HELLO! Can you even HEAR me?


I have a fetish. It isn't sexual, but I do get a weird pleasure out of clean ears. I love cleaning mine (and even Jake's... don't ask) and I always notice yours! Recently, there has been an increase in ear wax in Salem, OR. I'm not sure what's going on. Perhaps it's the hot weather that keeps us out of our hot steamy bathrooms. Anyway, it takes all of my will-power to refrain from reaching my pinkie into your ear and getting that nasty wax out! What you do with your ear canal is your business, but the opening and outer ear- that's my business. There's no social etiquette for this, so I keep my mouth shut while I choke back the nausea.

Qtip anyone?

side note: I hope the pic makes you want to hurl. Now you know my pain!

a tad sexy

There were no clients tonight, so I got to chat and hang-out with my coworkers at the Psych Crisis Center. Throughout the conversations I learned a lot about how I'm perceived:

"I thought you were a conservative Christian."

"You are always so stylish."

"And a tad sexy."

WHAT??? Clearly I am an alien to myself! I see myself through the eyes of my college friends who described my style and mannerisms as "Danny Tanner". I'm glad I'm seen as wholesome, but the conservative Christian line pretty much means close-minded nerd. (It was my Supervisor who said that and I promptly began swearing as much as possible to get rid of that impression.)

Anyway, I know I'm a dork, I dress like a dork and clearly give a dork impression, but for a few seconds today, I also felt stylish and that was nice.

Perhaps my wardrobe of all white or black shirts is a little hipper than I thought ;)


I wanna talk about ME

I figured out why I love blogging, but not journaling. My chosen profession involves a lot of sitting, listening, and being empathetic. This is my way of getting my own voice heard (even if it's just my mom and sis reading- thanks!). Actually, it's me that needs to hear my own voice and to tell my own stories.

On our vacation, I was on an anti-social mission. I cold-shouldered the friendly people at the neighboring campsites and avoided the nice lady with a baby on the ferry who kept trying to start a conversation. Seriously, I avoided her. I put her on the elevator and then "decided" that there wasn't enough room for me and my huge bag. Then when she found me, I pretended not to see her and ran away.

Who am I? Though I always want to make new friends and hear about the lives of my old friends, I'm no longer into the social small talk. I know that it's because I hear people's stories all day (or night) long. And that's great- it's a gift to have people open up and share their innermost thoughts and demons. But, after I check-out on my time card, my ears are closed to strangers! In fact, I'm on-call right now... so I made $2.50 while writing this blog. So, I've come full circle and I'm getting paid while hearing only my own voice!


For whom the bell tolls

I have now entered my LAST week home. Granted, I will then be at my other home in PA for 2 weeks, but still the finality of my summer vacation is looming. As I leaf through my mental to-do list, I realize that I didn't check many of the items off. 26 years of photographs still sit unorganized, I haven't made a dental or dermatologist appointment, I haven't contacted all of my friends to catch-up, I haven't had many dinner parties... And yet, I feel peaceful, my shoulders feel relaxed, I've discovered that I can put food on the table (almost) every night, and I've had some great vacations. I truly don't know how people can work "regular" jobs and only get 1-3 weeks of vacation a year. I have 3 weeks of vacation left and I'm finally energized and relaxed enough to really soak it up!

BTW, I have now been an Oregonian for over a year! Time flies! It was a great year, lonely at times, but great. My relationship with Jake has continued to grow and every day I think "this must be it- this is how in-love, close and comfortable you can feel with your husband" and the next day I think "nope, today is better." At times we both feel anxious to start a family, move home to PA, buy land, be near our family... but, today I can truly say that I'm living in the present and I'm content.


