Fun in Portland!

It’s been a really busy couple of weeks (hence the non-existent blog posts!).

Last weekend Mike and I drove down to Portland to see Lia who was in town visiting her aunt and uncle.  Her friend Rae took the train up from Eugene, as well, so the four of us hung out and bummed around downtown Portland together… so fun!  We had a fun afternoon of shopping, and Mike was so laid-back even though of course shopping in women’s clothing stores isn’t exactly his thing.  ;)  While we looked at clothes at Anthropologie, he examined the furniture in the store.  :)  After a relaxing early afternoon of shopping and a brunch at Whole Foods we headed to Pittock Mansion.  You can read all about its history on the site, but it is a beautiful mansion on a cliff-like hill overlooking Portland… so beautiful!  And surprisingly like Highclere Castle!  Apparently despite the U.S.’s separation from Britain, we took our ideas of fashion, decorating, and architecture from them!

Just a normal living room.  Nothing special.  ;)

Just a normal living room. Nothing special. ;)

 

And a harp!

And a harp!

 

The house was beautiful, and unlike Highclere Castle in England we were able to look through all the rooms!  That meant that we got insight into things like the way people from that era showered.

Mike's engineering brain instantly attracted to all the pipes!

Mike’s engineering brain instantly attracted to all the pipes!

 

Don't get wet, Lia!  :)

Don’t get wet, Lia! :)

 

We had a lot of fun!

Friends!

Friends!

Just like with Highclere Castle, the winding staircase was AMAZING!

Love, love

Love, love

 

And such a gorgeous view from the back of the house over downtown Portland!

Foggy Portland

Foggy Portland

 

So last weekend was lots of fun!  We left late-ish after being gifted with the most amazing home-made applesauce by Lia’s aunt.  (So fresh that it was still WARM!)  Yum!!  Our drive back to Seattle was great… driving in the darkness is always kind of relaxing.

I’ve been back to running!  Not quite as fast as I was yet, but my speed is definitely coming back!

Piper stuck really close to me while I elevated my knee and focused on recovering.  :)

Piper stuck really close to me while I elevated my knee and focused on recovering. You can see the ace bandage on my knee in the background!

I LOVE running in Seattle this time of year… it’s just beyond gorgeous!

Lake Union

Lake Union

 

So gorgeous...

So gorgeous….

 

All of these pictures are within a mile or two of our apartment... so amazing....

All of these pictures are within a mile or two of our apartment… so amazing….

 

Mike and I finished season 4 of Game of Thrones…. so that’s that for the next, oh, eight months or so.  Bummer!

Mike has continued to play his guitar quite a bit in the evenings.  Oftentimes we’ll go the gym together and then take a short walk together afterwards.  The weather has cooled down a lot in Seattle and is down in the low 70’s during the  day now.  That makes for perfect walking weather in the evenings, particularly when there’s not much of a breeze.

I haven’t been quite as up on using up the CSA produce the past couple of weeks… I think the knee recovery slowed me down a little.  But I’ve still been using up most of it.  This week we got a beautiful little carving pumpkin in our CSA produce.  I’ve been badgering Mike to carve it, but he thinks it sounds messy.  Bummer!  Maybe I’ll just get a black sharpie and draw a face on it myself?  Should I go for a happy face, a scary face, or something else?  Any ideas??  For now I’ve set it outside our apartment door so that it lends a fall-like atmosphere to our floor.  Love it!

Halloween is also coming up!  I’m excited and determined to go somewhere and dress up!  (Since we bought costumes two years ago and have yet to use them… I think it’s time we did!)  So I’ve been looking at Seattle blogs for party ideas… there’s so much going on this time of year in Seattle!

Again, because of my knee, Mike drove me to pick up the CSA produce a couple weeks ago, although typically I walk.  When we arrived at the pickup site there were police and fire trucks everywhere as well as a good handful of vehicles bearing titles like “Emergency Cleanup Crew” on their sides.  Uh, oh!  That didn’t seem good!  As it turned out, there’d been a fire in one of the metal-working shops in the area, and apparently you need a whole host of weird chemicals to stop metal fires.  Who knew??

Last night we met up with a friend of Mike’s from work and his wife at Cichetti, a new favorite haunt of ours.  (So much of a favorite, actually, that we were also there last Friday.)  It’s an amazing place to go just to talk and hang out, and it has an amazing view of Queen Anne, Magnolia, Seattle, and Lake Union.  Mike proclaimed early in the evening that the purpose of the evening was pure relaxation.  We definitely just relaxed!  We looked down at the amazing view of Seattle and just chatted and shared small plates of food while Mike offered his expertise recommending drinks for everyone.  We actually didn’t notice the time until 11:45pm!  Wow!  Staying out until almost midnight!  What kind of a crazy, partier am I?  I also emailed Rae last week after 10pm and texted Lia sometime after 10pm the week before… am I turning into a night owl, or what??  ;)

I took Piper in for her follow-up vet appointment yesterday, and so far everything’s looking good with her UTI.  Yay!  She still needs to be on antiobiotics for another couple months, though, because the vet wants to make sure all of the bacteria are completely eradicated.  Piper doesn’t like taking pills but by this point I’m a pro at giving her the pills.  I pretty much pull her mouth open and pop the pill down her throat while she glares at me.  I actually have to give her 3/4 of a pill, which is kind of a pain because it means giving her two pills: one 1/4 pill and one 1/2 pill.  I asked the vet if I could just give her a full pill, but he shook his head and said that she’s only 3/4 of a cat and only needs 3/4 of a pill.  :)

Completely off-topic, one thing that I have been focusing on the past few months is thankfulness.  And so here’s my mini piece of advice: live and love every day.  Be thankful for everything, especially the small things.  This is one thing I definitely learned from my mom… be thankful for the color of an orange pumpkin or the way the wind moves through the trees, or the way the random stranger on the bus smiles at you.  Such an enriching way to live life!  I hope everyone is having a wonderful fall!

