Another Blog, Oh My!

Over the past six (almost seven now!) months, I have come to realize that mama-hood is one big research project. I shouldn't call myself a Stay-at-Home-Mom (SAHM) rather Mama Researcher. Babies are constantly changing, and you have to keep up with those changes. How do you know what to do? You look it up or ask around...research it! 

I started my research job before Caleb arrived since there are many questions to look into during pregnancy, too. One place I went to for information was the Hellobee site, which is a pregnancy, baby, and parenting blog. Recently, they were looking for contributing bloggers, so I applied. I was surprised to find the next day an email congratulating me as one of their newest blogger. 

Needless to say, my writing for my personal blog has slowed a bit. I am writing about two posts a week for Hellobee. I have a pen name that I write under, but I'm not sure if I can share that here on my blog. I bet if you know me well enough, you can figure it out. So go over to Hellobee and check it out. 

And I promise to keep up my own blog, too! Bear with me, though, as life is pretty crazy right now. Some big news on the way. Stay tuned!

Cooking Classes are so Hip

If you know me, you know I love being in the kitchen. I especially like baking, but I also enjoy cooking as well. So when the opportunity to get my team at work to a cooking class came up, I didn't pass it up.

As a team, we're always talking about doing some sort of outing. There is talk of indoor sky diving, trapezing (is that a word? trapeze, anyway...), or some other crazy adventurous activity. Let's be real people; we're all uber busy and finding time to plan and go on an outing is tough let along doing something crazy. I figured we were more likely to actually make it happen, if we did something reasonable - like a cooking class! (eh hem, I should also tell you that I really wanted to do a cooking class). It didn't take too much to convince the team, but as the instigator I got stuck with the planning. Oh well, I guess my job is project management.

With 18 people on the team, the planning wasn't the easiest, but somehow I managed to get everyone in line and find a day that worked. We landed at Hipcooks (uh cuz, that's where I wanted to go, and as the planner, I get to make the ultimate decision - score!). The class we ended up taking was Una Noche en España. At first, we were all poo-poo'ing doing tapas, but afterwards we were all singing it's praises. We made all sorts of tasty tapas like...

  • Spicy candied nuts
  • Pure de garbanzo w/ pita toasts
  • Manchego con Membrillo (Spanish cheese with quince paste)
  • Tortilla Española & spicy salad
  • Camarones Bravas - garlicky saffron shrimp
  • Empanadillas Argentinas
  • Flan with caramel designs

My favorite...hmmm, that's tough, but I think maybe the hummus. No, wait, the flan. Ahh! It all turned out great. And we didn't use any recipes - just what our instructor, Jenna, told us, and by tasting as we went.

I was usually the volunteer when nobody wanted to do something - like use your hands to mix the raw eggs with the potatoes for the tortilla ("gross"), or pour the flan mixture into the ramekins ("scary"). And why? Because I have a cooker/baker reputation to uphold at the office. But we all had a hand it the cooking.

After we cooked everything up, we got to sit down and enjoy the fruits of our labor. It was glorious.

It was a blast cooking and getting to know my co-workers. Now, I want to host a Spanish Tapas (not topless) party.

Check out all the photos on Flickr.

October 31st

Happy Halloween Friends! 

Did you pick a movie to watch tonight? 

My office had a little Halloween party today. It was a fun party, which included some pumpkin bars made by yours truly. Not to mention, the costume turnout was fantastic. Wanna see?

I was a fox. This might lead you to ask...What does a fox say? Hence my pose in every picture - ha! Please tell me you've watched this video. 

The Cool Cats - Shane's team

Viking Pimp, Urkel, Foxy, Beeyonce, Snoopy

Team Safeway (minus a few - who knows where they were)

"photo booth"

What does the fox say?

More costumes!

Did you guess them all correctly? We had Robin, Havana 1960s guy, Urkel, Beeyonce, Viking Pimp, Katniss, Fiona, Mario, a Pancake Baker, Banana man, Khaleesi (Game of Thrones), Snoopy, Rocky Raccoon, Batman...oh so many. The Where the Wild Things are costumes were fantastic.

Happy Hallows! Boo! 

Work Break: Sounders

Last Wednesday, a large group of my co-workers took a break from work. No we didn't play hooky and skip the workday - are you kidding? There is too much work to be done for that (oh sorry, the program manager part of me just spoke up)! But it was great to hang out with my awesome co-workers outside of the work place. 

For our big outing, we went to see the Pride of the Pacific Northwest...the Sounders. We took up a good chuck of a section - maybe 6 rows, or so. As you can see, we are a pretty rambunctious group - like Rick doing the moose ears back there. 

My immediate team, which I've decided to call "Cool Catz" (oh! maybe we should have that with a "K" instead! Now, that's what I'm talking about... "Cool Katz" - I like it!), was all there as well. We're pretty kool!

Side Note: I have no idea, seriously NO IDEA, who that crazy girl is that photo bombed our Cool Katz selfie. Crazy!  

We had a great time - even better that we weren't at work. And even better than all that...the treats! We got them from Diane's Delights booth. (Remember her? She showed me how to make cake pops).

Do you like my photo series? This is how it goes. Josh was scared, Josh took a bite, Josh loved it.  Heather got a macaron, Heather went in for mega bite,  Heather chomped it. 

That's really it. There is only so much to tell you about a work outing. Oh wait...there was soccer game. Riigggghhhttt. Too many selfies and treats distracting us. Well, the Sounders tied. We should have won, but at least we didn't lose. I stilled loved how the crowd gets into the spirit with the coordinating clapping and the cheering ("Seattle...Sounders" Or "Fight and Win"), streams, and fireworks. I went into a lot more detail on my first Sounder game post. 

Good team. Good soccer. Good treats. Well, just a good evening! 

