Our 2016 Christmas Letter

Dearest Friends and Family,

It’s been big year for our family, full of blessings and changes! 


People tell you that having a baby changes your life and before it happens you think “yea yea, sure, I get it.” However, you don’t truly understand what they mean until you actually have a baby of your own. 

Now, we understand. The change is huge, but wonderful. We feel so blessed to have Caleb in our lives. Josh and I often look at each other and try to remember life before Caleb, and it’s now all seems like a lifetime ago.

Caleb joined our family at the start of the year. He was very close to being a New Years baby and was born January 2, 2016. Although, it all did start on New Years day when we were out to dinner. People like to joke that we missed the tax benefit…that was the furtherest thing from our minds, haha. He came early and quickly, and he’s been on the go ever since. Caleb is almost a year old now and is non-stop energy and fun. We love his curious and observant nature. Soon he’ll be walking and his mama will be running. 

If you want to see him grow, here’s the posts from this year: birthwelcomenewborn photosfirststwo monthsthree monthsfour monthsfive months (and another), six monthsseven monthseight monthsnine monthsten months, and eleven months


When I said it was a big year for us, I really meant it. Not only did we welcome Caleb to the world, but we also bought our first home in a new town. We were thrilled to be able to find a cute home in Tacoma, WA. Tacoma is just about 30 miles southwest of Seattle. It’s smaller than Seattle, but very family oriented and we are enjoying exploring a new area. It’s been fun being first time home owners and definitely a change from renting. No more calling the landlord if an issue comes up! The home was move-in ready, perfect since taking on renovations with a baby sounded a bit terrifying. We do hope to make some updates to it in the future to really make it our style. 

Asha, the Pup

Asha is two years old now. She is the goofiest dog Josh and I have ever had. She’s been through changes this year with a baby to contend with and a new home. Luckily, she gets a backyard to roam and later on, a kid to play with. But for now she’s happy to curl up on her mat and just be near the family. 

She did go to doggie boot camp this fall and is now can walk off-leash with us and play at the park without running off. She’s definitely the biggest rascal we’ve had and look forward to her mellowing out (in a lovable way).


More changes with jobs, too. I didn’t return to work after having Caleb, so I am officially a stay-at-home mom. I like to think of myself as Director of Home Operations. It’s amazing how much work staying at home is, but it’s totally worth it. This commercial captures it perfectly! That said, I have enjoyed seeing Caleb’s development and being able spend my days with him. Also, I have picked up writing for a pregnancy and parenting site called HelloBee

Josh is on his fourth year with Logic 20/20, a business and technology consulting firm. He still is project-based and goes where his client is located. Mainly, he’s been going to Tukwila, which is lucky since it’s halfway between Seattle and Tacoma. Mostly, his projects remain technology centered and the work keeps him very busy. 


Big trips weren’t in the cards this year given a baby and new home, but we managed a few getaways to the grandparents. We took Caleb down to San Diego to visit Grandma and Grandpa O’Neill in June and then in October we went to Ivins, UT to visit Grandma and Grandpa Brown. Caleb was a pretty good flier and thankfully the passengers surrounding us were all very friendly and nice (and patient). Otherwise, we enjoyed mini-day trips like the pumpkin patch or just around town in between nap time. 

We've enjoyed some visitors as well from both grandparents and Aunt Lindsay. And you’re always welcome to visit the Pacific Northwest! We love having people over. 

Merry Christmas!

We feel so blessed with all that have come to us this year. We are excited as we head into 2017 to see what adventures life will bring. We hope you are enjoying the holiday season. Cheers to our loving family and friends. 


Josh, Heather, Caleb, and Asha

Looking Back 2012

We're already 19 days into 2013. Crazy. I wanted to take a moment to say goodbye to 2012, and capture some of the great times. I've created a lovely slideshow to show what my 2012 looked like in pictures. You'll find pictures about...

  • Trip to Zion National Park
  • Going to Vancouver with the in-laws
  • My parents in town (x2!) - Wine & Leavenworth
  • Snowshoeing & Mt Rainier
  • Chicago with family
  • Meandering Seattle

Enjoy the show! Now, 2013, here I come!

Beauty, Wine, & Wind

This birthday was a big one for me, a turn of another decade of my life. But I celebrated in style, thanks to my wonderful husband. He put a lot of effort into making my 30th great. Gotta love him! 

The celebration began on Friday night after work. I got to open my presents. I got some great gifts including some new photography tools. My parents got me a new lens, a 42mm. Josh got me filters - UV ray and polarized filters. You'll get to see the results of these soon. Not to forget, a cute necklace from my sis, and ticket to Cirque de Soleil for when we visit Las Vegas from the Browns. 

Saturday morning, Josh and I drove off to have a special birthday getaway. We went to Cave B Inn out near Quincy, WA. The drive there is about 2.5 hours and goes through Snoqualmie Pass and then past windmills, then ends up at a beautiful river gorge. 

Driving near Cle Elum Windmills near Ellensburg

On our drive there, we made a lunch stop in a cute little town called Roslyn. You might know it from the TV show, Northern Exposure since this is where it was filmed. We walked around and re-fueled at a delicious sandwich place called Mountain Mermaid.