An unlikely spot for a drug store

As any impatient woman knows, you can't predict conception. I tried, but I lost. Currently, my bathroom is a shrine to the ways technology has taken away mystery. I resisted at first, trusting mother nature, but after a few months, it was time to join the rest of my peers and spend a small fortune at the drug store. I now have to chart things about myself that I truly had never knew existed. Not only do I have sticks, thermometers, and gizmos, but I also am expected to write notes on a corresponding chart for each of the instruments. Wonder of wonders.... there is barely any mystery left!

note: this post was originally written in July, but I didn't post it because I was trying to hold back on only talking about conceiving. It felt right to publish it now.


Tales of a foiled crafter

As you know, I am constantly trying to up-my-game as a wanna-be housewife (I say wanna-be because I'm currently working part-time and work full-time during the school year). Last night's dinner was spaghetti, that's it. No garlic bread, no salad, no wine. Just spaghetti. Fortunately, today is Saturday which means my weekly trek to the Farmer's Market. So tonight we have fresh bread, Julie-made blueberry cobbler (I'm predicting another cooking blog with that recipe!), garlic marinated tilapia, and squash or salad.

Since pretty pretty princess Jake (that just sounds good and I can't stop saying it!) sleeps during the day, he wears eye covers. Not just any eye covers, but the free ones you get on airplanes. His current rotation of 3 eye covers originates from our trip to Germany for Christmas of '07! Yes, they are nasty.

SUZIE HOMEMAKER TO THE RESCUE! Last night with 3 attempts and 2 completed projects, I was one proud wifey this morning when Jake got home. Unfortunately, I miscalculated his bird-sized head and made them TOO tight (it really is quite small). The biggest mistake was the silky one which I filled with a blend of lavender, orris root (my favorite!), rose, and flax seed. It is SO overstuffed! When he put it on, he lovingly said "it's so full that it presses down on my nostrils... so at least the smell is muffled". Should've gone with my first impulse which was to add more flax seed so that the smell was fainter. We'll see what happens tonight ;)

What a relief

Each day I get my news from a trusted news source: yahoo's pics of the day. I know I sometimes seem too scholarly and intimidate you little people, so please don't feel bad about yourself for relying on other news mediums. If you're not familiar with it, every day my yahoo homepage shows me 3 or 4 photos- the most emailed photos of the day. Today's photo caption has cured me of nightmares, my fear of anything scary or evil, and my unease with sleeping alone. It reads: "A pet rabbit in Australia was credited with saving its owners Thursday after scratching at the door of their bedroom as their home burned, emergency workers said(AFP/Christian Puygrenier)"

If Peanut (the baby bunny we just adopted and who I placed in Jake's fenced in herb garden for the entire day... you can imagine his reaction... "oops" says the good intentioned, yet sarcastic wife) wasn't so cute, this piece of news would have been all it took to convince me to keep her :)


Good morning baby!

This morning I awoke early to babysit for a friend who was fulfilling her civic duty- jury duty. I was more than happy to have a morning of cuddling with Oli. Jake didn't know that Oli would be here, so before he got home from work- I moved the evidence-o-baby from the front door. As he walked in, I walked into the room saying "look what I found!". I'm not clever nor original, but I thought he'd be startled and that's all I really wanted. Instead he smiled and said "look what I found!". He was holding a baby bunny. Thank goodness I foiled his plan- which was to use the bunny to wake me up. If that had happened one of us wouldn't be alive and I'm truly not sure who!

So, now we are the new parents of an adorable albino bunny. We're thinking of naming her Peanut (Pickel and Peanut... sounds nice, eh?). However, we're still open for suggestions!

