Thursday, January 30, 2014


Here's something you don't see very often: Rain in San Francisco, but not in Bellevue/Seattle (at the moment, anyhow.)

Given the drought in the Bay Area, it's a welcomed sight! :)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My Private Tour of the glassybaby studio & hot shop

Today I was treated to lunch, and a private tour of glassybaby studio and hot shop in Madrona, WA.

I had lunch with Mary, Tracy and Annjette at a fabulous little cafe around the corner from the store. I've had the pleasure of having met Tracy a few times before, but had never had the opportunity to meet Mary (who I have corresponded with at length for the past two years) or Annjette. We had a really lovely time catching up, and getting to know one-another.

After lunch, Mary and Tracy were busy with meetings, but Annjette had time to take me on a personal tour of the glassybaby hot shop and studio.

I had been to the studio before, but it has been almost three years. She told me that they had grown the space since then, and she also brought to areas that I hadn't seen before. Very cool!

First, we went to the hot shop, where we watched the glassblowers make the glassybaby. I've taken a couple of glass-blowing lessons over the last few years (once in this very hot shop!) and I'm always amazed at the skill and artistry that goes into each glassybaby. It takes four glass artisans to make one single glassybaby. You can watch the process of the making of a glassybaby here.

Overview of the hot shop

molding the glassybaby

trimming the glassybaby

the final torch

putting the glassybaby seal on the bottom

After we watched the process of the creation of the glassybaby for a while, Annjette brought me to the back room where the glassybaby are sorted and stored.

The first area we went by was the quality control desk, where the new glassybaby are scrutinized to make sure that they are in perfect shape without any flaws. If there are any flaws at all, they are sent to the "Seconds shelf" (and eventually stored in the warehouse until the bi-annual seconds sale).

here is the list and codes of the flaws that Quality Control are looking for

some of the imperfect glassybaby which will become seconds. You can see that some of them are numbered with the code of the flaw

Next came one of my favorite parts of the tour: the wall of color bars used to make the special colors of the glassybaby. The bars are imported. Most are solid colors, some have multiple colors swirled into the bars (these may be used for colors like Jane's Caramel, Hudson, etc.,). Depending on the color, each glassybaby uses an inch or more of the color bar. Some glassybaby colors may require up to 1/3 of a color stick.

some of the color bars used to make glassybaby

Finally, we saw the part of the room used for storage of the stock for the Madrona Store. There are two other stores in Seattle, and one in San Francisco with a similar storage area. glassybaby also has a large warehouse where they keep a larger number of stock and from where they do their online deliveries.

the storage area for stock of the Madrona store

Our tour ended in the storefront of the Madrona store.

front window display at the Madrona glassybaby store

My thanks again to Mary, Tracy and Annjette for a really special lunch and afternoon. I look forward to another visit soon! xo

PS: I love factory tours!!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Armistead Maupin's book signing in Seattle

This is a Facebook status that I posted this morning:
Finished reading "The Days of Anna Madrigal", just in time to see Armistead Maupin at his book signing in Seattle tonight. What a beautiful read it was. Without giving away any spoilers, I was reading it while working out on the treadmill this morning, and nearly pulled a George Jetson when a particularly dramatic moment came from out of nowhere in the final chapters of the book. Thank you, as always, Armistead Maupin, for introducing us to so many wonderful and beautiful characters and friends, and for allowing us to follow them through many decades. I will miss them.

Lucky me - not only did Armistead Maupin's last book of the "Tales of the City" series come out last week, but my new city, Seattle, was on his short list of book signing events in the US.

This evening, Dick and I drove to Seattle, had a quick dinner at Chipotle, then arrived 1 hour, fifteen minutes early for tonight's 7:00pm event at The Elliott Bay Book Company. I knew it would be a popular event, and I wanted to make sure we got good seats. Sure enough, we arrived about 30 minutes before they event set up the seats, but once they did, I snagged two seats in the front row.

(I realize that I sound like quite the groupie right now, and I guess I can't deny it. There are really only two people in this world that I am a groupie for: Armistead Maupin and Billie Joe Armstrong. Go figure.)

It's a good thing that we arrived as early as we did. By 6:30, it was already standing room only, and quite a packed house. It was as full as any San Francisco event I've seen Armistead at.

Armistead was an absolute delight to listen to, as usual. He spoke for a bit, read the first chapter of the new book, then did Q & A for a good 1/2 hour. He's such a wonderful story teller. He enraptures the entire audience, and makes everyone feel like he is talking directly to you individually. Such a gift.