Beauty (and Resorts)

When we reached Cave B, we were awed by it's beauty. The resort sat right next to the gorge with grape vines growing all around. The resort itself we awesome too. 

Sunset on the Gorge Cave B Inn at Sunset

Wine (and Food)

The resort not only was a beautiful hotel, but also a winery. We got there in the late afternoon and ended up spending the remainder of our afternooon having a glass of wine and looking out at the gorge. Did I mention the weather was sunny and warm with a nice cooling wind? 

Heather enjoying wine Josh enjoying wine

That night we enjoyed my birthday meal at the Cave B's restaurant, Tendrils. We sat at the window and did some more looking out at the gorge, and at our tasty food. Yumm halibut, my favorite. Ohhh, bread pudding, I do adore thee.

Lavender Lemon Drop Bread Pudding Dessert

Wind (and Yurts)

Cave B also has these cool Yurts, which are like a cross between a hotel room, a tent, and a hut. They have a bed, electricity, shower, and all those regular hotel amenities, but it's a tent. Fun, right? Well, not so fun when you start getting 40+ mph winds hitting you. At one point, a big gust hit around 2am, and Josh sat up and declared, "That's It!" Apparently he was dreaming of the yurt blowing down, and was preparing for us to exacute. But we survived the night, maybe with a bit less sleep than we would have liked. Next time, it's a cliffhouse (probably work the extra bucks).

Our Yurt at Cave B Inn Yurts at Sunset

The next morning the winds were still blowing, so we nix the swimming idea. So we enjoyed our brunch and headed home.

A beautiful weekend celebrating my special day. Thanks Josh! ♥

P.S. Do you see the results of my new lens and filters in my pictures. Please say yes, please say yes. 

H&J at Cave B Inn

The Big 3.0.

Yes, I turned 30 yesterday. And you know what, being 30 ain't that bad. I don't feel any older, and I don't think I look any older than I did a few days ago, or even a year ago really. Heck, people still think I'm 20-something. In other words, 30 is a good age.

Now that I'm a mature 30 year old, I'd like to give all you younger folks a bit of advice in my older age - pass along some wisdom. I could give you 30 tips on life, but Joy did this already. Read her post, I think she covers it. I like this one:

"Being thirty one does not suck unless you think it sucks for some reason."

I don't think it sucks. In fact, I celebrated it and indulged in it. I love birthdays. It feels so good to hear from all your family and friends, it makes you feel special. So hugs and kisses to you all.

And be like me: EAT CAKE.

30th Birthday Cake

(Shh, don't tell, I made my own cake and ate it)

Oh, and look at these beautiful flowers my In-Laws gave me. Delivered straight to my desk at the office. They make me smile. 

Birthday Flowers

Happy Birthday to me. And thanks to you all for making it so special. Thank you. 


Family + Festivities

To sum up Christmas this year in one word I would chose: Great! It was Josh and my first Christmas together as husband and wife. Although our Christmas festivities were the same, there was that tinge of something extra in our hearts. More complete. (Aww, isn't that sickenly sweet?! At least, that's what my sister would say.)

Now that I have the sentiment stuff out, let's talk about what we did. Well, we headed down to our dear families in SoCal. Wednesday night after work, we caught a plane down to Orange County. Josh's parents picked us up (with hot cocoa and tea in the car) and drove us to Palm Springs. We spent a few days in Indio (to be specific). Christmas morning we all--Don, Nada, Josh, me, and Gus--got in the car and headed to Encinitas. We spent Christmas day with my parents including Christmas dinner. Josh parents stayed at a hotel, but then drove home that morning after breakfast. Then Josh and I spend until Tuesday with my parents.

That was our trip in a nutshell, but let's talk some specifics:


We ate quite a few dates in Indio. Did you know that Palm Springs area grows most of our nations dates? There is a famous store there called Shields that sells dates and date shakes. They have a little cafe where I enjoyed some date pancakes. We bought some dates for our Christmas appetizer, Goat Cheese stuffed dates (recipe here). Not to forget, we had a salad with dates and then Christmas Eve we order proscuitto wrapped dates. Whew, lots of dates.

 Shields Dates Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates


I've been on a dog craze lately. I want a dog so bad I can't see straight. Alas we can't have a dog in our apartment, especially the kind I want. So I got my dose of dogs with Gus and Keely. Aren't they the cutest doggies?!

 Sleepy Keely Say hi to Gus


I could have made dates part of this section, but I thought it deserved its own (seriously, we ate a lot of dates). We had all sorts of yum-yum foods over the holidays. Nada and I made some dark chocolate walnut fudge and peanut brittle. We also made the date appetizer. Then we had a feast for Christmas dinner--turkey, ham, carrots, mashed potatoes, cauliflower, & jello. Along with dessert which included a selection of cookies and an apple spice cake. Deliciousness.

 Christmas Cookies Queen Mom Chows Down


This is the #1 thing about the holiday. We got to spend some awesome time with both of families and time with the families all together too. Nada, my MIL, and I got our nails done. Josh and Don went to Salvation Mountain together. We played scrabble. My family went to dog beach together. We watched movies together. It was lots of togetherness.