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Filed under Cats, Cicchetti, CSA, Food, Friends, Halloween, Holidays, Pictures, Running, Seattle, Weather

Autumn in Seattle

The weather in Seattle has finally cooled down, and you can smell fall in the air.  And some of the leaves are starting to fall and provide a crisp, crunchiness under your feet when you walk.  This has put me in the mood for apple cider and.

So let’s talk about running.  And knees.  And specifically knees and running together.  I went out for a brisk 12-mile run on Saturday.  I ran around Lake Union, I ran out by the Ballard Locks and back, and I ran up to Green Lake, ran part of the way down, and started back towards home.  I was at mile 11 out of 12, I was feeling pretty good, and it was a beautiful day.  I was approaching a crosswalk, and saw that a car was coming so I attempted to make eye contact with the driver to see whether they were planning to go or let me cross first.  And in that moment of attention on the car, I ceased to pay attention to the ground and tripped over some uneven concrete.  I went down, skidded on the concrete (on my knee).  And there I was.  On the sidewalk about a mile from home with a bloody knee a little ripped up from the concrete.  Ouch!  My first thought was that I would call Mike, and he could come and pick me up.  Unfortunately, Mike’s phone must have still been in silent mode from work on Friday, because Mike didn’t answer my repeated phone calls.  Ok.  Did I have an ORCA card so that I could ride the bus home?  No.  And there really wasn’t a bus line near me without walking half a mile anyway.  I could just sit by the side of the road and wait for Mike to wake up, check his phone, and call me back, but it was Saturday morning.  It was unlikely he’d be up soon.  I tentatively tried standing up.  Painful, but doable.  I decided I could hobble a mile home.  I could even take the back roads so I wasn’t quite so conspicuous.  I had walked about a block before I looked down at my knee again.  Hmm… now it was bleeding all the way down to my shoe.  Fortunately I was wearing old shoes.  Also fortunately, I was wearing one of my least favorite running shirts.  I stripped it off (Don’t worry!  I had a sports bra underneath!) and used it to wipe up as much of the blood as I could and then limped my way home.

I cleaned it up as best I could, looked doubtfully at the small gouge in my knee, shrugged, poured hydrogen pyroxide on it five times (that was fun), and then bandaged it up.

When Mike woke up, he insisted on re-bandaging my knee better.  “Hmm…” he said when I took my homemade bandage off and he looked at it.  “That’s not a knee scrape.  That’s a gouge.  For a knee scrape, we should put a bandage on it.  For a gouge, we should go to the doctor.”

Bummer.  I argued a little, but I kind of agreed that it was more than a scrape, so the next thing we knew we were at the doctor’s office waiting to see a PA.  She agreed it was more than a scrape and did all kinds of fancy irrigation stuff on the wound to flush out any debris, then she superglued the flaps of skin on my knee closed (sorry, probably too much information here… it’s a little gross.  I just thought it was fascinating.  I didn’t know they had medical super glue for these kinds of situations.).  She thought about stitches but ultimately ended up with some tape-like sutures that she put over the wound.  The superglue and the sutures will dissolve on their own in 5-7 days.  The real key here was that until they dissolved, I was not supposed to bend my knee.  At all.  If I bent it, it would break the super glue and the sutures loose… and then I would have to go back and get all that re-done.  So I’ve got the area all wrapped up, and the ACE bandage pretty much prevents the knee from bending.  As it is, though, I’m on day 5 of the 5-7 day plan, so I should be bending my knee again very soon, and I haven’t had any real pain yesterday or today.  :)

In other health-related news, poor Piper has another UTI.  So she’s on another round of antiobiotics plus the vet is recommending that we try some different food for her.

Apart from health-related news, things have been fairly busy.  Saturday evening Mike and I got together with a friend of Mike’s from work and his wife and we went out to dinner and then hung out at their house for awhile.  His wife lent me the new Hercule Poirot book… apparently there’s a new author who has been blessed by Agatha Christie’s surviving family to take up the Hercule Poirot books.  Interesting!  I’m enjoying it so far.  As is typical with the Hercule Poirot shows, I can’t figure out what’s even going on in the story, much less who is responsible for the murders.  Very fun!

Because of my knee Mike has been dropping me off at work and picking me up from work.  I could walk to and from the bus stop myself, but I’m walking slowly since I’ve got the bandage on my knee, so it’s nice to be dropped off and picked up.  That means that I’ve been at work longer hours, because Mike has to drop me off before 7:30am and doesn’t get back down to South Lake Union until 6ish, but that’s ok.  There’s lots to do at work these days.

I already have picked up 16 loads of my 20 CSA loads this season!  I’ve been doing surprisingly well using things up, although I had an off week last week somehow and had to throw some stuff out.  Mostly just because I forgot I had it buried in the fridge.  I made up some chicken veggie soup for Mike over the weekend.  He has been wanting lighter foods these days since he’s been eating healthier and working out more.  I also made some eggplant curry for me.  Yum!  I also baked some corn on the cob, steamed a whole head of Napa cabbage (which I eat cold with salt on it… like a proper Irishman!).  :)  I also steamed up some sugar snap peas and green beans.  The green beans are always a hit with Mike, and it’s great to have veggies around that he enjoys!