If you're wondering why we have a bunny... it's a long story that I will summerize here: Jake wants to raise chickens for eggs and meat. Living in a small neighborhood makes that not impossible, but difficult. So, he decided he'd breed rabbits to either sell or eat. Already he is leaning towards selling them because our bunny is SO cute (though she would be the breeder). My only concern (clearly I have lost some sanity if I only have 1!) is whether there is any need for bunnies? Is there a market for them? I don't want to sell them to be eaten... that would be savage!


entitled to own

One of my favorite bloggers (and old friend), Elegantly Random, recently wrote about the pressure our generation feels to own a house and the sense of entitlement that pushes us to do just that. I have been very aware of my generation's misgivings as I have watched every other employed 20-something purchase new cars, electronics, and now homes. Each time a friend posts pics of their gorgeous new home or I get to watch a TV that actually has a remote, I do feel a twinge of self-pity and envy, but then I also feel pride for my resistence. At times, I have been too prideful about it- like how for years Jake and I bragged about owning just one car and then when a deal too sweet to pass up came our way- we switched to a 2-car family quicker than you can say "budget". Now I can't phathom living without it! In fact, though Jake rode his bike 20-miles to work in the winter, it's summer and we don't even consider it. Yes, I am a Gen-Xer/ Millenial.

That being said, I am enjoying my 2-income life. Jake and I are on a really strict budget, but that budget includes "fun money" and "vacation money". We figure that it will be hard to continue working diligently on our goals if it is completely based on self-sacrifice.

So, now that I feel that I have adequately distanced myself from the entitled home-owner, I am ready to admit that I did just purchase my first residence! Oh the excitement.

The other day, Jake and I swung by the NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) campus that he was at a few years ago and purchased one of their used tents. If new, this tent would cost $675! Suffice to say that we spent less than a Ben Franklin on it. But, now I feel a little less envious of my mortgaged peers. Yes, my home has patches and doors that zip, but it's a bad ass mountaineering tent that has a history hidden in it's high quality breathable walls. We don't live in it (yet), but we could weather all 4-seasons in it if we wanted too. It certainly doesn't make up for the money we throw away in rent, but it makes me feel like I own something wonderful and protective and if I wanted to- I could live in it.

$12 for a private island

We've returned from our tandem kayak adventure. It was our favorite vacation yet! The San Juan Islands are gorgeous and we had a lot of fun with our "divorce maker boat". Though I loved the trip, I had a few concerns. Here are some of my thoughts from the trip:

1. Why am I spending hours paddling against the current (tide charts, what?!?!) and worrying about not making it to our next human-powered only campsite?

2. Why don't I just sit on my private 2-acre island instead of exerting physical energy paddling to another, yet more of the same island. Yup- this took me .5 seconds to convince Jake to stay put for a day... it was the best crabbing spot in the region.

3. Why is crab so @#&&*(&@ hard to eat? I was STARVING (because I was in charge of packing the food and rationed a little too tightly) and Jake plopped a full crab in front of me. "You have got to be kidding". I sat there sulking until he pulled the meat out and piled it on my plate. Pitiful, yes. Crabby, yes.
4. I love tandem things (we've now biked 70 miles and kayaked) because I like having a captive audience and benefiting from Jake's physical fitness.

5. The "divorce boat" (as tandem kayaks are known) did not affect my happy marriage.... well, except for the fact that Jake wanted to pull-over to pee every 1/2 hour (embellishing only slightly!). The kayaks we rented were really high quality and therefore we were instructed not to "beach" them. So, I had to do wet exits and pull the kayak onto shore while pretty pretty princess Jake hung-out in the tail end of the boat (he was in charge of the steering and also had to exit in the water, just after I pulled the thing 1/2 on shore). So, each pull-over took a fair amount of time and I have the bladder of a camel (I assume they rarely pee since they hold water for so long). After a few "fine we'll stop at the next island beach, just don't talk to me... I need a LITTLE time to chill!", Jake found a bottle washed up on shore and began to deal with his bladder while floating. CRISIS AVERTED ;)
6. Wild animals are awesome! We accidentally floated within 5 feet of a baby seal whose eyes were (still?) shut. We also saw numerous seals (which we have named Sea Pickels), bald eagles, weasels, porpoises, crabs, star fish, and more!


And we're off!

