Texts from Alek

Back story: Alek’s sister asked us if we could babysit on Friday or Saturday night this weekend. I am going to a girls night sleep-over/getaway/spa thingy on Saturday.

March 30th, 2011 – 2:54 PM

What are we doing Friday night? When are you going pillow fighting with the girls?

— Boring texting ensues regarding schedules/what to do/options/etc. We decide to go out alone together on Friday night. Bliss! —

March 30th, 2011 – 2:56 PM

Fine. I’m watching her all alone on Saturday night while you’re out having fun with your friends (I am crying as I run out of the room right now).

Thank You Kentucky!!

[March 16th, 11: 49 AM, Re: March Madness]

All—I may have missed you earlier on this—please sign up today.

Please note, this is a free competition, where the only booty (pirate usage) is the thrill of victory. THAT BEING SAID—

There are some who want to put a small wager on their brackets. If you would like to do so, let me know who’s in and give me $5. Brutsch and Marshall are already in this group, so the competition is well…enough said.

So play for free, or, if you can get your spouse’s permission, throw $5 in the pot.


[March 16th, 3:30 PM, Re: March Madness]

I am definitely in for $5. This is easy money for the rest of you because:

1. I just realized that our own little Utah State is in the Tournament. Awwww. Look at Utah, being all sporty and stuff with two teams in the tournament.

2. I was going to pick my bracket based on where I would rather go on vacation, but soon realized I did not want to take the time to learn where all of these schools are located. So in short, it became a hot mess based on where I’d most like to Travel to, where I had semi-loyalty (I lived in Texas once!), wanting to see a Utah team win / wanting to end Jimmer mania more, which school had a cooler name (Xavier!), which school had a cooler logo, which school sounded less snobby (bye bye Princeton), etc. etc.

3. I got kind of bored towards the end and decided to go with President Obama’s pick. If Kansas ends up winning then there will finally be a reason for me to pay attention to SportsCenter while I’m in the breakroom.

I do about as well on NFL pools so…looking forward to giving you some more money in the fall! 😉

— Natalie

[March 16th 3:32 PM, Re: March Madness]

Sadly, it’s this type of picking strategy from a female that always beats out every man who thinks he knows college basketball.

— Mike

[March 28th, 10:50 AM] 

 (Yes, that’s right. I WON.)

A Love Letter to Japan | Thank You for Hi-Chew

Some girls are obsessed with chocolate, I am obsessed with gummy candy. Give me a gummy bear over a truffle any day of the week.  And Hi-Chew is the best gummy candy. Hi-Chew is gummy candy in its most perfect state of being. Great flavor. Great texture. Great taste. I don’t know what they’re made of, in fact, I don’t want to know what they’re made of. As my friend Kate once put it “Those are just one molecule away from being plastic.” I’ll rail against the evils of corn syrup at the drop of a hat but I can’t bring myself to stop eating Hi-Chew. Hi-Chew tastes like heaven. Look, even the website says so:

The first time I went to Japan was in 1997. (Maybe it was 1998 or 1999 but I’m pretty sure it was 1997. Why can’t I remember? Bah!!) It was not only my first international trip, (and the first of several hideous passport photos) it was my first international business trip. At the time we were allowed to fly business class if the flight was more than 8 consecutive hours. However, if you gave up your business class seat, the company would pay for another person to go with you. It was a win win win. You got to bring someone, and the company still saved money. So My X and I went to Japan for a week. I was there for three nights of market research testing and didn’t really have to go in to our Tokyo office. So we had lots of free time during the day to check out Tokyo and then I had to work for a few hours at night. We even went to Tokyo Disneyland and at the time they still sold E-Tickets for the rides. How cool is that? I have never since had as much free time on an international trip, and to this day I wonder why they sent me, at twenty-one/two-ish, alone, on a market research trip to Japan.

It was on this trip that I discovered Hi-Chew Candy, quite possibly the most delicious guilty pleasure gummy candy on the planet and absolutely-positively-hands-down – if-I-was-stuck-on-a-desert-island-with-only-one-pack-of-candy – my most favorite candy of all time. Sidebar: one of my very favorite things to do in new places is to buy up local candy. You never know what you might find. One time I was in Miami and discovered that the city was a test bed for dulce de leche M&M’s. SO. SO. GOOD. Like, the best M&Ms ever. They didn’t make it into wide distribution and I ended up having to buy a case on eBay that I thoroughly enjoyed eating at god knows how many calories….but I digress. The point is: Hi-Chew.