In other news, I’ve been drinking beet smoothies these days.  I can honestly say beets are one vegetable that I hate.  I can’t even think of any other vegetable that I remotely dislike as much as I dislike beets.  But if I get them from the CSA, I’ll use them one way or another, and a smoothie is one of the better ways to hide them as long as you don’t use too much beet in each smoothie.  Also, beets are very anti-inflammatory and de-toxing, and given that I want my knee to heal quickly, they seem like a good addition to my diet.  They just don’t taste good though.  I wrinkle my nose every time I have to eat them.  I have found that they work best mixed with carrots and greens.  The carrots and greens both have pretty compelling flavors that mask the beets pretty successfully.

Mike and I went to UVillage over the weekend to do some window shopping.  Somehow it always takes us forever to get a parking spot in the parking ramp, because the cars in front of us go so slowly and then will stop if they see a car about to leave so that they can take that car’s spot.  When you couple these slow parkers with the fact that Mike likes to park at the very top of the parking ramp and thus it takes us several minutes just to drive all the way around up to the top anyway, we usually budget about fifteen minutes just for parking.  This weekend’s trip was no exception.  Mike was behind a Subaru that was driving at 5mph and put on his brakes anytime he thought he might see a spot opening up.  Mike threw his head back against the headrest.  “C’mon Subaru!” he said reading from the sign that happened to be right in front of us.  “There’s 750 stalls… CONTINUE UP!”  Once we finally parked we had a fun time wandering around the stores, and Mike got a chia berry smoothie from Evolution, an amazing organic smoothie place.  He is loving that chia berry smoothie.

I can’t believe it’s already Thursday… the week is just flying by!  I will put some pictures in my next post… I have some lovely ones of South Lake Union in the fall!

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Filed under Beets, Cooking, CSA, Eggplant, Food, Running, Smoothies, Weather

A Series of Unfortunate Events (actually only mildly unfortunate)

This has been a roller-coaster of a week.

Not in any ways that are too major, but in a lot of little ways.  For instance, a few days ago, Mike woke up before the alarm and got up to get a drink of water.  He didn’t turn on any lights, and the next thing I heard was the distinct sound of shattering glass.

“What happened?” I called out, even though it was pretty obvious what had happened.

“I dropped the glass,” Mike called back.

I lay in bed enjoying the warmth for three extra seconds, before I called out, “Don’t move!” and scrambled out of bed and out to the kitchen to turn on the lights.

Yup.  There was Mike, standing at the kitchen counter amid some cracked and splintered glass.  I picked up the big pieces, and Mike brushed up the small pieces on the kitchen counter.  Then Mike started vacuuming the floor around that area while I emptied Piper’s water fountain and cleaned it, since that was near where the glass had shattered.

Everything was going very efficiently until the portable air conditioner in our apartment came on, and then all the lights went out.  No more sounds… not of the air conditioner or the vacuum cleaner.  Mike and I were completely still in the darkness for a moment, and then I heard Mike’s voice.

“And that’s why we don’t run the vacuum cleaner and the air conditioner at the same time.”

“Why?”

“Because we blew a fuse.”

“Oh.  Can you fix it?”

Mike fortunately has enough flashlights around that he knew exactly where to go to find a flashlight.  And, of course, he knew exactly where the fusebox was.  He opened it and peered at the switches.  He tried flipping the one labeled ‘Kitchen’.  No dice.  He looked at the panel some more, shrugged, and flipped the one for ‘General’.  Voila!  All the lights came on.

By the time everything was said and done, Piper had a squeaky clean water fountain, we had one fewer water glass, and Mike and I just managed to get out the door for work on time.

This is just one example.

Here’s another one.

I went to a late yoga class on Monday night, and Mike offered to pick me up afterwards.  He picked me up, drove home, and parked in our parking garage.  Then he reached over to pick up his house key which was in the center console of the car… and it fell.  Apparently between the seat and the center console.

Mike pulled out a flashlight (this guy has flashlights EVERYWHERE I promise you!) and climbed around on the front seat looking for where it could have fallen.  He couldn’t find anything.  He tried again, this time from the backseat.  No dice.  After five minutes, I offered to give it a try.  Mike turned the flashlight over to me, and I essentially did a headstand on the floor in the backseat shining the flashlight every which way.  It seemed surprisingly clean under there (this is Mike’s car we’re talking about after all), but that only served to make it more obvious that the key wasn’t there.  I tried my modified headstand again, this time from the front seat shining the light back.  Still, nothing.  We tried the seat cushions.  Nothing.

Mike sighed.  “It’s probably inside of the seat.  I don’t know it could fall in there, but there is a small hole in the side where the seat belt buckle comes out.”

I looked at the small hole.  “It just seems so farfetched that it would fall in a hole that small!”

“Yeah, I know… but where else could it be?”

I sat up.  “What does that mean… you have to take the seat apart?”

Mike shrugged.

I groaned.

“Hey,” Mike said.  “Did you check under the floor mat?”

“Why would I check under the floor mat?” I asked.  “A key can’t fall under a floor mat.”

Nevertheless, I pulled up the floor mat, and Voila.  There was the key nestled under the edge of the floor mat.  I’m still not sure how it fell under there, but I guess stranger things have happened.  And when you’ve just discovered that you don’t have to actually take apart an upholstery assembly, you’re not typically in the mood to overanalyze the reasons you don’t have to.

