Sundays In My City: Walking with The Biggest Losers

If you watched the most recent season of The Biggest Loser, you will most definitely remember Arthur and his dad, Jesse. Arthur was the largest man on the show and Jesse was the most charismatic fatherly figure. Here are their before and after pics:

This is one of two teams who live in Portland. After Jesse (the dad) was voted off the ranch, he started "Walks with Jesse" - every Saturday he does a 5K walk wherever he might be (he has had to travel for promotional things for the show). I was able to join him yesterday, which was a great day for a walk, and Arthur made it out with his two young kids, as well as about 10 other people inspired to get out and move.

It was just a little over 3 miles and I was walking with a friend, and then with a new friend, and their pace was a bit slower than I would have normally gone, but it felt good just to be MOVING. I have been so lazy lately, not working out or exercising at all-other than gardening each week (which actually is a good workout, but I don't do it often enough). Jesse and Arthur gathered the group together at the start and gave a nice motivational pep talk and then we headed out, walking at different paces, but meeting up at the halfway mark, and then again at the end. The talk at the end of the walk was really great - they shared some of what they learned on The Biggest Loser ranch and gave us some encouraging words to set us off, and then invited us to join them every Saturday. Arthur is interested in setting up a "field day-boot camp" type event for those interested. Really cool guys and it was interesting to hear some behind-the-scenes info about the show.
The path we were on was directly next to the airport.
And on the other side was the river. Beautiful scenery.

Jesse and Arthur Womack - inspiring guys!
My walking buddy was someone I haven't seen for exactly two years-shocking that it's been that long. We've known each other for eleven years and have seen each other gain and lose weight (but mostly gain), so this was hopefully a start of a successful summer for us both!

For more views from other cities, check out Unknown Mami's blog:

Unknown Mami

Hasbro Fun on the Run - Weekend Giveaway

Hasbro has a great collection of games and as someone who is a semi-professional game player extraordinaire wizard, I am always happy to have a new game in my collection.

My latest game, courtesy of Hasbro, is the travel Connect 4. It's cute, compacted and fun on the go. I wish Andrew was a six years old again (I wish this at least once a week), because I think it would have been really great to have when he was little. However, I have a couple wee ones in my life who I will be using this game with when I come visit them. It'll be fun to have in my purse when I show up to babysit. It's not too small for big hands, but perfect for little ones. Just the right size.

You can buy it for less than $10 - deal, right?? - OR you can win it here.

If you'd like to win a randomly chosen Fun on the Run Hasbro game, just leave a comment about your favorite game that you played as a child.

If you'd like a second entry, leave another comment if you follow or subscribe to my blog.

This is a quick turnaround - I'm picking a winner on Monday, May 30th at 7:00pm pst. I'll need a response from the winner by June 1st.

Hasbro provided me a copy of this game for review. All opinions on the game are my own.

Watch My Garden Garden - May Edition

I meant to take regular pictures of my garden, but I've been a bit of a slacker thus far.

It's coming along well though!! I had some seedlings that I planted - my purple pepper plants and some lettuce, which I planted a few weeks ago under a cloche, and they are coming along...but what I learned is that growing plants from seed in your house takes F-O-R-E-V-E-R.

About seven weeks ago, I bought some four-inch tall plants from our local organic gardening store: onions, broccoli and lettuce starts, and planted them under the cloche before the weather was really supportive of my gardening endeavors, but they did fabulously! I had no idea but putting plants under a cover means you can plant earlier and later as the cloche covering will raise the temperature of the soil from 4-10 degrees. AND another amazing thing is that it helps the soil maintain its' moisture, so you don't have to water that much. It keeps heat and moisture - total score, right? I kept the cloche on my plants for seven weeks. They survived through below freezing weather, and I didn't water them even one time. It did rain a few times, which worked out perfect as the water that did get into the soil through the cloche cover, lasted longer than if the soil was exposed.

I added a few more starts this last weekend: chives, a cucumber plant, basil, tomatoes, and a rosemary plant. I have flowers to plant in my beds to attract some friendly bugs and I'm going to start some other seedlings in a few weeks, so I should have a wave of veggies to pick in a few weeks (I can actually pick a few lettuce leafs now!) and then in a couple months, I'll have a wave of new veggies ready to be harvested!

And the raspberry and black berries that I planted at the end of summer last year are doing amazing - looking forward to picking some berries in another month or so!
How's your garden coming along?

Volunteering by Making Relay for Life Luminarias, and Eff You Cancer!

One of the absolutely best things about working for the company I do is that we are given 16 volunteer hours a year. It's actually one of the main reasons I chose to leave my old job for this one, because I love working for a company that values giving back.