Way to Go...Wayzgoose

You might remember Wayzgooze from last year? Maybe not. It's not like I expect you to follow my life or anything. Or wait a minute, you do...if you read my blog that is. So you really should remember. And if you don't, then maybe you need to start reading this blog more. I mean come on people, my life rocks. At least, that's what I lead you to believe (insert Heather's evil laugh). 

Seriously now. Last Friday was the annual Wayzgooze event. This is the second year my company has entered, but this year as Oracle. It's a ton of fun, and it's so awesome to see my creative peeps at work. This year we had even more of a turn out (probably since word got out about how fun it is). Not to mention our print rocked.

This year the event was at the South Lake Union Block Party, so there were many more folks around. I wasn't sure how it'd go being at the block party, but the printing was off to the side in the parking lot and it actually turned out great (although a bit hot). 

Time out: Are you sitting there scratching your head about what the heck Wayzgoose is? Okay, I'll pause and explain. Basically, there are teams (from a company or group) and there is a theme (this year it was South Lake Union). Each team designs a poster then transfers that design onto a sheet of linoleum, crave it out, and at the end you have a huge stamp. At the event, you roll paint onto the stamp, place poster paper on top, and then a steamroller runs over it (instead of a printing press).

Let me share some photos! Here's the carving in action in the office.

And here's us painting and carefully placing the poster down and then off.

The steamroller, of course...it's cool. (Sorry for the fuzzy photo, I only took my cell phone with me).

Our beautiful poster. I was amazed at the details our team was able to pull off. We got honorable mention - basically second place. We really should have gotten first place. Not that I'm biased, but it's true! 

Here is the winner (the red one on the far right) and the other honorable mentions. They were good, I guess. Yea, okay, they were good.

The winner poster is a unicorn and was created by TenGun. The horn is the Space Needle. It says SLU (South Lake Union, or Seattle Loves Unicorns). Cute. The Otter was created by DrawSeattle (I believe). Lastly, the Octopus was created by Starbucks Creative. 

I must admit, all the posters were pretty fantastic. 

What a great event?! Our team was happy with our second year winning a trophy. Go Oracle! Yay team! Look at us...such winners.

Are you dying for more photos? Well, my co-worker, Henry, took some great shoots. I don't think he'd mind if you had a look. 

Be on the lookout for Wayzgoose again next year! I'm pretty sure we'll be in first place - third time is a charm, right? 

Work Life: Interact 2014

Every year my company puts on a marketing conference called Interact. You may remember me going last year. It's a super, awesome event that's totally cool and all about marketing. This year was a bit different, though. This year was the first year not as Responsys, but as Oracle Marketing Cloud. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was surprised to find that it was still awesomely cool. 

How can a marketing conference be cool, you might ask? Well, for starters, John Legend was a keynote speaker. You know, the guy that sings the hit song, All of Me

Or, the B-52s. Yes, they are the ones that sing Love Shack, Rock Lobster, and Roam

Besides the good music, we had some good speakers. Our very own strategist gave a presentation (bad photo on my part, but I didn't want to be that person taking a photo during a serious presentation) alongside our client, Verizon.

Another presentation I enjoyed was Jonathan Perelman, VP & GM of Video, BuzzFeed. He showed some funny videos, and some more serious ones like The Time You Have (In Jelly Beans). He also discussed engaging and shareable content. 

We also spent some quality time with clients. We went out a delicious dinner at The Slanted Door -- see that table in the photo below, well it fit roughly 40 people. We also struck some poses together in the the photo booth at the B-52s concert. 

And for just a few minutes, I got to wander out and visit beautiful San Francisco. I enjoyed coffee from Blue Bottle, got a glimpse of the Ferry Building and Bay Bridge at night, and stayed near Union Square. Not too shabby. 

And after a long week, before I headed home, I got to see our good friends for dinner. Miss these guys! 

Then I few home sweet home. A long, productive, successful week at work. 

#interact2014 #responsyslife #longweek

Work in the Big Apple

People who don't travel for work think that work travel is so glamorous. I don't travel all that much for work, but I have done my fair share of work travel, and let me tell you...it's not as glamorous as all those non-travelers think. Now, don't get me wrong, there are some perks no doubt. But, it's not a free trip to just galavant around some awesome city like a it's a leisurely trip. It's usually short, intense, on a different time zone, working late at the hotel, and being "on" for the client. Okay, alright, I'll stop being a Debbie Downer and tell you about my trip to New York this past week - the good stuff.

Monday

My flight out was bright and early on Monday morning (meaning wake up at 4:30am for a 7am departure time). Basically, Monday was a travel day since you lose three hours going to the East Coast. We landed at JFK, and ended up taking a bus to downtown NYC because the taxi line was crazy long (estimated by the lady to be 1 hour at least. Apparently it can be about 3 hours in the summer. Excuse me?). The bus dropped us off at Grand Central Station. Between the bus and the taxi, I managed a few quick glimpses at the building. Sadly, no time to take a peek inside.

Grand Central Station

It was evening by the time we arrived to our hotel, the Hampton Inn, in Soho. The team - comprising of a Strategist, Creative Director, Associate Art Direction, and myself (Account Manager) - decided to grab a bit to eat. One of the team members (not naming names here), desperately wanted to try Parm. Unfortunately, it turned out not to be the Italian New York meal we wanted. On the bright side, I think my dish was the best of the bunch.

Tuesday

Tuesday was the first day of meetings. It was more low key since it was just agencies meeting up (no client) so we ended up getting the afternoon to go tour the city a bit. We decided to check out the High Line. The High Line is a park that was built on the elevated rails above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. 

High Line Park

The park is pretty neat with flowers and plants all sprouting up between the rails. Then you look out and see all the cool, brick buildings. Not too shabby for a Tuesday afternoon walk at the park in some great sunshine weather.

