A Record Number of Home Depot trips

Mike and I were planning on having a relaxing evening of watching TV shows on Friday night, but I was at the gym Thursday night and seemed to have some kind of reaction to the bleach solution they were mopping the floors liberally with, and my nasal passages were really inflamed and sore yesterday.  To make matters, I had to move desks at work on Friday, and that involved lots of moving dusty things around, which of course further irritated my (apparently) sensitive nasal passages.  If you’ve never had sore nasal passages, I can tell you it isn’t particularly pleasant.  I found myself massaging my nose on multiple occasions on Saturday.  It basically felt like the inside of my nose had gone twelve rounds in the ring and lost.  Anyway, I was also sneezing and didn’t end up wanting to do much show watching.  So I went to bed early Friday night and woke up feeling much better on Saturday, and better yet on Sunday.  In fact, on Sunday, the only remnant of my swollen nose I noticed is that when I chopped up onions my nose was slightly irritated.  Typically for some (genetic??) reason, I can chop onions all day long and feel nothing, even when Mike is really affected by them and he’s in another room.  I remember years ago, I did some volunteer work with a group of people from work where we cooked a bunch of food, and I was in charge of chopping onions.  I chopped onion after onion after onion, and everyone else in the kitchen was dying from the pungency, and I wasn’t affected at all.  So weird how every person is different!

As usual, I spent a lot of time on Sunday prepping food for the week.  I made a coconut curry dish last week that was so good I made it again this week.  I am hoping it tastes good, but I definitely neglected it while I was watching other dishes, and the kale I added to it got a little too wilted and sad.  Last week I was more on top of that particular dish since I hadn’t made it before, and I got the kale cooked at the perfect point where it was wilted, but still had some shape and body to it.  Live and learn!  Because of an abundance of turnips, I am trying out some mashed turnips because Mike likes mashed potatoes so much.  The trick here is that since turnips are slightly more bitter than potatoes, I’m afraid Mike will notice the difference and not want the turnips.  I tried to cover up the flavor with some seasonings, but we’ll see how well that goes.  I haven’t specifically told him it’s mashed turnips, so we’ll see whether I get away with this or not.  😉

In other exciting news, my parents adopted another rescue dog.

Just when you thought their rescue dogs couldn't get any cuter!

Just when you thought dogs couldn’t get any cuter!

This is Barney, and he is adorable.  He joins their other rescue dog Lady, and already seems to be bonding and fitting in well with their family.  I admit I feel *slightly* envious.  The same day they found out about Barney, I found out about a gorgeous tortoiseshell cat that was looking for a home.  She was extremely mild (necessary to get along with Piper), and I really wanted her.  I talked Mike into going to look at her over the weekend, but of course she was already adopted within a few hours of her picture going up on Facebook.  Although I guess Piper probably wouldn’t have liked another cat, so maybe it’s for the best anyway.

On another note, I’ve started reading a series of books that my grandma and mom have read, but I have not: The Cat Who books.  I have to say that I am loving them so far.  Just the right balance between mystery, intrigue, and wit.  I have also started reading the Stephanie Plum books, which are hilarious.  Mike’s dad turned me on to those when we were in Michigan, and they are pretty funny.  Also on my reading list: The Power of Habit.  It is an amazing book to help us understand how we form habits and to replace bad habits with good ones.  I’m also reading Principles by Ray Dalio, the famous investor.  It’s an interesting book so far, made up of small snippets, or principles, he has used to guide the actions in his life.  I like the way he stresses that everyone will likely have different principles, but it’s important to have principles.  i.e. how are you going to approach work?  family?  life?  Anyway, the past few years I’ve been finding myself reading more, and my books are usually divided down the middle between productivity/business/technical books, and fluffy mysteries.

Mike and I hit a new record on ‘number of Home Depot trips in one day’.  We went to two Home Depots first thing in the morning, one in Seattle, and one up north in Everett because Mike said they had a better screw selection.  Then we came home, and Mike realized he had forgotten two screws.  I’m not sure how that was possible since he bought like 30 screws at Home Depot, but he said he did.  And then after that we had to go to Lowe’s, because apparently they have better paint than Home Depot (or at least the kind of paint that Mike wanted).  Then, Saturday night when we had planned on watching a show together, Mike said he wanted to finish up some work with the light switch in the dining room first.  I said that was fine.  I didn’t realize that was going to involve him turning off the circuit breaker to the dining room/living room so that my Sonos music stopped playing, the power to the TV was pulled, and all of the lamps in the vicinity went off.  After an hour or so of working, I asked him if he was close to being done.

“Well,” he said.  “I have some bad news.”

I leaned back on the couch and prepared myself to take it.

“I want to replace this light switch.  I don’t like it.  I have to go back to Home Depot.”

There was silence for a few moments.

“I’m guessing you don’t want to come with me?”

“That’s correct,” I said.  “I think four trips in one day is crossing a line.”

Then, the following day, the first words he said to me when I returned from my run were “I have to go to Home Depot and get some blocks for my painting.”  Keeping that man away from Home Depot would be a futile attempt, so I don’t attempt it.

Mike and I have been continuing to watch the Nero Wolfe mysteries, and we have also been watching Why We Fight, a season of eight shows produced by Ronda Rousey that details different types of fighters (i.e. Muay Thai, boxing, wrestling, MMA, etc).  Super interesting!  And it’s shown on Verizon’s Go90 video streaming service (who knew they were trying to jump into the ‘streaming original content’ game?).  I haven’t quite figured out how Go90 makes money, because all of their shows are free to stream online, and I haven’t seen any commercials or ads yet.  Regardless, this show has been really interesting so far!  It’s only one season of eight episodes, and we are already halfway done with episode 6, so we are almost done.  Hopefully another season gets made.

In other news, I am now officially one week into marathon training mode.  Eugene 2018!  My running buddy and I ran 16 miles this morning.  She is running Boston in mid-April, and I will be running Eugene two weeks later, so we’re pretty close training schedule wise.  Sixteen miles is the longest that either of us have run since we did Ragnar in July of 2017, so it has clearly been awhile.  It was slightly painful, but not as bad as I expected.  I still was able to come home, shower, and then spend three hours in the kitchen food prepping standing up (which quite frankly is sometimes pretty painful after a long run).  I had a great time catching up with her, especially since she’ll be out of town next weekend, and we’ll both be out of town the weekend after that (her in Colorado and me in Boston), so we won’t be running together for another couple of weeks.