In less than 12 hours Jake and I head off on our official summer vacation :) We are SO excited! We will be kayaking in the San Juan Islands in NW Washington for 4 days and then maybe explore Seattle (or Mt. St. Helens, or come home, or see where the wind blows- we don't work till the following Thursday and our cat and garden are being cared for by a nice neighbor). I'm a tiny bit nervous since I am not a skilled kayaker, but we will get some training from our outfitter before we kick-off. For 2 of the nights we will be camping at camp grounds that are only available to human or wind powered boats- how cool! Everyone talks about how the San Juans are one of the most beautiful places in the US.... I'll let you know! As I'm packing and organizing food, I've realized that this is basically a backpacking trip, but the fact that it will be in kayaks feels exotic to me.


When high fashion means painted breasts

Last Friday I got to experience the Oregon Country Fair. I had heard a few tales about this Hippie Fest, but nothing prepared me for the awesomeness of the Fair! It is a HUGE event that focuses on individuality, global awareness, music appreciation, fair-trade goods, and diversity. I already can't wait for next year! This year I wore Patagonia, next year I plan to wear a sundress that my mom made in the 70's when she lived in Saudi Arabia :) However, even in my yuppie attire (that I bought on a HUGE sale, of course!), I felt FREE (and not just because I was using climbing tape as a bra). People were so accepting and focused on pure enjoyment that you didn't feel self-conscious of your gut or your clothes... that is a rarity in life, eh? Plus, there was SO much good music and food. If only the fair lasted longer than 3 days! Here are a few pics to give you a glimpse of this event.


Run Like A Girl

I did it! This was my second 10k race this year and I did SO much better this time. I felt like complete crap the morning of the race and so my friend Lesley and I decided to start the race before the official timing began. It would have been nice to know my actual time, but I have a very close approximation. It was in Forest Park- this HUGE wooded park in Portland. The trail was absolutely gorgeous and since we ran before the official start, it was uncrowded for most of the run. Still, there were lots of other women running when we were and it is such a great environment. As women pass each other they cheer for each other and compliment each other- a nice reminder that women can and do treat each other well!

The first 3 miles were rough- very steep uphills. When I saw the 3-mile marker (next to the mind over mountain sign), I was shocked because I was sure I was near the end. However, the last 3.4 miles were fantastic. Long periods of downhill in which for the first time in my life, I felt like I was really running. I had watched one of the eye-candy males (the trail is public and a few guys were brave enough to run amidst/before the 750 women) fly down the hill. I had always kept my regular pace downhill, but what he was doing looked much more fun. So, I mentally unhinged my legs and basically let gravity move me down. It was SO fun! I felt like Phoebe when she told Rachel that she runs the way she does because it's how we ran when we were young and running was fun (arms flailing, feet flying)... Look at me quoting pop culture- oh, is it still pop when it's 10 years old? Anyway, I was enjoying myself so much that I really picked up my pace and was a little disappointed to end the race (which was a SHOCK because I did not think I could run that far- though I probably walked about a 1/2 - 1 mile total on the hills). The combo of feeling proud of myself and the endorphins TOTALLY changed me from a tired, crabby whiner to a happy, energetic girl! Plus, I got so much free stuff (dry-fit tank, running socks, running hat, a plethora of luna bars, 2 water bottles...). Morale of the story: when you feel like crap- dust off your running shoes and run like a 5-year-old girl :)


Totally TUBE-ular

Jake, Shannon, and I have safely returned from our camping trip. Jake's goal for this trip was to inner tube down the Deschutes River and if all went well- hit some whitewater. After pouring over multiple river books, he chose a patch of river and we embarked on the journey to find the spot. We arrived at the river-side camp (3 tent sites and an outhouse) after a REALLY long car ride through the valley, the mountains, the desert, and Bend. If you know Jake, you know that he has NO problem chatting up everyone he meets. So, as the girls set-up camp and snacked, Jake began introducing himself to our neighbors and fishermen in hopes of arranging some sort of transportation for our tube ride. Luckily, it worked out and the next morning we were in the back of a truck with 3 young fishermen.

