Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Shape-ups? Go ahead and ship out.

I just saw a commercial for Shape-ups, the ugly shoes that apparently give you a leg and butt workout. The spokesperson, Brooke Burke, wants you to know that "the gift that keeps giving" is the perfect Christmas present.

No, no, no! If you want to make it through the holidays alive, DO NOT even think about it. Using Christmas morning as the time to not-so-subtly suggest that someone needs to work out is completely inappropriate.

Here is what you can do. You can get them sexy and adorable athletic wear that easily goes from Downward Dog to Sunday coffee. I'm a HUGE fan of lululemon athletica:

The Pacific Hoodie. Thick fleece to get you through the winter. I like it almost as much as I like the guy wearing it. I'd like him to get me through the winter.

Super thick, super cozy and super cute Scuba Hoodie with some sparkle for the holiday season. 

Lululemon makes the BEST yoga pants on the planet. Women love them because they make their asses look amazing. Men love them because they make women's asses look amazing. Now in an organic version. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

No need to wait for summer. Ray Bans are a year-round favorite. I love my bubble-wraps in gold/champagne; less teardrop than the original aviator.
A quirky Holiday USB Drive loaded songs and pictures that remind you of that special little elf on your list.

It's that time of year: time to fight the doldrums. Keep their spirits up with Vitamin D drops (I add it to my water bottle every morning).

I think everyone loves good breath. These Altoid Smalls are adorable and effective. 

I'm a huge fan of Rosebud Salve. I use it on my lips, nails and even my elbows. It usually comes in a metal tin, which can get messy, but they just released a tube version of the cult favorite. 

I know the iPhone 4 is going to lots of good boys and girls this year. Why not throw them off? Stuff the stocking with the big ticket item and skip the wrapping.
It's a toothbrush made out of yogurt cups! Sign up the little ones for the Jr. Toothbrush Subscription. They'll receive a new toothbrush (that features a different endangered species) every three months and then they can send their old one in to be recycled. They also make products for the big kids.
I'm not saying I'll throw out my hoops, but Diamond Earrings have an amazing way of making everyday wear seem anything but. Every woman deserves some timeless jewelry in her collection. These are from Twist and I love the refreshing take on the traditional prong setting.
Socks are always the last thing I want to buy for myself, but a pair of Happy Socks for someone else? Absolutely.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Week of the Gentleman, Part Three.

I often forget the rules of male etiquette. I forget the ritual. Sorry, guys, but a lot of you have allowed your chivalrous sides to fade, if it was ever even there to begin with. It's not your fault. We've beaten it out of you. We perch on our soapboxes, legs crossed, wearing three-inch heels, waving our hands and barking at you that we don't need a man. We can open our own doors, thank you very much.

It's true, I might not need a man. I just want one. A gentleman. A couple of weeks ago I silently went out and about with my own little social experiment. I paid attention to how men treated me when I let them be men instead of sabotaging every kind gesture that came my way, via a nice fellow, with my classic female antics. The results were refreshing. They also reminded me how nice it is to be a lady on ocassion.

What happened to me once, twice, even several times, by many different men, while I was paying attention?

·      The door was opened for me.
·      His coat was wrapped around my shoulders.
·      I had help with my coat.
·      My seat was pulled out for me.
·      He found out what I was having and ordered for both of us.
·      He kept my glass full.
·      He offered me an arm while we wandered down city sidewalks.
·      He walked on the outside of the sidewalk.
·      He asked if he could get me anything.
·      Then he fought the crowds to get it.
·      He was on time.
·      He let me take a break from making the decisions.
·      He paid. Discreetly and without fanfare.
·      He led up the stairs as well as down.
·      He listened, made eye contact and asked questions.

I might draw some criticism, but I don't care. Being taken care of was astonishingly pleasant. Like huge-smile-long-after-the-night-was-over pleasant. To bear witness to tiny testimonies from the men that care about me was luxurious.