The rest of the afternoon we did a lot of walking. And a lot of indecision about restaurants. Walking and indecision. In between, I got glimpses of New York City like the iconic Flatiron Building

Flatiron Building

We also ran into the NYC graduation party. I didn't get a photo, but just imagine a ton of purple, and a ton of people. Most of all, I loved seeing all the architecture. I find the fire escapes on the sides of the buildings interesting - although, I'd have to have to go on one...yikes! 

NYC Buildings

We finally got dinner at La Lanterna di Vittorio - recommended to us by some NYU students. It was really tasty pizza. I got the Pizza con Cipolla e Caprino (pizza with goat cheese, caramelized onions, and walnuts). But it was not quite the New York meal I had in mind. 

Wednesday

This was the big meeting day with the client. I won't bore you with the details of the meetings, so let's skip straight to the evening. We grabbed some cocktails at the top of the St James (dang, nice hotel! Why didn't I get to stay here?). It's a rooftop bar with great views of the city. You could see the Brooklyn Bridge, One Trade Center, and beyond. 

Here's a photo with some folks from the meetings, and an awesome selfie.

Happy Hour @ Rooftop of St James Hotel

There was also some good views of the One Trade Center building nearby. 

One Trade Center

We had the most delicious meal with the client at Beauty and Essex that night. To get to the restaurant, you have to walk through a pawn shop - hilarious. Then you walked into a chic restaurant with lush seats and a skylight. Not what you'd expect on the other side of a pawn shop. The meal was family style - most memorable was the chicken and steak, which just melted in your mouth. I also enjoyed delicious cocktails. Now, this was the New York meal I had in mind. Nom nom nom.

Thursday

Thursday was the end of the trip. I flew back that morning, after a 2-1/2 hour delay. I'd like to say I took the subway to the airport because I like this photo I took, but I really just took a taxi. But here's the photo anyway.

And now here's a picture of the taxi...or should I say taxis (plural)?

Oh, and in case you're interested, I found two awesome coffee shops while I was there - Everyman Espresso and Ground Support. I'm pretty sure I could eat and drink my way through New York.

Okay, so work travel has it's perks, but it's tiring. I'm glad I got to go, but I'm glad to be home. Next time I hope to visit New York for fun!

See all my photos on the 2014 Summer gallery.

 

My 2 Year Work-iversary

Well, time certainly flies. Two years ago today I started working at Responsys. Crazy, huh? My first day was actually in Chicago for training. Remember?

And here I was 1 year ago on My 1 year Work-iversary.

I know this is so cliche but the best thing about my job is the people. My co-workers are great, and it makes going into work each day so much better. We like each other so much that we even hang out to do artsy-fartsy stuff over the weekend sometimes, like Wayzgoose.

Responsys has been a fun company to work at - always working to be the best. They host an annual conference call Interact that I attended last year. There was Captain "Sully" there to inspire us, and Michael Franti to make us dance. 

Anyway, here I am at my 2 year Worki-versary with Responsys. We are now becoming Oracle, so this is my last year at Responsys in a way. Bittersweet. 

Well, I'm gonna keep this short since I'm tried after a long day at work. HA!

On an ending note, here's me working away at my desk today. With a thanks to my co-worker, Yeji, who didn't judge when I asked her to take a picture. I told her I had friends that wanted to see me at work (that would be you).

P.S. Did you notice the sun in the window? Awesome! Good stuff for March. 

Funny Faces & Silly People

Well, the holidays are over. The last holiday event was last weekend, which was Josh's company office party. It was pretty fun at the Pan Pacific hotel here in Seattle. 

It seems like every good party these days has a photobooth. Who doesn't like a good photobooth? They are so popular right now. It's not a party without some sort of photobooth. And Josh's company didn't disappoint. Here's our fun snaps:

(I think the two bottom ones are my favorite)

But wait! My office party also had a photobooth. I told you, photobooths are popular. For this one, my co-worker James and his wife Sarah joined us. Yes, that's mountains and bears in the background. It's cool. 

Oh, and there is more. How many times do I have to tell you photobooths are popular? For New Year's Eve our friends Mark & Sarah co-hosted a party. They turned an iPad into a photobooth. Now, that's clever. 

We took quite a few photobooth pictures at New Years. Here's some more...

Are you sick of these funny poses and faces yet? I have even more in my back pocket. We did a photobooth back in 2012 at our friend Manuel & Alley's wedding. So, yes, it has been popular for a few years now. 

I sorta love photobooths. 

Work, Learn, Play

Well, I'm pooped. I'm so glad it's a three day weekend. This was a long week, and I was super-duper busy (yes, super duper). My company puts on an annual conference called Interact, so this year it was Responsys Interact 2013 (bet you couldn't have guessed that one). And guess who was selected to head to San Francisco to participate...me!  

I packed my bags, and business casual clothes, and headed down to San Francisco on Tuesday morning. The conference was at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis, which also happened to be where I was going to stay the night. So needless to say, I only saw the light of day once (for dinner just around the corner at Bluestem) between Tuesday and Thursday night. In fact, I didn't once step outside on Wednesday. Now that I think about it, that's sad. But that just goes to show how busy I was that week. I bounced between attending presentations, doing actual work, and talking with clients or co-workers.

 Responsys Interact 2013 Signage

Responsys Interact 2013 Signage

 Interact

Interact

Although I was busy, I'm glad I went. Not to toot my company's own horn, but we really pulled off quite a professional and well-run conference. We had some great speakers, shared some important industry trends and best practices, and had fun. 

There were some great speakers at the conference. The first being Burt Jacobs, the co-founder of Life is Good. His message was: Optimism Can Take You Anywhere. His positive attitude, and free spirit, was very inspiring. I also enjoyed learning about the company, and the positive impact is has on community.