And even better is that they plan a few projects a year that are on-site, making it way convenient to donate some time towards a good cause. Tuesday, we had a couple small projects to work on, one of which was to make paper bag lanterns, or luminarias, for a local Relay for Life (hosted by the American Cancer Society). If you don't know, here's some info about it:
The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease. At Relay, teams of people camp out at a local high school, park, or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Because cancer never sleeps, Relays are overnight events up to 24 hours in length.
I made three bags: one for my sister, one for my uncle and one that simply says: Eff Cancer.

Front side - my sister had some freakish rare cancer that was found after my niece was born. She wasn't expected to live a decde. It's been 16 years. Eff you cancer. Jenny kicked your ass.

back side

My uncle passed away last year. My most prominent memory of him was on a big (to my young eyes) motorcycle that looked nothing like this picture. Eff you cancer.

We made a lot of luminarias!! Oh, and eff you cancer.

Is there anyone out there who hasn't been affected by this horrible disease?? It's just effing ridiculous. I hate it. HATE it.

Sundays In My City: San Diego Visit

San Diego is great for so many things - there are a TON of free things you can do, which is key for an economical vacation. The thing that is most def not economical is gas. It's like $4.45 a gallon. And you have to drive everywhere unless you live downtown. Every time we got in the car, it was a twenty minute drive to get to our destination. Regardless - AMAZING city. This is my second (and probably last since my sister will be moving from there this year) trip to San Diego and we did so many things, I feel like we really experienced all the city had to offer.

The biggest part of the trip was the reunion:
We did a really fast trip through Balboa Park - we had been out all day and couldn't find parking and were really just planning on doing a drive-through of the area, but then we found a 30 min parking area, so we did the fastest tour of Balboa Park ever. We were light on our feet and saw some really great buildings and flowers. I imagine you could plan to spend an entire weekend here to see it all.

Andrew thinks this is one of my best photos-it might be on my wall soon!

The flowers at Balboa were remarkable.
 We did some wandering at Seaport Village too.

We visited Ocean Beach and went to some antique shops.

Recycled art!!! These are pizza boxes a man had painted!!!

My mom and my niece.
My niece made us all a wonderful Mothers Day breakfast. She's very thoughtful and had no problem with the 4 special order requests!

My moms parents are in a mausoleum outside of San Diego. She hasn't been back to it/them since the late 70's. I was a baby when they died so unfortunately don't have the memories of them, but I hear they were just wonderful. RIP Mildred and Albert Duchesneau.

We also went to a dueling piano show at the Shout Bar and wow---AMAZING!! There was no cover charge since it was a weeknight, though the food and drinks aren't cheap so it all evens out I guess. But the show was awesome and if you have a local one, I highly recommend you go to it.

And we revisited Old Town San Diego (Andrew and I went there when we visited last year).
This is a real wheel from the early 1900's!!

This is a real guitar from...a long time ago!
These were the strongest drinks we have had in our entire lives combined! Thanks random Mexican restaurant!
What a fun, long weekend! I hope it won't be another 6 years before we are all together again!
There are seven million other photos I could post's a portion of them for you to enjoy:

Unknown Mami

The Best Surprise EVER For Mothers Day!

My mom has only had all her children (my two sisters and I) together twice in the last 18 years...ridiculous right?? Jenny is married to a navy man and they are all over-currently living in California, Susan lives in South Carolina and I live in Oregon. My mom lives in Washington state. See the dilemma?

So for Mothers Day this year, we planned the most spectacular surprise. We bought my mom a plane ticket to San Diego for a long relaxing weekend away. She was really excited to have a little vacation, and she so rarely gets to go anywhere (other than on fishing trips or on gambling trips). This was going to be a fun time exploring the city, just hanging with my sister and her family.

HOWEVER - we nearly killed her with love by surprising her by not just having me fly there-but Susan flew in from South Carolina! ALL of us together!!! We had a wonderful long weekend together and did a large variety of fun activities. My mom never stopped smiling.

I have about 400 photos to share later this weekend, but here's the video of when my mom discovered we were all going to join her on her weekend getaway:

The best Mothers Day ever? I think so....