While we were in Tokyo I bought packs and packs of Hi-Chew and ate them up like a crazed mad woman. I never thought I’d see them again and it wasn’t until we moved to the Bay Area that I found them at an Asian market by my gym in San Mateo. I would go to the gym, then go buy a pack or two of Hi-Chew to eat on the way home. Yes, I know this kind of defeats the purpose of the gym. 

When I was at Control4 the business development team became aware of my Hi-Chew worship and would bring back bags of them from their various Asian adventures. I got to try funky local and seasonal flavors like plum and cola and tangerine. I would show up at work and there would be a bag of Hi-Chew on my chair. Oh! Those were happy days!! I tried to make the candy last until after lunch. Lord, how I tried. 

In the U.S. it’s becoming easier to find Hi-Chew. You can get the basic flavors: Grape (LURVE!), Apple (SO.GOOD.), Orange, Melon (I Die!!), Banana and Strawberry at most Asian markets and apparently at Costco and 7-11 in some parts of the country. If you can find Japanese Hi-Chew vs. localized English Hi-Chew, snap those up. I’m telling you, for whatever reason, the Japanese Hi-Chew in the foil wrapper is better. 

Right now my heart aches for Japan and I guess I wanted it down for the record that among my greatest food discoveries, among the things that I love most of all in life, I LOVE HI-CHEW CANDY. And while it is a small thing, I am really, very grateful. Hi-Chew candy makes me happy. The taste brings back memories of good times and of people that I have loved and do love and will always love. Every time I see a pack my heart smiles. Thank You Japan. I can never get enough.

Um, HELLO??!!

Well, we did it. We found them. Those elusive Melona ice cream bars. And not only did we find regular size Melona bars, we found mini Melona bars. And not only did we find mini Melona bars, we found another kind of melon flavored ice cream bar. And not only did we find a new kind of melon flavored ice cream bar, we found a yummy new kind of green tea ice cream bar. (Because who can pass up green tea ice cream on a stick? Not me.) And then we went straight home and ate ourselves sick. Or at least I did. Maybe the others showed some kind of restraint. I had to try them all.

And WHERE did we find all of these scrumptious goodies you might ask? Well, we found them at the Asian Market RIGHT BY MOM’S HOUSE. Seriously. I mean HELLO??!! Did we not even LOOK there when we got back from Hawaii? All this time have we just made a beeline for Hi-Chews and big fat straws at the Asian Market and thought of nothing else? Seriously?? Did we look once and they weren’t there and we just gave up? Just like that? Sheesh.

Texts From Alek

March 18th, 2011 – 8:10 AM
“Good morning my love!! Where is YOUR Texas shaped waffle iron? That’s what I want to know!!”
(From a business trip in San Antonio, where apparently, even the waffle irons are extra awesome)

Flashback – October 2010

Two year’s ago Janaan came up with a clever “Brady Bunch” themed Christmas card that everyone LURRRVED so last year we felt like we had to one-up ourselves. This was the 2010 Christmas Card:
Out of everyone we know, we missed you most of all this year*.

*Don’t feel too special though, we sent this card to a lot of people. 

Mom had this photo blown up and framed and every time I am at her house it makes me laugh.
And yes, we’re already working on our concept for this year’s card.

P.S. This photo was taken by our lovely friend Jodi at A Yummy Life Photography.

Texts From Alek

Alek has always sent me hilarious texts. I can still remember some of his greatest hits word for word and I’ll quote them like I do lines from a movie. Anyway, I should probably start writing them down.

March 11, 2011 – 3:24 PM
“I love it when people tell me dogs aren’t allowed in the post office. Then when I tell them she’s blind and she needs a seeing eye person they all laugh and say it’s OK to bring her in. :-)”

This Bourbon Tastes Like Heaven

A few years ago I had a business dinner at The Slanted Door with some colleagues from work. And if I were asked the question – what was the best meal you’ve ever had in your life? – that dinner would rank near the top. I don’t know what it was, because let’s face it, most business dinners tend to lean towards tedious.

The people weren’t just colleagues, they were, and still are friends. And we had sort of schemed and planned about how we could put together this dinner with just this group of people (and not have to have any those, well, more tedious people come along) and it totally worked out. And the weather was nice and the view of the bay was gorgeous. And we somehow escaped the office and had time to hang out at the bar and just mosey our way into a relaxed dinner. And the food and the drinks were utterly fantastic. The whole evening was perfection. And I don’t think it is just me, because to this day I get texts from those people every time they have dinner there and we reminisce. Good times.