 Browns & O'Neills A Game of Scrabble


Although our trip was short, we got to see some friends too (and eat out a bunch). In the desert we saw Kevin and Genny with their two kids (@Red Robin). We also saw the Harvey family (@ Tommy Bahama restaurant). Pat and Heather Richardson (@ Solace). Don & Sue Hartley (@ Solace too). Jonathan Hartley and Nikki (@Xmas Dinner).

 Josh, Kevin, Dylan


You can't deny it, the gifts are fun too! I got some aweome gifts this year. Josh got my a Kindle. The Browns a great jacket, shoes, and a few other winter weather wear. My parents got me a useful gift for Seattle...a new rain jacket. I got slippers too. Then all the little stocking stuffers. Awesome. Some gifts I gave include: Josh lots of of clothes (I hit it big with Gap and Black Friday weekend). My mom some sapphire earrings (I lost the ones I borrowed for the wedding-sad), dad and Nada both got wedding calendars. My sister a Lucky shirt. Don got a Kindle too. Lots of gifts all around.

 Heather Gets a Kindle Dad wears a gift Lindsay and her Pig A Gift for me!

Want more photos? Go to my Wintertime Flickr album.

Out with the Old


By now you've probably noticed something has changed with my blog. It had a makeover. 

I actually just switched services. In case your like geeky stuff, I'll tell you the details. My previous blog service was WordPress. It was great when I started, plus it was free. However, I kept having to update the program (and I'm not very good at that, as evident from the red circle with the number on my iPhone indicating updates needed). 

Anyway, the service grew old and slow. Posting took ages and got rather annoying. After some presuasion from Josh and a free trial, I decided it was time for a switch. I switched to SquareSpace. The service isn't free, but I got 10% off since Josh heard a discount code on some podcast he listens to. Being a paid service, I find that the application is much better. It's faster, No manually updating is required, and there are some cool features. 

I'm still working on some tweaks, but this is the new look for now. I hope you like it. :)

And we'll always remember the old blog:


This weekend there were two celebrations. TWO. Both in Chicago. Two hints: One party was about age and the color related to the other party would best be matched with white.

Give up? Okay, I'll tell you....Grandma Ruth had her 90th Birthday and I had my first ever Bridal Shower! Woohoo Party!

The West Coast O'Neill family headed out to Chicago for these big celebrations. The whole gang arrived in Chicago on Friday evening (although my mom got their earlier in the week to meet up with friends and spend extra time). The first stop, dinner at Gale Street Inn, of course. My family is extremely, and I mean extremely, predictable when it comes to Chicago visits. The first dinner is always ribs at Gale Street. The other predictable stops include Lou Malnati's (or sometimes Ginos East), Hackneys and Portellos.

The Day of Parties:

Party #1: My Bridal Shower

The Princess Bride...Me!

Saturday was the party day. The fun started at 1pm at my cousin Erin's home. It was so great to see everyone come over from all over to celebrate. We had a jolly good time. Considering it started at 1pm, we began with a tasty lunch. We had a trio of salads - strawberry, spinach, goat cheese salad, fruit salad, and curried chicken salad. Yum!

Then we had some fun games - what's a shower without those games everyone loves?! We played the guess that famous couple game, the bride's favorites, and then I had to test my knowledge about Josh. I got 13 out of 20 right. That may sound bad, but some where things Josh didn't even think about before (I asked him afterwards, and he was like, "I don't even know!"). How can you get something right when the person the question is about doesn't even know. I do pride myself on some of the right ones those (that, or it's sickening how right I was). For instance, his favorite food. Anyone who knows Josh, knows this question should be what Josh does NOT like! I have a little secret...I sort of like these games!

Next up: dessert! The hosts sure know me because it was no other than frozen yogurt with a toppings bar - a froyo store at home! How freakin' awesome is that?! Not to mention my favorite flavors cookies 'n cream and peanut butter were present. I had to go back for seconds.

Froyo Bar Shower Overview

We wrapped up the party with gifts (pun intended there). I got tons of gifts. It was a cooking themed shower so I got some great recipes. In fact, I'm trying one out - a chicken marinade (it's in the frig now). I got all sorts of great kitchen gadget and tools to better my cooking efforts in the kitchen. To name a few: dutch oven, cutting board, cookie press, bowls, and then nice plates to put all this food on. Since I was just visiting, everyone was sweet enough to send the boxes to my house. Yes, they have been piling up. I kept looking longingly at the pile of boxes as mounted higher and higher the past weeks (I tore through them when I got home). Kitchen fun coming!!

The shower was super fun and better yet, I got to see lots of my family. :) Thanks Erin, Aunt Ann, Beth, Aunt Jan, and everyone else who helped make it a great shower!

CousinsMom Enjoys Strawberries Back Home - Unwrap Time!

Party #2: Grandma's 90th Birthday

We all headed out from the shower directly to Hackney's for some more celebrations. Woot Woot! This time all the guys joined in the fun for some hamburgers and family time. We had around 30 people to join Grandma in celebrating 90 years. Since Grandma loves pictures, I decided to put together a photo book for her (using my iMac). It warmed my heart to see her ask, "is it really for me?" Twice! (Okay, that might be memory, but still. But I did see her going through the book when we picked her up the next day...). I also put together a slideshow to put out for everyone to watch (watch it now). It was on top of the table that displayed all her birthday cards. And she had a LOT of card (my mom tried to get as many people to send them to her - cute!).

