Saturday, January 31, 2015

"Walter" Oil Painting

oil on canvas
12 x 12 inches

The end of 2014 was pretty busy, and I hadn't had much time to paint. I decided to start 2015 with some smaller projects to get me back in the swing of things. My painting instructor, Dean, reminded me a couple of years ago that not all paintings have to be masterpieces. The important thing to remember is to continue painting and keep practicing. I took his advice to heart and started working on a small painting about a week and a half ago. I wanted something fun, so I decided to work on an addition to what I am now calling my "Stuffie Series". I actually finished it last week, but hadn't posted it on the blog yet.

You may recall my first painting almost three years ago was of my Volland Raggedy Ann. It's 12 x 12 inches, which is a nice smaller size. I also did "portraits" of Collete and Chester in December of 2013. My thought is that together, they are a series of paintings of favorite stuffed toys, whether they are mine, or belong to family or friends. Clearly, I have a love of these soft, stuffed guys, and I've been told that my affection for them comes across in the final product. I like to think that these paintings have some charm and character coming through them.

Anyhow, that's where Walter comes in. You may recall that I won Walter from a carnival game at the North Carolina State Fair (in Raleigh, hence his name) last October.

Trina and Walter immediately after he was free from the Carni-life!

Walter is a cute little guy, with lots of appeal, so I thought he would make a fine painting subject. He seemed to like the idea of posing, and took it all very seriously.

During the first session, I put a white ribbon on him, just to add a little something. Here's Walter and his painting on the first day.

Walter, posing with a ribbon

Walter painting at the end of Session One

When Dick saw the painting, he wasn't a fan of the ribbon, and suggested a tie instead. We selected one from his closet and he tied it around Walter's neck. Much better! Walter looks so much more composed and serious with the tie.

I actually only spent two short sessions on this painting. I thought I might have a little more to do, but I'm actually happy with how it was looking and decided it was done.

My still life set up

Walter's finished painting

The thing I'm most happy with about how this painting turned out, is that I think it is more "painterly" than most of my other, larger paintings. I specifically tried to keep my brush strokes cleaner and separate (rather than smoothing them all together), and I like the effect very much. I'm also happy with the speed at which I painted this one. Again, having listened to Dean's advice, I tried not to take this too seriously, and I think that helped with the more painterly style. I also think his expression turned out quite well - I think he has a lot of charm and character. :)

I'm going to try to do a few more of these smaller paintings or studies. I can see what the benefits of working on them can be.

12th Man Shellfish

Even the oysters, clams and muscles at Whole Foods are ready for the Super Bowl!!

Friday, January 30, 2015

My First Blendtec Smoothie Breakfast

Well, I finally jumped on the green smoothie bandwagon. I've noticed several of my friends on Facebook have been really into this, as well as a few local friends. The idea has appealed to me for some time now, and I started really considering getting a blender for this type of function for a few months. (Dick and I don't have a blender of any kind here in Bellevue.)

Yesterday, Gina and I went to Costco. Gina went with the purpose of finding/buying a Vitamix blender. Well, it turned out that our Costco in Kirkland didn't have any of that brand in stock, but they did have a live demo going on while we were there for the Blendtec brand blender. How handy!

I totally pulled an Opus (those of you who have read "Bloom County" will know what I mean). The guy giving the demo was very good, and very convincing. The fact that he spoke like Ron Swanson from "Parks and Rec" helped, too. :) He demoed two different recipes: a fruit and green smoothie, and a green ice cream. They were both really yummy.

So yes, in pure Opus fashion, I was completely bought in. It helped that Gina was already planning to get one, and also that I had just returned a Bullet blender, realizing it wasn't the right fit of what I was looking for. For the record, We got the Blendtec Classic 570 model for $299.99. Apparently, it usually sells for $400 or so. Other models of this brand and other brands can go for a lot more, so I felt like this was a reasonable price.