Another inspiration was Captain “Sully” Sullenberger's speech, Inspiration in the Face of a Crisis. Yes, that's right, we had Captain Sully at our conference. I was shocked and amazed at his story of landing the plane, flight 1549, on the frigid Hudson River. At the end, the last passenger to get off the plane stood up and also spoke. Simply incredible. I get goosebumps thinking about it. He left us all with a important message about passion for your work, trust, and commit to always reaching for the highest standards. 

Another fun thing about the conference was the concert on Wednesday night. Honestly, at first I was unimpressed with who they decided to play. Who is this Michael Franti guy? Eh, a one hit wonder...but he turned out great. He came out on the floor with everyone and danced with us, and really got us jumping, dancing, and putting our hands in the air. You probably know him from the song, Say Hey (I Love You).

Check out all of us dancing and singing along with Michael Franti in my iPhone video to the right.  >>

Another cool thing, was the guy that was drawing caricatures of folks at the reception - check mine out, or his blog.

After all this learning and entertainment, I was bushed. I returned home late on Thursday night. But I'm very glad I got to attend this awesome event. Go Responsys!

Work-ivesary

This week on Tuesday, 3/12, I had my one year anniversary with Responsys. It's hard to believe a whole year has gone by already. Last year this past week was spent at training in Chicago. Remember?

A year later, and I'm still happy. There are certainly tough days with the client, but overall I'm glad I made the switch. The best part (and don't say "everyone says that") is all the people at my office. Look at this crew, don't they look nice?

 Responsys crew @ Oddfellows

Responsys crew @ Oddfellows

Another great part of the new job is that I get to be around people. In retrospect, I learned that working from home was quite lonely. I enjoy being around people.

All in all, I'm a happy worker...here's to another year!

Business in NYC

This week has been long. I started the week off in the office on Monday, then Tuesday through Friday I was in New York City. The purpose was for a 2-day meeting with my Verizon client. We discussed some good stuff - information overload, but good. Most of my time was spent in meetings and hanging with the client, but I did get to sneak away for a little bit to be a tourist in NYC.

My only tourist thing on Tuesday was taking a picture from the taxi as we crossed over the bridge towards downtown. And dinner (with the client) near our hotel, the Sheraton Tribeca. Dinner was quite tasty at a cute Italian restaurant called Pepolino - we sat outside, ahh warm weather.

Wednesday was all client even breakfast and dinner. Dinner was at a Mexican restaurant called Dos Caminos. I have to say, the prickly pear margarita was darn tasty. It made my day better. And we took a small walk to Washington Park. It had a fake Arc de Triumphe and a cool fountain (if you look, you can see the Empire State Buildling between the arch). Check out the photo.

Luckily, Thursday the meetings ended early and we were freeeee. I grabed my co-worker, James, and made him walk around town with me. We walked from our hotel down to Ground Zero. Unfortunately, you had to pre-purchase tickets to see it, but we peeked in through the fence and got glimpses. It's amazing to stop and think about that day - where you were, what you felt, being there gave me shivers. But, the new towers that are being built look gorgeous and will be great addition to the NYC skyline someday.

Liberty Tower, WTC Building Around Ground Zero

We pasted by Saint Pauls, but unfortunately they closed the gates on our faces. Yes, seriously, they closed right when we were walking in. The nerve. I put my camera through the fence to try to get some pictures of the old gravestones. I hear they date back to 1700s even. Could have been cool. Ahh well, next time.

Saint Paul's and 9/11 Saint Paul's Graveyard

Then, we walked to Battery Park. Here we saw the glorious Statue of Liberty off in the distance. She seems so small from land. We didn't have enough time to take a ferry over, so we just admired from afar. On the way, we also admired the cool old buildings...

Statue of Liberty Fire Escapes

Our dinner (because you want to know all about the food, I know) was at Saxon and Parole. We enjoyed cocktails, tasty entrees, and dessert. This was the first time I truly had a "deconstructed" dish. When it arrived, I was like, "uhh, we got the fruit tart...." It was basically a dish with splotches of custard and crust sticking out of each glob. Then fruit was scattered around. I was doubtful, but it was delicious. I think this was my favorite dish of the week. (Sorry, no picture. I didn't think to take one, silly me).

Not wanting to miss a chance to see as much of NYC as possible, we ended the evening with a quick trip to Times Square. As we stepped out of the taxi, it was suddenly daylight again (or so it seemed) because of all the lights. Crazy. Branding overload. 

Times Square Heather in Times Square

Friday was wrapped up with one last meeting. Then I grabbed a taxi and rushed to meet good friends James and Melissa for lunch. Yes, a random meet-up in NY. We had a great meal together at ABC Kitchen - so posh and hip. It was really great to see them and wish we lived closer. Sigh.

I hurried back to the hotel, and my coworkers and I grabbed a taxi and headed back to JFK. A great week of work and fun, but now I'm ready to sleep-in. Business travel is exhausting!

New York Skyline

Taking Care of Business

Josh will be taking care of business soon because I have some excellent news...Josh is employed! Woohoo! Yippee!

"Details, Heather, give me details," you say. "The details, huh? Well, alright."

Josh graduated from law school back in May of this year. You may think graduation is the end of the road, but oh no. There is still months of studying and testing. He studied long and hard through the summer for the big, evil law exam that took place at the end of July. Then there was...dun dun dun...the question: law or not law. Josh decided somewhere in between. Hence, the beginning of the job search.

As many of you may know, search for a job is like a job in itself. It takes a lot of effort and time. Resumes, cover letters, emails, web searches, networking, and that's just part of it. Josh has been working is rear off the past few months. Going back and forth mainly with Deloitte and similar firms on jobs close to law but not. For instance, words like security, privacy, contracts, and compliance pop up. Luckily, Josh had some friends and connections in the industry that were a huge help in getting a step in ("the door"). And he got there --  all the way in the door, past the entrance, and into the house.

