That Awkward Moment I Asked Him To Be My Boyfriend

So, if you read my last Wedding Wednesday post you might recall when I asked Mason to be my boyfriend he said no. But this is a wedding post, so obviously we’re engaged now and I did manage to convince him to be my boyfriend, right? Read on, my friends.

Christmas 2014

While home for Christmas, we texted almost non-stop. We said a lot of cute, corny things to each other like this:

IMG_0110

And yes, he was in my phone as “JC” because I didn’t want anyone at work to know I was seeing him yet. What if I turned out to be wrong and there wasn’t actually anything special between us and we went our own ways after his internship ended?

Yeah, right.

My dad noticed how much I was texting while I was home for Christmas and I saw him glance over at me more than once with that tiny worry line forming on his forehead. Here’s the thing: My dad is the one who I ran to at 17 crying when my high school boyfriend told me he thought we should “take a break.” My dad is the one who comforted me at 19 when my college boyfriend took a similar route. My dad is the one who took me to coffee early in the morning when I was a 23-year-old crying wreck, reeling from an awful experience with my then-fiancé and his family. And my dad was the one who managed to get me in the car for a long drive to talk after I went through with that marriage anyway and then saw it come to a sudden end.

Basically, my dad had reason to worry about what I might be putting myself through next.

“Don’t worry, Dad,” I still remember the exact words. “This is a good one.”

New Years Eve 2014

After barely eating for four days, I could finally fit into the tiny pink and silver dress I bought from Forever 21 for my first public outing with Mason. We took some tequila shots and went to a huge New Years Eve party in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle.

New Years

Our first photo together, New Year’s Eve 2014.

It was a bizarre night. First of all, my ex-boyfriend was there and I had a sudden urge to go up to him and tell him I didn’t like the giant bushy beard he had grown since we broke up over six months before. Yes, it was petty. Yes, I did that. Second, one of our coworkers was there — one who sometimes acted as Mason’s supervisor. Mason and I spent the night strategically dancing and talking and hanging out wherever my ex and his sometimes-supervisor weren’t.

Then, just after the midnight kiss, overcome with happiness and drunk on love (*cough* tequila *cough*), I looked up at Mason and said, “You should be my boyfriend. Do you want to be my boyfriend?”

“No,” he said with obvious hesitation. “Let’s talk about it tomorrow.”

CRUSHED. But I played it off, you guys. I was totally the chill, fun, cool girl who didn’t really care and definitely was not looking to fall in love and marry him someday and, who knows, maybe even have his babies.

New Years Day 2015

When I saw him the next day, I continued to play it off.

“Remember last night when I told you that you should be my boyfriend?” I said with a laugh. So chill, you guys. I’m a cool girl.

“Yes,” he said, seriously. “I said we should talk about it tomorrow.”

“Yeah…”

“Well, it’s tomorrow. Do you want to talk about it?” he asked.

“Okay.” I was so nervous.

He looked at me and said, “Do you want to be my girlfriend?”

I laughed at him, so confused. I asked, why did he say no last night?

“I didn’t think it was a decision we should make after that much tequila,” he answered.

I was impressed. This younger man who came out of nowhere while simultaneously living a life very connected to mine was more thoughtful, deliberate and intentional than I could have imagined. He showed he was able to provide a safety buffer around my impulsiveness without smothering me. He was a good one. And now he was my boyfriend.

Best of all, now he is my fiancé.

Engaged

Engaged 10/25/17 – Brooklyn, NY

 

-Winters

DIY Thursday: Background checks

If I learned anything from my years as a crime and courts reporter, it’s that there are a lot of people out there who could hurt you. Not just “hurt” as in breaking your heart — “hurt” as in breaking your arm, leg, face, life, etc.

Yikes.

A lot of people don’t know this, but there are thousands of public records online that can help you determine if you want to open your heart and life to somebody before it’s too late and you’ve got the feels. Learning how to look up someone’s criminal record started off as a way to help me do my job as a reporter but turned into a great way to help me (and others) dodge some seedy dates.

Note: Some may view this as a violation of privacy or ruining the mystery of getting to know somebody. If that is your view, this post isn’t for you and that’s OK.

Also: *trigger warning* rape, murder, violence.

