Monday, December 27, 2010

Sunriver bound!

We're on our way to Sunriver, where I'll test my luck at skiing. Crossing my fingers there'll be no broken bones this year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

:. Happy Christmas .:

{ Wishing you a very Merry Christmas! }

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Smashing (Christmas Party) Success

Last night, Jeff and I hosted the first party in our new apartment. We agreed it’d be best to practice on our families, so we invited our parents, siblings and grandparents over for—in the words of Clark W. Griswold—a fun old-fashioned family Christmas.

Unlike the Griswolds, though, there were no disasters. Freddie didn’t fry himself beneath the Christmas tree, my grandparents didn’t bring cat food for dinner, and no one chased after a squirrel with a coat in one hand and a hammer in the other.

(If you haven’t seen Christmas Vacation, you’re probably lost. But my family’s chuckling.)

We ate pulled pork sandwiches and fiesta shrimp cocktails. We drank festive pear Bellinis. For dessert we munched on homemade caramel corn, cupcakes, cookies, and chocolatey treats. And when Mom whipped out the peppermint Schnapps, Jeff and his brother whipped out the Hershey's syrup. We had "peppermint patties," a tasty combo of chocolate syrup and liquor, which we poured into each others' mouths and laughed as it drizzled down our chins. We swished it around and cringed.

All in all, it was a smashing success!
{Thanks for coming ♥ }

{Freddie had fun, too.}

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Run! Run like the wind!

Merry (almost) Christmas!

This week I’m really getting into the deck-the-halls, hang-the-stockings spirit. (I don’t have a place to hang any stockings, but that doesn't crush my good mood.) Saturday and Sunday were busy with holiday parties—a sixty-person shindig at my aunt’s house in Gresham, and a smaller group at Jeff’s parents’ house in Lake Oswego, both with visits from Santa and gifts for the whole clan—plus a trip to the airport to get Christyn.

She flew home from Houston on Saturday, nearly missing the first leg of her flight. She says the freeway was closed, forcing her to take a detour, and she didn’t get in line at security until thirty minutes before the plane was scheduled to take off. When several security guards told her they couldn’t help her, that she’d have to stand in line and wait just like everybody else, some good Samaritans let her take their place in line, and she quickly climbed her way to the front. (If Christyn were like my dad or me? She would have been at the gate with two hours to spare—coffee in one hand and a good book in the other—detour or no detour.)

As she pushed her way through the line and forced her feet back into her winter boots after they’d been scrutinized under the x-ray machine, a little girl about eight or nine years old yelled, “Run! Run like the wind!”

And she did.

She fled to the gate with the Home Alone soundtrack ringing in her ears, images of the McCallisters racing through the Chicago airport flashing through her head.

She made the flight. And when she arrived at PDX, Mom, Dad, Jeff and I were waiting for her with a balloon that read “Welcome Back!” (Not quite the same sentiment as “Welcome Home,” Mom pointed out, but it worked.)

And now the whole family is home, and it’s time to deck the halls and hang the stockings and attend another Christmas party. (Jeff and I are hosting one for our families tomorrow. I'm staying home to cook and prep the apartment for fifteen people.)

(Stay tuned.)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rainy Day + Tasty Treats + Dude, Where's My Car?

There's nothing like spending the first three hours of your day walking around in the pouring rain, searching for your car, then tracking it down at one of Portland's many towing companies, and then forking over $250 to get it back. All because it was parked in front of a measly driveway.

I would know.

Because that's how I spent my morning.

Luckily, my trusty roommate came to the rescue. Like any great roommate, he journeyed the half-hour home from work and drove me around the block, searching for my Jeep one last time. When I was positive it had been stolen, he called the City of Portland and confirmed it had only been towed. (Only.)

{He's so proud}

And now that my car is home, safe and sound, and I'm in my pajamas (at 7:30 p.m.), I think I'll whip up two cups of delicious hot chocolate and a batch of tasty popcorn treats for my roommate and me, just for fun.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Tree Extravaganza

Thanks to a delightful, freshly cut Noble, my apartment is beginning to look a lot like—you guessed it—Christmas! And because last year’s specimen wasn’t up to par—a four-foot tall synthetic decked with cheap red and green balls I found on sale at Walgreens doesn’t exactly warm my insides—I’m super excited about it. This one’s covered in ornaments that Jeff and I have acquired over the years, one from each Christmas since the mid-80s.

