coconut Bliss bars

Not a fan of ice cream? Never fear, because you can have macaroons. Check out these Hail Merry macaroons.

The Hail Merry macaroons do not have condensed milk in them, like regular macaroons. (They also don't contain egg whites, which I am not so concerned about.) I got the Raw Blonde kind, which taste like sweet coconut. They also have a chocolate variety called Choco Macaroons. I have not tried the choco ones yet, but I plan to pick some up in the future. They guy that checked us out at Whole Foods said the blonde kind are better. I agree that they are delightful. In fact, they are so incredibly freakin' good that I could eat way more than the serving size of two cookies.  Mmmm, coconut, you are my new best friend.

So, as you can see, I'm pretty set in the non-dairy dessert department. I am currently out of all my desserts, though, so I think it's time for some grocery shopping!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Non-dairy, etc.

There are some dairy items that I like to have occasionally, but aren't things I need every day like cream in my coffee. After sorting out the basics of non-dairy replacements, like cream and butter, I decided to do some further exploration. So I've delved into more non-dairy products that would be nice to have as options. Because life would be better with sour cream, cream cheese, ranch dressing and mac n' cheese, right?

Here's what I've tried so far...

Sour Cream

I bought some Tofutti Sour Supreme sour cream at Safeway. I love sour cream and could eat it straight. I especially like it on burritos and baked potatoes. I was excited to try to the Tofutti non dairy sour cream and just dug into it with a spoon when I got home. Oh, lord. It was not good. It was off white, flavorless and while the consistency was thick, it was not creamy. I was very disappointed and threw it out.

Cream Cheese

I picked up some Follow Your Heart vegan cream cheese at Whole Foods.

I’ve tried this on Wheat Thins and also on whole wheat bread with turkey. I don't feel like I'm eating real cream cheese, but it’s not bad. It's not as creamy and sinful tasting as regular cream cheese. It's kind of like when you get something non-fat or low-fat and it's just not as good as the full fat version, but it's edible. If I eat it with the idea that it is just a spread, then I think it’s ok. So maybe it's about expectations? At any rate, it's nice to know this cream cheese is out there as an option. I will probably have it again every now and then, but it won't be something that I will buy every week, like almond milk.

Ranch Dressing

When we went to Razzi’s and I tried the pizza with Daiya cheese, I also tried their vegan ranch dressing on my dinner salad. I was convinced it would be awful, but amazingly, I was proven wrong. Their vegan ranch is the bomb! I almost couldn’t tell it wasn’t regular ranch. If they had brought it to me and said it was regular ranch, I’m not sure I would have known the difference. It’s that good. I will absolutely order it next time we go there. I loves me some ranch.

Mac n Cheese (Or "Cheeze")

Never one to pass on an opportunity for mac n’ cheese, I snapped up some Amy’s Dairy Free Rice Macaroni and Cheeze at Whole Foods. I like fancy mac n’ cheese – like the kind they have at the High Life. However, I also like boxed mac ' cheese. My all-time favorite of any mac n' cheese out there is Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Spirals. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. I know, it’s trashy, but what can I say? So, I had high hopes for the Amy’s mac n’ cheese. I extracted it from its box and examined the contents:  a frozen, pale orange block in small tray.

Well, microwavable food never looks that great before it gets microwaved. Undaunted, I followed the directions on the box and in minutes my dinner was ready. The “cheeze” in this meal is another Daiya cheese. I took a big bite and promptly burned the living shit out of my tongue and the roof of my mouth. After recovering, I blew on the next bite to cool it off and then tasted it. Hmmm. It didn’t have a ton of flavor, so I proceeded to add a healthy dose of pepper.

Then I took another bite. The macaroni was kind of squishy, but it wasn’t terrible. And the cheeze? It was bland and gluey. I tried to keep eating it and made my way through about three quarters of the serving. Then I threw the rest away. What a letdown. I like a lot of other Amy’s products, like the dairy free burritos (which are awesome and I eat at least two per week), but I won’t be buying the Dairy Free Rice Macaroni and Cheeze again. Bummer.

