Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tulip Mania

Despite a lack of any relation to the Dutch, there is a farm named The Wooden Shoe Farm north of Salem that has just wrapped up the 25th annual Tulip Festival. I missed the opportunity to go, but I'm glad Cynthia went - with over 40 acres of flowers to behold, she must have been in heaven the entire time.

Tulips are my favorite flower, though I'm sure a lot of that has to do with my interest in the financial markets of tulip mania. Just like the recent housing bubble burst and the tech stock bubble burst of the 90's, speculation on certain types of tulip bulbs was so rampant in the Netherlands in the 1630's that people were paying 10 years worth of salary for a single bulb. The idea was to sell the bulb at a profit after a small period of time (just like house flipping in 2004-2007). But, like all financial bubbles, the prices were unsustainable and fell drastically in 1637. The most valuable tulips were diseased - a certain virus gave the tulip a beautiful streaky color but also made the bulbs hard to grow. (end of history lesson)

Sadly, none of the tulips at the Wooden Shoe Farms were like the rare 'diseased' bulbs of tulip mania, but still pretty nonetheless. Especially the thorn-like tulips above.

 Wow! A cow train too? This place is awesome!

Good Hair

One of the hardest parts of moving is building up your service network. It's rough having to find a new doctor, dentist, teacher, car mechanic, lawyer, clergyman, and last but not least....hairstylist. Cynthia had the perfect hairstylist at a miraculous price in Milwaukee so it was kind of a drag to be searching for someone else.

Cynthia got a few recommendations at church for a salon called Taglio. It's pronounced in the most pretentious way possible (TAH-lei-oh) which helped me to know that the haircuts were going to be both well done and (gulp) expensive.

I've grown very fond of Cyn's short shag haircuts, despite the objections from her siblings. I have also been missing the lighter hair color she went with when we first met. So she printed off two pictures for the hairstylist - her best hair color in my opinion and her best cut in my opinion (I like how regarded my opinion was!). She gave the pics to the new hairstylist (who is a member of our stake) and said (at my instruction) "give me the most non-conservative hairstyle that I'd still feel comfortable taking to church."

Here's the result:

Now that's Good Hair.

Incidentally, we watched Chris Rock's documentary Good Hair a few days ago. It's about the excesses and dangers of the African-American hair industry. Very educational and entertaining film.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Portland Temple

Here are a few shots from a recent visit to the Portland temple which is 5 minutes from our apartment. I've seen quite a few temples in my time, but this one is stellar. The exterior, the award-winning landscaping, the location, the atrium INSIDE the temple where you can take pictures, the incredible mahogany woodwork, the huge marble staircase in the celestial room, etc. I don't understand why all the carpets are pink...but I'll let that one slide. This is a seriously beautiful temple...though I'm still partial to San Diego's...

No More Diapers

I'm not sure how I let this slip my mind, but a monumental achievement occurred in our family a few months ago. Carter is fully potty trained! If you read our most popular post of this year, you probably thought this wouldn't ever happen - I know I had my doubts. But out of the blue, he just decided he was done with diapers. Congratulations, Carter!

Our family is now diaper-free for the first time since Sept 2003, which is a beautiful feeling. But Carter wants us to end the drought. He reminds us (along with anyone within earshot) every day that he can't wait for the baby brother from Mommy's tummy. There's no bun in the oven so I don't know where he got this idea.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Easter Eggathon

Easter was a whirlwind over here like most things the past 3 months. We didn't get any basket stuffers or paint any eggs until the night before. We also got to bed really late, therefore, our kids were up and inspecting their baskets before we could take any pictures. So we don't have many photos besides the fabulous eggs we made.

Cynthia read on Our Best Bites about tie-dying eggs in neckties. Would that be tie tie-died? Anyway, it turned out pretty well, especially the paisley tie. However, I do NOT recommend eating these eggs. I took one bite and spit it out - it tasted like you'd imagine a 40 year old tie tasting.

Last up is Cynthia's annual rainbow egg, my symbolic egg (Isa. 1:18), a solid red egg that doesn't look solid at all, and an egg using the Shamos' rubber band method. I never knew there were so many ways to dye an egg until I met my wife.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

4T Hike

For Boy Scouts this week, we took the 4.8 mile "4T" hike. So named because the route is a giant loop through downtown Portland that involves a...





I'm happy to report that the boys were much better behaved on the outing than they have been for regular meetings. Probably because we had two leaders, two fathers, and only three boys.

Oddly enough, the hike didn't feel anything close to 5 miles and we were home after only 3 hours. It's a pretty good hike full of typical Oregon scenery - huge trees covered with moss in every direction...makes it hard to take decent pictures.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Underground

I no longer live 90 minutes away from a Jamba Juice, I'm now 5 minutes away. This is causing all kinds of problems. I never thought that I'd need a budgeting category just for smoothies, but now I'm seriously considering it. Not to mention the many calories I'm sucking down.