This morning, I made a green smoothie out of what I had in the house: spinach, banana and an orange. I followed this Basic Green Smoothie recipe that I found online. It's 1/3 water (I used a few ice cubes as well), 1/3 fruit and 1/3 leafy greens.

I wasn't sure how much it would make, and how much I actually wanted to drink, so I started with a small batch of about 1 cup each water and spinach and 1/2 banana and 1/2 orange. That made a little more than a cup full of my tumbler cup - maybe about 10-12 oz?

It turned out to be quite tasty. I ended up making a second batch of the same size to use the entire banana and orange.

This weekend, I'll be sure to buy some kale (which we love, anyhow)and maybe some frozen berries/fruits. It'll be fun to experiment with different recipes.

Do you have any favorite smoothie recipes to share? Please let me know!

My new (red!) Blendtec Classic 570

Spinach, banana and orange

I blended the spinach in water first, then added the fruits

Blending, blending, blending...

viola! Final product: Green Smoothie!

PS: Like other similar blenders, this one is practically self-cleaning! Just add a drop of dishwashing soap to a cup of water and blend for a few seconds. Dishwasher-safe, too! :)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Le Cercle Francais

In the school years of 1986 and 1987 my friend, Christina and I were the President and Vice President of Le Cercle Francais (French Club) at Milpitas High School! Who knew that 29 years later, we would both live in Bellevue, Washington, only 1-1/2 miles away from each other! This morning, I walked to her house for a very nice and fun visit. Looking forward to doing it again sometime soon!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Another Platelet Donation

Back at it! Got the "okay" after my last donation two weeks ago. Platelet count came in at 590.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Old Navy Mannequin Trina

I paid a visit to Old Navy Mannequin Trina today. (I couldn't find the pink sweater to complete the outfit.) It's been a while since I last saw her. She seems well and happy, although I still think she's a little pale. ;)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Be the Match

I did something today that I've been meaning to do for a while, yet never got around to.

Today, I submitted my application and tissue samples to Be the Match.

You may know that I started donating whole blood about ten years ago, and have been a regular platelet donor for several years now, too. The next logical step was to be on the registry for a bone marrow or stem cells. My dear friend, Terri, who recently passed, received a bone marrow transplant from a healthy stranger about two years ago. The transplant was successful, for well over a year until her Leukemia came back. One thing is certain, the transplant certainly extended her life, which allowed her precious more time with her young children and family.

Terri had the opportunity to meet her (previously anonymous) donor last summer. Here is Terri's account of her experience from her blog.

As I mentioned, I had been meaning to look into becoming a bone marrow or stem cell donor (or, at least be on the database) for a while. With Terri's passing, I made the phone call and got more information. I know there is no greater way to honor her memory than to sign up to be on the donor database.

Here's some of the things I learned:

(pulling this information from the Be the Match website).

For blood cancer patients, there is a cure. And the amazing thing is, it could be you. On average, 1 in every 500 Be The Match Registry® members in the United States will go on to donate bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) to a patient.

Donation statistics

1 in 40 registry members will be called for additional testing. Additional testing can be used to narrow the list of potential donors and determine the best possible match for a patient.
1 in 300 will be selected as the best possible donor for a patient. These potential donors will have an information session with their donor center representative to learn more about the donation process. Due to changes in the patient's condition, not all donors who are selected as the best match will donate.
1 in 500 members will actually donate.


Registry members are listed on Be The Match Registry until their 61st birthday. However, doctors request donors ages 18 to 44 over 90% of the time. Research shows that younger donors provide the greatest chance for transplant success.

I was quite surprised to find out about the age restrictions. I guess it makes sense that younger donors provide a greater chance of transplant success, but it bummed me out a little knowing that so much of the population could be turned down. Lucky for me, I'm 44 years old for just another 3 months, so I'm able to get my application in while I'm still young! ;)

I realize, especially given my age, that my chances of actually being a match to someone needing bone marrow or stem cells is very slim. However, Terri's stem cell donor was in her mid-40s, so I know it's a possibility. Who knows, I may be the perfect match for someone out there, and could help save their life.