On Sunday, I tagged along with Jeff’s family to search for the perfect tree, which we’d place in the corner of our big, bright, apartment, right in front of the windows. I pointed at tall ones, short ones, fat ones and skinny ones, exclaiming, “This one! Over here!” Because they all look perfect to me. (A tree’s a tree.)

But not to Jeff.

He sees flaws in each that I choose, until we spot the crème de la crème.

After cutting it down—it’s Jeff’s first time with a saw—and tying it to the roof of an old Toyota Camry, and then untying it at Jeff’s parents’ house for a lesson in tree-blowing, and then tying it to the car again, and then stopping at Fred Meyer for a tree stand, and then adjusting the rope because the tree almost flies off on the freeway, and then untying it when we get to our building (finally), and then sawing another inch off the trunk (on a sidewalk on bustling Mississippi Avenue), and then lugging it upstairs via elevator, and then realizing we don’t have enough twinkling lights to strand around it, and then throwing our hands in the air and going to the Blazer game, then journeying to Fred Meyer at 9:30 p.m. for lights, and then decorating it until 12:30 a.m.—it's drop-dead stunning.

And well worth the hassle.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tribute to a 12-0 season

There’s nothing much like the thunderous crowd at Autzen Stadium: a sea of green and yellow erupting with every blitz, bomb and touchdown. And on Saturday? I'll bet the same diehard fans went even wilder on Oregon State’s home turf. Our mighty Ducks thrashed the Oregon State Beavers, racking up our twelfth consecutive win of the season—for the first time in history.

I didn't go to the game, but I sure did watch it on ABC. At 12:30 p.m., Jeff and I arrived at a friend's house in Northwest Portland with champagne, orange juice, chips and dip, and for four hours we sat on the couch in our jerseys rooting for Darron Thomas and "Big Balls Chip" to lead our team to victory.

They did.

Later that night, fans wearing green and yellow swarmed the city. And at Gypsy, a 23-year-old took the opportunity to show his undying pride for the Ducks during his karaoke number: He shouted "Go Ducks" over and over again instead of singing the song he'd picked.

And the audience loved it.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Turkey Weekend Wrap-up

Cornbread stuffing. A big, juicy bird. Sweet pumpkin pie. Who could ask for more on Thanksgiving? Besides homemade bread, a green bean and feta salad, cranberries, rich gravy, and warm apple pie. Oh, and an entire first course before the turkey dinner: an intricate crab cocktail alongside a platter of deviled eggs, stuffed celery, pickles, olives and fancy crackers.

That’s what Mom whips up on Thursday, anyway.

Christyn, Caitlin and I spend the day helping prep appetizers and side dishes while trying to keep Freddie away from my parents’ cats. The cats are ten years old and outrageously obese, and they hiss and howl at young Fred (their guest!) all weekend long. It's a weekend of education: Fred learns to fend for himself, and I learn that it’s just as much work to cook a Thanksgiving meal for six as it is for twenty. (We have only six people, and this is Mom’s lesson of the day.)

On Friday, still stuffed from turkey and the rest, I kick-start my day with an extra-big coffee and a two-hour drive to Eugene. Jeff and I watch the Ducks pummel Arizona—from the front row at Autzen stadium. The win is fun and all, but the best part? A relentless downpour warrants my flaunting an enormous yellow poncho with little green ducks on it.
Saturday’s highlights: breakfast at The Big Egg, a food cart just down the street from our apartment on Mississippi, and Skyping with family in Ireland. (The Big Egg? Makes the best breakfast sandwich of all time.)

And Sunday calls for champagne. I meet two girlfriends for bottomless mimosas and brunch at the Sapphire Hotel on Hawthorne, a quirky breakfast joint that was once a brothel. In one word: delicious. When I get home, Jeff and I continue the mid-afternoon party with more bubbly and OJ before leaving for another Thanksgiving celebration, this time at his aunt’s house in Portland: a super-fun way to wrap up our Turkey-Day Weekend!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

.: Happy Thanksgiving :.

My long weekend began on Wednesday at 3 p.m. when I put down my pencil, shut off my desktop and bid farewell to the office with a childlike glee.

Ta ta, projects and meetings and emails! See you on Monday.

On Wednesday evening, I met my family for dinner in Portland and welcomed my younger sister Christyn home from Houston, Texas. She's here for only a few days, so we're whooping it up with extra enthusiasm this year. Tomorrow, when we go around the table telling "what I'm thankful for" stories, I know what I'll say: I'm thankful that Christyn's home. And because I'm in especially great spirits this year, I'll probably say all this, too:

{1.} I'm thankful for crisp fall days in Oregon, when the leaves are orange and red and float from the trees to the sidewalk quietly and gracefully. (I missed three falls living in San Francisco, and I'll never take the season for granted again!)