Pic from my run this morning

Pic from my morning run

I just feel so amazed that I can run four miles from my house and see this… Mount Rainier past the Puget Sound.  So grateful!!

Tonight Mike and I are planning on relaxing and watching shows, since he has been painting railings and re-installing light switches and I have been cleaning, cooking, and doing laundry.  Time for some relaxation!  🙂  Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

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Filed under Cooking, Dogs, Dogs + Cats, Food, Life in Seattle, Running, Seattle

Star Wars and Shepherd’s Pie

It has been rainy in Seattle.  I am definitely not complaining given the pictures from Boston that all of my team members are sending me of snow drifts that are up to the windowsills, but it has been putting a little damper on my commute.  As a refresher, my commute consists of two buses, so I spend a lot of time walking between buses, and consequently getting wet.  Interestingly, and somewhat ironically, I had an cheap umbrella that I really liked from H&M that was black and had star constellations on it, but it is lost.  Lost as in I have no idea where it is, but I have the vague idea that it should be somewhere.  I keep meaning to look for it, but I only think of it when I’m outside and getting wet and don’t think of it at all as soon as I’m inside again.  Maybe that will be a good weekend project.

In related news, I have a winter hat with an epic puff ball on the top.  That has been keeping my head warm and dry during my commute with no umbrella, but I realized today that the puff is looking a little sad and bedraggled.  At first I was confused.  Everyone wears hats in the rain, right?  The hat (puff included) must be designed to handle rain.  But then it slowly dawned on me that I’m probably one of the few people who actually wears a puff hat in the rain.  Most people use an umbrella in the rain and a puff hat in the snow.  So I now have the disturbing feeling that I’m misusing the hat.  Maybe it really is time to find the umbrella and retire the puff hat before I ruin it in the rain.

In other (somewhat weather-related) news, my next Boston trip is planned for the end of January.  Fingers crossed their Bomb Cyclone finishes up and they get a (very) late Indian summer while I’m there.  If I can avoid snow entirely, I’m all for that.  However, I would be shocked if I’m that lucky.  It is Boston in late January after all.  😉  Mike is likely going to China again in February as well, so it’ll be a few months of travel for us again.  And I just finished using up my travel-sized container of contact solution.  Time to get a new one!

Mike and I have been continuing our Nero Wolf evening habit.  Most evenings we watch one episode, and they’re only 45 min, so they’re perfect bite-size chunks to watch.  This weekend, though, we bit the bullet and went to the movie theater to see the new Star Wars movie.  I was surprised how many people there were given that it opened a month ago.  For some reason Star Wars just has a cult following of people.  As usual, the story line was fairly interesting, although somehow it always feels a little deja vu (i.e. how is it that the Resistance never has any real ships or manpower and the Republic has millions of Storm Troopers and epic ships, but somehow the Resistance is never wiped out?  But I guess if I’m looking for realistic scenarios, Star Wars probably isn’t the place to look.  On the upside, the BB-8 droid was just as cute in this one as he was in the first one, and there was an addition of some adorable bird-like creatures called Porgs.  I understand some people felt like the Porgs were annoying, but to me they were one thing that was actually new in the movie.  And did I mention they were adorable?

On the way back from the movie, it completely randomly occurred to me that it had been a long time since I’d seen a spider in our house.  For awhile after moving in, we were seeing some pretty big ones in the basement, and while I’m not terrified of spiders I’m really not a fan either and would strongly prefer they stayed outside.  I voiced the thought to Mike that I hadn’t seen a spider in awhile, and he paused to think.

“Oh.  I saw one like a week ago.”

“What?  Really?  Where?  The basement?”

“No.  The main floor.”

“Where on the main floor?”

“The dining room.”

“Was it a big spider?”

“Not the biggest one I’ve seen in the house, but it was pretty big.”

“Did you kill it??”

“No.  It ran underneath something.”

I looked at him in disbelief.  His eyes met mine.

“I shouldn’t have told you that, should I?  It didn’t make your life better in any way.”

“Correct,” I told him emphatically.  “You could have just stayed quiet when I was talking about spiders.”

“Yeah…” he said with a grin.  “Somehow I always have the problem of telling you things I shouldn’t.”

As much as I appreciate his truthfulness, I really would have been fine with him withholding that particular bit of information.  Now I get to sit on my computer in the dining room noticing each shadow and bit of fluff and wondering if there’s a spider ready to run across my bare feet.

In other news, I have been on a huge grapefruit kick.  Maybe it’s just that citrus is in season in the winter and reminds me of summer and warmer, brighter days, but I have been eating one grapefruit a day.  Hopefully there aren’t any health-related issues with eating too many grapefruit.  If there are, I’ll let you know.  I know of at least one non-health related problem with eating grapefruit.  They are notoriously messy and seem to spray citrus juice everywhere.  Short of eating one on a sea of paper towels, I’m not sure how to avoid getting the table all messy and having to clean it up afterwards.

Mike and I went out for a quick dinner at an Indian restaurant near our house after seeing Star Wars, and that was surprisingly relaxing.  We really haven’t been going out for dinner much these days, so it felt like a treat.  I had the spicy eggplant bhartha, and Mike had chicken tikka masala and some paneer-stuffed naan, which he said was pretty good.

On Sunday I woke up early to a bunch of rain.  I met my running buddy at 7:30 for a run, and we went 14 miles, which is farther than we’ve gone in probably six months.  Marathon training is beginning!  The run went by surprisingly fast since we were catching up on our week’s, but those last couple of miles we were both waiting for the end.  Those are always the toughest miles when starting to ramp up the mileage again.  Next week is 16 miles, and then we drop back for a few weeks.  That’s great since I’ll be in Boston one of those weeks anyway and would probably get lost if I attempted a 14 mile run in Boston.  All of the streets there are confusing and meander in curvy S-shapes that leave even the most directionally-astute person somewhat turned around.  And I am far from the most directionally astute person.  In fact, on my last trip there, I got lost trying to find a boxing gym half a mile away from the hotel.  Multiple times.  And had to use the GPS on the phone to keep from wandering the streets of Boston all night.