The application process was very simple. I just filled out the form, with personal information and medical history, contact info, etc.,

Other than that, you submit four swabs that you rub against the inside of your cheek to collect your tissue sample.

Easy-peasy. Anyone can do this.

The most interesting thing that I found out was the process in which donations can now be made. I was only familiar with the surgical procedure, which, while it can be painful, it is also out-patient, and hey - you could be saving a life! Here's the information on the surgical way of donating bone marrow.

However, there's a newer procedure which I was unaware of. It's actually quite similar to donating platelets (a needle pulling your whole blood out of one arm, then the cells get sorted out, and the remaining blood returns to your body via a needle in your other arm. The process can be done in about 5 hours. (there is some prep leading up to it - you get a shot to increase the number of blood-forming cells in your body - you do this for five days before the procedure.) Here is the information on Donating peripheral blood stem cells.

The information I received on how to donate

I urge you to consider applying to be on the donor registry for Be the Match. The application process is simple and easy. The chances of actually being called upon to donate your stem cells or bone marrow is fairly low, but if you are chosen, you could literally save a life.

Unusually warm

It's going to be an unusually sunny and dry week for Seattle in January!

Starting to embrace the craziness...

Spotted in the parking garage of our building this morning. Check out the 12's on the center of the rims.


Seahawk Fans come in all sizes! Check out this little cutie we saw at breakfast. :)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

glassybaby seconds sale

Yes, we are the crazy people waiting in line for the glassybaby seconds sale!!

It's in a new venue this year- their warehouse. Because it's a larger space we're not sure what to expect, so we came earlier.

Stay tuned!

(Update at 10:30am)

Wow. Total bust. We waited in line for two hours, and just when we got into the building, they were sold out (10:30am). What a difference from last year. Leaving empty handed. :(

Here's what the scene looked like when we finally got in. Empty tables, with swarms of people still in there. At this point, the last people who had grabbed seconds glassybaby were waiting in line - I hear the line took about an hour to get through.

(update - the next day)

Well, it was a bummer, but there you go. Understandable that they could run out, as these are seconds, but just a surprise to everyone that they sold out so quickly. As far as I know, they've never sold out before mid-afternoon. The two times I have been (last year) there were still plenty (and no line) when I arrived at 10:00, and another time, 11:00am. This was the earliest I've been, the longest I think I've ever waited in any line, and the only time I've waited in a line to be disappointed by not having them be sold out.

glassybaby handed out coupons to everyone in line for 10% off any regular priced glassybaby (not the Seakhawks, or $75 exotic glassybaby) glassybaby at any of their Seattle stores. This was pretty generous of them, as really, they didn't *need* to offer a discount on their regular merchandise, but as they never have sales, it was much appreciated! Paula, Gina and I were all a little stunned to be leaving empty handed, so we made our way to the Bellevue store for a little retail therapy. This unexpected/extended part of our day turned out to be very fun! I admit, I thought I'd buy one, then I found one that looked really nice with it, then (wouldn't you know) I found yet another one that seemed to complete the set.

My name is Trina, and I'm a glassybaby-holic.

I know, I know.

But, they're so pretty!!

What did I end up buying:

I bought a very pretty Bedford Brown.

Then, I discovered the beautiful Breath.

Then, I realized I needed a nice cream (which, shockingly, I don't have!) and bought Lamb.

My three new glassybaby are on the left and center. I paired them with two glassybaby that I bought as seconds last June. Very calming and pretty together, aren't they?

The set, all lit up and glowing - nice way to end the day

Friday, January 23, 2015

Ladies who Lunch

Gina and I fully admit that we were "those" people today.

We met our friend, Angus, for lunch today at El Gaucho.
Angus had a craving for their Cubano sandwich, which sounded really good to me and Gina as well.

We each had one, with a small cup of soup. Angus and I had French Onion, and Gina had a chowder. It was all pretty spectacular.

Super fun time with Angus - at lunch, we discussed whether he should travel to NYC or LA for the weekend. He had to make his decision by 3:00, and had packed for both.