{2.} I'm thankful for gingerbread lattes in red cups. They're warm and cozy and get me geared up for the holidays in October.

{3.} I'm thankful for my mom, dad and grandparents: their health, happiness and togetherness.

{4.} I'm thankful for Freddie, my new cuddly kitten. He energizes me and makes me laugh every day. And that counts for something.

{5.} I'm thankful for my old friends, my new friends, and my friends who've dispersed across the globe and still come together at Thanksgiving and Christmas like nothing has changed.

{6.} I'm thankful for the season's unexpected snow, ice, wind and cold, and for the refreshing Pacific Northwest air that gives me life.

{7.} I'm thankful for pumpkin pie.

{8.} I'm thankful for a good book and a crackling fire. Kind of like the one I'm sitting in front of now. (Thanks, Dad!)

{9.} I'm thankful for red wine at five o'clock, when I get to catch up with friends over happy hour specials and dish about the day's events.

{10.} And I'm thankful for finding someone so passionate and caring to share life's adventures with. From taking sudden, sunny vacations to decorating a new apartment to plunging head-first into kitten parenthood, each day brings a new experienceand each day is better than the last.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Weekend by the Bay

Happy Monday! My trip to San Francisco last weekend was quick yet action-packed, and I realized how much I miss the city's sights, sounds and secrets. On Friday I journeyed everywhere from Mill Valley to San Jose, touring hotels that I'm writing about for a company in Larkspur. The company put me up in its snazziest hotel on Union Square, in a two-bedroom suite complete with a gigantic king bed, feathery pillows and plush couches. After my frenzied day, I returned to my room and ordered a $30 cheeseburger from Puccini and Pinetti, the restaurant downstairs, and scarfed it in front of the 50-inch flat-screen TV. (What could be better on a Friday night?)

Revitalized and still stuffed from my massive dinner, I met Jenn and Maijken on Saturday afternoon. We walked up and down San Francisco’s hilly streets and enjoyed the crisp fall air against the warm sunshine before heading to dinner at a trendy yet cozy restaurant called Home in the Castro. Stormy weather rolled in with the fog, which left Jenn’s apartment without power for a few hours!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Freddie Krueger Pumpkin (James) Mottcloskey

There's a new man in my life. He’s ten weeks old, and his name is Freddie—as in Krueger. His middle name is Pumpkin, and his last name hails from two people who love their last names so much they're not willing to choose just one: Mottcloskey.

We adopted him on Halloween. In the spirit of the holiday, we were determined to call him something spooky yet outrageously adorable. (Jeff wanted spooky. I wanted outrageously adorable.) The list included Magic, Pumpkin, Moon, Ghost, and so on. My first choice was Pumpkin, but Jeff didn't go for it. "I can't tell my friends I have a kitten named Pumpkin," he said.


With the help of a friend, we arrived at Freddie, and it stuck. His middle name is Pumpkin, even though Jeff claims it’s—get this—James. (Fredrick James.)

Despite our kitten’s unconfirmed moniker—sometimes it’s Fredrick James, other times it’s Freddie Pumpkin, but most of the time it’s Fred, Punkie, Krueger, Sweets, Snookers, or Snotty—he’s made proud parents of Jeff and me!



Puffy Eyes at PDX

Good morning! As I sit in the Portland airport waiting to board the plane to San Francisco, I think, I really am a girl of two cities. Today I’m traveling to the City by the Bay for work—and staying the weekend to catch up with my chic city friends. I woke up at 3:30 this morning, but I'm determined not to let the extra-puffy, purple bags under my eyes keep me from having a good time.

Oh! And I’ve vowed to start blogging again. I’m making it my end-of-year resolution. (If I were you, I wouldn’t believe me either.) Stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Noisy Gravel Road

“Okay. I’m going to a wedding by myself. I won’t know anyone. But that’s okay, because I’m a cool, confident girl.”

* * *

“Do all musicians double-book themselves? His name was on the invitation.”

* * *

“This could quite possibly be the shortest dress I’ve ever put on. And heels? Don’t help it look more appropriate. Aha! I’ll wear flats and a jacket to the bus stop.”

* * *

“Why is everyone looking at me like I belong on a street corner? And why did I get on this bus?"