I did a bunch of cooking on Sunday afternoon, singing along to songs on the Sonos speakers while I did so.  Mike is so funny.  There are some meals that he just loves, and one of them is shepherd’s pie.  I made a shepherd’s pie on Sunday, and around 6pm Sunday evening I asked Mike if he was hungry for dinner, and he said not really.  Then he wandered over to the kitchen where I had food cooling before sticking it in the fridge, and he spotted a shepherd’s pie I’d just made.  His eyes lit up.

“What’s this?”

“Shepherd’s pie.”

“Oh.  And it’s ready now?”

“Yes.”

“Can I have some?”

“Sure, but you said you weren’t hungry.”

“Well.  I guess I could have some.”

He had some.  Then he had seconds.  And when he came home from work today and I told him I’d heat up dinner for him, he asked, “Is there any shepherd’s pie?”

So clearly at least that meal went over well.  🙂

The rest of the week has been getting back in the swing of work after the holidays!  The days are still dark, but my coworker told me that we are gaining two minutes of daylight every day.  At that rate, our July days should be pretty amazing.  😉

Happy Monday everyone!

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Filed under Cooking, CSA, Food, Holidays, Life in Seattle, Rain, Running, Seattle

A Shiny New Year

How is it already 2018?   A brand new year.  Maybe it will be a year of more consistent blogging.  Why not?  It’s a time for new beginnings!

Every year I try to make New Year’s resolutions, and everyone around me admonishes me and tells me I need to focus on “goals” instead of resolutions, and I can make goals anytime; not just at New Years.  While I guess that’s true, there’s something nice about starting “goals”, “resolutions”, or whatever other terminology grabs you, on the first day of a new year, all else being equal.

My year is off to a fairly inauspicious start.  I went to boxing on the Friday before New Years, and the boxing instructor had us doing weighted squats.  I’ve done weighted squats in the past, but haven’t done them at all in the past few years, but after five sets of those combined with weighted lunges, my legs were toast.  And by “toast”, I mean that I woke up Saturday morning pretty much unable to sit down and requiring stair railings and handicap bathrooms.  To say that my glues (aka butt) was sore would have been a gross understatement.  Going up and down stairs was next to impossible, and when I told Mike my butt was sore and he jokingly slapped my butt, I let out a screech that neighbors five doors down could have heard.  I work out often enough that I’m no stranger to sore muscles, but this was different entirely.  I told Mike I was swearing off squats and even went so far as to suggest that I would get a shirt made that said “I don’t do squats.” and wear it to subsequent gym sessions.  Mike even drove me to the grocery store rather than me walking there (which is what I would typically do).

I foam rolled and stretched for almost an hour Saturday night while Mike and I watched a Nero Wolf mystery, and that had me feeling slightly better, but certainly not back to normal and certainly not able to do any squats.  I had a twelve-mile run planned with my running buddy Anna on Sunday morning, and I really didn’t want to cancel it because of uncooperative glutes unless I absolutely had to.  Sunday morning, I felt like a long run would be doable, although probably not enjoyable.  Fortunately Anna was somewhat sore from a gym session on Saturday, so we took our time on the run.  The first eight miles weren’t too bad, but that last four miles every single muscle in my lower legs was screaming.  It had been a while since I was that happy to be finished with a run.  I got back home exhausted.  Not so much because of the run itself, but because of struggling against my sore legs the whole time.  I basically showered and collapsed on the couch.  I pulled myself off of the couch an hour later to get a slow cooker meal started for Mike, but I felt tired and out-of-it enough that it took me longer to get the ingredients together than usual.  Piper seemed to sense the way I was feeling and she mostly seemed to want to hang out on the couch with me.  I had eaten after my run, but it wasn’t until I ate an orange and a couple of handfuls of chocolate chips that my energy levels bounced back (I’m crediting those dark chocolate chips… yum!).

With my brain now powered by the energy from the chocolate chips, I realized that I had turned the slow cooker on four hours earlier but had forgotten to actually plug it in.  So I basically had four-hour-old room-temperature chicken sitting on my counter.  Oops.  I called myself all kinds of names for forgetting to plug the slow cooker in and wasting the ingredients, but Mike shrugged and told me that everyone makes mistakes sometimes and I should just forget about it.  “Unless you always forget to plug the slow cooker in,” he said.  “If that’s the case, you probably need to re-think your process of preparing slow cooker meals.”  Good advice as usual coming from Mike’s corner.

In the absence of the chicken meal, Mike and I ended up going out for New Years Eve to a restaurant near our house called Eve.  It actually worked out perfectly because they were completely booked for later times (i.e. 8pm, 9pm), but there was literally no one there yet at 6pm when we went.  Apparently everyone else wants to actually be at the restaurant when the New Year officially starts at midnight, but for those of us who can’t stay up till midnight without the help of many cups of coffee anyway (me), having a 6pm dinner and getting out of the restaurant before the NYE partiers show up works well.  🙂  We had a relaxing dinner that was really filling in a restaurant that was mostly empty.  It was a fun way to end the year!

On Monday there was a special New Year’s yoga class at the yoga studio I’ve been going to, so I went to that, hoping it would work out the rest of my glute and quad soreness.  It did, in fact, work out my soreness, but it was the hardest yoga class I’ve ever taken.  It was a special New Year’s class where you do 108 surya namaskar flows.  Just for reference, each surya namaskar includes at least one push-up… sometimes as many as three, depending on the variation.  So it was an hour and a half class in 102 degree heat with really challenging flows.  Wow!!  Great class, but HARD.  The good news is that I sweated absolutely everything out in that class including my soreness, so my legs are finally usable again.  I didn’t really think that’s what it would take to get them back to normal!

I took the Christmas tree down today, and I think Piper wasn’t really thrilled about it.  To be honest, neither was I.  It’s always a little depressing to put all the lights and ornaments away and realize that you’re still only in the beginning stages of winter and have a lot of days ahead with little daylight, lots of rain (or snow), but that you have no fun holidays or decorations to break up those months.  Oh well.  In all honesty, we were having light problems with our tree anyway, so we couldn’t have kept it up indefinitely.  Three days before New Years, the integrated incandescent lights in the top quarter of our tree stopped working, so the tree looked kind of lopsided.  Sometime before next Christmas we need to figure out if there’s a good way to fix our current tree, or whether we should just get a new fake tree.  Mike suggested that maybe we should just get a real tree next year, but I’m not super excited about killing a tree and getting pine needles all over the floor.  Regardless, we have another eleven-ish months to figure it out!