There were speeches and story telling, babies running in circles (literally, in circles, it's call catch me), laughs, and hugs. The party really turned out great. I hope (and think) Grandma felt loved.

Grandma Ruth's 90th Birthday from Heather O'Neill on Vimeo.

Grandma blows out the candles on her 90th Birthday. The whole family got together to celebrate this weekend (4/30/11).

Happy Birthday Grandma!

Giving Grandma her Book Blow out the Candles!

The Non-Party Day:

What a drag; no parties! Sigh. Just kidding. I think everyone was wiped out from all the partying. We're wild ones, us O'Neills. Sunday was a day for Josh and me to meet up with Uncle Chuck to not just see him, but prepare for the big day. We meet up for lunch and some chatting. Then we finished the night celebrating (fooled you! we don't stop) my Uncle Mike's birthday. We went to Uncle Mike and Aunt Ann's home in Crystal Lake for Chicago pizza.

And that my friends, is how you party. O'Neill's know how to party-party.

P.S. You know me, there are TONS more pictures to check out. GO HERE.

Back in the Saddle

The runner up for this post's title, was Many Happy Returns. Both cheery, but Back in the Saddle just seemed fitting. And now, I'm sure you're singing along. But really, by the end of the week, I was singing more like this Aerosmith song than Gene Autry. Just kidding, but not, but really.

Okay, seriously now, this past week was getting back into the old groove. It was great to be back at the Acxiom office in Foster City seeing all the familiar faces (and sad to see some not there anymore). It was so nice to catch up with so many friends again. The I was back to the computer, digital world. Just nice to be back (in an office chair, not a saddle, mind you).

Most of my week was getting setup and doing some training. I also got a new laptop loaded with awesome programs, attended meetings, and submitting tickets. Fun times.

Speaking of fun times, take a look at the rental car I got for the week. Actually, I felt pretty ridiculous...orange convertible and Heather just done fit in the same sentence -- perhaps Heather and Porsche do (well, in my dreams they do - wink wink).

The best part of the week were the evenings seeing all my friends. Night #1, Tuesday, was "the gang" (this is how Josh and I refer to our group of college friends: Manual, Jimmy, Chris, Jeff, and Melissa). I had dinner with Melissa in Menlo Park at Sultanas, and then the gang went to Fraiche for some delicious froyo. Night #2, Wednesday, I meet with my friend Lara (an ex-Acxiomer). We had din din down at Pizza Antica on Santana Row followed up with the best froyo ever...Yumi Yogurt...with the best flavor, graham cracker cheesecake. Night #3, Thursday, my last night, was happy hour with Acxiom friends (and old Acxiom friends - everyone still seems to show up for happy hour even though they are no longer with Acxiom...we just that fun of people). Great friends, great times!

I'm grateful for my first week at the office getting some good face-to-face time with my team. Now, I'm back in Seattle and tomorrow starts my first week being home based! Before the work week begins, Josh and I tried to get me all setup with a home office. We made a stop at IKEA on Saturday and Storables today. Then we spent time getting it all together (and built...gotta love IKEA). It's not quite done, but it's workable. I'll share a picture when it's all setup and beautiful.


Wish me luck this week!

Hello Again

This is the much-anticipated post. I know you've been on the edge of your computer seat ever since I built up the suspense in my Later Partner post. You can now relax, I'm releasing the big news. Some of you may already know, but I'm going back. Back to...wait for it...Acxiom.

It's time to suit up and head back to work folks. Man, I've been waiting to use the suit up song for some time now. No, no, I don't actually have to wear a suit. In fact, I could wear my comfies (that's what I call my PJs, yoga-style pants, etc). Wrong again, I can't wear comfies to the Acxiom office, but since I'll be working from home I could. Yes, I'll be home-based here in Seattle. I probably won't wear comfies because all the studies on working from home say you should actually wear normal clothes, but it is possible.

I'll be heading down to Foster City (the Bay Area) Tuesday (tomorrow) through Friday this week for my first week. I'll be training, doing HR paperwork, and all that type of new hiring type stuff. Then I'm back to Seattle and setting up my home office. Next weekend is a big IKEA trip so we can turn this place into a productive-efficiency-awesome environment.

So, it's hello again Acxiom. Hello again friends at the office. Hello again Bay Area (every once in a while). Hello again sitting at a computer and not at an espresso machine. Hello again weekends. Hello again routine schedule. But not Hello Again, the movie. That was bad. Josh says I should be embarrassed to even have watched the movie. I was young, and didn't know any better okay.

Or as I like to say...(note - A is for Acxiom)....

Hello Again Uncle A

Picture of me at a Career Fair January 2008.

R and R in SD

After plenty of Vitamin D, the visit moved onto more R&R (that's Rest and Relaxation) activities. My dad had to work and Johan had to go to school, so the girls had fun.

It started Tuesday with a massage at Sante Day Spa. This special treat was in celebration of my new job. I found the place on Yelp (typical me...you know I probably ought to write reviews on it since I use it so much). What was nice is that they offer 10% on Tuesdays...perfect! At first I was a bit weary of the place. We drove into a commercial looking building. After walking though the building, we came across this little spa hidden inside. As we entered, this guy at the desk came out with a heavy French accent. Let's hope it was a true accent. That would have been weird otherwise. Trying to make it more foofy with a accent. But it was real. I think. But, he seemed genuinely nice.