So it’s been that kind of a week.  :)

One piece of interesting news, though, is that after many years of delay I’m FINALLY starting yoga teacher training in November!  All of the pieces fell together exactly right, so I’ll be spending some evenings and weekends taking training classes from November until late June.  I am pretty much beyond excited, and Mike has been extremely supportive.  What a guy.  ;)  I’ve started some of the reading for the class just to get a head start (because apparently there are some habits from college that die hard), but apart from that I’m just enjoying the yoga classes I’m taking and really focusing on running, since I have a half marathon to run before the training starts!  So if all goes well, I should be certified by the Yoga Alliance to teach yoga by the end of June.  Exciting!

Speaking of running, the new Brooks running headquarters is officially open in Wallingford!  I heard through the grapevine that they might be starting a running club… perfect for Mike and me!  :)

Brooks running!

Brooks running!

Mike and I have been watching Game of Thrones season 4, and there are only 10 shows in the entire season.  Kind of disappointing, given how addicting the show is.  We’ve been trying to keep ourselves to one each week so that the show lasts longer, but it’s been difficult, and we’ve already watched two so far this week so we’re not exactly batting 1000 here (1000 is a good batting score… isn’t it?  My lack of baseball knowledge is surpassed only by my lack of golf knowledge.).

Veering completely off-topic, I have noticed something really bizarre about weather.com (which I use to determine the weather rather than just looking out the window.  Because, really.  We’re living in an age of technology.  Why would I look out a window and actually interact with the physical world when I can pull out my smart phone and limit my interactions only to pixels?).  Before about a month ago, the chance of rain always displayed in increments of 10% (i.e. 10%, 30%, 90%), but recently the chance of rain started to be displayed in 1% increments.  And, furthermore and somewhat bizarrely, it is extremely likely to rain if the chance of rain is 1%.  Twice this week, while walking to work, I have gotten unexpectedly rained on even though weather.com cheerfully proclaimed that the chance of rain was only 1%.  As a computer programmer, I have a theory about the buggy code that’s causing this, but I won’t bore you with the details.  Regardless, I’m not going to get the chance to look through their code and fix it, so in lieu of that I’ve just started carrying an umbrella with me to work when the forecast calls for a 1% chance of rain.  And, really, I live in Seattle.  I should be carrying an umbrella to work every day anyway.  :)

1% chance of rain?  I don't think so...

1% chance of rain? I don’t think so…

Mike has continued to play his guitar pretty regularly.  He got some little black box that can simulate guitar amplifiers so that he can play his electric guitar at night and the sound goes into the box and from there into his headphones rather than going into his big guitar amp and potentially keeping everyone on our floor awake.  What a great invention!  (Although I enjoy listening to him play, so it’s a little bit of a bummer for me!)

Not the best pic of Mike's new guitar, but I didn't want to disturb him...

Not the best pic of Mike’s new guitar, but I didn’t want to disturb him…

 

I hope everyone else is enjoying their week!

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Filed under Life in Seattle, Random Thoughts, Running, Weather, Work, Yoga

A low-key weekend

Mike’s week-long team project for improving the manufacturing process for one of the projects he’s working on is finished!  What a relief!  He was working long hours all of last week.  And when he did come home, it was typically late and he was typically wound up and only really up for thinking about work.  Unsurprisingly after his hard work all week, he had a headache on Saturday morning.  That did make us realize that he has been getting far fewer headaches the past several months though.  It’s probably the working out and healthier eating, because he also got far fewer headaches when we were going through the P90X exercise program last year.  It’s hard to believe that it’s already been about a year since we started that program.  I still remember all of the jokes the lead trainer says in all of the DVDs even though we haven’t done any P90X workouts in probably 8 months.  It’s amazing how that stuff stays with you!  :)

Work has started relaxing a little for me, which has been really nice.  Mike’s work will be more relaxing now that last week is over as well.  You would think that we would have been raring to go this weekend, but we were both still pretty tired from work and laid low.

On Saturday morning I woke up planning to run and then realized it was raining.  I dawdled getting ready to go hoping that it would stop, but it seemed to be raining pretty determinedly.  Finally I gave up, put on a raincoat and went for a run anyway.  I was expecting to be a little miserable, but the misty rain actually felt really refreshing after a hot, dry summer of running in primarily 80 degree heat with the sun beating down on my head.  I ended up running 10 miles at a very relaxed pace and having a really good time.  I also saw an adorable orange cat.

He had striking pale green eyes!

He had striking pale green eyes!

On another running note, I convinced several guys at work to run the Seattle half marathon, and they insisted that they’d only run it if I ran it too.  So… that’s how I ended up committed to a half marathon in Vancouver in October and another one in Seattle in November.  I’ve already decided that I’m taking it easy for the Seattle one though… the Vancouver race will be the one that I really race.  That will also be the race where Mike runs his first 10k.  He’s gotten pretty adept at 5k’s though.  Mike and I are actually running a 5k in Fremont next weekend.  That should be fun!  It’s part of the Fremont Oktoberfest festival, and Fremont always gets really bustling and crowded during Oktoberfest.  So fun!  :)

Greenlake during one of my runs...

Greenlake during one of my runs…

Mike played a lot of guitar this weekend, and I listened to him while I made up some ratatouille with all of the fresh vegetables from our CSA produce this week.  I got some artichokes, which traditionally I have no idea what to do with, but this time I just threw them on top of the ratatouille.  Why not, right?  What is one more vegetable on top of a vegetable dish going to hurt?  Just as a reference in case anyone decides to actually make this recipe, the artichokes on the top actually got kind of charred.  I didn’t mind; I like charred vegetables.  If you don’t, though, the artichokes aren’t necessarily recommended.  :)  I also made up some chicken risotto for Mike as well and made some mediterranean snow peas.  Lots of CSA-related cooking!