In the end, he flew to New York!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Southern Dinner

BBQ Ribs and Collard Greens. Thanks got sending us the delicious ribs from North Carolina, Kathy and Phil!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Stand Off at the Park

I can across this stand-off of opposites at the park this morning. ;)

Dim Sum in Bellevue!!

Gina and I took the bus this morning to Factoria to try a Dim Sum place that we've both heard of.

It was pretty good- had all the basics, was busy without being crowded (I've heard it's crowded on weekends) and had exactly the atmosphere that you would expect from a dim sum place. Good was good, not all of our dishes were hot when we got them from the cart. Pretty good overall, and nice to have a good, basic dim sum option in Bellevue.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A night at the Symphony with Pink Martini!!

How exciting!! Our first time to the Seattle Symphony!! They are playing with Pink Martini, a band we love from Oregon. Special guests: the Von Trapp Family! :)

We took the bus here, which was just amazing. The bus transit center is a block from our apartment. Comfortable ride, and half an hour later, we arrived at our station in Downtown Seattle. Before we exited the station, we found the elevator that brings you right inside the Symphony Hall!!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Happy (Belated) Birthday, Nicole!!

Nicole's Birthday was earlier this month, but we managed to find an evening that (most) of us were able to get together to celebrate.

We started off at Omar and Lora's house for drinks and snacks (thank you, Lora!). They weren't able to join us for dinner, but invited us over before dinner since the restaurant we were going to was so close to their house.

Toasting Nicole's' Birthday at the Shahine's

We had dinner at Nashino, and fantastic sushi/Japanese restaurant in Seattle, and one of Dan and Nicole's favorites. Dick and I hadn't been in several years, and I had forgotten just how amazing it is! Even better, Dan and Nicole, being frequent diners here, ordered for the table. Everything was SO delicious!!

a rare moment that our table didn't have any food!

Happy Birthday, Nicole!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Football Craziness

So, I'm not much of a football fan (Which is why I was out grocery shopping during the big game!), but even I have to admit that this is pretty cool. That's a Microsoft building next to our apartment in Downtown Bellevue.

PS: I'm staying neutral on the outcome of this game. I've lived in both Seattle and Wisconsin and have too many friends from both places! ;)

Rain boot Weather

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Noe's Dish

In case you ever wondered what Noe's dish looks like...

Monday, January 12, 2015

Feeling like a Platelet Super Hero

After being deferred from having too high of a platelet count last week, I had to have a sample drawn and donated whole blood instead.

I called the center three days later, and got the all-clear to donate platelets again. My platelet count from last week was down to 511.

I leaned last week that an average normal high is 250-350.

I felt like a bit of a celebrity when I donated today because my 511 was the highest that most of the staff here has seen. They said it's unusual to see anyone over 400.

It's funny, because I've been donating in San Francisco for several years. I had been told many times that my platelet count was high, but never given specifics before.

I like having more information, and am curious what my numbers will be the next time I come in.

I was able to donate 3 units of platelets in 60 minutes. I guess the norm is one unit in an hour and a half.

I'm a platelet machine! :)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Seattle Art Museum

Our New Year's Resolution for 2015 was to get out into Seattle more. There are so many places that we haven't been to yet, and we're both a little too accustomed to being home bodies over the weekend.

Today, we took the bus (Dick's first time) downtown and checked out the Seattle Art Museum. I haven't been in several years, and wanted to see the Pop Exhibit that was ending today.

The bus ride was great, and we got off across the street from the museum. Very convenient!

The exhibit was good. Glad we were able to see it. Unfortunately for my blog, there were no photos allowed inside the exhibit.

One really nice perk: because the exhibit was partially sponsored by Microsoft, admission I to the museum was free to employees and tickets for spouses was 1/2 off. Nice!!

After we finished at the museum, we found an Irish Pub near Pioneer Square for lunch. Another short walk to the transit stop, and we're back on the bus heading home.

Nice outing! :)