I've enjoyed their smoothies since the Zuka days, but it wasn't until I learned of the Underground that I became a Jamba Junkie (hmm...I should trademark that and start a club). That's right, the Underground. JJ has a not-so-secret menu with super sweet items that they wouldn't dream of putting on their regular menus. Most are named after candies and taste exactly like their name implies. It's almost like a drug deal - you feel a little shady as you step up to the counter, slip them a five-spot and say in a hushed tone, "can you make...Skittles?" Next time you go, ask for the underground menu, pick one at random, and rejoice.

Here's a review of what I've tried so far (1-3 stars):

White Gummi Bear starstarstar
It is inevitable. The first words out of your mouth will be "That tastes just like a white gummi bear!" Great taste, still fruity, not too sugary.

Red Gummi Bear star
Not as good as it's cousin, the white gummi. It was ok, but not enough so to make me try its other cousins Green and Blue.

Fruity Pebbles starstar
It tastes like Fruity Pebbles (which is one of my three favorite cereals) but it's WAY too sweet.

Purple Dinosaur star
I have no idea what this flavor was supposed to be. It reminded me of a Lime Rickey from Arctic Circle.

Strawberry Shortcake starstarstar
This is perfection, one of my two favorites. And I'm extremely picky about shortcake, my favorite cake. You can actually taste the strawberries, whipped cream and shortcake. I'm told that soy milk has something to do with it...

Peaches & Cream starstar
Pretty good, but there are better options. This is quite similar to a non-Underground Jamba.

Pink Starburst starstarstar
Amazing. A strawberry Starburst in liquid form. My other favorite.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries star
I can understand and appreciate this drink, but I'm not a fan. It tastes like chocolate and strawberries, but there's a reason I've never ordered a Chocolate Mood from Jamba Juice.

There's a website devoted to the Underground complete with recipes, but I'll leave that as an exercise for you to complete. :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Papa John's Quality Control

We've been having a lot of Papa John's pizza lately for two reasons:
  1. I've been busy at work and haven't been cooking as much recently. Although I must admit that Cyn has been doing a great job of making a few meals.
  2. Their promotion of any large pizza, any toppings, $10. Regrettably, the promotion is now over...unless you order online!
There's one other not-so-obvious promotion at Papa's that has piqued my interest. On every box of pizza, there's a flyer asking the consumer to take a picture of the pizza before eating it and send the pic to Papa John's via email. Sounds like they're trying to get some data points for quality control. In return, you get a $5 coupon. So let's recap...$10 pizza less a $5 coupon for tasty, tasty pizza made any way you want it. Naturally, we've taken more than a few pictures of pizza in the past 6 weeks.

This weekend's pizza was, by far, the most interesting picture. I wish I could be a fly on the wall when the Quality Control Department opens up this picture:

What the heck is this? Did Spaceball's Pizza-the-Hut explode all over the store or something? Why does one slice have all the mushrooms and olives? Why does it look like someone put their finger in the cheese? Did I do something to offend these people?

Well, we had a great laugh about the pizza and then called up the store. They gave us another pizza that actually resembled what we ordered and they delivered it for free. That's two pizzas...ten bucks. Here's a picture of the new pizza:

Extra cheese on the whole pie, 1/2 sausage, 1/2 Hawaiian with bacon. No idea on where the olives and mushrooms (or lack of sausage, bacon, and ham) came from. I sure hope the pizza builder enjoyed his Mary Jane break.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Concert That Wasn't

My wife had an uber-cool idea for my birthday present this year. Knowing that I'm a big John Mayer fan and that ol' Johnny would be in Portland in March, we'd celebrate my birthday two months early and go see the show. I was exuberant, to say the least, and we started planning for it.

One problem though: the concert was on a Tuesday night. Kind of hard finding babysitters that will stay at your house until 1 am on a weeknight. Too bad spring break was the week before the concert. Johnny Boy, if only you'd come a week earlier I could have found a babysitter. Cyn even offered to let me go by myself...but I wasn't so keen on the idea of being a lone male in a sea of screaming girls, no matter how good the guitar playing is.

All those months of letting Cyn go to TLCB concerts and still nothin' worthwhile for old Pete. Dang it. I'll just have to settle for videos on Youtube.

Let's look back on some other concerts I've really wanted to go to but missed out on...

Another mid-week concert. I was a huge Aerosmith fan back in the day. What was I thinking?

I couldn't find a ride to SLC to see Billy Joel. The day of the concert I saw a few friends and asked them what they were doing that evening. Guess what they said? Yup. Memo to self: exhaust ALL options when trying to get to a concert.

How my sister, my own flesh and blood, ever went to a U2 concert without letting me know about it first is completely unknown. I may forgive you someday. Maybe.

Other less cool concerts I've missed out on for dumb reasons: Pat Metheny, Canadian Brass, Celine Dion, King's Singers...and probably more that escape me right now.