Friday, April 27, 2007

Brandi Carlile Sings The Beatles!

This makes me happier than most things in the world...Brandi Carlile singing Paul McCartney... (The Beatles' "I've Just Seen A Face.")

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Ode to Kettle Chips

oh dear kettle chips
how i love your crunchy bod(y)
how you make me smile!

lovely kettle chips
staring at me from my desk
beck'ning me to eat

precious kettle chips
perfect every afternoon
world's best snacky food

darling kettle chips
all your flavors overwhelm
my picky palate

glo'rious kettle chips
how i love ingesting you
without aftertaste

healthy kettle chips
made of all things natural
you're my waistline's friend

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Come Visit Me!

Do you live within driving distance of any of the following cities:

Columbus, OH
Greensboro, NC
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Boston, MA
Richmond, VA
Kansas City, KS

If so, you can get way cheapo flights to come to visit me sometime in the next six months on SkyBus!

It's a new startup airline that's offering flights for $20 one-way to and in and out of, if you're in one of those cities, you can fly through Columbus and come to visit for uber-cheap...if you're in Columbus, it could be as cheap as $40 round-trip, and in one of the other cities, $80 round-trip.

This might be one of those offers that doesn't really pan out because the airline tanks, but if it doesn't, I say "Woohoo!" because I have a $40 ticket to Ohio.

So...come to visit. The flights from Columbus come into the Bellingham, WA airport, which is about 30 minutes from my house. Sweet deal!

Monday, April 23, 2007


I'd like to give two shout-outs to three of the most important people in my life: Mom, Dad, and Renee!

First, congratulations to Mom and Dad. In February, they were honored by the International Grocer's Alliance (IGA) as International Retailer's of the Year. They got these spiffy jackets and accepted their award at a ceremony in Miami. You can read the press release here. Sean and I weren't able to be there with them to celebrate (bummer), but if we would have been, we would have smiled like this and said, "We are so proud of mom and dad for so many fantastic years in the Grocery Business!"

So Congratulations to Baker's Foods for being the best of East Central Ohio's--and the world's--independent grocery stores!

Congratulations also to Renee, one of my best friends over the past eight years, who was recently accepted to University of Pittsburgh to pursue an MFA in Writing (Creative Non-Fiction). For those of you who know and love Renee, you know that this is something Renee has been building towards over her entire life. And--she just called me this morning to let me know she's secured funding for the fall! So! Congratulations to Renee, who will soon be on a Barnes and Noble bookshelf near you!

Anyone who gets a public shout-out of congrats on backroads-midwest-coast also wins one of these, hand-made from the world's best balsa wood...(you know...balsa wood...the kind of wood they use to make those never- work- right- when- you- get- them- home boomarang airplanes they try to sell kids from the mall kiosk?)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Tiptoeing Through the Tulips: Mount Vernon in April

I'm going to go out on a limb and clue you into an assumption you're free to make: if your out-of-state boyfriend flies up to Washington to visit you three times in three months, it's getting serious.

Clay came up to visit again this weekend, using some well-earned days off to tiptoe through the tulips with me. I'm not joking when I use that cliche...actually, as you can see here, Clay in particular did more than tiptoe:

Our weekend together began with an extremely intense game of Cranium with ten or so of my favorite Washington friends, in which all of the following truths were discovered:
1. adding hot water to Cranium clay does not make it pliable, even if the clay is being fixed by a man named Clay.
2. doodling while blind is not necessarily easier even if you're half-blind already.
3. trying to act out "mermaid" while on dry land more closely resembles bungee jumping or epilepsy that it does "scaled woman of the sea." (see MerEsther, to your left.)

Regardless, as is always the case in Cranium, a good time was had by all, and no one is 100% sure what the official rules of the game are. Thanks to Jade, Jed, Rider, Esther, Lizzy, Bethany, Zach, C, Becca, and Heidi for a fantastic game night.

Another highlight of the weekend was discovering that the Skagit Valley Co-op is one of the most amazing places in the entire world. First of all, their fresh-made sandwiches and soups are to die for, second of all, the atmosphere is killer, and third of all, Clay and I were able to sit in the upstairs mezzanine near the "Mercantile Shop" and read without distraction for several hours. It's pretty much the most fantastic thing in the world to realize I can shop local, get food I love, purchase coffee and chai, and have a great place to read all in the same spot. And Clay thinks it's the best place in the world to be also, so it's definitely convenient to be able to share it.