I'm going to keep trying different brands of mac n' cheese and sour cream, though. You never know - there might be something delightful out there waiting to be discovered. In the meantime, I've been hugely successful with finding dairy free frozen treats. So stay tuned for that! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Yogurt and Cheese

My foray into non-dairy foods continues. Today, I will regale you with my non-dairy yogurt and non-dairy cheese adventures. You don't have tell me how exciting this is, because I already know.

Without further ado...


So far, I have tried WholeSoy and Co. yogurt (Safeway carries this brand) and also Trader Joe's soy yogurt. Both are pretty good and I like them, but they would be better if they dialed down the sweetness. They both have the consistency of original Yoplait yogurt, which I find pleasing. I have gotten various flavors of the WholeSoy and Co. (vanilla, strawberry, and blueberry) and they were all good.  I like to add fruit and cereal and that makes a good snack and makes them seem less sweet. I would buy both the WholeSoy and Co. and the Trader Joe's brand soy yogurt again.

I just bought So Delicious cultured Greek style coconut yogurt in plain and Amande cultured almond milk yogurt in coconut flavor. Confusing? Yes. I just went a little apeshit at Whole Foods because they have so many brands to choose from (compared to Safeway.)

The So Delicious Greek Style coconut yogurt in plain was really awful.

It was thick, but kind of slimy and it had the consistency of gesso with an odd coconut flavor. I'm really sad to say that, because I was looking for something like Fage 2% Greek yogurt. I put some blueberries in it to make it bearable, but I still couldn't finish it. I would not buy it again, but I do want to try the regular So Delicious cultured coconut milk.

The Amande cultured almond milk in coconut flavor was just ok.

It had bits of coconut in it and it was really sweet. I liked that it was made from almond milk, though, and it had a traditional yogurt texture. I plan to buy more flavors, like strawberry and raspberry and see how those taste.


I've been leery of trying cheese because soy cheese just seems like a bad idea. But onward and upward, right? So I got Galaxy Nutritional Foods VeggieSlices in pepper jack flavor.

It's actually not bad on a sandwich. It's kind of like American cheese, but I don't mind that. It's fine on a cold sandwich and it also melts pretty well - like on a hot Garden burger. It is soy based and lactose free, but does have casein in it, which is a milk protein. It doesn't seem to bother my skin so far and I am on my second package of it. They carry it at Safeway.

I just bought some Daiya havarti style dairy free cheese in jalapeno garlic flavor. It is totally free of dairy. They carry this at Whole Foods.

I've tried it on some Wheat Thins and it's flavorful, but I wouldn't say it's cheese-like. It doesn't seem like havarti at all.  The texture is thicker than a Laughing Cow cheese triangle, but you can still spread it on a cracker with a knife. The garlic packs a punch, so make sure you don't need to get up close to anyone after your cheese n' cracker snack. Even if you brush your teeth, the garlic taste still hangs around. I recommend chewing Orbit Peppermint gum after eating this. Your loved ones will thank you. But would I buy the Daiya havarti style wedge again? Sure, if I was at Whole Foods and wanted a snack spread for my crackers, I would pick this up.

I tried some fake cheese at Razzi's (a pizza place in our hood) and it was pretty bad. I had Daiya vegan shredded mozzarella cheese on my salad and it tasted weird and had a strange, dry texture. I also had the Daiya vegan mozzarella melted on my pizza and it was very glue-like and looked like melted plastic. I ate it because I was hungry, but I wouldn't order it again. So, that was sad, because I love Razzi's pizza and also their dinner salad with real cheese! I think maybe I'll just hold the cheese next time. (But I won't cut the cheese. Har har.)

That's as far as I've gotten with yogurt and cheese so far. The yogurt options have been successful overall. The cheese...well, let's just say that I really miss medium Tillamook cheddar and mozzarella cheese on pizza, and string cheese, and real pepper jack slices and nacho cheese dip and, I could go on forever. But I don't have any disgusting chin lesions from reacting to real dairy, so I guess I'll just enjoy that triumph.