There are two things about that meal that stick out in my mind. First, the California Halibut from the raw bar, which just melts in your mouth (I think we had three or four orders of it). Second, the Pappy Van Winkle’s 20 Year Reserve Whiskey. I cannot possibly hope to recreate the California Halibut, but The Pappy, that I can definitely do.

At the Slanted Door they serve The Pappy in a double old fashioned glass with the biggest ice cube you’ve ever seen. This ice cube is almost cartoon-ish. We saw someone drinking it and became fascinated by this ice cube. I didn’t really even care what the drink was, I just wanted to be holding that glass with that ice cube in it.

I’m not sure who was the first person to order but suddenly we all had The Pappy in our hands. And it turns out that the ice cube is one thing, but The Pappy, well…it’s LOVELY. It tastes like sunshine and cozy and warm and relax, with just a touch of honey. I tell everyone that I send to the Slanted Door that they must make time to sit in the bar and have this drink.

Getting my hands on The Pappy was pretty straightforward. I tried for months (years actually!) to find a tray that would make the cartoon-ish ice cubes.

And then I found it. And no surprise that it came from the editors of my most favorite magazine, Wired.

The carefully hand-carved orb of ice used to chill our last Yamazaki single malt in Tokyo wasn’t just for show. As master bartenders there know, a 2-inch diameter ball of cold has a lower surface-area-to-volume ratio than a typical cube. That means it melts more slowly, preventing vintage hooch from warming up and getting watered down. Japan’s mixologists hire apprentices to chisel perfect frozen spheres, but if you aren’t so flush, pick up DIY molds (two trays for $16) from the MoMA store.

And if this one perfect evening wasn’t enough, what was the sexiest character on TV (Raylan Givens, “a tall, good looking white man with a shitload of swagger”) played by the sexiest actor on TV (Timothy Olyphant) offered in last week’s episode of Justified?

Yes, you guessed it, a glass of The Pappy.

Satsang Hippie Church: Creativity

My friend Neil invited me to join his Satsang group, which I affectionately call “Hippie Church”. Wikipedia told me that Satsang (Sanskrit  sat = true, sanga = company) is in Indian philosophy  that involves (1) the company of the “highest truth,” (2) the company of a guru, or (3) company with an assembly of persons who listen to, talk about, and assimilate the truth. This typically involves listening to or reading scriptures, reflecting on, discussing and assimilating their meaning, meditating  on the source of these words, and bringing their meaning into one’s daily life. Contemporary spiritual teachers in the West frequently come from the East but can come from any part of the world.

Neil’s Satsang consists of a lovely group of friends who get together about once a month to share a positive message and delicious food. Satsang is how I was introduced to Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, which I highly recommend reading. (Sidebar: Everyone I talk to about The Prophet says “Oh yeah! I read that in high school.” For some reason I totally missed the boat on that one. If you DID read it in high school, you should re-read it as an adult. The power in its simplicity is amazing.)

ANYWAY, at our last Satsang someone had just returned from a creative workshop with Julia Cameron, Author of The Artist’s Way and we discussed and meditated on creativity.

The Satsang conversation just sort of weaves around for an hour, so it’s not a typical “here’s what we learned about.” I will just tell you about what stuck with me:

– The Creativity River is always moving, when something or someone wants to come through me, I am a portal. I am the calm center from which all things are possible.

– This goes beyond creativity, but it’s worth writing down:  Nothing that you want is upstream.

In my relationships, I choose to be a Believing Mirror, not a Crazy-Maker. Crazy Makers destroy your creativity. They: break deals, destroy schedules, expect special treatment, discount your reality, pretend you are crazy, spend your time and money, are expert blamers, create unnecessary drama, and hate schedules (except their own). Prior to this Satsung I called these people “Dream Killers”. But Crazy-Maker has a much better ring to it, no? Believing Mirrors are the people who reflect positivity and possibility back to you unconditionally.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and famous?’ Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
— Maryanne Williamson (used by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 inaugural speech.)

An Open Letter to Utah County

Dear People of Utah County,

For the love of God, BYU, Diet Coke, Chain Restaurants, Honda Accords, the Tea Party, Jimmer and all that you think is holy, please move out of the left hand lanes if you are driving under 75 MPH (and most of you are).

Living south of the point of the mountain does not make you superior. In fact, if it is between the hours of 7:00 and 9:00 AM and 5:00 and 7:00 PM, and you are in the fast lane and there is NO ONE in front of you, this means that you are going TOO SLOW.

Thank You,
Natalie Jenkins

P.S. Starting the 55MPH construction zone at the EXACT point that the HOV lane opens up makes my commute extra extra tasty. Why don’t you just give me a paper cut and pour lemon juice on it??

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