Let me be clear. Manners are important not just for men, but for women and the little humans we're raising, as well.  It's a part of our language. It's how we tell people who we are and how we were raised. Guess what? You can open the door for me anytime. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

...right down Santa Claus Lane

Food is so hot right now. From maple bars with bacon at Voodoo Doughnut in Portland to Wagyu Tenderloin (served with caramelized onion puree, oyster mushrooms and foie gras butter) at Canlis in Seattle, boring is out and edgy eating is in. We all like to feel like we know what we are talking about, or at least what we are ordering, when we go out. Being a server forever (Seriously. For. Ev. Er.), I'll fill you in on our not so dirty little secret: Food Lover's Companion. Every server station has one and so should you. 

Does your special someone know what the five "mother sauces" are? They will now. This is the perfect present for the burgeoning foodie on your Christmas list. Even better? Now there's an app for that... How fun is that!? You'll never feel like an idiot at Clyde Common again, I promise.


The Week of the Gentleman, Part Two.

Dear Joaquin,

The day I met you was one of the best days of my life. I remember when your mom told me she was pregnant. It was May 15th, the day before my seventeenth birthday. We were at Double Bluff Beach, knee-deep in the salty waters of Useless Bay, when my big sister told me she was having a baby. A baby? Awe overwhelmed me. A baby!

Next we went to Village Pizzeria where she filled in some of her closest friends. Joy was sweeping through this village! Phoebe told me she was going to tell Grandpa Gary that night and that Arwen and I were going, too. Period. I think she was a little nervous. She brought blackberry pie (his favorite) and served it with a side of, "I'm having a baby!" I stared wide-eyed at the whole thing. I couldn't imagine telling dad about a boy, let alone telling him he was going to be a grandpa, but he was thrilled. On that rare warm spring night, he hugged her and we all ate pie. 

Days turned into months. Your mom took a lot of naps and we wondered out loud if the crescent moon tattoo on her belly would ever wane back to normal. I'd go over after school and watch movies while your dad worked at a local restaurant. We'd eat ice cream and whatever else she was craving. I forgot that I wasn't pregnant and started eating for two. Your due date creeped closer and soon it was Pompa's 50th birthday. It was Friday the 13th. We had a big surprise party at Bayview Corner. When he walked in, everyone was holding up masks of his face that had been glued onto popsicle sticks. It was creepy. Phoebe wore a note around her neck that said, "Yes. Dec. 25th. A boy. We're not telling." It was a pretty funny way to answer all the questions all at once.

And then all at once, it was December 16th. There was a very big wind storm that day. My big final project for Contemporary World Problems was due that day. The power was out and I was sitting in Chemistry with Brooke. We were waiting for the word that we all got to go home. The phone rang and Mr.Westling told me to go to the office. It was happening. The baby was coming!

I hauled ass (sorry, I mean butt) to Arwen's house in Langley and we took off for the midwife's birthing house in Greenbank. Arwen realized that she had forgotten the Christmas cards that she was working on. She turned around. The baby was coming and she was turning around! I freaked out. Who do you think won? We paced and sat and paced some more. Well, I did. Arwen addressed envelopes. Grandpa Gary and Grandma Shannon were there, too. And then... "She wants her sisters." I freaked out again, pulled it together and walked in behind Arwen. 

Honna and Bryan were on either side of her. Your dad's glasses were fogged in all the commotion and he was struggling to see. You arrived seconds after we walked in. I lost my legs and fell to my knees. A baby! When they handed you to me, my life changed. I suddenly knew what unconditional love meant. I would stand in front of a train for you. I would walk to the ends of the earth for you. I would do anything for this little human.

I immediately sensed your brilliance. I knew that this world had better watch out and I was right. You are an amazing young man. Surrounded by a funny family and a gaggle of wacky women has given you so many facets to work with. You embrace everyone with compassion and respect. You, mister, are such a gentleman. You have wisdom far beyond your thirteen years and I have no doubt that you will be wildly successful at whatever you attempt. You already are. You're a great big brother to Ian, an awesome son, a fantastic student and from what I hear, a pretty amazing violinist. You also rock at being a nephew. I am an "Auntie" to dozens and I wear the title proudly, but I never forget who was first.  