We entered and it seemed to expand further back and you would have to look back out the door to truly believe you were in a commercial looking building. They offered a steam room, sauna, and relaxation nook before the massage. We were led to a locker room to get ready. They had all the little things you might need afterwards - a brushes, lotion, showers, etc - how sweet. Then I attempted the steam room. It was like a shower billowing out puffs of hot steam. It was suffocating, yet somehow refreshing. I could feel the pore on my face go crazy. I didn't stay long because I think I'm a bit claustrophobic. It was pleasant though. My mom chilled on a chair in the relaxation nook where there were small treats and a trickling fountain.

Next the two masseuses came in and introduced themselves and lead us to the rooms. My masseuse was Christine. It was an hour of heaven. She was very nice and was sure to ask if there were any trouble areas. Definitely recommend this place. And that was relaxation experience #1.

We followed this up the next day, my last day, with a pedicure and manicure. Now, after working at Starbucks, my nails really needed help. Extreme help. Crying out for help, help.

See these feet? Don't they loook tired? Don't they need help? Look closely. There is a rip on the one big toe. Chips everywhere. Sad. These our my beach walk feet, what they  need are Beachy Toes.

Beach Feet

Perfect name, right? Again, I found the place on Yelp. Mom and I had a bit of trouble finding it at first. It was off Hwy 101 South - a long road with tons of shops. We finally got there on and on an empty tank of gas I should add. The place had cute beach decor. The girls were nice too. They chit chatted with us and did a nice job. It did take a while, but we enjoyed our experience.

Sigh of relief. Relaxation. Rest. Nice. It was a pleasant end to my visit home.

Thanks Parents!!! You're the best!!!!

I'd show you the after picture of my nails, but my feet are hidden in slippers and my hands in mittens up here in Seattle. Back to reality.

Vitamin D in SD

I'm replenishing my Vitamin D stocks in San Diego right now. I left a rainy, stormy Seattle on Saturday evening to arrive to a sunny, clear San Diego. Sunday morning I woke up, went downstairs to discover I didn't even need a jacket! Not only that, but I could also wear flip flops -- Hot Dog! And dang, I should have brought my sunglasses!

Vitamin D Day 1 - Sunday

We started Sunday by paying a visit to my all-time favorite muffin place...Honeys! Honeys has been a breakfast destination of the O'Neill family for years. Before I used to just around from coffee place to bakery place to find the perfect muffin. Finally, around high school, I found it at Honeys. They have this low-fat, oat bran muffin with fruits and it simply delicious. We've been going there for breakfast ever since. The guy there remembers me since I'm the girl that would buy a dozen muffins before heading back to school, or wherever I lived, and brought them back with me. I would freeze them and enjoy them for 12 wonderful days. I think the TSA people must have thought I was crazy. The legend has continued even in my absence. My parents have also latched onto Honeys. My dad always gets two old-fashioned, plain donuts and tea. My mom switched over the years to the egg, ham, and avocado scramble to fruit, yogurt, and granola bowl. My sister, well, she gets random stuff. Me...the muffin. Then you get to enjoy such treats on Coast Hwy 101 in downtown Encinitas on the sunny patio, or inside. I thought I should dedicate a mini-review to Honeys. People on Yelp like it too. Good memories there. And Keely got to join in the fun this time too.

Me and My Muffin Mom and Keely Keely Likes Honeys Too

After a filling up on a fabulous breakfast, we headed off to South Cardiff State Beach to enjoy the sunny day with Keely. I walked Keely with occasional sprints after she begged me with those excited eyes and skip in her step saying, "come on Heather, let's run! Yea Yea Yea, let's goooo!" So I would run, or get pulled, with my flip flops and my arms flapping around trying to keep up (you know, running in flip flops isn't the easiest thing to do). What a nice way to enjoy life in SoCal.

Walk on the Beach Walk on the Beach Walk on the Beach

In the afternoon, we headed out to UTC for some shopping. I got myself some Converse shoes with a gift certificate (woohoo). On a sunny day, UTC is fun to wander and shop around. Ahhh. My mom and I also got our make-up done after randomly walking by Bare Essentials, the mineral make-up place. It's actually a cool make-up and we both felt brand-new. We treated ourselves to some new foundation and join in on the mineral make-up fun.

We rounded out the day with a lovely dinner in Carlsbad to celebrate my new job and visit home. I hadn't been to this restaurant before, but it's a little place called Paon. Again, we enjoyed our meal on the patio. Perfection. I had myself a pomegranate cocktail and some delicate, fresh sea bass.

Vitamin D Day 2 - Monday

Monday morning was pretty low-key. Everyone had something to do, but me! I found this quite exciting. Sleep! I love you sleep. I woke up and then looked and the clock and plopped my head back down. The only thing that got me out of bed was a little rumbling in my tummy. With dad at work, mom at her physical therapist, and Johan at school, it was just me and the dog. My mom returned around 10:30am, so then it was off to Peets. I introduced her to the yummy latte that Peet's serves. I could see her eyes brighten after her first sip. I knew she liked it when she asked, "what is this?" And then she's said, "you have to write that down for me!" Then, powered up with caffeine, we went next door to Trader Joe's for dinner groceries.

