Starbucks red cup 2017

Starbucks Red Cups, Zero Waste, and the Meier & Frank Holiday Parade

Starbucks red cup 2017Starbucks red cups are here! And people are losing their minds again! Thank god. I mean, can you imagine how sad Starbucks would be if people weren’t emotionally engaged with their holiday-themed marketing product to the point where they write about how mad and disappointed they are all over social media (and incidentally spread the word far better than an ad campaign could)?

Said ad campaign:


And yet . . . Starbucks red cups are special to me. I admit it. Even though I know it’s marketing, and I know it’s wasteful to buy coffee in a disposable, non-recyclable cup with a plastic lid, just seeing it brings me back to the Meier & Frank Holiday Parade here in Portland. Beginning in the ’80s, my mom would take me and my brother to see this homespun local parade—full of floats, high school marching bands, rodeo queens, and Shriners—and we would cheer and wait to see Santa ride up at the very end, and then we’d race inside to see Santaland.

Later, it was something just me and my dad would do (Mom wanted a break, my brother was living out of state), and then all four of us would go as a family. And as adults, part of the ritual became getting white chocolate peppermint mochas (oh, I am full of embarrassing confessions today) in Starbucks holiday cups. And I would feel warm and cozy and loved, and connected to my family and my city, because we were joining together for a yearly event that we’d done for decades, and all was right with the world.

But at some point, Meier & Frank (a department store with a rich and important history in Portland) was purchased by Macy’s, and after a few years they changed the store’s name. And then it was the Macy’s Holiday Parade (but not that Macy’s Holiday Parade). And then the downtown Macy’s store (still referred to as the Meier & Frank Building) closed this year. Goodbye parade. I even missed its final year, because of kids and rain and life, because I couldn’t imagine that even with the store closing, that someone wouldn’t take on the mantle of this historic, homey, seemingly essential parade. Such is life.

But Starbucks red cups are still here! I figure that much of our modern waste is due to convenience (individually packaged pre-sliced apples?), but so much is due to nostalgia and the kind of emotional connection that can only be forged by the epic collision of personal history and ad campaign.

Whew! This is a long essay to say I figured out a way to participate in this yearly controversy while eliminating the pesky paper-and-plastic waste (mostly): I bought a reusable Starbucks red cup and yes, I broke it out today (with coffee I made at home). It’s not colorable like this year’s model, but I can take it into Starbucks and get it filled with my yearly white chocolate peppermint mochas (no judgment) and I can go visit Meier & Frank’s erstwhile Santaland at the Oregon Historical Society with my brother, and something will be sacred, and something will last, and okay I may be a little stressed out right now.

But my point is, you can reduce your waste without cutting out the rituals and traditions that bring you joy—even if they seem a little silly when you type them down. Next up: how the heck do I get around holiday wrapping paper?!? If you have any suggestions, post them below!

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NERD CAMP Wine Tasting and Speed Friending

Help Us Raise 4,800 Pounds of Food for SnowCap Community Charities

NERD CAMP Wine Tasting and Speed FriendingLooking for some nerdy fun where you can make 20+ friends in one night? What if I told you it involves wine and fabulous prizes by local Portland businesses? And—by the way—you can feel good about having all this fun because you’re also helping raise money to buy 4,800 pounds of food for the needy in east Multnomah County, right before Thanksgiving?

That’s right: get tickets now for NERD CAMP Wine Tasting and Speed Friending, November 15 at Pairings Portland! There are two seatings, one at 6:00 pm and one at 8:00 pm, and a total of 48 seats available. Tickets are just $25 each, and $5 of each ticket goes directly to SnowCap Community Charities, where it will buy 100 pounds of food for your needy neighbors. If they sell out, that’s 4,800 pounds of food in just one night!

Plus, they’ll be raffling off fantastic prizes from the Hollywood Theatre, Things From Another World, Red Castle Games, The PDX Broadsides, Hour to Midnight – Room Escape Games, and Stranger Comics!

Here’s how the event works: each seating will start off with a practice tasting to learn how to taste wine properly, and then you’ll be given a nerdy topic to discuss over a great wine so you can get to know your table mates. After each question, you’ll move to another table with new friends to meet. There are six tables and six wines, and you’ll meet more than 20 new friends by the end of the night!

Special thanks to Victory Point Property Group for advertising support. Tickets are limited and this is a great cause, so please buy yours now!

GeekCraft Expo PDX 2017

Happy Monday! Thor Stuff, Twin Peaks & 10-Item Wardrobe

GeekCraft Expo PDX 2017Happy Monday, folks! Hope you’re having a wonderful start to the summer. I’m using this little lull to catch up on my blogging, woo!