Happy birthday, Joaquin. May your every wish come true!

Love, Auntie Sarah

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Here comes Santa Claus...

I'm an idea girl. An 'aggressive problem solver' as one friend put it. It's a nurturing thing. I want you and yours to be forever warm, fed and happy. Sometimes that means telling yours what to buy for you. With the frantic holiday texts and emails rolling in, begging for help in the shopping department, I thought I would share some of my picks for the holidays (and the whole year, really) with you over the week. I haven't forgotten it's also The Week of the Gentleman. I've got some stuff for the gentleman to give and get, as well.

If you're a PNW native, you know what I'm talking about. One of the best radio stations in Seattle, 103.7 The Mountain, puts out a compilation CD every year of artists who perform in the station's intimate studio. It rocks and rolls and is always very sexy. All the proceeds go to the Wilderness Society. A great gift for everyone (especially me, if I'm on your list). One of the songs featured this year is my absolute favorite, "You Are The Best Thing" by Ray LaMontagne (watch and listen below).

The Week of the Gentleman, Part One

It's The Week of the Gentleman! What is that, might you ask? It is all about the men. Not just any men. I'm talking about the men who take the time and effort to be real men (with really good manners).

My step dad's birthday is today, so I thought we'd start out with a shout out to Dennis, a true-blue gentlemen. The story goes that he owned a bakery and looked good in a leather vest. The rest is history (sort of). Now that I am in my 30's it's hard to imagine what it must have been like to sign up for a woman with three girls. Not just any daughters; my two older sisters can be extremely high-maintenance. Mom made it clear that she was a package deal; kids, animals and an opinion on just about everything. Maybe he didn't hear her over her wide smile, big green eyes and fluffy perm (circa 1984).

I was young, so my memories are packed with all the really important things like the little white MG convertible he drove, the time he taught me how to hold my breath underwater and the purple LL Bean bag I got for Christmas that he had monogrammed with my initials. Memories rolled into decades and here we are. A few weeks ago I was stranded with neglected tires in the first storm of the season. Dennis picked me up, got new tires on my car, took me out to lunch and put up with me for three days while I hunkered down by their fireplace and watched the snow fall. 

Staring out at the weather reminds me of the long road trips to Bend for Christmas. It always took awhile to get on the road. I'm not sure why. My mom only had to pack the Suburban with ski equipment, all the Christmas presents, her sewing machine, a VCR, four kids, two dogs and the parakeet. Yes, Jimmy came with us on vacation. By the time we hit Mt. Hood it was always dark. If we hadn't killed each other or been sentenced to silence after the last tantrum, we'd sing. As the midnight hour approached and the young ones faded, just Mom and Dennis would sing. Through heavy eyelids I watched their silhouettes, the long stretch of high desert highway ahead of them. With my head plastered to the shoulder of whichever sister was closest, I would drift off listening to them sing "Christmas in Prison" by John Prine.

Oh, there has been ups and downs. Dennis and I are very different. For example, he thinks before he speaks. I won't lie. I've been on his team for family charades and thought I might have an aneurysm if he didn't just spit out an answer. Spit out an answer! That man is nothing if not methodical. However, it's also one of my favorite things about him. The room (family) will erupt in drama and chaos and right when we've just about run out of estrogen-fueled steam, Dennis will pipe in and win the Profound Statement of the Night award.

I am so grateful for Dennis and the love and strength that he has provided. He has supported me endlessly. My respect for him only grows as my understanding of what that must be like to make the choice to step up and become a step parent. He has walked the line between father figure and friend with dignity and calm certainty. Did I mention there are four girls? Bravo, Dennis. Bravo.

I wish the happiest of birthdays to one of the finest gentlemen around.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Holiday cards by Moo

I love Moo Printing and not just because I am a Taurus. Good company, great product. Check it out: www.moo.com