This past week he got two offers. A blessing for sure! But a very tough decision too. Both great offers, both positions something he'd enjoy, and both generous. After a lot of thinking, pondering, talking, and more thinking, Josh made a decision. He's going back to Uncle D. Back into the Deloitte family.

Hired

What's the position? He's going to be a Senior Consultant working on reviewing contracts and some other stuff (ask him, he'll give you the details). The first year or so, there will be travel. Sigh. However, the travel may be fun...Bay Area (visiting time!), SoCal (home!), and Portland (old stomping grounds!).

When does it all start? The first day is after Thanksgiving on November 29th. First, however, we must celebrate with cupcakes (from Trophy Cupcake):

Celebration

And now the work begins...

Been Busy

Every day I groan thinking, "man, I neeeeed to write a blog post. It's been ages." I think I haven't written at all in October yet. Yikes! So let me apologize for not writing. I've got all these great things to post, but just haven't had the time. I only have a likely excuse: I've been BUSY. I just have been busy doing one thing after another. Like what? Well, here's a Busy Item List for you:

  1. Promotion: I've been quiet about this since I didn't want to tell you all about it and then have to come back with a "yea, well...(cough cough), umm yea" type post. Anyway, I interviewed a few weeks ago with a couple managers - coffee tasting, interview interrogation, the usual. After that, things started moving quickly. It got announced at our quarterly team meeting and the next week I was training. This past week was my first week managing the floor on my own. It's actually takes quite a bit of thinking. Breaks (which have to be timed wisely), cash management, keeping the customers happy, and dealing with the "crazies" that come in (note: "crazies" is the word we all use for crazy people that we have to deal with regularly). For instance, my first day running the floor I had to kick someone out for bad behavior. The next day, I had to call the police. It's not as bad as it sounds, but it's testing me for my best mean face (can you picture it?).

  2. Josh's Birthday: Josh turned the big 29 Tuesday. Sadly, I had to close the store on his birthday, but we celebrated for sure. Monday our family friends, Vince and Jonita, treated the both of us to a delicious meal at The Palace Kitchen. This is a Tom Douglas restaurant which I've been wanting to try and it did not disappoint. We went all out too with drinks, appetizers, entrees, and dessert. I had lavender goat cheese fondue to start and a succulent halibut entree. Josh has some pork & pear terrine and a lamb sirloin. Then some coconut cream pie to cap off (this pie is famous). For his actual birthday, I made a chicken tamale casserole before work and ate it after work. He also got a pair of Clark Desert shoes from yours truly. Oh, and lots of Bacon stuff (thanks Jeff & Melissa!). The last bit of celebration was this morning which was breakfast at Julia's in Wallingford. Yes, I know you're thinking: wow, what a celebration of food.

  3. Dining Next Door: I think I just came up with a cute restaurant name. But no; it was really dining next door with our neighbors, Matt and Meghan. It was great to get to know our neighbors. We know we'll get along too since they too are Rick Steve followers.

  4. Val in Town: Valerie, whom we all know and love as Val came to Seattle to visit. Val is a friend from U of O law school. She's in Montana now, but had a long weekend and decided to head west to visit. We spent a lovely, rainy evening with her and catching up.


That's not the end of the list, but I'll end it there. I just think it'd start to get too long to go through. Plus it's smaller stuff, like church, groceries, and the likes. But now you know I'm still here. Still writing. Still taking photos. Still thinking of you all. I'll try to write more often now.

IMG_0088

Bacon and Birthday Boy Above.

On the Job

You might be curious about my job these days. I was just checking out my calendar and realized I've been a barista for about 8 months now - shocking. I feel like I know the ropes pretty well now, although there is always room for growth (nobody's perfect I suppose - I keep try though!). Here's some random stuff about life as a barista:

Customers - We have a ton of regulars - no joke. I'm horrible with estimating numbers (i.e. don't ask me the population of Eugene), but it's gotta be something like 50 something regulars many that come everyday. Some of them get something as simple as a cup of coffee (or maybe a grande in a venti Pikes) to more complicated like a decaf venti vanilla soy with whip latte. Some get crazy amounts of shots or flavor, and some get straight up shots. I think my favorite is the grande breve, 3 sugar, with whip and chocolate drizzle mocha. We see lots of crazy drinks folks, but it sure makes it interesting. I actually love our regulars since you get to know them and it's fun to be like "hey so-and-so, want your such-and-such today?"

SBux 7 Dwarfs - Speaking of regulars, I was coming up with Starbucks dwarf alternative names. Doppio, Breve, Starry, Frappie. Still thinking of others. Maybe something with VIA or beans.

AM Stuff - The past few weeks I've been working more open shifts. Our store opens 5:30am on weekdays and 6am on weekends. This means we need to be there at 5am and 5:30am respectively. And that translates to a 4-something wake-up time. It's rough, but then you have the whole day to run errands, appointments, nap. Right now I'm tired because I opened, but I've already done the laundry and had froyo with a friend (work-friend haha). Not bad for a day's work, ehh?

Cheers - Some customer (not a regular) thought I looked like a character from Cheers. Apparently I have a striking resemblance and personality to Shelly. I really can't say since I didn't watch the series except for a few times as a kid and that was just passing through channels, so I don't recall any of it.

Team - Tuesday we had a team outing to Putters. Alright my Cali friends, get this, it's an indoor mini-golf place. Yes, inside. There are indoor tennis courts here too. It also doubles as a lazer tag place and restaurant. You might recall previous posts about lazer tag - this is that place. The whole team enjoyed some pizza, pepsi and mini golf. It was a good time (Sorry, I forgot about picture taking. Okay, I'll be honest, I felt funny asking people for photos - I hate that). Good times though. We have a few new people joining the team, so it was good to get to know them a bit more.