Snow peas!

Snow peas!

Mike fixed our vacuum cleaner with some parts that he ordered from Hoover.  Apparently there was some rubber seal that wasn’t sealing anymore.  As a precaution, Mike ordered several parts from Hoover in case the rubber seal alone didn’t fix the problem.  When he showed me the parts he bought, one of them was the plastic front piece of the vacuum.  Whereas our current front piece had the Hoover brand all over it, the new one was completely blank.  Knowing Mike’s history of de-badging cars, my mouth dropped open.

“Did you de-badge our vacuum cleaner?”

Mike started laughing.  “No.  By default the part doesn’t come with the Hoover logo.  You have to pay extra for that.  But if I would have thought of it, I would have de-badged the vacuum cleaner.”

I felt a modicum of relief.  I thought maybe in the absence of recent car work he was redirecting his car interests into our vacuum cleaner.  De-badging is fairly benign, but somehow I could picture Mike researching superchargers for vacuum cleaners and pointing out how great our carpet looked compared to everyone else’s carpet with our newly supercharged Hoover.  What a relief that his ‘debadging’ of our vacuum cleaner was entirely accidental.  ;)

Since using the dishwasher has been saving me so much time, I’ve started to make other efficiency improvements as well.  For instance, I’m no longer folding socks and underwear before I put them away.  (Yes, I did that… it’s a little embarrassing to admit.)  I think I’m realizing that there’s a point at which you get diminishing returns for the work that you do.  And when it comes to folding underwear, that law of diminishing returns catches up to you very quickly!  Mike hasn’t been complaining, so I suspect he hasn’t even noticed.  So, I get an extra few minutes back in every day from that.

On Friday night Mike and I got a little dressed up and went out to dinner at Boom Noodle.  It was a very relaxing evening!

Dressed up and ready to go!

Dressed up and ready to go!

On Saturday night Mike and I went for a long drive, ostensibly to see the Northern Lights, which were supposed to possibly be visible in the Pacific Northwest last night, but mostly just because we wanted to go for a drive.  As it turned out, we didn’t see even the remotest tinge of color in the northern sky.  We did see constellations, though, which we hadn’t seen in a long time given Seattle’s general cloudiness and the fact that the sky is pretty lit up with all the Seattle lights where we live.  We also saw a beautiful half bright yellow moon.  Typically the moon looks white, but last night it was most definitely yellow.  We also drove past the Boeing factory and saw what looked like an Aer Lingus airplane being assembled (if the green tail was any indication).  On the way north towards Everett we listened to the new Maroon 5 album, which I mostly like.  The lyrics are universally cheesy for all of the songs, but this is Maroon 5 we’re talking about.  They’re not exactly known for their compelling lyrics; they’re really mostly known for Adam Levine’s striking tenor voice.  And despite the lyric cheesiness, the songs are almost all really catchy, so much so that I sang along to the cheesy lyrics.  On the way back we listened to the new Wiz Khalifa album.  I really like most of the songs on that, and it provided an excellent introspective album that was a good complement to the fluffiness of the Maroon 5 album.

I hope everyone has had a low-key, relaxing weekend as well and feels ready to tackle the upcoming week!  How do weekends always go by so fast?

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Filed under Cooking, CSA, Food, Maroon 5, Running, Vancouver, Weather, Work

A race at Gasworks Park and Mike’s birthday

Work is getting more manageable these days, and both Mike and I got some key things done last week that frees us up a little.  Mike is in a Kaizen this week at work, though, which will make for a pretty busy week.

Last Thursday night, interestingly, both Mike and I had work events going on in the evening.  Mike was attending the “going-away” party of one of his co-workers, and I was attending the graduation ceremony for the Girls Who Code program for which I’ve been a mentor this summer.

Girls Who Code has been a very rewarding program to be a part of.  Seeing the girls grow in confidence and knowledge is really cool.  I really enjoyed working with the program and hope they continue their Seattle programs.  (This was its first year in Seattle… I believe it’s been going on in the Bay area for a couple of years.)

Friday night Mike worked late, so I went to the grocery store and ran some other errands.  I had a 10k race on Saturday morning which went ok.  It wasn’t terrible or wonderful.  It was a pretty strictly run-of-the-mill race with a run-of-the-mill finishing time.  There were a couple of things I really liked about the race though.  It started and finished at Gasworks Park, which is half a mile from our apartment, so getting there in the morning was really easy.

Gasworks Park (the day before the race... it was much busier the day of the race)

Gasworks Park (the day before the race… it was much busier the day of the race)

 

Also, the course was beautiful… right along Lake Union and the Ballard locks.  I was surprised at how many people there were!  I hadn’t realized it was such a large race!

Getting ready for the race!

Getting ready for the race!

 

For the first mile and a half (which is a quarter of the entire race), all of us runners were pretty much running shoulder to shoulder and there weren’t many opportunities to pass people.  (That probably didn’t help my overall time, actually, now that I think about it.)  After that, though, things thinned out and we had a lot more room to run.  It was still one of the more crowded 10k’s I’ve run though, so it was a fun, new experience.  A couple of other things I liked about the race.