So, how does it work? First off, its important for me to state I can only speak to Washington State records as that is where I have the most experience. I’d assume other states (hopefully) operate similarly. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments below or shoot me an email if you want any guidance. I’m a big proponent of empowering people to keep themselves safe.

The More You Know — right? (please tell me someone got that reference…)

Step One: Do a google search. Seriously. First name, last name, city or state of residence. This works even better if you have a middle initial. Add things like “jail roster” or “suspect” to pull up potential news articles.

Next: Plug their name into the Washington Courts database to see if there is a list of cases filed by/against them. Again, this is better if you have a middle initial. Below is a screengrab of someone I used to report about frequently at my second newspaper gig.

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 6.50.44 AM

In the example above, I erased the person’s name but you can see they are listed as the defendant in more than 20 cases in various district courts. District court is where small claims, traffic tickets, misdemeanors, and other relatively minor cases are filed. When you’re the defendant, it means something has been filed against you. Some notes on the case numbers:

  • PCR = Port Angeles Criminal case
  • CCR = County Criminal case
  • PIN = Port Angeles Infraction (non-criminal) case

This is standard for the most part across cities and counties. If there’s a “C” in there it’s a criminal case and if it’s an “IN” or “I” it’s a non-criminal infraction such as a speeding ticket.

Most district court records are not viewable online and you have to go to the court office to see them. So, take a look at the list above and decide for yourself if you want to invite this person into your life or go into the office and read up, or pass.

What about Superior Court? I’m glad you asked! Superior Court is where serious criminal cases are filed and also is the venue in some jurisdictions for restraining orders, family court, and larger lawsuits.

superior court example

In this example, you’ll see this person is the defendant in case 09-1-00904-3. Dissecting the case number tells me this case was filed in 2009 (hence the 09) and is a felony criminal case (the 1). This person is also the respondent in a civil/restraining order case (that’s what 2 means) and the petitioner in a family court case (3 indicates family court like custody, child support, divorce). Respondent means someone filed against you and petitioner means you were the one to file against someone else.

Often, you can click into the person’s name or “Available” to get a more detailed look at the case. See below.

detail

These are the details in one of the Superior Court cases involving the person above. You can see the prosecutor filed a motion for arrest and determination of probable cause, which means, “We think this person did this thing based on this evidence and should be arrested and stand trial for it.” This is usually a combination of police reports, witness accounts, and other details about the incident in question. A judge must agree that there is enough evidence to establish this person probably did this thing and sign the order before the person can be arrested and charged. In this case, the person was arrested, charged with third-degree rape, and given specific conditions of release to follow if they were bailed out of jail. Sometimes that means turning in your guns, abstaining from alcohol, or promising to stay in the county/state and not flee. Also, the victim in this case was given a protection order against this person. This generally means no contact — not even through a friend of a friend — and you must stay the hell away.

But what if I can’t dig in this far to see the records? There’s more! Try searching the Washington State Digital Archives. You can find birth records, death records, divorce records, and court records here.

sbasic search

While not all counties have records available online, Snohomish County does. For this example, I looked up the name of a person facing murder charges in the Washington State Courts database and plugged the case number in here. The archive pulls up a list of documents filed in a case and gives you the option to preview or pay to view the documents.

snohomish county

Other ways to search: Go to your county court website and look for “court records” or “clerk of the court.” Sometimes you can access the database online and sometimes you have to request access to records — especially if they are sensitive in nature such as sexual assault protection orders.

Hopefully this is useful for you all. I know it is useful for me.

-Winters

An accidental love

It was never going to happen. For the first time in my life I was single and happy. Three months free of a tumultuous relationship, I reached a point where not even the worst of Tinder dates could get me down — and trust me, I have some stories you wouldn’t believe. Dating was actually really fun and I was determined not to allow myself to get into another committed relationship until I saw serious signs (and no red flags) that it would be worth all the energy, work, and emotion that goes into those. My friends were incredible, I was getting a promotion at work, and I loved my new apartment and roommates. I didn’t need a man.

Summer fun

The month we met I was loving my single life.

September 2014

I saw him across the office, wearing a pale yellow dress shirt with skinny jeans and a head full of hair that would make a newscaster jealous. Who was THAT? I started pinging coworkers on IM, trying to get some information about the new guy.