* * *

“I get it. The dress is short. And yes, I have a date. Where is he? None of your beeswax.”

* * *

“Jeff, where the hell are you? The ceremony was supposed to start five minutes ago.”

* * *


* * *

“Ooo! Pretty table settings. I wonder what’s for dinner.”

* * *

“Okayyy. It’s 6:25 p.m. Ceremony’s starting. Music’s playing. Bride’s walking. I’ll sit in the back. Hopefully he can sneak in unnoticed.”

* * *


* * *

Guests, watching Jeff’s gold Camry speed toward the venue on a noisy gravel road: “Looks like someone’s a little late! Wow he’s really hustling!”

* * *

Just in time, he slithered in unnoticed—by the bride, anyway.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Kolbeh and Persian Party People

I’m Irish. My aunt, Molly McCloskey, moved to Ireland in her early twenties and never came back. She still lives there. She even has an accent and says things like “bloak” and “blarney.” My entire extended family likes to drink so much that many of my aunts and uncles now attend regular AA meetings. My grandparents have “happies” every day at the strike of 5pm, happy hour, and they usually dole out cocktails to friends and neighbors well into the night. Our annual gatherings are big and loud and involve card games, occasional gambling, vodka, and uncontrollable, belly-aching snorts and giggles.

Point? Irish folks love to party.

On Saturday night, though, I learned they don’t like to party nearly as much as Persians do.

It’s one of those evenings that only July knows. The air is hot and arid and smells like freshly watered grass sprinkled with efflorescence. I pull up to Kolbeh, a Persian restaurant in Lake Oswego, just as the tree-lined horizon meets the last few minutes of sunset. I’m bedecked in a new shirt and a bright blonde hairdo, and although I’m not sure whether to wear flats or heels, I decide on stilettos because I’m sure the event won’t require too much standing or dancing. It’s an engagement celebration, not a college frat party.


When the belly dancer shows up half-naked and barefoot, and the lights dim and the disco ball starts spinning, I realize I’ve never been more off the mark.

The groom’s father hands drink ticket after drink ticket to each of the 200 guests as they walk in the door, hugging and kissing them on both cheeks—regardless of whether or not he’s met them—before chuckling, purely and happily and loudly. I decide it’s simply the chuckle of a nervous yet blissful Persian man whose son is about to get married.

I order wine and Aubrey sips vodka sodas while we catch up with old friends and watch Aubrey’s sister, the bride, dance with her soon-to-be family members who stuff dollar bills in the belly dancer’s bra.

“I want to be Persian!” I whine over the music. “Why haven’t my parents ever thought to order a belly dancer?” It seems like such an obvious thing to do. My head bounces awkwardly along with the drums and keyboards, my eyes closed.

Aubrey nods sympathetically while scanning the scene, but then she smiles, knowing this is what comes with the territory when acquiring a Persian brother-in-law. Her family functions may be this way forever.

Hopefully she’ll invite me to more of them.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Congratulations, Mrs. Georgia Hastings

On July 10, my friend Georgia married the man of her dreams: her college sweetheart, Eric. (Remember the wedding that I’m taking full responsibility for? Because the bride and groom met at my 20th birthday party? This is the one.)

She said her vows in a gorgeous field at Pumpkin Ridge golf course, a fitting venue, as Eric is an avid golfer. (He played for the University of Oregon and now works for Nike Golf.) The temperature hit 95 degrees that day, and later when I was asked whether Eric cried at the ceremony, I replied: “I don’t know. He just looked really sweaty.”

Beads dripped down Eric’s cheeks while the late-afternoon sun drenched his dark suit. (Yesterday, at lunch, Georgia confirmed these were drips of tears, not sweat.) The sun kissed Georgia’s skin but didn’t cause her to perspire. She looked cool and confident, ready to embark on life’s next adventure, to become part of a new little family made up of husband and wife.

At the reception, we had our choice of fish, chicken or steak along with drink after drink from the bar. We danced and ate delectable cake under a cool, crisp tent, listened to touching speeches from Eric's brothers and Georgia's maids of honor, and watched Georgia and Eric dance their first dance.

Unaware that the bridesmaids would wear black dresses and pearls (note the girls on the left in the photo below), I donned my best black dress and prettiest pearl necklace.

When it was time to send the newlyweds off, we formed a tunnel and twirled white sparklers as they ran by.

(Oh, and as for the bouquet? Georgia tossed it over her shoulder toward a very large group of single women, and it just so happened to float gently into my hands.)

(Don't let Jeff tell you otherwise.)