Signs - I'm still of the official store sign maker. I made a new one this week about how to use your VIA. I also made a hiring management sign. On the latter, I did the ultimate challenge: the Starbucks logo. I think I did pretty well except that our white marker paint pen was dry so it was in yellow.

The End. (But Starbuck's life continues).

P.S. You'll see photos of me on the job at my Flickr album. You'll also see some girls I've become friends with at work.

Starbucks - On the Job

Starbucks - On the Job

Starbucks gone IKEA

I originally was going to call this Star-IKEA to indicate how a recent task I did for work reminded me of putting together IKEA items; however, Josh said that made him think it was a Star Trek reference not Starbucks. I even giggled as I was typing thinking how clever the title was, but sadly I opted to change it to Starbucks gone IKEA. Still clever, right?

Actually, I probably think too much about titles and spend lots of time thinking and not enough time writing - or getting to the point of the blog post for that matter. So let's get to the point!

Yesterday I was assigned to do my first promotion setup. If you've visited a Starbucks recently and enjoyed a frappuccino, then you would have experienced our lasted and greatest. No visit recently? Or didn't get a frapp? Well, we came out with a new frapp recipe - one that uses all fresh ingredients and customizable. You can make it decaf, any milk (or soy), sweeter, etc. Oh wait, you're not a customer...anyway, when we launch these promotions, we put up new banners, retail, stickers on windows, and more. The setup comes as a kit in boxes - just like IKEA! And you know what else is like IKEA, the instructions. It show a picture of the pieces in step one and then they are in the final product in step two. You're left looking at a box full of little things that make you think, "hmm, I wonder how this is going to work?!?" Then the instruction book is like a novel. However, I'll admit, it was a nice change up from the everyday routine.

Here are some pictures of my fabulous setup and my latest artwork;





Here are some other signs I've done recently. Can you guess what we're promoting?? That's right VIA is still going strong! Would you like to take some VIA home with you or for the road? Oh geez, I keep reverting back to my sales talk. I'll just run with it...if you want some delicious VIA, stop by our store today!

Tale of Teas

Since I started working at Starbucks, I've spent a lot of my time talking about coffee. However, I realized tea just isn't getting enough coverage. And you know what...it totally should! I love tea. Tea was a beverage I enjoyed even before coffee. I must attribute my enjoyment of hot tea to my sister. She taught me to add sugar and milk to my black tea - the British way.

Anyway, tea isn't just a terrific drink to have during the cold weather to keep you warm. Nay, it's also quite delicious during the summer as iced tea. Although, I must admit my preference is for hot tea. That said, let's talk about some teas I enjoy...

  • Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf: This is mostly a Southern California chain and their best product is the tea lattes. Heather Richardson introduced me to these lovely tea lattes when I visited LA (a long time ago now). The first favorite was the English Breakfast tea latte. They also had a lemon chamomile tea latte in the springtime. My all-time favorite is the Winter Dream tea latte, which is only available during the winter month (shocking, Winter tea only during winter). The thing that makes the tea lattes so special is this magic vanilla (or chocolate in some) powder that you add to the brewed tea and before adding the frothy milk. Since I knew the ingredients, I thought I could whip up some up of these wonderfully delicious drinks myself at home. While down in SoCal for the holidays, I picked up some of the vanilla powder. Sadly I couldn't find the Winter Dream tea. Luckily Josh's parents came to the rescue and sent us some. My creations are very similar to the in-store drink (perhaps not quite the same, but pretty dang good).

  • Starbucks Loose Teas: This is the latest and greatest at Starbucks. We just released all our teas in loose leaf tea bags. These bags are so much better than the compact, little bags we carried previously. The loose bags allow the tea to disperse and steep, so there is just more flavor burst. We had three teas available in loose bags before the release that were used for our tea lattes - these we didn't have out for purchase in boxes. Now, all teas are loose bag and available for purchase. Now, I can get my favorite tea and bring it home. My favorite is Vanilla Rooibos. It's an herbal, naturally caffeine free tea. It's decent as a latte, but I like it just brewed with a bit of sugar-free vanilla. I just bought it yesterday with my markout.

  • Starbucks Chai Latte: This is still at our stores even though we had the tea bag renovation (mentioned above). It's similar to Oregon Chai in that both are basically a syrup. We add hot water to it to activate the "spices" and then top it off with steamed milk. This is one of my classic favorites, especially adding a bit of vanilla. I enjoy this more than Oregon Chai as it seems to have more spice, yet it's still sweet (you know some chai lattes can be uber spicy).

  • MyChai: This is a local chai from Bend, OR. A few places offer it on their beverage line-up: Full City and Market of Choice. I even like this better than Starbucks Chai (shh, don't tell). It has a bit more bite (spicy) and still slightly sweet, but it's a perfect blend. Sadly, you cannot purchase it to bring home. A in-store enjoyment only.

  • Evening Decaf Tea Options: Good Earth Decaf Vanilla Chai is my favorite. This is just a tea brand you can get at the grocery store, but it's quite good. I first had it in New Haven at Lindsay's apartment. This is great just before bed since it's decaf. I just add a drop of milk and splenda. I enjoy it almost every night. The second runner up is Celestial Seasoning's Sweet Coconut Thai Decaf tea. That's pretty good too - it's more exotic tasting. Beth and Chris had this tea at their place and that's were I discovered this option. Besides these, I've tried other decaf vanilla chai teas and they just don't quite cut it. (Caroline gave me some German teas for Christmas too which I've been enjoying, but those are a Christmas speciality and hard for me to buy for everyday consumption).


This is probably more than you ever wanted to know about my tea drinking. Let's face it though, I've got good taste (wink wink). Plus, you've now taken a step into my life and what I drink in the evenings (besides a large sparkling water).

Josh and I shared some tea during lunch on our mini-trip to Portland over the weekend. Here's a funny photo of us with the tea pot...