Turns out, he was the new intern. And even though I was on a different team, I had to train him because the person on his team that was supposed to do it was out of town. Sitting across from him in a small conference room, I dutifully stuck to the topic at hand and maintained a very professional demeanor even though inside my head were thoughts like:

  1. Whoa. His eyes. Are they green or gold?
  2. He’s so good looking. Is he Italian? Greek? (Later I looked up his last name and realized he was Chinese)
  3. This is Never. Going. To. Happen.
  4. Nope.
  5. He’s a baby.
  6. He’s an intern.
  7. This is Never. Going. To. Happen.
Mason

“The Intern”

October 2014

My dating life continued outside of work. But at work I learned more about him just by our proximity (my desk was next to “intern row”) and working on projects that incorporated his team. I learned his name was Mason Cheung (Chinese), he went to the same university as I did (though he was three grades behind me), graduated with the same major (journalism FTW), also had a seasonal family name (his Summers to my Winters), the same name convention for our Gmail addresses, and one day we both showed up wearing Richard Sherman Seahawks jerseys.

But, whatever. It was Never. Going. To. Happen. And I was seeing other people. And so was he. So, whatever.

November 2014

Then I started feeling jealous when other coworkers got to work on projects with him. His laugh made me light up even when I didn’t hear the joke. I tried to talk to him about beer at an office baby shower out of sheer desperation. (Note: I didn’t know anything about beer except that Rainier was cheap and IPAs were “hoppy.”)

December 2014

As the year came to an end, my dating life was pretty “meh.” Nothing was going anywhere, which was fine, and I was coming to realize the only person I really gave a damn about wasn’t right for me and we both knew it. It was time to move on.

I took my best friend to my company holiday party and she was an incredible date. Beautiful, charming, smart, and wicked funny. She met many of my coworkers, including a handsome VP and, yes, the handsome intern.

Maybe it was the months of staying away despite my burning curiosity or the confidence I’d found as a strong single woman. Or maybe it was the bottomless champagne. It’s not blame I’m looking for — it’s credit.

I grabbed his hand and encouraged him on to the dance floor with the rest of our coworkers. After the party, we sat next to each other at the karaoke bar and I tried to casually ask if he was seeing anyone. Then we talked about getting pizza.

There was a sense the following week that if this was going to be a thing, it was going to be A THING. I told my friends I had a crush on a guy from work — they thought it was the VP and teased me when I said it was actually “the intern.” Still determined that it was never. going. to. happen. I decided to cut out the flirtation, be extra-professional, and talk to him about his internship and career aspirations at coffee one morning. If I couldn’t date him maybe I could mentor him?

Instead, I became completely intrigued by him. We had so much in common. He was casual and cool and his laugh contained all the joy in the world. A few days later, he asked me if I wanted to get a drink after work. I was supposed to go on a date with this guy (we’ll call him Tweedle Dum) who pursued me for six months but always, without fail, would flake out on our plans to go on a date. So, I told Mason that, yes, I’d get a drink with him. And I waited for Tweedle Dum to flake out on our date, even though he made reservations at this nice Italian restaurant and swore up and down it was going to happen. It never did.

Actually, in the most amazing twist of fate, I ran into Tweedle Dum on the sidewalk in downtown Seattle mere hours after he texted me that he had to cancel our plans because of blah, blah, blah. Literally, my face running into his chest as he came around a corner on Third and Pine. I laughed as he blushed and when he began to stammer an apology for canceling our date I cut him off — “It’s ok, I’m actually on my way to a different date right now.”

I skipped down the sidewalks, giddy with victory, and met Mason at Local 360 in Belltown. As I drank up every word he said,  it dawned on me that this guy — with his green eyes and his yellow shirt — was going to rock my world.

When he kissed me goodbye at the bus stop, I knew. This. Was. Going. To. Happen.

New Years

Our first photo together, New Year’s Eve 2014, when I asked him to be my boyfriend and he said no. We’ll get to that story another time.