In a freak twist, we had a white Christmas in Seattle.  It started snowing on Christmas Eve, and then all of the snow melted by December 27th.  That’s just about the correct amount of snow in my opinion.  Just enough for a white Christmas, but nothing extraneous to hang around and mess up commuting.  😉

I hope everyone had an amazing New Year’s!  Here comes 2018!

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Filed under Christmas, Cooking, Holidays, Life in Seattle, Running, Seattle Restaurants, Weather, Winter

Random ramblings

Busy, busy, busy lately!

Mike got back from a business trip to China a few months ago.  He was there for a full two weeks, so definitely enough time to get a feel for the culture, although since he spent most of his time working he didn’t get as much time for relaxation as I was hoping for.  Oh, and apparently (at least in the area of China he was in, near Shanghai), they have six day work weeks and only get one day off a week.  So that definitely put a damper on his extra time.  But overall he had a good trip.  And then I went to Boston again a few weeks ago (my goal was to go while the weather was still good, and I think I accomplished that).  It looks like I’ll be going to Boston about once a quarter for awhile.  I’ve really been enjoying my Boston trips since I started at Sonos (well… all two of them so far).  And then next week Mike is going to San Jose for a few days.

Mike has been crazy between work at his job and house work.  Over the weekend he replaced all of the CFL lightbulbs in our house with LED bulbs.  The idea is that these will be much more energy-efficient and also won’t contain mercury.  As an unexpected side effect, they are also much, much brighter.  That’s awesome for cleaning and doing jigsaw puzzles, but it does mean we need to consciously turn lights off as it gets later in the evening since the LEDs will keep our house as bright as the sun otherwise.  Also in theory LEDs basically won’t burn out for 22 years.  I told Mike we should actually keep track of when we put them in and see if they actually last 22 years.  It’s almost unfair to rate something for 22 years because basically no one is going to remain focused enough on lightbulbs to actually remember when they replaced lightbulbs and call you out on it if your bulbs only last 15 years instead of 22.

Mike also is going to put up a rain gutter on our house and found some aluminum screws to screw in the aluminum gutter he found.  And he is unreasonably pleased with the aluminum screws.  He said that they won’t rust and they perfectly match the material of the gutter.  Also, I think he likes aluminum as a material (not as much as he likes stainless steel, which is basically his favorite material ever, but he still likes aluminum a lot).  He’s shown me the screws twice and even let me touch one of the screws once after I promised him I had washed my hands and they were squeaky clean.  Mike and I continue to get excited about different things, as he was showing me his aluminum screws while I was showing him an adorable video of a black cat repeatedly knocking an empty cup off of a table.  That pretty much sums up Mike’s and my interests: screws and cats.  On the subject of furry animals, I am in love with these Scottish baby cows.

Last night I had a work happy hour to go to which was in Capitol Hill.  It was fun, and after the Happy Hour I realized I was going to have to book it the half mile to the bus stop if I didn’t want to miss the bus and wait around another twenty minutes to catch another one, so I tore down the side streets with wearing my tall boots (not exactly running shoes) and carrying my backpack, my purse, and a bag of to-go food.  (Apparently our group didn’t eat as much food as we expected so they let us each take a to-go bag with the remaining food.  They even provided little to-go bags for our little to-go boxes.  Very nice.)  Anyway, every time I find myself in this situation of tearing down the streets to catch buses (which is at least four times a week) I find myself wondering, What am I doing??  It’s like everyone’s else’s mid 30’s body gets to sedately drive to work in some type of motorized vehicle.  They never find themselves in an all-out sprint to catch the light before the bus comes.  They never think to time their departure from work around a bus schedule.  They never consider having to carry everything with them everywhere they go (i.e. when I bring my workout bag with me, I carry it in on the bus, I have to leave it under my desk at work since there’s no car to leave it in, I bring it to the gym afterwards, and then I bring it back on the bus with me… that thing is basically a part of my shoulder by this point.  And it’s heavy.  It’s got a water bottle, my gloves, my wraps, my shoes, and a change of clothes in it.)  It’s an interesting case study in city living, I guess.  🙂

Anyway, my point to all of this?  Two buses and lots of bus chasing later, I was walking in my back door.  I set the to-go food bag down, took off my tall boots, took off my backpack, set down my purse, and took off my coat.  Then I walked down the stairs… and I heard a little jangle.  It sounded a little like the jangle of the belt on my coat, so my hand involuntarily went to my waist to take off my coat before I realized that I had already taken off my coat.  I took a few more steps down the stairs… and heard the jangle again.  What was that??  I started checking my person, and realized that I was no longer holding purses, bags, backpacks, and was no longer wearing boots, coats, or any other apparel item that could jangle.  I couldn’t help but laugh at the picture I knew I made, taking a few cautious steps, hearing the jangle, stopping to take inventory before proceeding down a few more steps.  Was there something stuck on the bottom of my sock or something??  As it happened, I got all the way to the bottom without figuring it out and had to start walking back up the stairs to hear it again.  It sounded like it was coming from… my butt??  Disturbing.  I put my hand to my back pocket and realized that I had my sunglasses hooked into my back pocket.  I had totally forgotten sticking those there as I was leaving work.  How on earth those sunglasses stayed anchored in that pocket with all my bus switching and racing through neighborhoods is utterly beyond me.  But I’m honestly glad that they stayed put… I love that pair of sunglasses.  Mike helped me pick them out too, and he has mostly excellent taste.

Speaking of Mike… one of our recent projects was getting my winter coats dropped off at the dry cleaners… which was good to do since it has been two years since those were cleaned!  And of course, right after we dropped the coats off at the cleaners the weather turned colder.  Oh well!  That’s always how it goes.  🙂

Another of his recent projects was getting a grout contractor out to re-do some grout in the downstairs shower.  While the grout contractor was there, he looked at the upstairs shower as well and saw some grout that needed to be replaced there too.  Mike was happy to have him do it, but then he texted me later in the day.