Local Happenings

GeekCraft Expo PDX concluded June 11 and–whew–I was tired afterward. It was a great show. Our exhibitors are so great. Not only are they insanely talented and obsessed with all things geek, but they’re genuinely nice people! You can find all of our Portland exhibitors here. Up next: the GeekCraft Expo Seattle Holiday Market November 25-26!

It seems like as soon as I slow down a little, something else pops up that I cannot resist! I’ve just started working with Pairings, which bills itself as “Portland’s Weirdest Wine Shop and Bar,” and they are amazing. I went to their “Salmon 5 Ways with Rosé All Day” event right before Mother’s Day with my co-parent, Myndi (she discovered the place), and I had such a great time! Pairings focuses on making wine fun and accessible, so they pair wines to adjectives and personality traits–which means they have wines paired to Harry Potter characters, female superheroes, astrological signs, and more! Next they’re pairing eight wines to eight characters from Animal House. June 22-25, $25!

Geekery

Did you know that I am now nerd famous? It is TRUE. Well. Kinda. Anyway, the latest episode of my podcast with Miles Stokes, Thor: The Lightning and the Storm, is up! We’re going through Walter Simonson’s epic 1980s run on The Mighty Thor, and we’ve finally reached one of the most hard-hitting, metal moments in all of comics: the Executioner’s Last Stand!

I’m also recording a guest spot on Titan up the Defense, another local podcast I enjoy immensely. Brothers Hub and Cory alternate reading (and discussing) New Teen Titans and Defenders. I have a ginormous soft spot for New Teen Titans (thanks to my cousin Bryan’s collection), so I’m psyched to join in. Plus! They allow drinking during podcasting! Miles would never. Ha!

Finally, I’ve been invited to guest on Comic Book Cover Story, a podcast that features my good friend (and former TFAW co-worker) Sean Wynn and Kurt Loyd!

Fashion

With summer right around the corner, I need to spruce up my Spring/Summer 10-Item Wardrobe, so I’m going through my current clothes and shopping with my mom later this week. Get ready for a post next week, and maybe a prep post this week!

Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks is in a category by itself, because really . . . where would you put it? I just have to say episode 7 was intense. I admit I was kind of wavering about where it was going. I actually love “Dougie Jones,” but it’s super frustrating how no one will take him to a doctor! I mean, a man supposedly shows up one day with new hair and wardrobe, 20 pounds lighter, and can barely string one word together? Come on. But I love it. I love every moment (almost). I sit with my eyes as wide as possible, in silence, absorbing every second.

Confused? You really should have been prepared for that. But Laura Hudson’s wonderfully written Twin Peaks recaps may help.

That’s it for now! Man, I’m just glad I got to blog today. Do you have any Twin Peaks theories? Wardrobe hints? Other podcasts to check out? Put them in the comments!

Great Balls of Cheese

Happy Monday: Gilmore Girls, MSW & Cheese Balls

Great Balls of Cheese

Photo via Gluten Free Girl!

Happy Monday! It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these updates, but I’m delaying my Winter 2017 10-item wardrobe post until later this week. I decided I needed one more item, and I found something for $10 on ThredUp. Fingers crossed. To the links!

Current Events

The Women’s March took place this past Saturday, and estimates place attendance at 2.9 million. Even more amazingly–no arrests! I stayed home with Sarah here in Portland, but my husband went with our son and his former wife, and said it was an inspiring show of unity.

What got me a little choked up was seeing all of the Princess Leia-related Women’s March signs, especially so close to Carrie Fisher’s death. Carrie Fisher was an outspoken broad of the first order, and I feel like she would have approved.

What’s next? I thought The Atlantic had an interesting take, comparing the demonstration to previous protests in Russia and their aftereffects.

Cool Stuff

My amazing husband, Scott Allie, and our son Sid put together an epic Gilmore Girls/Murder, She Wrote crossover comic for me for my birthday, bringing Brian Michael Bendis, Mike Norton, Dave Stewart, and Nate Piekos together to help make it. It is one of the very best things I have ever received in my life. Sid wrote most of Jessica Fletcher’s dialogue himself! More details at Nerdist.

Gilmore Girls Murder She Wrote Comic

Amazing, right?

Every year for Christmas, my parents buy me a set of Soma pajamas and I love them so much. They are cute and comfortable and have pockets. This year I got some that are gray-and-white striped with a little silver, and I just noticed they are way on sale.

My friend Liza got me Great Balls of Cheese, a cookbook dedicated to cheese balls, and I am obsessed. I will make every single one of these!

Geekery

I’m expanding my role with GeekCraft Expo to include all of their upcoming shows (including some that haven’t been announced yet–yay!). I love being able to work with so many awesome crafters and see their nerdy goods! Exhibitor applications for GeekCraft Expo PDX 2017 are open until January 31, so make sure to fill yours out now!