Silk Lunch - Pearl District

My Would-Be AD Anniversary

This is going to be a short post, mainly noting my would-be five year anniversary with Acxiom. Oh yes, I was so very close to reaching that five year anniversary mug (or some awesome piece of Acxiom branded nick-nack). In reality, I only made it to about 4.75 years. So Close!

A big shout out to all my Acxiom colleagues. I miss you guys!

(For those of you not in the loop, AD stands for Acxiom Digital. AD was formerly Digital Impact, and now just simply Acxiom).

My Christmas Card Gone Digital

Dear Friends and Family,

This year I'm going digital with my christmas note. I thought this would be the best, and most efficient way to reach everyone. Not to mention, it's getting late in the year at this point and I can post to my blog immediately - no having to wait for the snail mail system.

Blog


Speaking of my blog, this is actually a nice segue into a first topic of my mini 2009 review. I started my blog late summer and have been keeping it up ever since. I've been writing about all my adventures and random thoughts. You might see me say things like joy or joy.us - this is reference to my blog (recall my middle name is Joy). The .us is the domain (to be technically accurate it's a top-level domain, TLD). All this joy stuff is like branding myself - yup, that's my marketing major popping out. Anyway, this is a great way to see what's going on in the life of Heather, so check it out.

Skiing in Tahoe


January I headed out to the slopes with a group of college friends. Melissa, Jimmy, and I skied most of the day together after a quick, reminder class. Then we hit up the easy slopes and enjoyed a sunny day in the snow.

Long Distance Life


Before making the big move up to Oregon, Josh and I continued our back-and-forth visiting in the beginning of the year. He came down a few times and we hit up Sausalito, the Ferry Building, and other SF city favorites. I also made my way up for a few visits to Eugene where we toured the nearby vineyards.

Time with the Family


My parents and my exchange "brother," Kilian, visited me up in the bay area a couple of times this year. During these visits, we made it to many of our usual spots like Muir Woods, a trip to SCU campus, and around SF.

Also, I headed down to Encinitas for my "home fix." Easter was celebrated with our big baskets full of goodies. More recently, I headed down the week before Thanksgiving where I got to experience the Olivenhain Town Hall Christmas Fair yet again (this time without selling hair scrunchies or pies).

The Windy City


In April, I went out to Chicago to celebrate my grandma's big 88th birthday. The whole O'Neill family ventured over to a German restaurant for the festivities. We also got to tour around the windy city a bit with Kilian and meet my baby cousin, Riley.

Summer


Before my big move (see next bullet), I had a whirl wind of events all within just a couple of weeks. Josh and I headed down to San Diego for his cousin's graduation. The post-graduation party was a baseball game San Diego's own Petco Stadium. Then there was a wedding to attend for another one of Josh's cousins in the bay area. Lastly, towards mid-summer, I was wrapped up things at work and started packing.

The Big Move


At the end of June, I made the big move up to Oregon to be near Josh. After two years of long distance, we decided we'd had enough. No more once of month visits, ugh! Josh is in his last year of law school, so I moved up to help support him through the rest of the year. It was all very bitter sweet for me as I've grown to love the bay area over the past 8 something years, not to mention the friends and coworkers. My employer, Acxiom, was very understanding and even let me work remotely for the first 2-1/2 months. Unfortunately, the company has a policy against remote workers, so I was only able to stay on until the end of August.

The Busiest Month of my Life


Josh and I literarily had something going on every weekend of August. We started with a big visit my German friends Caroline and Gerald. We meet up for a long weekend in Seattle and Vancouver. We had a blast (and got the hottest weather on Seattle's record). Gerald and Caroline traveled during the week while Josh and I worked slash went to school, but then we met up again at the end of their trip in Portland. Caroline and I had some bonding time with our nails.

Not only did I have German visitors, but a Dutch one as well. My friend Irene from Holland also got to visit Portland. We ventured out of the city together to see Multnomah Falls and the Columbia Gorge area. It was beautiful. That's all I can say.

Oh, and the month wasn't nearly over. We also had visits from both sets of parents and a trip down to Sacramento for a college friend's wedding. Awesome August!

Barista Life Begins


Since my 4+ years with Acxiom came to a finish at the end of August, I started my next job search. With Josh finishing up law school, and the economy, I decided my best option was to find something that might carry around to other cities, provide benefits, do something I've always wanted to do, and be temporary (not really planning on staying in Eugene post law school). Starbucks was the answer.

Starting the beginning of October, I was Valley River Center Starbucks newest barista. Little did I know how much there is to learn and remember on all the Starbucks drinks! It's been a fun change of pace from the usual desk job and I enjoy meeting all the new people (and regulars).

Hobbies


With some more time on my hands, I've been able to spend some more timing doing things I enjoy. For those of you following my blog, I've been cooking and baking up a storm. I also am trying to learn to knit. However, I'm finding I only can do one switch (even when I think I'm doing a different stitch, sigh). There is obvious blogging hobby now too.

Oregon Life


I'm enjoying living in a new state. You know, I've lived in CA my entire live. Oregon is a gorgeous and friendly state (expect you've got to change those CA plates quick like). One of my favorite state introductions was a day trip out to the McKenzie River. Josh and I took a nice hike, saw covered bridges, and enjoyed the nature. The coast is also nearby and we made a nice weekend out for Josh's birthday.

Mom's 60th in Napa


Early December my mom had a big rendezvous of friends in Napa to join in the celebration of her 60th birthday. Three groups of family friends and our immediate family enjoyed a pleasant, yet rainy extended weekend visit to Napa. I think we probably visited all the wineries in the area by the amount of wine that was tasted (ok, exaggeration there). All in all, good times were had by all.