I feel like we haven’t thought everything through.

Why?

At the moment you have no working coats and we have no working showers.

We both belatedly realized that having the contractor grout both showers meant that we needed to give the grout time to dry for 24 hours and thus couldn’t use either of the showers.  I offered to shower in my work building, but Mike rigged up a pretty elaborate plastic covering over all of the grout in the downstairs shower such that we could both shower in there.  It felt *slightly* better than a camp shower.  But not by much.  Anyway it got us through the main 24 hour period.  And then, because apparently despite many warnings, Mike was afraid I’d forget and use the upstairs shower anyway, when I went into the upstairs bathroom tonight I was greeted with a sign on the shower that said.  Caulk still drying.  Don’t use.  Well then.  I guess I won’t use.  😉

Honestly, it’s shocking to me how busy Mike and I have been the past few months.  Who am I kidding?  The past few years actually.  🙂  I think the turning point for me was when I started working as a tech lead/manager at Groupon, and now working in the same role at Sonos.  There is something about management… it basically takes up all your time ever.  And being a tech lead/manager means you need to be deep enough in the technical details to be doing some technical work, but balance that with leading/managing the team.  I love it, but some days it definitely feels like two separate jobs.  So… Sonos.  I am loving it so far.  Great people, great product, super fun office, great team, quarterly trips to Boston, a small enough company that I am already involved in Sonos-wide initiatives, dogs allowed in the office, etc.  There is so much to learn, but I’m totally fine with that, even though it means I’m frequently the person in the meeting asking the dumb question.  🙂  Two managers have been hired in my org since me, so at least I’m no longer the “newbie”.  Actually it’s been more than three months, so I don’t really think I can play the newbie card anymore.

Mike’s job busy-ness has pretty much been for the past two and a half years since he started at Amazon.  There’s definitely no shortage of work at Amazon!  He has been enjoying his job as well.  He’s doing a lot of embedded programming which is an area he has a lot of interest in so he’s learning a ton as well.  Actually, Mike pretty much enjoys working and doesn’t do a lot else these days besides house projects and watching shows with me in the evenings.  Currently we’re watching Mr. Robot (since the third season is now airing), and we’re finally on the Breaking Bad wagon (apparently everyone else already watched this show, and we are the last ones on the planet who haven’t seen it).  We just started the second season, and it’s really interesting, but I’ll be honest… I’m not really getting the “hooked” sensation that everyone said I would get.  Everyone said if I watched the first three episodes I just wouldn’t be able to stop… and I’ve been able to stop just fine.  In fact, last night Mike and I decided to watch the original Ghostbusters on a whim, so we did that instead of watching Breaking Bad.  BTW, Dan Akroyd is just amazing… so totally funny!  🙂

This weekend Mike and I are going to a friend’s house for a birthday party.  Everyone’s bringing something, and I want to bring my mom’s double chocolate cooky cakes (if this sounds unreasonably decadent and rich, it’s because it is).  😉 . So… heads up, Mom, if you’re reading this, I will be pinging you for the recipe.  And fingers crossed, I don’t screw it up… I seem to remember them being fairly involved to make when I helped my mom when I was much younger.  Speaking of messing up recipes, I made a Moroccan chicken stew for Mike last week, and when it called for carrots I used the purple heirloom carrots that I got from the CSA that week.  It had the unfortunate result of turning the stew (and the chicken in the stew) purplish.  Mike was incredibly suspicious of it and was pretty sure that I had added some crazy “healthy” ingredient that resulted in a purple soup, and he has been referring to the stew all week as “lavender chicken”.  😉

All right… I have probably rambled on enough for this post.  🙂  Looking forward to a visit back to Michigan for Thanksgiving to see family!

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Filed under Cooking, CSA, Family, Food, Life in Seattle, Seattle, Work

Interviewing and a Ragnar relay

It was amazing having a week off of work while my friend Lia was here, but my life got back to being crazy right after she left.  As mentioned in the last blog post, I was interviewing for jobs lightly in June, and it become more intense towards the end of June.  Typically with tech interviews the first couple of interviews are phone interviews which are relatively easy to work around your schedule, although they require some prep.  Then if you make it through those, you start getting full day interviews scheduled, and those require a lot more prep and are a lot harder to work around your schedule.  So I had a one-day interview the day before Lia flew in (see previous blog post), and I had another one the week after Lia left, and those were the two primary jobs I was considering.

The interview before Lia came went well, but it honestly didn’t feel like the right fit for me.  The work was all work that I already know how to do (and have been doing) for the past couple of years.  It honestly didn’t really feel worth it to me to change jobs just so I could keep doing the same thing… I really wanted some opportunities to grow and do something totally different.  The job that I was interviewing for a week later at Sonos seemed much more in line with my goal to learn and grow.  The “gotcha” there is that it of course meant that I wasn’t uber qualified for the job.  Oh, and the second “gotcha” is that most of the team was located in the Boston Sonos office rather than the Seattle Sonos office.  So a few *slight* roadblocks.  However, the first two phone interviews went really well, so I found myself with a full day interview scheduled in Boston.  I flew out on Sunday afternoon and got to Boston around 6pm.  Ideally enough time to get to bed early and adjust to the time difference since Boston was a three hour time difference from Seattle.  I interviewed all day on Monday, and then flew back to Seattle on Tuesday at 7am (4am Seattle time!).

The interview itself felt like it went really well.  I got good vibes from everyone on the team, as well as the hiring manager, and the other people on the interview loop.  Of course, I didn’t have much domain knowledge for the job (embedded software team lead), but I was very up front about that before the Boston trip, so everyone was on the same page as far as my knowledge went.

After the interview, the hiring manager invited me to dinner with himself and a few other managers.. super nice of him!  I was honestly exhausted after the trip and the day of interviewing, but it seemed like a good sign that I got a dinner invite and I wanted to spend more time getting to know the people at Sonos.  We went to a tapas place with an outdoor patio and sat outdoors during dinner… the weather was just perfect!  After dinner, I went back to the hotel and decided that I REALLY needed a run to wind down and calm my adrenaline-filled day.

The St. Charles River that runs through Boston is just gorgeous!

So pretty! And calming!

So pretty! And calming!

 

The sun set while I was running, and it was just so peaceful.