1) They attached the race timing chip to your race bib, so you didn’t need to put on a bib and a timing chip on your shoe separately.  In the past I think the technology was such that you had to have the timing chips really close to the ground (where the sensors are) in order to detect your time.  Now apparently, as in all areas, technology has marched on and you can now put a timing chip all the way up on your chest and the timing sensors can still pick it up.

2) Rather than picking up your race T-shirt ahead of time, you picked it up when you crossed the finish line.  This is very convenient as it meant I didn’t have to pick up my T-shirt before the race and then figure out where to stash it until the race was over so I could take it home.

3) They offered two different color T-shirts at the finish line, and you got to pick which one you wanted.  What a fun idea!  I got to choose between blue and yellow, and I picked blue.  Mostly because I just got a bright yellow-ish green race T-shirt for the Seafair 5k Mike and I did a month ago.

4) Gasworks Park is just cool in general.  I don’t know the history of it or why it’s called Gasworks Park, but it’s got some pretty crazy equipment there.

Umm... not sure what this is

Umm… not sure what this is

 

Saturday was also Mike’s birthday!  He started the day with dropping the car off to get routine maintenance while I ran my race.  Then we had a present opening session where he opened his birthday presents.  In the evening we went out for dinner to Cicchetti, a favorite spot of ours.  It specializes in middle-eastern food and specialty cocktails.  The ambience there is incredibly relaxing… we actually ended up lingering there for about two hours just talking.

On Sunday I got a lot of CSA produce made up into food.  I made up a lemon chicken slow cooker meal for Mike, and I made up a pan of baked ratatouille.  It’s so good!  :)  I got all of the CSA produce used up from last week, so I’m all ready to pick up new produce tomorrow.  I’m already halfway through the CSA season, and I’ve been doing really well as far as food waste.  Basically the only food that’s gone to waste has been three bulbs of fennel (I seriously don’t know WHAT to do with that licorice-tasting vegetable!) and some cilantro and summer savory.  (I just don’t use that many fresh herbs, I guess.)  But I’ve been keeping up with the peas and green beans and zucchini (things that went bad last year), so I feel like I’m doing pretty well.  It’s helping a lot that I’ve been sending some lunches to work with Mike, and I always include some vegetables in there since he’s been eating healthier.  He isn’t a huge vegetable fan, but does like peas and green beans!  :)

The weather here has been warm and sunny… almost too sunny.  Seattle’s getting pretty dry and could use some rain!

Piper enjoyed having us home over the weekend.  She’s had a lot of energy lately and doesn’t seem to be sleeping as much.  Typically by Sunday she’s pretty exhausted having us home all weekend, but this Sunday she still was very awake and alert.  Mike and I really need to brush her more, because she seems to be shedding a lot this summer.

In honor of Mike’s birthday I told him I’d watch any movie he wanted to see.  He chose Mad Max.  It was seriously one of the weirder movies I’ve ever seen.  I didn’t quite get the location/scene set up, didn’t quite get the main characters’ motivations, and in general just really didn’t get the movie.  I wish I could analyze it a little more, but I can’t.  I can say that it reminded me of Quentin Tarantino’s very early works (think, Reservoir Dogs), so that probably tells you something about the almost comically extreme violence.  Quite frankly, I wouldn’t watch it again.  Mike liked it, but there were half hour long car chases with giant old muscle cars sporting super chargers so large I’m surprised that the drivers could even see past them down the hood of the car.  I think it was basically Reservoir Dogs meets The Fast and the Furious.  Actually, the more I think about it, the more accurate that seems to me.  So you can take that for whatever it’s worth.  :)

We also ran a couple of errands, and Mike fixed our vacuum cleaner.  There was something in it that wasn’t sealing correctly, so Mike ordered parts for it a week and a half ago.  They took forever to arrive, but when they finally did Mike dove in to fixing it.  We haven’t tried it out yet because there was a little foam strip Mike had to glue and that apparently needs 24 hours to set.  But soon we’ll be back to full vacuuming strength!  :)

I hope everyone had a good weekend!

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Filed under Birthdays, Cooking, CSA, Fennel, Food, Running

Nearing the end of Mr. Selfridge

This past week at work was extremely busy (is this getting to be a theme?).  :)  So busy that I’ve been looking forward to getting it done for a couple weeks prior.  Friday I was interviewing candidates all day.  And by all day, I mean all day.  It wasn’t as tiring as I thought it would be but given that when I look back I can remember only a couple of the candidates my brain must have gone on autopilot at some point.  Mike has also been very busy at work and has typically been coming home tired.  Both of us see a light at the end of the tunnel this fall, though.

Friday night Mike and I completely relaxed.  I went for a 3 mile run down by Lake Union (still following my training schedule), and then Mike and I watched a Mr. Selfridge episode.  We only have one more to watch in season 2, and then we’re out of luck until sometime in 2015 when the next season comes out!

There is a new Brooks headquarter building going in about a third of a mile from our apartment building.  It’s almost finished, and their giant logo is now posted out front.  I’m excited for them to open… I think they’re going to have a big showroom on the first floor and then have offices on the upper floors.  Maybe they’ll start a running club in our area?