That was my "quick" recap of my 2009. It's been a year full of change for me, but its all been good change. I'm happy to be near Josh again and we are both excited for the last semester of law school to come to a close and find what lies ahead. As I generally do around the holidays, I've been thinking about all my family and friends. Many of whom helped and supported me through all this year's changes. I'm truly lucky and blessed to have such great family and friends - thank you all!

In the words of Tiny Tim, "God Bless us, everyone!"
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
~Heather

Check out my year in photos with the below video (and remember to read my blog in 2010):



2009 XMas Collage from Heather O'Neill on Vimeo.

Random II

You may remember the Random entry I wrote back at the end of September. This is the second Random entry. I plan on doing these types of posts every now and again because they are easy and I often have smaller topics to bring up but not really needing their own entry. Note the II (yes, I'm going to have to learn Roman numerals better, as I think I only know them up until like 19 or something --> yea Internet).

  • Halloween: Josh and I kept the evening low key and decided to stay in. Plus all the kiddies were depending on us to deliver candy and I did not fail them! We actually didn't really end up getting many trick-or-treaters. This was probably because our porch light doesn't work and so it's pretty dark at our door. We got about 4 door bell rings, but each visit had a fair number of kids. The 4th (and last) ring was like 10 kids at around 7:15pm. This 4th ring got me all excited (& worried about having enough candy), but it turned out to be the last ring of the evening. The only costume I recall is an ambulance made from a box, which I though was very creative. Once the trick-or-treaters were apparently not coming, we settled down to watch Interview with a Vampire. I wanted to prove to myself I could watch this and not have nightmares. Yes, I actually had nightmares about vampires last time. Mainly the nightmare was how I would say to myself (in the dream of course) that I didn't believe in vampires; however, Lestat showed up to prove me wrong! So far no nightmares...whew!

  • Big Game: That would be University of Oregon vs. USC football game that happened this past Saturday. Apparently it was even covered as ESPN College Day. The game brought in lots of out-of-towners and I met them all working a shift on Saturday. There were lots and lots of USC fans (there is a hotel near the store). It was fun to see everyone get so hyped up. Seriously, it's big here. I mean you go to the store and you get asked if you are watching the game, etc. (Sorry Uncle Ron, Aunt Pat & Lindsay - it was a sad day for your team).

  • Flowers: Josh was super sweet and surprised me with flowers on the table when I came home from work the other day. I was feeling less-than-perfect at my coffee abilities that morning before work and this really brightened me up. See the bouquet on Flickr.

  • Pizza Takeout: I just had to mention this. We picked up pizza yesterday and the box was beautifully painted with a flower design. This is where we say, "...only in Eugene." See the box on Flick too. By the way, this is one of our favorite restaurants. It's called Pizza Research Institute (or PRI).

  • Baking Crusade: I'm still baking and cooking a lot! I'm still trying to find the perfect muffin. Yesterday I not only made Sweet Potato Carrot muffins (from family cookbook), but a delicious apple crisp (with modifications, so ask me if you actually try this one). Also prepped dinner for tonight which was scrumptious R. Ray dish she called Turkey Chili and Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie (it's very orange for Halloween).

  • Froyo Alert: My froyo radar is still going strong. Apparently Springfield, Eugene's neighboring town, has a froyo place coming soon. It's called Sweety's (corner of Main and 6th St). I'm desperately trying to find when it opens (I'm not around that part of town much, but I might be soon - wink wink).

  • Missing the Bay: This has been on my mind lately, so I thought I'd share. No no no, don't get me wrong, I'm very happy; however, I still miss many things none-the-less. Oh and Josh agrees on many of these too...

    • Here's a few things I'm missing: Friends (this is the biggest miss!), Yumi Yogurt (and the plethora of options), Malls & Shopping (the mall here stinks and nothing compared to Santana Row and Valley Fair - although I shouldn't be spending anyway so this helps stop me!), Radio Stations(really they need better music, but I got iTunes, Pandora, and streaming), YMCA (miss the people, classes, and the little TVs on each treadmill. BUT I'm enjoying Oakway Fitness cycle and interval classes), the Liveliness of the Bay (how in the Bay you are on the cutting edge of what's new and cool...am I missing anything? should I know about anything up and coming?), and Restaurants(very limited here). Sure there is more, but that would be sad to continue. I MISS YOU GUYS!

    • On the flip side, I could list a bunch of things I'm enjoying here in Eugene too: Josh is here (yes, this is #1), Coffee Shops & Bakeries (not just Starbucks either, but Full City and more), Nature & Trails (did you see my hike post from last weekend? enough said), Friendly people (very gun-ho on the sports, just more smiles and hellos while you're out and about), Seasons (pretty colors), and more.



  • Starbucks:

    • Funny Weekend Experience: Josh and I decided to stop at the River Valley Center Mall on Saturday after my shift. As I wanted into various stores I saw our "regulars." I was like "oh there is the "iced venti, 6 pump sugar free vanilla, passion tea" customers! I reminded me of my mom (Mrs. O'Neill, the teacher) going shopping and seeing her students. Hehe.

    • Telephone Game: A customer mentioned this and I thought it pretty right-on...working at Starbucks is like a big game of Telephone (just not whispering). You call it out and then it goes down the line of others calling it out.

    • What's Heather Drinking: I added a sidebar plug-in to share my "drink creations" - check it out on the right. I'm still playing around with this setup, so if it's not there right now then come and check again. Until it's 100% up and running, my newest I've been calling Snickers. This is basically a mocha with hazelnut and caramel syrups. How I "call it" (order it)? Here you go: double tall, 2 pump sugar-free hazelnut, 2 pump sugar free caramel, non-fat, no whip, 1 pump mocha.





  • Josh's Creative Work: To end on a high note, Josh was playing around with the video and photos from my iPhone from our hike last weekend. Here's the result (enjoy!):




Clips From Sahalie Falls from Joshua Brown on Vimeo.