Lovely

Lovely

And then of course there was the 4am alarm the next morning (1 am Seattle time!) so I could catch my 7am flight.  Kind of an exhausting trip, but such a great interview experience!

Long story short, I got a job offer, accepted it, and started at Sonos on Monday (7/31).  Super excited to be there, and I’m already learning so much!  Ready for the journey!  🙂

So… what else has been going on?

Well, two weeks after the interview, I had a big team relay race (Ragnar Northwest Passage) that I had signed up for back in December.  Basically, a team of 12 people split up into two vans run a 200 mile relay race over 1-2 days.  I honestly was feeling like I already had so much going on that I wasn’t sure about doing the race, but I had already signed up and it definitely wouldn’t have been fair to bail on my 11 other team members.  So I went into it with the goal just to get through it.  And of course, as is the way with many things in life, I had such an amazing time!!  I’ll detail how it all went.  I apologize in advance if you have no interest in running.  But for what it’s worth, Ragnar isn’t a normal race, and you may read this and decide that you want to run one too.  🙂

I was in Van 2, which meant that the six runners in Van 1 started running the relay first.  The race started up by the Canadian border around 10am, and the six of them had to cycle through their legs before my van started.  Our van met them about thirty miles south of the initial starting point at the start of Leg 7.  We arrived there in plenty of time to pick up our Ragnar shirts, decorate our van windows (which seemed to be an exceedingly popular thing to do) and “tag” other teams’ vans with our team’s magnets (another exceedingly popular thing to do).  I also learned that you mark the numbers of people that members of your van pass on the van as well, so you can keep track.  It’s all in fun though… everyone who passed me was really nice and encouraging to me, and I did the same when I passed others.  And then around 2:30pm, we got word via text message from Van 1 that they were close to the exchange point.   So our first runner, Alex, queued up at the exchange point, ready to grab the baton and start running.  The first exchange point was really busy… lots and lots of teams waiting for their first set of runners coming in.  When the sixth runner from our first van streaked up, Alex grabbed the baton and took off, and then Van 1 got a break for several hours while our van of 6 people cycled through their legs.  The members of Van 2 piled into our van and started off to the exchange point between Alex (runner 7) and Anna (runner 8).  It was HOT.  And most of the roads weren’t shaded.  A couple of us in the van checked the weather and saw that my leg (9) and Drake’s leg (10) were going to be the two legs during the hottest part of the day.  And I really wasn’t trained for this with all the interviewing prep I’d been doing.  Ugh.  Oh well.  Time to put my running shoes on, pull a Nike, and “Just Do It”.  Alex handed off to Anna, and we piled back into the van and drove to the next exchange point.  I had time to do a few stretches and use the porta potty before we saw Anna coming down the road.  The sun was very hot on my head.  This was going to be rough.  I grabbed the baton and started off.

Starting the first leg after taking the handoff from Anna

Starting the first leg after taking the handoff from Anna

My first leg was 6.6 miles, which isn’t a ton but felt like a lot in the hot sun.  I hadn’t brought a water bottle with me, because it wasn’t hot in Seattle, so I didn’t realize how hot the race was going to be.  Fortunately one of the other runners (Ken, who really ended up being our hero) lent me his.  The van passed me around mile 3, and they offered to give me water, but I shook my head.  I had made my legs find a groove and didn’t want to risk stopping.  Plus I had the water bottle that I was carrying with me.  After what seemed like a really long time, I finally saw the “1 mile left” marker by the road and picked up my speed a little (even though Anna had warned me that sometimes those “1 mile left” signs were a little inaccurately placed).  A mile later, I approached the hand-off, gave the baton to Drake (who was already sweating just standing in the hot sun), and then he took off.

Checking off my first leg on the van window

Checking off my first leg on the van window

I was left standing there with my other van members literally dripping sweat.  My average pace was 7:54min/mile.  Fortunately we had tons of baby wipes in the car.  Most of the runners in our van were veteran Ragnar relay runners who knew the value of baby wipes in the absence of a hot shower.  I wiped off as best I could, and we headed for the next exchange point.  Nick started stretching.  His leg was fairly short, so he wanted to run it fast.  Drake came in hot and breathing hard and handed off to Nick.  Back in the van, we were already starting to plan.  Anna’s achilles had been bothering her a lot in the few weeks prior to the race, and it was really hurting after her first leg, so we were trying to figure out a way to minimize her running by trading legs.  My next leg was 2.2 miles, and hers was 5.5 miles, so she and I decided to swap.  And Ken, our 12th and final runner, who is a running monster, said he’d take her third leg in addition to his own (which meant he was running four legs instead of the three everyone else was running).

Nick came in fast, and Ken took off fast (they’re both 7 – 7:20 min/mile runners).  When we picked Ken up after his leg, we had about four hours off while Van 1 took over for the next six legs.  We found our way to a grocery store that had a buffet in the deli area and we all got some dinner.  I didn’t want to eat anything that might upset my stomach since I knew we’d be doing our night runs next, and night running definitely wasn’t something my body was used to.  After eating, we drove to the exchange point where we’d pick up from the Van 1 runners.

Driving to the next exchange point in the fading light... the number of people we passed marked on the van window

Driving to the next exchange point in the fading light… the number of people we all passed while running aggregated and marked on the van window

A bunch of vans were already there and many runners had sleeping bags laid out on the grass to try to catch a few hours of sleep.  Unfortunately there was a giant Ragnar party going on at one of the houses across the street from the exchange point, and they were blasting loud music and had a lights show going on, even though it was already 10pm, and the sun was setting.  The six of us went to a grassy area and foam rolled out our muscles to keep them from getting stiff before we started our second legs.