I Have Just Five Things On My Mind

5 things I highly dislike today:
  1. Steve Carrell leaving The Office. Sad.
  2. All the hatred on Facebook. I think facebook should be like Thanksgiving dinner - we never discuss religion or politics.
  3. Speaking of politics, I am so done with the "birthers", who I believe are now the "show-us-a-picture-or-we-will-never-believe-bin Laden-is-deaders." Go volunteer. Get a hobby. Read a book. And just move ON....puh-lease!!!
  4. People who don't understand the merge concept.
  5. Donald Trump (and if I made a list every day about what I highly dislike, he would be at the top every day.
5 things I LOVE LOVE LOOOOOOOVE today:
  1. My new haircut!!! Pictures to come next week.And for the record, I could stay in the hairdressers chair ALL day. Having someone do your hair, the shampoo, the head rub, the hair brushing - love every second of it.
  2. My wonderful seedlings that are growing so big and strong. I'm a very proud gardening mama.
  3. The SUNSHINE!!! Oh how I've missed the sunshine! 
  4. Excel. I am ready to take on freelancing jobs working with Excel. It's my most favorite software EVER.
  5. Going to the post office and not having it take 40 minutes to mail a package
5 foods I can't stop thinking about today:
  1. My homemade baked crab rangoons. Oy, my mouth waters just thinking about them.
  2. Peanut M&M's. Why can't there be a low-calorie version of these!!
  3. Chicken enchiladas - we're having a Mexican potluck tomorrow and I just finished making some chicken meat for the tacos and I wish I could call in sick and just keep my chicken and make some yummy enchiladas.
  4. Fried egg sandwiches that you buy at 3am from a street vendor on Hooker Hill in Seoul. I don't think I will ever have an egg sandwich as satisfying as that one...and once I am gifted a ton of money, I would happily take a plane to South Korea just to go find that little old grandmother who makes them all night.
  5. Cherry coke. Not technically a food, but oh, I love me some cherry coke. I stopped drinking it for the last three or four weeks and just bought a two-liter this week and loved every drop of it.
5 people I would like to talk to today:
  1. Jon Stewart, to have a laugh.
  2. My esteemed president, President Obama, to just shoot the shit.
  3. Beyonce, to thank her for stopping by the Harlem school to surprise the school kids.
  4. My 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Killiam, to thank her for encouraging us to read and read and read some more. I still have the book that she gave me when I won a reading contest, she inscribed the inside of it and congratulated me (which is probably why I remember her name).
  5. Julia Roberts, because I know we are probably meant to be great friends.
 5 things I would like to buy if I had a spare $250,000:
  1. A new car. Nothing extravagant - just a new Honda CRV. Or maybe a Mercedes SUV. I'm on the fence about which....
  2. A full vacation travel package to New Zealand for me and 12 family members (or at least 3).
  3. $50K worth of good tennis shoes to pass out to the homeless. It's really hard being homeless, but I imagine one of the things that really plays on you is that your shoes are going to go bad and will hurt your feet and life is so hard already....
  4. House stuff - new lighting for the living room (much needed!), new cupboards for the kitchen, a flat screen TV, new bed for Andrew's room (soon to be known as "the guest room"), paint for at least two rooms.
  5. ...depending on if I buy the CRV or the Mercedes, I may or may not be out of money at this I'll just stop so I don't get disappointed when I can't buy five things.

Sundays In My City: Downtown Randomness

Today was glorious weather!!!

But of the girls who volunteers with me frequently was having a jewelry party on Saturday. I had been up early for Comcast Cares day (volunteer event) and wasn't going to go, but I always feel bad not going because it's hard to get people to come to those types of parties, and it was really meant to just be a time to hang out and drink wine with people. So for about three hours before the party, I kept saying, I'm not going to go, tired, last night home alone, just want to do nothing...but then twenty minutes before the start time, I decide: I'M GOING!!! So I changed out of my comfy house clothes and rushed off. When I found the house, there was only one car in the driveway and I was like, phew! Thank god I decided to come!! Only one other person showed!! And then....her husband answered the door and told me that the party was LAST NIGHT!!! Grrr. I can't remember the last time I put something on my calendar on the wrong date!!

Anyway, so back to today. The weather was PERFECT!!!
My friend Jen and her gorgeous daughter met me in downtown Portland to go to the Chinese Gardens. I got there early and parked far away so I would have to walk and get some good exercise. And walk I dd. I walked for an hour before meeting them, and then we walked for another two hours or so. It wasn't a fast walk, for sure-how fast can you walk with a 5 year old....but according to my calculations, I walked for about 4.4 miles today. And I took about 185 pictures....yikes. That's a lot to sort through!! Here's some random stuff I found in my city:
Simple sign.

My favorite photo subject!

Wall art
I gave him a dollar for not trying to be a prostitute.

Really odd flower - any idea what this is??

Random shelf on a wall. We found three books on it. We took them all.

Famous local saying.

Cool bike rack..or bench?

Every china town needs a Hung Far Low restaurant.

Flowers at the Chinese Gardens.

Beautiful Adrienne at her favorite spot in the gardens.

Random saying on a stone block at the waterfront.

To explore other cities, check out Unknown Mami via this snazzy button:

Unknown Mami


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