Okay, Ladies

I’m so excited to start off the new year by inviting you to celebrate the launch of a new, female-focused business support group in Seattle next week. Business Babes Collective is a platform connecting and inspiring women in select U.S. and Canadian cities through workshops, events, and retreats where they can learn, network, and find opportunities to grow together. When they asked if I would partner with them to spread the word, I was thrilled! One of my goals for this year is to participate in more conversations that help women become more empowered and connected. And I want to share that with you.

Business Babe Balloons

Photo by @creativewifeandjoyfulworker

The launch celebration will feature refreshments, photo ops, prizes, vendors, mingling and a Q&A with Desiree Siegfried. If you’re not part of Bachelor Nation, Desiree is a bridal designer best known for meeting her husband Chris on season nine of ABC’s The Bachelorette. I actually met her last month and was excited to hear about her new wedding dress collection, which is so beautiful! Can’t wait to pick her brain on the risks she took to build her business (Desiree Hartsock Bridal) — not to mention meeting her husband on TV.

Desiree Sigfried

Photo by @katieparraphoto

I hope you’ll join me and dozens of other Seattle-area lady bosses from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m., on Thursday, Jan. 25, at Sole Repair Shop in Capitol Hill. You can buy tickets here.

-Winters


Note: Seattle Business Babes provided me a free ticket in exchange for my assistance with publicity. I’ll always be transparent when organizations provide an incentive for my work. But rest assured, my opinions and recommendations are strictly my own and if I don’t like something or believe in it, you’ll know.

2017: The Year of Doing Something

If we’re being honest, this year didn’t start off on the best note. Mason and I were on our annual New Year’s Eve getaway, this time in Friday Harbor, when after a five-course dinner our bodies betrayed us in the most embarrassing ways on the walk back to our Air BnB. It was a bonding experience we could have done without, but later re-told through tears of laughter and humiliation to our families. What a way to ring in the new year. Let’s hope tonight’s New Year’s Eve dinner settles better.

2017 was the year of doing something. It was the year of taking action, of pushing back, and holding myself and those around me to higher standards. I guess you could say it was the year I’d had enough.

King Street Walk

* Outfit Details Below * Photo by Madeleine Wilson *

There were a lot of uncomfortable, but necessary, conversations. There were protests on the streets of Seattle, financial donations to advocacy groups, and phone calls and letters to my government representatives. There was almost a fight at a music festival when a man called me a name after cutting me off from my friends. I don’t think he expected me to whirl around and confront him, cranking my neck to look up into his eyes, with such immediacy and fire. “What did you call me?” I demanded. He left quickly at the ushering of his friend.

King Street Walk

Photo by Madeleine Wilson

Not that I am one to get into fights, but it really did wear on me how badly some people treated others. From the top down, it seemed to be everywhere and all the time. And when it came to how some people treated me, and it was badly, I just wasn’t having it. There were several occasions where I had to think through how to take the high road without letting people walk all over me. In one instance I had to cut ties. I don’t need cruel people in my life and what you allow is what will continue, right?

King Street Walk

Photo by Madeleine Wilson

There was one instance where, after much hesitation, I got involved in someone else’s experience of being treated badly. It was at a social function where people were drinking and having fun, except for one couple who seemed to be having a difficult time getting along. I didn’t know them well, but I could see that he was laying into her awfully hard while she was trying to calmly reason with him. Little excerpts of their conversation floated toward me across the room and it continued to escalate until finally I couldn’t sit down any longer. “Shut your fucking mouth,” he said to her. “You’re such an over-dramatic piece of shit.”

That was it. I had to do something. I was up. Off the couch. Across the room. My hand on his shoulder. I leaned over to him, “Can I call you an Uber? ‘Cause I can’t listen to you talk to her like that for one more minute.”

Was it any of my business? Probably not. Did it cause drama? Maybe. Will it make any difference? I hope so. If nothing else, I hope she knows I have her back. And I’d have anyone’s back in a situation like that.

After a year of “doing something,” I still wonder how we can hold each other to higher standards in regard to how we treat each other. How can we speak up against abuse, cruelty, and disrespect without playing into “drama?” Is there a way to gracefully establish boundaries and enforce consequences that won’t cause irreparable rifts in important relationships? I don’t know yet but something’s gotta give.

If nothing else, my hope for 2018 is that if we cannot be kind, we be quiet.