They dropped us off up-river about 5 miles from the camp. Jake was hoping for an 8 mile drop, but we didn't complain. THE WATER WAS ICE COLD! Not far upstream this water passes through snowy peaks. So, we tied our inner tubes together and begin our frozen ass journey. Our initial conversations focused on how to stay as dry as possible. Due to my awkward klutziness, I flipped my tube within the first 5 minutes. EGADS! I managed to dive through the middle of my tube as it was flipping (a feat I could not duplicate)- so I stayed about 3% dry. Luckily, the sun was out and as the morning progressed it got really hot out! It was a 5-hour journey complete with many drinks and a picnic lunch. By the end we were ready to stretch and get off the tubes!

The next day we explored some lava tube caves. It was awesome walking through caves made by flowing lava. We also hiked around Smith Rocks (we would have climbed, but the car was jam packed by the time we loaded the camping and tubing gear) which is one of the most beautiful places in Oregon! It was a fabulous trip and Shannon got to experience many ecotones (we sang as we passed into each new one- an Environmental Ed Instructor joke- we are SO cool). Tomorrow Shannon and I are off to check out the Oregon Country Fair (hippie fest) and then to spend the night and a day at the Oregon Coast. On Sunday she leaves and I'm attempting to run in a Portland event called Run Like A Girl- if it's as fun as the name- it'll be great regardless of my running abilities :) So, that was my quick rambling about my current events :)


Man-eating plant

Jake and Shannon swear that it is another Julie-ism, but I'm pretty that sure I saw a man-eating plant today at the Portland Saturday Market. It was right next to the insect-eating plants that trap their prey by either closing their jaw OR by trapping the insect in the open cylindrical stem and when the fly goes down to investigate- it's STUCK! BRILLIANT Ms. Mother Nature! Anyway, they sold man-eating plants too... I remember.

So, Shannon (old friend originally through Lutherlyn) is here for ten days of Jake and Julie adventures. In the past she and I have gone on many adventures that involve singing in the car, drinking at a campfire, hiking, climbing, and lounging in the wilderness. She and I spent last night in Portland, enjoyed wings and jaeger bombs, watched the fireworks, and enjoyed spending time with my Portland friend, Lauren. Today we purchased hippie paraphernalia at the Portland Saturday Market and then organic groceries at the Salem Saturday Market. A perfect crunchy start to her first trip to Oregon.

Shannon and Jake seem to have an unspoken agreement that some of my thoughts are nonsensical. It's a conspiracy. Well, I'll get back at them somehow as we tube down a river, climb Smith Rocks, and explore all of the ecotones from here to Bend over the next few days. If you happen to speak to either of them- they're lying if it sounds like I am anything less than an intelligent, sophisticated woman.

AHHH...they're talking about OIL! I just heard the phrase "misallocation of resources". GET ME OUT OF HERE! Does anyone want to escape with me and go on a hunt to find a man-eating plant?


La vie est belle

Happy 29th Birthday to my beautiful sista!


Happy 60th Anniversary to my inspirational Grandparents! I am so lucky to have such loving and in love grandparents. The best compliment you can give me is that I'm remind you of them.

Wish we could be together :)

Creatures of the Night

So after a year of saying I could never do Jake's job 'cause I couldn't work all night... I now have the opportunity (makes it sound better to think of it that way). Last week I worked my first night shift and since no one in Salem felt psychotic that night- it was peaceful from midnight on. I've yet to find out what would happen if I tried to be intelligent and care for people in the middle of the night. Now I just got myself snookered into tomorrow night's shift. It's gonna be a long one 'cause I also work the following afternoon and then have plans to PARTY LIKE IT'S INDEPENDENCE DAY with Shannonanon (friend from PA who is now a Jersey girl) once her plane lands. I'm not the best at coming up with energy when I don't have it. I remember vividly feeling exhausted when I was a camp counselor and then BURSTING with energy during the evening campfires. I have never felt the same since and I think I used up all of my energy reserves during those summers. However, the prospect of spending time with Shannon should be enough to get through the upcoming LONG hours. Plus, working an extra shift will transfer nicely into guilt-free nights of long islands and cosmos. Yes, I plan to pretend that I have a young and fun life while Shannon is in town. Please don't tell her the truth. In fact, tonight I'll finish the last of the Christian Novel Series that my coworker lent me- then I'll hide them where she'll never look! They're preachy, but good- so I've been reading them and HIDING the covers lest anyone sees :) (I think that's the first time I've used the word "lest"- forgive me if I used it incorrectly!)