I've mentioned on my blog here before that Armistead and I have become friends over the years. (and no, not just Facebook friends.) The backstory is very special: Dick's Father was Armistead's Junior High School English Teacher in North Carolina in the 50s. Dick's Father, Richard, remembers him as a star pupil, and followed his career as an adult. When I first met Richard, we formed an immediate bond over our love of "Tales of the City". Several years ago, I met Armistead for the first time at a book signing, introduced myself, and told him about my Father-in-Law. The next time I met him (at the release of "Michael Tolliver Lives"), I reintroduced myself, and passed along a note from my Father-in-Law. Soon after, when Dick's Father and Sister were in town visiting, we had Armistead and his husband, Chris, over to our house for drinks and dinner. It was so amazing to witness that reunion of two people who had not seen each other in over 50 years.

After that evening, Dick and I would frequently run into Armistead and Chris in the neighborhood - whether it be on Castro Street, at the Grocery Store, or at the local dog park. We also had an amazing evening together at Andrew & Barry's house - that was a great and memorable night.

I was sad when Armistead and Chris moved from San Francisco to Santa Fe a couple of years ago. It certainly signified an end of an era to myself, and I'm sure many San Franciscans.

I was so bummed that I would be missing Armistead's appearances in San Francisco for the release of his newest book. but was THRILLED to see that he was also stopping in Seattle. I've had this date on my calendar for several months now, and I'm so glad we were able to see him tonight.

We had a nice time catching up, as he signed my books tonight. There was a long line behind us, but I appreciate that we had a chance to reconnect and see each other in this new City.

Best wishes to you, Armistead, on your many travels this year. Thank you again for sharing your talents with all of us, and hope to see you again soon. xo

finally got my hard copy edition of "The Days of Anna Madrigal"

This picture makes me happy. :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Gasoline prices at Kirkland Costco

Another plus of living in Washington State: cheaper gasoline and no/short lines at Costco! :)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

My First glassybaby Seconds Sale!

One of the big perks of just having moved to the Seattle area: I got to attend my first Glassybaby Seconds Sale!

What is the seconds sale?

Glassybaby holds these seconds sales twice a year at their store and hot shop in Madrona. They have all of their glassybaby with slight imperfections available for sale at a discounted price. The glassybaby seconds are sold for $28 (versus $44) and the drinkers are $35 (versus $55).

I had never had a chance to go to this before, as I never lived in the area. My friend, Paula, who is responsible for having first introduced me to glassybaby about 5 years ago, has been to a couple. She said that today's sale was the best that she'd been to yet.

A little background: the sale started at 8:00am, but people started to line up at 10:00pm last night, and camped out. I hear that most people come around 5:00-6:00am and wait in line for a few hours before the doors open. Also the space inside isn't very large, and can only accommodate a certain amount of people at a time, so once the doors open, the line still takes a while.

I didn't feel the need to be a die-hard fan and go that early. A little birdie told me that they had almost double the amount of seconds this time than last time, so I took a calculated risk by going much later in the day, hoping to avoid most of the crowds.

Paula and I arrived around 11:00. I think we timed it just right. There was a short line, maybe 10 people deep, when we arrived. We waited in line just long enough to take a selfie, and we were let in!

It was pretty crowded inside, but there were PLENTY of glassybaby. There were tables full of glassybaby and drinkers against all of the walls. The staff was constantly bringing out more product to fill in the empty gaps. I think we had a huge selection to choose from.

We also noted that the quality of the seconds were very high. The imperfections of many that I looked at were very minor, and hardly noticeable. Some of the imperfections might even be considered "character".

I admit: I told myself that I'd go for the experience, but that I wouldn't buy any. Yeah, we all knew that wasn't going to happen! Then I thought, "Okay, I'll buy two: one glassybaby, and one drinker". Yep, still not happening....

I ended up with 4 glassybaby and a gorgeous orange drinker.

The glassybaby and drinkers do not have the labels with their names on them, as they do in the regular stores. For good or for bad, I'm so familiar with most of their colors, that I can tell what they are without their stickers on them.

With that in mind, here's what I think I bought:

1 Hidden Moss
1 Tangerine
1 Ripe Olive
1 Hercules
1 Fresh Squeezed Drinker

I already have one each Hidden Moss and Tangerine, but they are two of my favorite colors together. They are only the second and third duplicates I have in my collection.

I've been coveting an Almost Olive since my first glassybaby event in December, 2011. I figured it was time.

I've also been thinking about getting the Fresh Squeezed drinker since my event in July. The one I got is really gorgeous.

It was a really fun and fruitful event for us. Paula and I were both very happy with the selection that we had to choose from, and we're so glad that we timed it how we did. We arrived with barely any line, but still a very large selection. The crowd also died down a little while we were there, so it wasn't too hard to get around. We were in and out, with plenty of time to shop, within 45 minutes. I may have ended up with more than I was planning (who didn't see that one coming?), but I'm really pleased with the purchases I made.

BTW: 10% of the sales from today's Seconds Sale is going to Camp Korey. When I spoke to Lee Rhodes, glassybaby founder, as we were leaving around 11:45am, she said they had already raised more than $10,000 for Camp Korey! Kudos, glassybaby!!!