In the afternoon, it was time to work. I headed over to Vanorsdale Insurance to do some training on Constant Contact. I was handing over the torch on their email marketing. I was quite impressed with my memory on getting to the office - the 5, to the 805, to the 52, to the 15. Whew! I had the navigation system, but she wasn't helping me much - thanks memory! I even walked in and everything looked the same. Memories of working in the summers came running back to me. Ahh, the high school and college days.

For dinner, we had a Valentines Day celebration with friends. We bought some Chick's rotisserie chicken and I make the sides - Trader Joe's 3 Grain Rice Blend and Judy's cauliflower dish (well, it's actually Food Network's recipe, but it's funny how a dish gets someone's name when they make it for a group of people. Now that I've made it several times, perhaps it's Heather's cauliflower dish to some folks). And what better to end a meal then with frozen yogurt from Golden Spoon!

I have Tuesday and Wednesday left here at home...another post to come...

NOTE: Don't get the Vitamin D thing? Check it out. It's a sun thing.

Walk on the Beach

Christmas Whirlwind

Christmas Day was a whirlwind: Presents, Packing, Driving, Family, Presents, Eat, Stockings, Friends, Presents, Dinner, Cleaning, Relax. Whew!

Josh and I started Christmas in Indio with the Browns. We woke up and immediately started presents. We spent a good hour and a half with lots of laughter and fun while opening. Then we noticed the time. The rush began. We races to eat, pack, and get on the road.

A few highlights during the Brown Christmas:

  • The Prank: Nada did the best prank ever. Apparently there are boxes at Bed, Bath, and Beyond that show Infomercial type products on the box. Well, she found one that was a family snuggie and another that was a Dream griddle. The snuggie had two head holes and four arm holes. The griddle also had a alarm clock and showed pictures of a guy making breakfast in bed at his hotel. Quite believable actually. Don and Josh fell for it. They seriously couldn't believe Nada would gives these things to them. Then Don tossed the box to me. It seemed awfully light. Wait a second...that's not right! Hmm, let's see. Oh my, it opens to something else...a nice sweater and work shirt. Bamboozled. Gotcha! Well done Nada!

  • Josh's Big Gifts: Josh received every piece of technology he wanted this year. His lovely fiancee gave him the Kindle for reading on all his upcoming business travels. Don and Nada gave him the PS2 - with BlueRay and Netflix capability (I gain from this one too).

  • Don and Nada Gifts: Don got some great photography items and Nada got a trip for both of them to Hawaii (I'm jealous on this one!).

By 10:45am we were on the road to Encinitas. Josh's parents drove us since they were going to visit a family member in Orange County after dropping us off. We arrived to the O'Neill household at one o'clock. We hugged and got right to the circle of unwrapping. I say circle because that's how it works every year. We all sit in a circle (well, we all have our spots that are almost in a circle) and then we unwrap presents clockwise, one at a time.

The Browns joined us for a few rounds, but they were soon off on the road. The rest of stayed behind and  continued the circle of unwrapping. We tore through the presents, pressed for time. Then we quickly ate some food, but then got right back to unwrapping stockings with the "don't look, just unwrap" mentality. Go. Go. Go.

We finished at 3:50pm, just in time for guests to arrive at 4pm. We had quite a few guests: John, Jan, Lindsay, Heather, Josh, Johan, Don, Sue, Jessica, Dave, Jon, Nikki, Judy, Bill, Dorothy. You counted right - 15 guests. We enjoyed turkey, ham, cauliflower (this was delicious - Judy gave me the recipe), mashed potatoes, green beans, jell-0, stuffing, and some vegetarian version of some too. A feast indeed. Then to top it with dessert: apple spice cake, cookies, kahlua cake, and glogg.

A few highlights from the O'Neill Christmas:

  • Heather Gifts: Fossil purse, boots, warm clothes, and well plenty of other great stuff - practically everything that I asked Santa for...and more including the awesome camera from Josh.

  • Swedish Visitor: Johan is staying with my parents for a few months and joined us this year. Based off his good, Swedish judgement, I can offically say my pepparkakor is authentic. He also introduced drinking glogg, a classic Scandinavian hot spiced wine punch, after our decadent Christmas dinner.

  • Mom's Big Gift: Kindle. Josh and mom are Kindle twins.

  • Stockings: Over flowing with goodies. Can they really be stockings stuffers still if they don't fit into the stocking? This is my mom's favorite part of gift giving.

With family and friends all together, we had a great Christmas. We were all pooped at the end, but with smiles on our faces and sugar fairies dancing in our heads.

Christmas Day Christmas Day

Eve in the Desert

Surprisingly enough, we started Christmas Eve by heading to El Paseo, the shopping district of Palm Springs. Not because we were behind on gifts, but to go to the Apple Store for some urgent computer help. Don bought a new computer and Josh was helping him get it setup; however, it wasn't going so swell...long story short, they got it fixed after a visit to Apple.

While the guys were talking the tech talk, Nada and I did some pre-Christmas shopping. It seems the sales started before Christmas and went straight through the holidays. With nails yesterday, and shopping today...it was a nice girly, bonding time for Nada and me.