A definite weekend highlight was visiting the nearby tulip fields. Every April, the Skagit Valley (where I live) bursts out into full-colored tulips. This field we're standing in front of represents one of about 30 or so fields of tulips and daffodils that erupt every April. People go crazy for these flowers, hopping on busses to visit them, spending exhorbatant amounts of money on local tulip art. And--it's like an official rite of passage if you live in/near the valley you must get your picture taken in a tulip field. So--I am an official resident of the Skagit Valley as a direct result of this photo. And--I officially dedicate this photo to Renee, who has taught me 90% of what I know about what it means to be Dutch and what it means to celebrate the birth of tulips each spring.

We also finally watched Blood Diamond, which I'd been wanting to see for ages. Fantastic performances from Leo and Djimon Hounsou. Movies like this and The Constant Gardener have been reminding me lately how I do dearly love Africa and am definitely not doing enough to advocate for better approaches by the West towards Africa.

Both of these films are good introductory education for westerners on how African civil wars are impacted by the diamond trade and how Western countries exploit Africa for profit. Here's an article from the UN about conflict diamonds, which I strongly recommend you read through and educate yourself on before you purchase your next diamond. I've also heard recommendations from various sources to check into Canadian diamonds, as they are definitely conflict-free.

So. I hope you glean something in there that's good information for a Monday afternoon. If not, at minimum, here's some new wallpaper for your computer. I invite you to become a part of Clay and I's community of prayer as we tiptoe into figuring out how to share life and move towards a future together, whatever that's going to look like:

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bob's Island Getaway 2006 Highlight

Remember that time you voted on the best t-shirt for Bob's? Here's the highlight reel from that event, which took place last of my favorite things about YD--Bob's Island Getaway...

Yoga: An Introduction

For the past two weeks, I've been doing yoga at the Riverside Health Club. I just got a membership there through GlobalFit, which is a rockin' good deal, if you desire a health club membership. (Basically, I qualified for cheaper membership rates through my health insurance provider.)

Anyways--I was excited to go to yoga class, because I do the yoga videos at home. And last week, I went and bought a beautiful red yoga mat. Over the past two years, I've developed a love of the movement of yoga, which so very nicely parallels my upbringing in ballet.

At my first yoga class, I discovered that all yogas are not created equal. Although I had come to love yoga, I did not love this yoga class. I have titled it "Super Slow-Moving Yoga," subtitled, "The class where we stand in place for a really long time, not moving, so that we can meditate on how painful it is to stand in place for a really long time." I didn't know until last week that standing in place could be painful.

It turns out that there are lots of kinds of yoga, so I was surprised on "Super Slow-Moving Yoga" day because I thought yoga was about movement. Renee told me there are different kinds of yoga, and that I probably prefer "vinyasa" yoga because it's about flow and movement and not about standing still for hours. Oh. Good information.

So yesterday I went back to try a new instructor and met yoga I was more familiar with: "Painfully Fast-Moving Yoga Day" subtitled, "Doing lots of complicated back-to-back movements so quickly that no one notices you're repeatedly averting falling on your face and/or cardiovascular failure."

I was in between two middle-aged guys the whole class, so it was pretty easy to feel like I was going a good job.

That's when I made another startling discovery: it's harder to touch your toes when you have long legs. I was beating myself up that all the middle-aged and retirees could touch their toes and I couldn't, until I noticed that my legs were easily 4-6 inches longer in comparion to most everyone else's. This led me to important yoga discovery two: in yoga class, comparison is futile.

I am, however, excited to be at yoga class 2-4 times per week, excited to be exercising, and excited about my new, red yoga mat. Please join me in this endeavor, so our inner lights can greet each other.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007


I just want to take a moment to give a shout out to the amazing people who've brought us Naked Juice. Seriously. You people have done some incredible work, and you deserve to be praised for it.