Saturday afternoon Mike and I gave our apartment a pretty deep cleaning and tidied everything up, and then Saturday night Mike and I got together with a friend of his from work and friend’s wife.  We had dinner at Kabul, which is a fairly upscale Afghan restaurant that takes basmati rice to a whole new level.  I hadn’t met either Mike’s friend or his friend’s wife before, but they were very friendly so we were able to talk right along and had a fun dinner.  Since Kabul is only about a mile from our apartment, we all came back to our apartment and walked around Fremont for an hour or so.  It was a lovely evening… warm, but not too hot.  Lots of fun.  :)

Today I did a lot of cooking with all the CSA produce.  (I have to use it up before I get new produce next week!)  I steamed up some yellow wax beans, and discovered that I had a lot of zucchini to use up.  I split it between a simple zucchini stir fry with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and a zucchini and sweet corn sauté.  Both turned out well.  I know I’m going to have to get really creative with zucchini before the summer’s over, though… there is still a lot more zucchini on the way!  I also made an easy meatloaf recipe, but made it healthier by cutting down on the bread crumbs used and replacing half a cup of the ground with a chopped up green pepper.  Mike still really liked it.

My running has been plugging along.  The half marathon I was planning on doing in Vancouver is coming up, but because Mike and I are both busy at work and because I want more training time to get faster, I’m going to do a different half marathon later in the fall instead.  That will be much more relaxing!  I am going to run a 10k in Seattle the same day I was going to do the Vancouver half marathon though, and it starts only half a mile from our apartment so it will be MUCH more cost effective than two nights in a Vancouver hotel.  :)

Mike finally got me started using the dish washer a few months ago (yes, I’ve been hand-washing dishes all these years).  We were having an argument/discussion about time management and I was complaining about all the dishes I had to wash.  Mike told me I didn’t deserve to complain about hand-washing dishes when I had a dishwasher in the apartment.  Upon thinking it over, I realized he was right.  I didn’t think we would make enough dishes to be able to justify the dishwasher, but we actually have.  It helps a lot that we have two sets of silverware so we don’t run out of silverware before we’ve filled the dishwasher.  I feel like the dishwasher saves me a significant amount of time!  Not only do I not have to hand-wash dishes, but Mike is very good about rinsing off his dishes and putting them in the dishwasher, so he effectively does his own dishes.  I still haven’t taught Piper to put her dishes in the dishwasher yet, but perhaps that just takes time.

Apart from watching Mr. Selfridge, Mike and I haven’t been doing anything very structured in the evenings.  Mike typically plays a little guitar, I typically prep some food for him to take to work the next day, we typically play with Piper, some nights we go to the gym, some nights we go for walks around our neighborhood.  We have been planning to do some hiking in the mountains ever since we went with Lia during her trip here, but somehow we haven’t gotten to it.  A coworker lent me a couple books on hiking at Rainier and some other mountains in the area, and I am determined not to return the books until I’ve gone on at least a couple of the hikes!  Maybe next weekend!

In other news, I have pretty much given up on any pretense at couponing (is that a word?  dictionary.com says ‘no’).  Basically I seem unable to use coupons.  One of the four scenarios always occurs.

1. I see a coupon for an item I use.  I clip it, place it in the drawer near the front door, and never think of it again.  I then find it three months after it’s expired and throw it away.

2. I see a coupon for an item I use.  I clip it, place it conscientiously in my purse, and then discover it mixed among old receipts when I clean out my purse.  At this point it’s already expired and I throw it away.

3. I see a coupon for an item I use.  I clip it, place it conscientiously in my purse, think of it at the cash register, and then can’t find it in my purse.  The checkout line is building up as I search for it, so I finally give up and forget about it.  I then discover it mixed among old receipts when I clean out my purse later.  Once again, at this point it’s already expired and I throw it away.

4. I see a coupon for an item I use.  I clip it, place it conscientiously in my purse, think of it at the cash register, and hand it proudly to the cashier feeling like a responsible adult (or at least a good resemblance of one).  The cashier looks at it and shows me the small print saying that the coupon “cannot be combined with any other discounts”.  And the item I’m purchasing is on sale.  So I can either have the sale (worth $2.50) or the 50 cent coupon.  My math skills don’t have to be superb to realize that I’m better off shredding the coupon and taking the sale.

There’s another scenario that has happened twice, which (together with the frequency of the previous four scenarios) lead  me to believe that I have bad coupon karma.

5. I see a coupon for an item I use.  I clip it, place it conscientiously in my purse, think of it at the cash register, and it doesn’t scan correctly.  The cash register attendant tries a couple times, then tries keying in the numeric code, and then finally opts to just manually subtract the 50 cents from my bill.  Except that she’s new and still in training, so she has to call for a manager to come and manually subtract the coupon.  And apparently the manager is nowhere near the cash registers.  Or in the store.  Despite my pleadings with the cashier to forget the coupon, she assures me it will only be a minute.  Fifteen minutes later I’m finally leaving the store with a manager-approved receipt for the 50 cent deduction and with everyone else in line glaring daggers at my retreating back (ok, maybe that last part is just my imagination).

All in all, I’m beginning to accept the fact that coupons and I just don’t seem to mix.  I still clip them, but don’t feel badly when I don’t use them.  :)

This has been a pretty light post picture-wise (gross understatement).  I took a picture of Mike with his electric guitar, but he didn’t like the lighting so he said I’d have to take one a different time to post.  So that picture is still to come.  I’ll leave you with a picture of some beautiful flowers I saw on my run yesterday though.  :)  I hope everyone has a good week ahead of them!

 

A flowering tree

A flowering tree

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Filed under Cooking, CSA, Food, Friends, Running

A Trip to the SAM (Seattle Art Museum)

Once again it was a very busy week at work.  However, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I have a few more key projects to get done at work, but the interns I’m working with all leave in the next one to two weeks.  I love working with them, but it will give me more time when they’re back at school.