Afterward we met up with the guys again and grabbed some grub at Sammy's. For those of you that don't know, Sammy's is similar to California Pizza Kitchen (CPK). There is a battle within the O'Neill household as to which is preferred. My thoughts: CPK for pizza and Sammy's for pasta or salad.

The afternoon was random errands and then the holidays officially began at 4:30pm. We headed over to Southwest Community Church for the Christmas Eve Service. Now, we went to a service here last Christmas Eve and it was nice, but the skit was, well, it was lame (I was afraid to use lame and church in the same sentence...but it's the truth, and I'm sure it's best to be truthful). This year the service was great. There was singing and more singing. Christmas carols old and new. The sermon was short and sweet and we all enjoyed the service. The only crazy part: they brought in a singing Elvis for Blue Christmas. HA!

In the spirit of A Christmas Story, we had Chinese food for Christmas Eve at P.F. Changs. Don't you remember the part with the goose head and the "ra ra ra ra" for "Fa la la la" - too funny. If you don't remember now, I insist that you go re-watch it right now. Now. I mean it. Now.

After a satisfying dinner, we headed back home for some stocking action. Time is limited Christmas morning since we have to drive out to Encinitas, so we wanted to get the gifts going. Plus, little did I know, Josh had a reason to give me his give to me early on in the Christmas celebrations. You'll see.

So we unwrapped the stockings and received a years worth of chocolate. In fact, we decided the theme was chocolate. Candy bars, truffles, hot chocolate, chocolate jelly bellys. Chocolate. We even had chocolate lava cakes for dessert as we opened chocolates (the others did, I had a huge bowl of gingerbread frozen yogurt - could live get any better?). We also got some handy items like travel size soaps and baggies.

In addition, Josh gave me his big gift to me. Now, this gift covers Christmas, Valentines Day, St Patrick's Day, Easter, and maybe even part of my birthday. Drum roll please...I got an shiny new, small, professional quality camera called a Panasonic Lumix GF1 (the link has some example photos and video - one word, awesome). Now, I can take awesome pictures for the rest of the holiday! (yes, I use the word awesome a lot - it's an awesome word).

After stockings and one gift each, we all went to bed to dream of santa and the day to come.

Christmas Eve Christmas Eve Christmas Eve

Eve Before the Eve

Josh and I are following the same schedule for the Christmas holiday as last year...desert then coast. We arrived to the desert, specifically Indio, CA the night of Wednesday the 22nd. The flight was on time and smooth. Upon arriving, we were greeted with hugs and kisses from the Browns, Josh's parents (and my soon-to-be parent-in-laws). We actually flew into Long Beach since pricing was better, so we arrived late in the evening and had a semi-long drive out to Indio. Good catch-up time though.

Our first day began in total relaxation mode. What better way to start a vacation than relaxing? I have been waiting for so long for the holiday and having several days off with family and fun. Nada and I headed over to Prestige Nails for some pampering. I sat in a magical chair that not only massaged your back and neck, but your hips. Not to mention, my pedicure was heavenly. Tom, the technician, must have been a physical therapist because he was so good. I may have drooled and fallen asleep (not in that order). My feet were so pretty - a fun dark blue, metallic color. The color was so cool that Nada saw the color and had to have it too. The fun didn't stop there, I also got a manicure. Working at Starbucks has destroyed my hands - they were a mess. Now, they are cleaned up, shaped, and beautiful with a sparkly, light pink color. Very girly...love it.

After our pampering, we headed to lunch with the guys at The Jackalope. The restaurant atmosphere is fun with pig statues and adobe secco style. We enjoyed sharing roasted chicken, salads, and yummies.

The boys took off for some quality time shooting birds. Sheesh, not shooting bird (you have an evil mind), but rather photographing birds at the Salton Sea. By the way, Don has some absolutely great photos from there. He ventures out there often for photographs. This time was to test out a new lens. Meanwhile the girls stayed home to do some wrapping, chatting, and enjoying pictures.

That evening we headed to La Quinta Resort's Adobe Grill for a Feliz Navidad experience. The resort is all decked out of the holidays. Lights and trees and ribbons and poinsettias. Gorgeous! The resort was built around 1926 and still has a classic feel about it...very Waldorf Astoria. Wait a second, it is part of the Waldorf Astoria Collection. Go figure.

Our dinner was delicious. Josh and I both had chicken fajitas while Don and Nada had tacos. We laughed and had a good time. It was nice to sit out on the patio in December and still be comfortable. As we left, I said "Feliz Navidad" to our waitress and she relied, "prospero un ano nuevo!" Spanish. Awesome.

To finish our day Josh and I headed to Josh's good friend's house, Kevin and Genny, for the Annual Christmas Game Night. We played Catch Phrase, Apples to Apples (the writer of this blog was the winner - not bragging, just stating fact), and Would You Rather (which we all decided was quite boring). It was fun to hangout with friends and enjoy some games and giggles.

So far we're off to a good start on a very wonderful SoCal Christmas - warm temperatures, flip flops, sunshine, palm trees with lights, family, etc. Did I mention frozen yogurt without having to wrap myself in blankets? Yay back to froyo land.

Christmas in Indio Christmas in Indio

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.


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.


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).


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!

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.

August: A Post-Mortem

Okay, so I really need to stop the Corporate lingo talk. Really, a post-mortem in the blog title Heather? I've always thought it sounds so morbid. I do think I'll keep the bullet point stuff though - that's a real keeper.