I was first introduced to Naked Juice about eight years ago, when I purchased a Naked Smoothie at The Blue Bottle in Muncie, Indiana. I was impressed, but I found it hard to justify $4/bottle for juice.

Oh-so-many years later, I have rediscovered Naked Juice during my 40-day caffeine fast, and let me tell you...this stuff is worth every penny! Plus--as far as serving size goes, I find that one bottle actually suffices for two meals, so is actually saving me money, since the $2 daily morning Naked Juice has replaced the usually latte for $3.65.

In my heart of hearts, I am bonded to the Mighty Mango...(shown here.) This morning, I'm drinking "Blue Machine," which is definitely good, although it's no Mighty Mango.

So next time you're in the store, and you're tempted to pick up that 20 oz Minute Maid for $1.59, let me encourage you to set your sights on things more organic and pursue the benevolent joy the Naked Juice will bring you. It will change your life, I guarantee.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Heather vs. Online Ticket epic battle

I've only recently entered the torrid battlefield known as "Online Ticket Purchasing." I'm talking about purchasing tickets to go see a show--a concert, a musical, a comedian, etc. Purchasing a ticket online for these kinds of events is no big deal really, as long as you want to go see a show that no one else wants to see, as long as the event's general admission, or as long as you don't care how much the ticket costs.

But--if you are trying to purchase tickets for a high-demand show, and you want a good seat for that show and you want it to cost what you budgeted for it--suddenly the world of Online Ticket Purchasing gets a lot hairier. (By hairier, I mean, likely to make you more apt to pull out your hair.)

Recently, I have had one Online Ticket Purchasing failure followed by two Online Ticket Purchasing successes. I would like to introduce you to this process so that you will become a master of Online Ticket Purchasing, as I recently have been.

Case Study One: The Brandi Carlile Debacle

This month, Brandi Carlile opened her spring tour with one acoustic CD-release event in Seattle. The venue had 200 seats available. Since I've spent the last six months falling in love with Brandi's music, I wanted to be there for her spring tour kickoff in a fantastic, intimate venue.

But unfortunately, I committed violated key to victory #1--take advantage of the pre-sale date. I didn't pay attention until it was too late that the pre-sale tickets were on sale. In Brandi's case, this required no specific memberships or passwords, so all I would have needed to do was be ready to buy the tickets at the time they went on sale, which I did not. Four days later when I realized this, all of the pre-sale tickets were gone.

So I marked on my calendar to be there on Saturday, February 17th at 10:00am to buy my ticket with the masses, but as soon as the link to "Purchase Tickets" was revealed, it stated that all the tickets were already sold out.

A small part of me believed I'd be able to get some off of Craig's List or eBay, but all of my check-in's since then saw the $25 tickets priced anywhere from $75 to $150. No way.

So because I missed the opportunity to buy pre-sale...I missed the opportunity to buy tickets at all! Bummer!

Case Study Two: The Brandi Carlile Victory

Last week Clay calls me and says, "They've added a Brandi tour date in Seattle in June." That's when I realized the importance of becoming allies with ticket mega-fans. This is the key to victory #2--get to know someone that's more obsessed than you are with getting tickets to a particular show. Maybe you want to see someone live, but you don't want to keep track of all the dates and how-to's...a mega-fan will do all of this work for you. It's pretty great. If you don't know this person individually, you can usually find them online at fan forums. Start at the band/musical/comedian website and work the links from there...or just google for "crazy fans of ____" and you'll usually find them. Crazy fans like to be seen and heard.

In the case of Brandi Carlile, this was the only way I would have even known in time that Brandi tickets were going onsale--because as a mega-fan, Clay received an email I didn't get.

And so--at the appointed moment last week, I got online at 9:57am and waited for the tickets to go onsale. This revealed key to victory #3--while prepping to buy tickets, refresh your page often. If you're doing this, you'll be prepped to buy tickets at 10:00am according to the site that's selling you tickets, as opposed to 10:00am at the time your computer says it's 10:00am. Those tickets are crucial, as shown in Case Study One, which revealed that sometimes tickets are sold out within seconds of going onsale based on whose computers linked them to the ticket sales the fastest.