Happy New Years, loves.

-Winters

Outfit details below:

Steve Madden Pointur Pointed Toe Suede Heels. • Steve Madden • 

Saint Laurent Women’s Plaid Wool-Blend Scarf • Saint Laurent • (similar)

Hudson Barbara High Waisted Skinny Jeans • Hudson • 

Club Monaco Julie Turtleneck Sweater • Club Monaco • 

Michael Kors Jet Set Travel Large Crossbody Clutch Bag • MICHAEL Michael Kors • 

An evening at the symphony

You know you’re an adult when your idea of a fun double date is going to see the symphony. When my friend and her husband invited us to join them at Ensign Symphony’s “Hosannah” at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle, we loved the idea. Getting dressed up to listen to an orchestra play the Christmas classics I grew up singing in church? Yes. Also, I’ve only ever heard how lovely Benaroya Hall is and I was eager to check it out.

A night at the symphony

No, the guys didn’t coordinate their outfits — they just tend to show up wearing the same thing.

The performance was enjoyable albeit slow. Sitting in the auditorium listening to the symphony play and the chorus sing, I realized it was a very strange feeling to not be “doing” anything. No computer, no cell phone, nothing to look at but a bunch of people on stage singing and playing instruments. I felt fidgety for a while but settled into the calm. It’s so needed this time of year.

A night at the symphony

The Ensign Symphony and Chorus

There were a few funny moments: When the chorus sang a rousing rendition of “Betelehemu” one of the women in the front got off beat with her side to side movements and ended up getting jostled around between two others for a moment. I admit I giggled.

During the intermission, or “half-time” as my friend’s husband called it, we went out to the lobby to enjoy the decorations and take pictures. My favorite part about this time of year is all the pretty decorations.

A night at the symphony

The twinkling lights were beautiful — though a little dominating in this photo.

A night at the symphony

Our symphony uniform: Dress, tights, heels.

Thank you, Jo and Robbie, for a great date night!

Like our symphony outfits? Shop our looks below.

-Winters

My outfit (similar):

Jo’s outfit (similar):

My favorite seasonal goodies from FabFitFun

Here’s what I’m loving from the Winter 2017 FabFitFun box and how you can save $10 on one for you — or for someone on your gift list.

A year ago, after watching my friend Allison open box after box of amazing seasonal goodies from FabFitFun on her Snapchat, I decided to cancel my other subscriptions and use her discount code to sign up. SO glad I did!

The Winter 2017 Box

Unlike some subscription boxes I tried, the products in FabFitFun boxes are full size, relevant, and always useful and fun. Because they ship four times a year, I look forward to getting exactly what I want and need for the coming season. Example: Fuzzy socks for winter, knit beanie for fall, facial sunscreen for summer, etc. Also, the value is incredible ($225+ in retail value at a cost of $49.99 per box) and it always contains a great mix of fitness, fashion, beauty and wellness products.

In this box, I’m especially excited for the energizing eye masks, moisturizing hand cream, and the gorgeous eyeshadow palette. The total retail value of my Winter 2017 box is a whopping $388 and contains:

  • A warm, gray phoncho by BB Dakota
  • AHAVA mineral hand cream (I always need SO much hand cream in the winter)
  • A cute mug created by Homemade by Ayesha Curry
  • Cozy socks that are infused with aloe by Pointe Studio
  • ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment by Kate Somerville (this alone is worth $75!)
  • Deep Sleep pillow spray by This Works (smells surprisingly earthy in a good way)
  • DOUCCE Freematic Eyeshadow Pro Palette
  • The “Nine Lives” choker by 8 Other Reasons
  • An 8-pack of Grace & Stella anti-wrinkle + energizing eye masks

If you’re thinking this would be a great gift for someone — or yourself — I agree. Even better, I can save you money when you sign up! Click here and use code SOCOLD for $10 off.

-Winters

 

*Note: Because I am a FabFitFun Partner, this post contains affiliate links which allow me to earn a small commission if you click through and decide you want in on this goodness.

 

The ultimate gift exchange game for large groups

Lying awake the night before a big event is sometimes when I get my best ideas. Last Wednesday night, for example, I was pondering how to facilitate a fun, interactive gift exchange game that would encourage people to get to know each other (Seattle freeze be damned) but not interrupt the natural flow of the event.