Good intentions go wrong- Tales of a foiled kitchen

Well, since my Chicken of the Sea fiasco was everyone's favorite post- your day is about to get a little happier.

This morning was the very first time that I woke up early in time to prepare raspberry muffins (from scratch- I want the credit), bacon, and eggs for Jake when he gets home at about 8am. That went smashingly. I guess my dinner was smashing in it's own way... I've yet to eat it.

Jake had 2 requests this morning: If I have the time, would I make chocolate chip cookies and leave 1/2 of the cookie dough raw? His female colleagues had a huge discussion last night about how much they love to eat raw cookie dough and he wanted to surprise them. His other request was to make chicken enchiladas for dinner and package up half of the food for a day shift colleague who came to work exhausted this morning after caring for her dying husband all night. I love a good deed and a chance to show off my new Suzie-homemaker-ness (or is it mess?)... so I was eager to meet his requests.

Here is where I need to set-up the situation so that the fault of the upcoming problems are not entirely my own... does having majorly dilated pupils (from my yearly eye appointment) make any of the following not my ditzy fault? Nah, I don't think so- but that's all I got.

The chocolate chip cookies: As I made them, I double checked EACH ingredient and the amounts. The ones that I cooked never really flattened out. They are these horrid little round balls of dry cookie. The dryness is probably a result of me leaving them in the oven for an extra long time waiting for them to goo-out and bake-up.

As I'm finishing the cookies, Jake wakes up and I say, "How nice to see you yin to my yang. I have toiled all day in the kitchen and day dreamed about spending a lovely dinner together discussing the impact of oil on our country." (his favorite topic that I have yet to actually listen to because it bores me) THE REALITY: "I thought you were hoping to sleep in today. It's only 4:30." "Shit", Jake replies, "I must have set my alarm wrong- I thought it was 5:30." Guess who was right? MAJOR SHIT- He had to leave in an hour and I hadn't even started the enchiladas.

Like a trooper, Jake pushes his grogginess aside and begins to help. "Why did you buy the HOT enchilada sauce?" OOPS! "This corn looks weird. JULIE- you bought Golden Hominy!" "Qu'est-ce que ca?", I replied in what my french impaired brain thinks to mean "What is that?". In a non-1950s sweet wife tone, I continued "well I THOUGHT that was normal corn. I looked at the cream corn and the sweet corn and that was the only other option! USE IT- it's more authentic anyway." "Yeah right." my loving husband countered back. We live in a Mexican neighborhood- that gives me rights to make-up stuff about their culture.

To make this long story a tad bit shorter- we made the damn things. Of course with 20 minutes to go- Jake started rice! Couldn't we leave that part out? OH THE FRUSTRATION!

Now he is off like Little Red Riding Hood with a care packaged dinner of semi-soggy rice, a CAN of refried beans, a baggie of cheese (for the beans), somewhat suspicious enchiladas, and very suspicious cookies- complete with a sheepish apology note. He also has a complete dinner for himself. This is the first time he's gone to work without eating. "OOPS" I say with all of the feminist empowered sweetness a 26-year-old wife living in the 21st century can muster.
Well, let's hope tomorrow's kitchen adventures are non-blog worthy :) I'm off to sample the delicacies that my husband is currently passing around while bragging (or joking...hmmm) about his wife.

(Picture is rather old. It's from my thank you cards after my Pampered Chef Bridal Shower.)