I’ve also been really enjoying working with The Doubleclicks! You can check out their free online show 1/26 (with special guests the Library Bards), or catch their #NerdNightOut shows 2/11 in Seattle and 2/12 in Portland!

As regular readers know, I’m a huge fan of podcast Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men. I’ve just been invited to guest-host again next month, I’ll keep you posted! In the meantime, listen to their latest episode, which covers Excalibur’s Cross-Time Caper and the aftermath.

Phew! I hope you all are enjoying January. I must admit, I’m relieved to have the holidays over with. Portland got about 10 inches of snow and then some ice, which prolonged Sid’s Christmas vacation (which was actually pretty nice), but kept me housebound a little too long.

What have you been up to? Post below and say hi!

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Yes You Can: Make a Luscious Tuna Noodle Casserole

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Luscious Tuna Noodle Casserole, a Gould family recipe!

The cold and rain have returned to Portland, which means it’s soup and casserole weather, yay! I love a good casserole–they’re typically easy to make and feed a crowd. And oh I love to pull out the Campbell’s Cream of soups. They just feel cozy. This tuna noodle casserole comes from my friend Tiffany Gould, who graciously shared her family recipe with us, and it is fantastic: rich, creamy, and satisfying. It’s also huge.

Plus, like any good casserole, it’s flexible, allowing for the addition of whatever’s in your fridge. For instance, I made the casserole pictured above with egg noodles (instead of extra-large macaroni), ricotta (instead of sour cream), and thyme (in place of parsley), and it still retained its ineffably delicious character. Make it tonight!

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Serves 12

You Need:
2 cans white albacore tuna, drained
12 oz. extra-large macaroni, cooked and drained (if you use egg noodles, use 1 lb)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
Pepper (to taste)
Parsley (to taste)
Milk
3 cups grated cheddar cheese
Breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook noodles in large pot according to directions on package and grate cheese. When noodles are done, drain and set aside. Combine tuna (you may need to chunk it up a bit), cream of chicken soup, and cream of mushroom soup in the pot used to boil noodles. Then add sour cream, pepper and parsley to taste; the measurements above are just an estimate, not exact.

Next, stir in the noodles and 2/3 of the grated cheese. Add milk until the mixture stirs easily; keep in mind the casserole will lose moisture as it cooks. Pour into a 9″ x 13″ pan, cover with the remainder of the grated cheese, and sprinkle breadcrumbs on the top.

Cover pan with foil and place in oven. Cook at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, and then check to see if the cheese has melted and the casserole is bubbling. If so, remove foil and cook for about another 15 minutes, until cheese on top has golden brown spots.

Variations: Add in leftovers from the refrigerator that need to be used in place of the milk, sour cream or cheese (cream cheese, buttermilk, cream, alfredo sauce, cottage cheese, ranch dressing). Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top with the bread crumbs tastes great, too.

Big thanks to Tiffany Gould and her family for bringing this recipe into our lives! Do you have a go-to casserole recipe? Post it below!

Luke's Diner Popup Portland Oregon

I Went to Luke’s Diner and It Was Magical

Luke's Diner Popup Portland Oregon

My very patient and wonderful family came with me to visit the real star of Gilmore Girls: Stars Hollow.

I need to start by saying that I have a wonderful husband and son. Because they let me drag them to a coffee shop on a weekday at 7 am and stand in line for two and a half hours. For a cup of coffee. My son is 11. He literally took one sip, refused to comment, and laughed with glee that he would be late for school because I couldn’t resist the lure of the Luke’s Diner popup event, a very clever marketing promotion for the upcoming Gilmore Girls revival.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is coming to Netflix November 25, which I’m sure at least 85% of people on social media must know right now, because Netflix’s PR game is tight, and thousands of people (and dozens of local TV news crews) were beguiled by the chance to visit Luke’s Diner right around the corner (almost literally for me: Oblique Coffee Roasters, the only participating location in Oregon, was about 15 blocks away).

I am not a morning person. And I’ve been working in fandom (comics and pop culture) for many years. I’ve worked countless conventions, including the big show, San Diego Comic Con. If anyone should be immune from standing in line for hours for a cheap freebie (for the record, the free cup of coffee was emblazoned with a quote from Lorelai Gilmore and a Snapchat filter code, and wrapped in a Luke’s-branded paper sleeve) and photo op, it should be me. Not only could I not resist, I was all in, because this promotion tapped into the essence of what made GG so popular: the idea of community.