Within a few seconds of the Brandi tickets going onsale, I had two seats secured in row three and just had to step through the rest of the process. That's when I learned of key to victory #4--register your login information with the online ticket agency before it's time to buy tickets. I did not do this--I waited to register while I was in the process of buying tickets. Do not do this! Take care of setting up an account and logging into the site (if possible) prior to the tickets going onsale. It is completely nerve-wracking to have those tickets being held for you in cyberspace with no confirmation that they're yours yet. In those precious moments while you're registering, there's an internal panic that says, "If something goes wrong and the system boots me out during registration, I'm going to lose my place in line and potentially lose getting seats this fantastic or seats at all!" It's very, very stressful.

In the case of Brandi, it all worked out well...and within about five minutes, I had successfully secured two seats in the third row of the Moore Theater for a concert in Seattle on June 1st. Fantastic!

Case Study Three: The Rent Debacle and Ultimate Victory

Following my own advice, months ago I secured my key to victory #2 in hearing from Renthead Miranda that Rent was coming to Seattle. I took extra caution myself by keeping track of the dates online and as we've neared the event and calling the venue to find out when tickets would go onsale. I knew it would be early-April, so I began checking the website for the venue and Ticketmaster weekly. Eventually, one of the sites finally posted that Monday, April 2nd at 10:00am was the pre-sale timeline. This might seem a bit manic, but I swear to you that the entire system of buying tickets is working against you going to the have to fight it! You must embrace key to victory #5--do your research! If you don't know exactly when tickets are going on sale, you might miss the opportunity to buy them at all, because they might be gone by the time you find out at all.

So on Monday, April 2nd, at 9:50am, my phone rang while in the middle of a meeting to let me know that it was time to go buy the tickets. That's right--key to victory #6 is setting yourself a reminder to buy the tickets. If you get distracted and miss that 10:00am timeline, you might be waving goodbye to your tickets. Is that really work the extra three minutes of chat time by the copy machine?! Absolutely not! Program the alarm on your cell phone or in Outlook or something! Paste a note on your bathroom mirror. Anything to keep you from missing that 10:00am timeline! And in all of this 10:00am-ness, remember key to victory #7--make sure you're ready to buy tickets at 10:00am local time. If you're in Chicago buying tickets for DC, those tickets are going onsale at 9:00am your time.

So I had my reminder, and I had my refresh button ready...but...I had violated a yet-unknown rule. Which is--key to victory #8--make sure you have the pre-sale password. For Rent, I'm on a mailing list, I was checking multiple websites, but I'd never seen any details about a pre-sale password. So it slipped my mind...until I was into Ticketmaster, ready to buy five tickets, and told that I couldn't proceed without the password. Egads!

I panicked! I rechecked all the reference websites...nothing...I made up fake passwords of Rent-related terms...nothing...and I started hyperventilating...because there was only one possible night I could go see the show, and I needed five tickets (one for me and four for my four wise friends who ensured key to victory #1--befriending an OCD fan!)

So I did what any good mega-fan does--I began scouring the internet to find another crazy fan who would have posted the presale passwords on their blog. This was a good plan...but I could find passwords for shows in everywhere but Seattle. After a few minutes of internet research, however, I came across Fat Wallet, a site designed for fans to post pre-sale passwords to the masses. I ran a search on Rent Seattle, found the password immediately, entered it into Ticketmaster, and discovered I'd found the golden ticket of entry! Success!

The process was still stressful because of Ticketmaster's impossible-to-read security verification secret word box thing, and because I'd violated key to victory #4 and had old credit card information stored on Ticketmaster that needed updating.

But--regardless, I secured five tickets in the sixteenth row on opening night of Rent in Seattle. Two hours later I discovered I am a mega-fan when my Renthead friend Miranda called to let me know about the Pre-Sale password, and I told her, "I already got it. And I have tickets for opening night in Seattle!"

So I am gleeful this week as I successfully secured primo tickets to Rent and Brandi Carlile. I have been a victorious online ticket purchaser...and I'm very happy to share this gleaned knowledge with you so that you can can share the joy of being at the events that you want to be at. As I've commiserated with others over the online ticket purchasing (by others, I mean Dad), I've discovered that many people have knowledge to share from their font of wisdom. Please comment and share your own experiences/advice...from one manic fan to another.