The beautiful bedroom in the penthouse of Hotel Theodore in Seattle.

As part of my job as public relations manager at my company, I had 30 guests coming to a decked-out penthouse in downtown Seattle for a holiday gifting event. Everything was in place but how we would run the gift exchange, which featured gifts provided by my company. Then, it came to me: A holiday-themed word game where you have to find the person who has the other word. I know that sounds confusing. Stay with me.

The perfect spot for a holiday event.

Here is how it worked:

  • Upon arrival, each guest drew a piece of paper with a word on it out of a shiny copper bowl.
  • The word they drew was half of a two-word holiday phrase. Example: Jingle (missing word “Bells”) or Holly (missing word “Jolly”)
  • Throughout the night, they needed to find the person who had the word that would complete the holiday phrase.
  • When they found their partner, they would bring it to my attention and I would excitedly ring jingle bells and announce that we had a match. This part was hilariously awkward and fun for me.
  • We would gather at the tree and both people would pick a present.
  • They would then exchange the present (tricky, right?) and open it up.

The happy hostess — me 😊

It worked! Guests interacted with people they didn’t already know, had fun figuring out what phrase they had, and of course they loved getting a present. I was so happy to get positive feedback on my 11th-hour gift exchange game idea and see it unfold with such success.

Want to try this at your own holiday party? Here are the phrases:

  • Jingle bells
  • Holly jolly
  • Christmas tree
  • Figgy pudding
  • Wish list
  • Happy holidays
  • Seasons greetings
  • Gingerbread house
  • Candy cane
  • Santa Claus
  • North Pole
  • Naughty nice
  • Merry bright
  • Winter wonderland
  • Sleigh ride

Happy holidays!

Winters

My secret to free magazines

Every month, they come. And they stack up on my countertop and drive my fiancé crazy. Real Simple, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, People StyleWatch, Cosmopolitan (ugh, I know), Redbook, and more. Why do I get so many magazines that sometimes I can’t keep up with them? Because they’re free, they’re relevant to my industry and important for my job. And because they’re free. Scroll down to read how I scored this.

Free magazines for your industry

The first place to check out is Mercury Magazines. By filling out your basic contact and professional information, it will find free, relevant, and interesting magazines that you can sign up to receive. Of course, there’s always the risk of receiving junk mail but that hasn’t been a problem for me.

My second spot is RewardSurvey. This system works by awarding you points based on surveys you take about everything from parades to household products to cars. You can use the points to subscribe to magazines like Elle, Glamour, Real Simple, and more. The more points you earn, the better the selection.

Happy reading!

-Winters

How to pack for the holidays

Three days away from home and 45 minutes to pack. That’s what I was faced with this morning.

You see, today, we are taking a ferry and driving to my hometown to spend the first part of Thanksgiving with my family. Tomorrow afternoon, once we have polished off my dad’s amazing stuffing and eaten a piece of crack pie, we will get back on the road and take another ferry to go to a second Thanksgiving with my fiancé’s family. We will get back to our apartment in Seattle at some point on Friday night. So I needed to pack enough clothes, makeup, hair product, and charging cables to last until then.

Disclaimer: I am the worst at packing. I hate it and I always put it off til the last minute.

Because of that, though, I have some packing hacks that I hope will help you out as you pack for holidays away from home.

Tip 1: Start with socks and underwear. Stick with the basics at first cause if you forget them, good luck. Socks, underwear, charging cables, and deodorant are the first things to go in my bag.

Tip 2: Think about what will get you the furthest. This is where you want get strategic. If you pack clothing and accessories that are complementary in color you can mix and match and get more use out of the pieces you bring. More use out of what you bring = less things that need to be brought. For this trip, I’m going with blacks, grays, and gemstone tones.

Tip 3: Plan ahead for a long lasting hair style. Along the same lines as above, pack hair product that can help keep your hair looking great for a couple days. This eliminates the need to pack hair dryers, curling irons, hair straighteners, etc. My go-to products are from Living Proof and I can’t recommend them enough.

I hope these three tips will help you as you pack for Thanksgiving weekend. Happy Turkey Day!

Winters