Waiting for our night runs

Waiting for our night runs… Drake out cold

Drake wrapped himself in a sleeping bag and enviably fell asleep immediately.  The rest of us just foam rolled and talked as it got darker and darker.  Around 11pm we got word that the Van 1 runners were just about done, so Alex got ready to go and got to the exchange point.  There were still quite a few runners around us, but definitely not as many as there were the first time we exchanged between Van 1 and Van 2.  Our team was surprisingly fast (certainly not the fastest, but faster than we had expected to be) and had started putting some distance between us and other teams.  Alex took off, and I (taking over for Anna) would be going next.  I had originally been dreading the night leg, but after the super hot sunny weather earlier, I was actually very excited to run in the cool darkness.  With the sun down, it was 55 degree running weather… completely perfect!  And my night leg would be along the shore of a lake, over the lake on a mile-long boardwalk, and then along the other side of the lake to the hand-off point.  I was definitely shivery as I waited for Alex to show up at the exchange point.  Running in 55 degree weather is perfect, but just standing there waiting isn’t quite as perfect.  Finally I saw Alex’s swinging hand lamp (almost everyone else had headlamps, so Alex was easy to spot) coming down the road.  He was running fast and almost missed seeing me until I yelled his name.  And then I was off!  The van wasn’t able to stop to give me any water or anything on this leg because it was on trails by the water (and on the boardwalk bridge over the water), so there wasn’t any access for cars.  But I didn’t need water.  I didn’t need anything.  The weather was cool, there was no hot sun beating down on my head, and I felt like I was flying!  When I hit the mile-long boardwalk, I completely zoned out and just focused on the rhythmic thud-thud-thud of my footsteps on the boards, and I came off of the boardwalk at a dead run.  Half a mile more, and I’d be at the exchange point.  I even managed to pass a few people as I emerged from the trail at the exchange point.  I handed off to Anna for her 2.2 miles, and then I was done with the second leg.  And it felt great.  Well, great is a little strong of a word.  My hip flexors were kind of sore.  But overall I felt great.  It’s that runner’s high that everyone talks about.  The night runs were tough on our team, because there were some really long ones.  Alex had a 10 mile run, Nick’s was 9 (and went over the huge Deception Pass Bridge to Whidbey Island), and Ken’s was 9.  So we were driving most of the night.  Around 3:30am we handed off to Van 1 and went to get a few hours of sleep.  We had less of a break this time, because the lengths of Van 2’s last legs were pretty short, so we knew they wouldn’t take more than three hours or so to get them all run.  We drove to the final exchange point hoping to get a little sleep since (with the exception of Drake) no one had slept yet.

The last exchange point was at a school, and runners had the option of sleeping in the school if they wanted.  Sleeping in a room with a couple hundred other people on a hard gymnasium floor didn’t appeal to me, so I decided to sleep in the van.  Eventually, Nick, Anna, and Alex went into the school to sleep, and Ken, Drake, and I tried to find comfortable positions to sleep in the 15 passenger van… so nice that we had such a big van!  We all got our own row!  Definitely not like the crowded car trips you may have taken in the past!  I still ended up mostly curled up in a ball against some of the luggage though (probably not the best thing for my already-sore hip flexors, but oh well!  It was an adventure!).

I had set my alarm for 5:30am so I could have a little time to clean up in the school bathrooms before we would be taking over from Van 1 for our final let around 6:30am.  However, I ended up waking up around 5am without the alarm for a grand total of 1.5 hours of sleep.  I grabbed the container of baby wipes, my last change of running clothes, and headed into the school.  I looked and felt like a mess.  Almost no sleep, sweat from two runs still sticking to me, my hair pointing every which way.  There were already people up and moving around in the school, so there was a line in the women’s restroom.  While I waited for a restroom stall, I used one of the sinks to at least brush my teeth and wash my face.  Then, when I got into a stall I pulled out a bunch of baby wipes since that was all the “shower” I was going to get.  I found myself in that little bathroom stall staring down at my bag of running clothes, and my meager bag of toiletries and feeling like a total mess, and it felt like such a deja vu moment of Lia’s, Mike’s, and my experience a few weeks earlier when we got rained on during our several hour hike and ended up cleaning up afterwards in a Walmart bathroom.  I couldn’t stop myself from laughing.  Was this a new pattern in my life?

I emerged from the bathroom stall feeling a little cleaner and a lot clearer headed.  Interestingly, my most tired point had been around midnight, but my run at 1:30am woke me up and got me going again.  And that 1.5 hours of sleep really seemed to have brought new life to me.  Alex was already awake and getting ready.  Apparently the Van 1 runners were running even faster than we’d been anticipating, and they were going to come in 15 or 20 minutes early.

Van 2. Drake, Nick, Alex, Anna, me, and Ken

Van 2. Drake, Nick, Alex, Anna, me, and Ken

Everyone in our van got roused, got ready, and prepped for our final run.  Alex took the hand-off a little after 6am.  The nice thing about the early runs is that the sun wasn’t fully up yet, so it wasn’t as hot as yesterday.  My run wasn’t until 8am or so, though, so I fully expected that the sun would be fully up and it would be hot.  But definitely not as hot as the afternoon run the day before!

Alex came in strong, despite the hills that were the hallmark of the final legs, and handed off to Ken, who was taking Anna’s last leg.  He took off like he had a bear chasing him, and we drove towards the next exchange point.  I stretched as much as I could, but at that point I was stiff and sore, both from the two previous runs and from sitting in a van for 24 hours.  So I honestly wasn’t really trying to optimize my general muscle soreness… I was just trying to optimize my last run.  I figured if I could get through that, I could take the whole week to recover if I wanted to.  Ken came in strong (as always), and I picked up from him.  It took me a mile just to get into a rhythm.  My stiff legs were rebelling.  I kept waiting for the van to pass me, but it didn’t.  I wondered if they’d given Ken some extra time to dry off and stretch out, since he still had one more leg to run.  My last leg was 7 miles.  It was definitely hilly.  Up a hill, down a hill, up a hill, down a hill, etc.  Not the best movement for my sore muscles, but at least this last leg was mostly shady.  There was only about a mile that was in the full sun, and I knew that the last half mile was all downhill, so that was good to look forward to.  Finally when I was halfway done with my leg, the van passed me.  They offered me water, but at that point I had my legs in a groove and definitely didn’t want to stop.  When I turned the last corner and felt the final downhill start, a huge runner’s high kicked in.  I was almost done!!  I ran as fast as I could down the final hill, and Drake was at the bottom waiting to pick up from me.  He headed off for his last leg, and I tried to process the fact that I was done running.  However, we didn’t have a lot of time to process, because we had to head to Drake’s hand-off point.  Everyone’s last run was strong, and Ken, our final runner, was really fast (despite it being his fourth leg, and despite the hot sun which was now definitely overhead).  All of us waited a tenth of a mile back from the finish line for Ken to come in so that we could all cross the finish line together.  As it happened, Ken was chasing down the runner in front of him and was running so fast that he didn’t even see the eleven of us (despite the fact that we were all wearing bright turquoise matching running shirts), and so he tore across the finish line with the rest of us running frantically behind trying to catch up to him.  🙂

Official finish line pic for our team of 12

Official finish line pic for our team of 12

 

Because we had more men on our team than women (7 men, 5 women) we were judged in the Men’s Open category and came in 8th out of 162 teams in that division with a final time of 26:38:27.9.  We all ran fast, but we definitely could not have pulled that off without Ken.  He would have won the MVP award if we had one.  🙂  But anyway, it was absolutely a blast!  It took running, which is such an individualized sport, and turned it into a team sport where we all worked together and all cheered each other on.  I am totally hoping to do it again next year (maybe even on the same team if that same team forms again).