Paula, as we arrived in line at the glassbaby Seconds Sale around 11:00am. Note: we brought the glassybaby shipping boxes that I had used to move my glassybaby collection up to Seattle. Turns out the offered the boxes inside the store as well, but it was good to come prepared.

Excited to be at the Seconds Sale together!

The crowd when we first entered

thousands of glassybaby seconds for sale

more seconds

Paula, sorting through the glassybaby that she was considering

Paula's final stash

With Lee Rhodes, founder of glassybaby

my final purchases

Friday, January 24, 2014

Ooma - Telephone Porting Complete


Our old home phone number has been successfully ported to our new telephone service! What does that mean? I get to keep the same home phone number as I've had for the last 18+ years, even with our move up to Washington!

I wrote this blog post about the OOMA Phone Service last week. So far, we are very happy with it. Set up was very easy and fast, and it took less than one week to port the number from our old phone carrier. (their website suggested that it would take 4-6 weeks.) I'm very pleased with how quickly, and smoothly the transition went.

We're also pleased with the quality of the phone reception of the new Ooma service. So far, so good. I'm a fan!

By their suggestion, I'll be waiting a day or so before I cancel our old phone service, but that'll be a nice call to make!

I'm SO happy that we were able to use our old phone number, even while living in a different state. What a cool bit of technology. Bonus: it's much cheaper than what we had been paying before.

I just found out that I have a referral code: RAS8552

If you order off their website you'll get $50 off ($99.99 and free shipping) and I'll get $20 account credit. We bought ours off of, but this is cheaper.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Time to say farewell to some old friends...

Curled up on my sofa with my Kindle. Glassybaby lit, overlooking the skyline of my new city. About to start reading "The Days of Anna Madrigal", the ninth and final book of the "Tales of the City" series by the amazing Armistead Maupin. Bittersweet. I know it's going to be like saying goodbye to old friends. Lucky for me, I'll be able to attend his book signing in Seattle next week. Until then, happy to have an e-copy to get me through.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Spontaneous Dinner with the Old Team

Dick's old team from SVC is in town for a few days. They called Dick to invite him to join them for drinks and dinner. I tagged along (thanks!). We had dinner at Lot No.3, and had all things bacon. It was great to see everyone - what a great group.

Lululemon Outlet Store in Burlington, WA

My friend, Paula, had the day off today in observation of Martin Luther King's Birthday. We made a field trip to Burlington, WA (about an hour north of Bellevue) to go to the Lululemon Outlet. There are only a few of these around the country. I haven't been to this one in 2-3 years.

Happily, it didn't disappoint! These things are always hit and miss, but we came on a good day, and found quite a bit. I've been needing new workout clothes - it has been a while (over two years) since I've bought more than a pair of shorts there, and half of my workout clothes are in San Francisco. (justify, justify, justify...)

The Lululemon Burlington Outlet Store

inside the store

I left with several garments for myself, and a couple of items for Dick - all on sale, and some at really low prices (especially for Lululemon).


Deals of the Day:

Two halter-style tank tops (which are SUPER cute) for only $9/each.
I also got a pair of bright lime green capris pants (which Linda had in the Fall, and I've been coveting) for only $29.

My Uber-deals from the Lululemon Outlet store.

Mid-January Seattle Sunset

Beautiful, clear day.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

New Home Project Day with Reeves & Paula!

Our very good friends, Reeves and Paula, came over to our new pad today and helped us with a bunch of home projects. Lucky for us, they live just a couple of miles away, are VERY good do-it-yourselfers, and are just great friends to hang out with for an entire day! (Plus, they bring cupcakes!)

First project on the agenda: install the new chandelier! I had first seen this chandelier over the summer when I helped my friends, Jim and Cynde, move. I fell in love with it instantly, and knew that if I ever had the need for a chandelier/light fixture, this was it!

Reeves and Dick did the handy-dandy installation of the fixture, and Paula and I spent the next 2-1/2 hours installing the glass bubbles. It turned out beautifully, and I'm just thrilled with how great it looks in the new place. Unfortunately, two of the glass bubbles were broken when we opened the box, so I'm hoping to get them replaced. You can't really tell that there are two bubbles missing, but *I* know. ;)

Dick and Reeves installing the lamp

Manly men installing lamp fixture

The light fixture is installed and in working order!

Paula, deciphering the directions for the glass bubbles

laying out the glass bubbles

All the glass bubbles on the skewers

half-way done

the completed light fixture

...with the dining room table

later in the night...

While Paula and I were working on the light fixture, Dick and Reeves moved onto mounting the TV above the fireplace...

the TV is mounted! Yay!

...and configuring the network so that we the ethernet ports in each of the rooms work now

Paula and Reeves - they brought tools, cupcakes, and especially their expertise! Thank you both VERY much for spending your afternoon with us and for helping us out. We really appreciate it!!