Gilmore Girls is the story of mother-daughter duo Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. Impetuous, irreverent Lorelai became pregnant at 16, severely disappointing her wealthy-yet-emotionally cold parents. Wanting her independence, Lorelai took baby Rory and ran away to the quaint town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, where she found a job as a maid at an inn, eventually working her way up to manager, and building her own family of friends. At the beginning of the series, serious, brainy Rory is 16 and has been accepted to the prestigious–and expensive–Chilton prep school. In exchange for loaning her the money for tuition, Lorelai agrees that she and Rory will join her parents for dinner every Friday. Wacky hijinks and emotional chaos ensues.

I didn’t watch Gilmore Girls when it debuted on the WB because it was on opposite Buffy. But also because I had just run away from home myself, in a way–I ran from a failed marriage and a boring copywriting career to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, a quaint island where I learned to wait tables and eventually build my own family of friends. After returning to Portland in 2005 (and taking a work-from-home editing gig), my homesick self discovered GG on ABC Family and was hooked.

But in retrospect, I realize the main attraction wasn’t cool mom Lorelai or bookworm Rory (who were actually pretty flawed characters, but I like that). The real star of the show was Stars Hollow, the quirky granddaughter of Mayberry, and the Warner Bros. backlot-town that was literally made up of sets that have appeared on countless other TV shows (The WaltonsThe Dukes of Hazzard, and Seinfeld, to name a few). Stars Hollow is the town where everyone knows your name–and what you had for breakfast (probably at Luke’s, since Al’s Pancake House serves international cuisine). Portland seemed uncomfortably large to me, after living in a place where I literally knew almost everyone at the grocery store. Stars Hollow, a place rich in offbeat characters and so many town events and festivals, felt like a warm hug.

The return of Gilmore Girls is the return of Stars Hollow, and Netflix knows this–that’s why bringing Luke’s Diner to the masses was so smart, and so successful. After all, Gilmore Girls fans are already conditioned to love ridiculous events. And standing in line (for hours) with the GG fan community was like one long town meeting in our very own Stars Hollow.

Kicking yourself for missing Luke’s Diner? You can still get your Stars Hollow fix by visiting the “newly recovered” town website (apparently Kirk lost the password in 2007). That’s where I’ll be, drinking my coffee and the GG Kool-Aid, until November 25!

Sarah’s Second Birthday Party

IMG_5817.jpg

Sarah’s Elephant Cake (tutorial from My Cake School linked below).

Sarah turns two today, but we celebrated her birthday this past weekend by inviting 40 of her closest friends over. I know that sounds extravagant for a kid’s birthday party, but one, we often have even more over for brunch (does that sound smug?), and two, at this age, the party is more for everyone else (all of our friends with kids). When she’s older, I’ll cut it down to her actual friends. Maybe.

The party was actually pretty simple to set up: I basically made a birthday cake and what I call TFAW food. When I worked for Things From Another World (the world’s finest online and brick-and-mortar comic book shop), I catered all of our signings. I started out with superhero-themed quinoa salads and fancy canapes. After being overloaded with leftovers (no one wants to eat quinoa at an Avengers signing), I ended up making simple food everyone likes–dips, fruit, veggies, and cheese–with a firm plan for anything left over.

This menu is simple, relatively inexpensive, and perfect for almost any casual gathering. The birthday cake is a bonus! If you’re not throwing a birthday party or just don’t want to make an elaborate cake, I suggest cupcakes or (even easier) brownies.

Sarah’s Second Birthday Menu

  • Elephant Cake: This tutorial was great, and not too difficult
  • Nathan Fillion’s Seven-Layer Bean Dip of the Gods: This is seriously delicious–I spread it in a 10″ x 15″ glass Pyrex dish, so it’s easy for people to dip through all the layers
  • Salsa and Tortilla Chips
  • Veggie Platter with Spinach Dip: My mother’s specialty
  • Fruit: I went with grapes and watermelon)
  • Cheese Platter with Crackers: Since this was a kid’s party, I kept it simple: a wedge of Brie, dilled havarti, some sharp cheddar, and string cheese

Unfortunately, I don’t have many pictures because my phone died the morning of the party. We served lemonade, Arnold Palmers, flavored seltzer, and sparkling wine.

But as important as planning a menu is, it’s even more important to have an exit strategy for the leftovers. Here’s what I’ll be doing:

  • Cake: Gone, suckers!
  • Seven-layer dip: I made ersatz migas for breakfast the other morning with some tortilla chips thrown in. I’ll be adding taco meat and making burritos with the rest.
  • Veggies: The cut veggies have been going into my husband’s lunch, and Sarah and I have been snacking on the dip. Fortunately we didn’t have a lot left over–if there were more, I would have made “Free” French Vegetable soup.
  • Fruit: Lunches, breakfast
  • Cheese platter: If you know me at all, you know I have no problem taking care of extra cheese. The slices have been very convenient for sandwiches!

Do you have any go-to party food? Post below!