Anyway, this is really just a quick look back at August. I didn't have the blog rolling in August, so I'm going to do one big update for the month. From this point on, I'm going to attempt to keep the blog updated with frequent updates, so avoid the massive entires/emails. You can already see some posts now in fact.

August was a busy month, I was traveling around or visiting with friends and family each weekend. Here we go (this is a long one folks, hang in there)...

Caroline and Gerald Visit - Part 1
The first weekend of August, Josh and I hopped into a plane and flew up to Seattle, WA. We arrived Thursday night in time for a nice dinner at a little fish restaurant in downtown's Belltown called the Flying Fish. Our arrival also was timely in that it was the end of the record-breaking heat wave in Seattle (actually, we got to experience that in our own home in Eugene).

Friday we roamed all over the city exploring the many districts and sites. Our favorite spot being Pike's Marketplace with the hustle and bustle of the different stands and fish throwing. We also got to visit Josh's family friends, Vince and Jonita. They live in the heart of the city and have a spectacular view of the city and Space Needle. But at last, in the evening, the main point of the trip arrived...Caroline and Gerald (fyi-Caroline is my best friend from Germany). After a fun dinner near Pike's Market, we headed up to the Space Needle for a sunset view of the city. Did I use the word spectacular already? Dangit! Well, it was, in fact, a spectacular view. We took this Monorail out to the needle which was a blast as well (which also made me feel like I was at Disneyland).

Seattle's Pikes Market Seattle's Pikes Market

Saturday we spent some more time at Pike's Market in the morning, but then headed out to Vancouver. Caroline and Gerald drove, so we got to see the beautiful countryside on the way up (song of the trip: Fireflies). We even made a stop at the Seattle Premium Outlets, where we hit up some great deals. We arrived Vancouver in the evening and grabbed some grub in Yaletown and consumed some of my favorite cuisine, Thai food.

Sunday we had a introduction to Vancouver (at least, that's what the guide book said) at Canada Place. It was really just a cruise terminal, but it was neat to see the big ships in the harbor as well as watch the sea planes taking off and landing nearby. Then we hopped back in the car and headed into nature. We opted for Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge over Capilano (which is the more popular tourist spot and costs money, Lynn is free). The bridge was a rickety wood and wire bridge that goes over a deep gorge and river. Luckily no need to drop to hands and knees and crawl though. Then to beat the heat, we headed to the Museum of Anthropology and saw all the Native American totem poles and artwork. To round up the day, we went to the Granville Island where there was yet another marketplace (what's up with the Pacific NW and marketplaces? at least I like them!).

Monday Caroline and Gerald headed out to Victoria while Josh and I stayed in Vancouver (we met up the following weekend, but Josh and I had to go head home for work/school). I'm surprised I still have feet after all the walking we did Monday. We practically walked the entire city! For instance, we walked from our hotel to Stanley Park where we then took a walk - a walk to go take a walk, go figure.

Caroline and Gerald Visit - Part 2
After a great weekend in Seattle & Vancouver, we headed home for a few days of work/school. Then more fun the following weekend. We meet up with Caroline and Gerald on the tail end of their trip in Portland. The highlight was the pedicure with Caroline along the Portland riverwalk area. Girl talk time! And also some froyo at the Portland frozen yogurt find, Active Culture.

Girl Pedi Time in Portland Girl Pedi Time in Portland

Irene in Portland
The next weekend, which was the middle of August, my good friend Irene from Holland come out to Portland. We varied up the Portland activities by trying out some new spots. We got a great view of the city and some history mixed in too at the Pittock Mansion. We also headed outside of town to the Columbia Gorge where the Hood River runs. Along the gorge, you hit waterfall after waterfall. The most famous waterfall being Multonomah Falls. This, as well as a cute Inn we stopped at, was made even more popular by the Twilight movie (it's perfect Vampire scenery if you ask me. I fit well since I don't tan and always have cold feet and hands...hmm). If you keep driving, you hit a totally different type of area, The Dalles. It's basically high mountain desert area and incredibly windy. This day was probably the highlight (besides seeing Irene of course!). We also tried out the Aerial Tram for some awesome views of Portland, and of course a stop at YoCream near PDX (whoops, drool on the computer there). By the way, there are 2 froyo spots in PDX in case you're wondering (froyo radar still going strong!).

Multnomah Falls with Irene Multnomah Falls with Irene

Sacramento Wedding
Getting tired yet? Well, Josh and I were certainly tired of all the traveling, but onward to more fun! And we wouldn't have missed this for the world; our good, college friend, Andrew Deller was getting married. Josh was a groomsman in the wedding and it was a very lovely ceremony and reception. Good times!

Browns in Town
After the wedding, Josh's parents happened to be heading through town on their way home to Palm Desert from Seattle. We spent a wonderful day with his parents around Eugene. We hit up some great shopping at Costco, Borders, and HomeGoods. And we introduced Don and Nada to our favorite, funky pizza joint called Pizza Research Institute (PRI) - if only it had meat, then it'd be perfect.

Well, that closes up the big month of August. My parents were the next and last visitors for us. There is a separate entry for that visit. If you want some more pictures, go to Flickr or FaceBook.