Mike and I had a very relaxing Friday night and went to the University Village shopping area and out for dinner.  It’s surprising how little we’ve been going out to dinner lately.  I think because Mike’s trying to eat healthier he prefers eating at home.  On Saturday we drove to a local coffee shop that we hadn’t been to before called Fuel Coffee just to try it out.  Mike got a latte, and I got a Tangerine Ginger tea.  It was so good that I asked the barista about it, and she said it was organic looseleaf tea made a company named Rishi.  Since we were out anyway, we decided to go to the Seattle Art Museum (known locally as the SAM).  We hadn’t been there since our first year in Seattle when they had a Picasso exhibit that we attended, and at that time we really only looked at the Picasso paintings so we didn’t see anything else.

This summer they have a special exhibit going on showcasing painters from the Pacific Northwest.  The building is very well architected and was light and airy.  At this point, particularly after a couple of European vacations, we’ve seen our share of darker, more crowded art galleries, so this was refreshing.  The museum was divided into various galleries, each of which had a theme.  For some, the theme was a time period, for others it was related to a type of subject matter, and for others it was a painting style.  Some of the highlights for us included a bronze sculpture of a hunting panther which reminded us of Piper, a Jackson Polluck painting, and a Monet.  The Jackson Polluck painting was entirely abstract but very striking.  I noticed it and liked it before I knew it was a Jackson Polluck.  He actually spilled gravel on it to get a grittier texture.  Very interesting.  There were big sections dedicated to Egyptian, Greek, and Italian artifacts.  Unfortunately at this point Mike and I have seen a lot of those already so we were less impressed than we should have been.  Mike made quite a few comments along the lines of ‘We’ve seen better versions of this’, and we walked through those sections quickly.  We did really enjoy the Native American Indian exhibit and saw some pretty intense totem poles and other carved work.

Hard-core native American Indian carved work

Hard-core native American Indian carved work

Afterwards we ate at a little organic restaurant called Taste.  We were too late for lunch and too early for dinner, so we were served the happy hour menu.  It was all very good and flavorful.

Appetizers at Taste

Appetizers at Taste

 

Then, since we were downtown anyway we decided to walk around a little.  We went into a small, multi-story mall called Westlake Center which had been under construction for the previous year.  The construction seemed to be over, and there were a lot of new stores in it.  Mike and I found a coffee equipment store called Seattle Coffee Gear.  We had been to that store before, but it was miles north of Seattle and we had to drive to get there.  We discovered that they were opening new branches of their store, and this branch was one of the new ones.  Mike bought a bigger French press so that he can make coffee for him and me at the same time instead of having to make the cups one at a time.  I was just about to leave the store when I saw that they were giving away samples of Rishi organic tea, the same kind as my tangerine ginger tea that morning!  Once I saw that they sold Rishi tea I bought a small packet of their loose leaf tea as well.

Mike bought some sheet music for a classical guitar piece.  I had never heard of it before, but he’s been practicing that a little most evenings, and I really enjoy listening to him.  I have promised to post a picture of Mike playing his electric guitar, but unfortunately he’s mostly been playing his classical lately so I haven’t had the opportunity.  Hopefully in the next blog post!

My running has been going pretty strong.  I did 12 miles yesterday, and it will be another 12 miles next week.  I think the strength training this time around is really helping because I haven’t had any knee problems in a long time.

Run around Green Lake on Saturday...

Run around Green Lake on Saturday…

One night last week Mike and I were settling in to watch Mr. Selfridge Mike decided that he felt like popcorn.  We dug out the old, old air pop popper that I bought in Yonkers five years ago as a spur-of-the-moment purchase.  It hasn’t gotten much use (any use, actually) since I discovered that the brand of organic popcorn kernels I had been buying didn’t work correctly in the popper.  The kernels were a little smaller and lighter than regular popcorn and so they flew unpopped right out of the air popper as soon as it started blowing hot air.  This time though I had some organic normal-sized kernels from PCC.  We tentatively dumped a quarter cup of popcorn into the air popper and plugged it in.  It immediately start spinning the kernels around and literally 30 seconds later we had a big bowl of fluffy popcorn.  I was completely amazed by how quickly and accurately it worked.  Other people may be blown away by computers, wireless internet, etc, but I’m still stuck on how amazing common kitchen tools are.  :)

Yesterday I made up chicken rice soup.  In addition to the veggies recommended for the soup I threw in green beans, peas, and corn from the CSA produce that I get each week.  Last week I got beets, which I’ve never been a huge fan of, but thrown into smoothies along with other fruit and veggies seems to mask their taste so that I get the health benefits without the taste.  The only downside is that beet juice is seriously purple.  Very seriously purple.  I’m afraid if I make too many beet-based smoothies I’ll permanently stain my blender and my teeth purple.  I’ve sometimes wondered how people used to get dyes for clothing from plants, but as long as they had beets around they would have at least been set as far as purple dye.  I can’t even cut up a beet without staining my fingers.

Yesterday evening Mike and I went for a 3 mile run together.  Mike has been running more regularly since the 5k we did together several weeks ago and I can outrun him on flat or downhill terrain, but he pretty much dominates the uphill running.  It’s nice that we’re getting out to enjoy the gorgeous summer weather!  It has been dry, sunny, and warm for the past couple of months.  We’re supposed to have a high of 94 degrees today (!!) and then it’ll drop down to the 80’s tomorrow and the 70’s on Wednesday (with some rain and strong winds in there… pretty inevitable when you get a twenty-degree temperature drop in a couple of days).

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Filed under Beets, Cooking, CSA, Running, Seattle Restaurants, The Arts in Seattle