And you’re probably all thinking… this job interview stuff is fine, and the Ragnar relay is fine, but where is MIKE in all of this??  I read the blog mostly to hear about what MIKE is doing!

So Mike wasn’t interested in running Ragnar, but he has been going to the gym regularly and lifting lots of heavy weights.  Very heavy weights.  Dead-lifting, benching, squatting… those kinds of heavy things.

Mike has been very work-focused for the past several months.  I suggested to him that he get a hobby, but he is enjoying learning a bunch at work and said he would rather work extra hours than have a hobby (crazy guy!!).  So he has been working, and he also read a really long autobiography of Keith Richards’ life (from the Rolling Stones) that I got him for his birthday last year.  It took him awhile to start reading it, but when he actually started reading it, he literally couldn’t stop.  Some nights he came to bed at 3am, having read for several hours.  Now that he finished that, we bought the biography of Elon Musk for him to read.  And we have been watching Game of Thrones together now that the current season is airing.  And he’s been playing with Piper.  🙂

We still go out for a date night at least once a week.  Last week’s was Thai food in the Queen Anne area of Seattle, and it was DELICIOUS!

Mike and me having yummy Thai food! Mike's with a spice level of 1, and mine with a spice level of 4. Exactly how we like it. :)

Mike and me having yummy Thai food! Mike’s with a spice level of 1, and mine with a spice level of 4. Exactly how we like it. 🙂

 

And…. that’s all that’s been going in our corner of the world lately.  Hopefully now I’ve talked about the big things going on, and the next post can be a more day-in-lives-of-Mike-Karena-and-Piper kind of post.  I PROMISE to get Mike out doing more things so that there will be more info on Mike in the next post… Stay tuned!  🙂

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Filed under Cats, Friends, Pictures, Seattle

A wet hike and reluctant Walmart shoppers

So… I think we can all agree that I’ve been terrible about blog posting.  Life has been so crazy and hectic.  Not in a bad way… just in a “the merry go round keeps spinning and I don’t really have a chance to get off for a breather” kind of way.

I could try to go way back and talk about everything that Mike and I have been doing since the first of the year, but that’s too far back.  And who knows how good my memory actually is anyway… it probably doesn’t even go back that far.  January feels very far away.

So let’s just go back a month or so.  The one and only bestie Lia came to visit in mid June!  What a blast!  We had a very fun week together… a good mix of hiking, nice restaurants, and tourism (the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit at Seattle Center!).  And I still have to get you Mike’s and my pictures from your visit, Lia… oops!

I took the whole week off of work, had a job interview on Monday (more on that later), and then Lia flew in on Tuesday and stayed the rest of the week.  The job interview on Monday was a little surreal.  These all-day tech interviews always seem a little surreal to me.  I interview with five or six people over the course of the day, and then at the end of the day I find myself in the parking garage or at the bus stop thinking, How did that go?  Did they think I’d be a good fit?  Do I think they’d be a good fit for me?  Basically I walk out of there not knowing anything and having no feelings yet.  I typically need a good night’s sleep before I can actually process the interview and decide whether I think it went well, whether I think they’ll want to hire me, and whether I think I’ll want to take the job.  So it was especially perfect that on Tuesday, rather than continuing to think about the job interview, Lia flew in, and instead I got to hang out with her and take off my job-hunting hat for awhile.

Lia!  In Seattle!  :)

Lia! In Seattle! 🙂

Mike didn’t have Tuesday off and worked late (which is mostly what he’s been doing this spring and summer), so Lia and I Uber’d up to Capitol Hill and went to a great tiny hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant and shared several dishes.

Yummy Indian!

Yummy Indian!

The spinach curry was especially amazing!  After that we headed back to Mike’s and my house, and lucky Piper got a catnip mouse present from her Aunt Lia.  What a lucky cat!  She definitely went crazy over the catnip mouse!

On Wednesday we went to a couple of different shopping areas and had lots of fun.  Well, Lia and I did.  Mike may or may not have enjoyed this part.  He did get two new pairs of shoes, though, so at least he benefited from the trip.

We had decided to go hiking on Thursday, which we did, although in retrospect maybe we should have tried to find a drier day!  It was drizzling rain in Seattle, but as we drove east towards the Cascades the rain increased, and by the time we got to Lake Serene where we were planning to hike, it was raining pretty atrociously.  However, we had all brought raincoats, so in theory there was no issue.  We decided to at least start hiking, and see how it went.  The first 15 minutes was fine.  Our rain coats still gave the impression of being water proof, and our feet were still dry (despite the fact that the trail in some places resembled a creek more closely than it resembled a trail).  Half an hour in, we were definitely wet.  Wet as in: our coats were definitely water resistant rather than water proof, and their resistance had given way to the endless rain.  By this point our feet were starting to feel a little damp as well.  It’s amazing how many other things can be endured as long as one’s feet are warm and dry.  Damp feet lead to damp spirits.  There are my words of wisdom for the day.

We continued hiking for another hour, and ended up at the most beautiful waterfall!  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  I had literally no idea that there was anything so beautiful so close to the city!  Mike and I had seen Snoqualmie Falls several times, which is amazing, but this was amazing in a much more rugged, wild, kind of way, whereas Snoqualmie Falls has a hydroelectric plant surrounding it.  😉

You can google pictures of Bridal Veil Falls in Washington State.  It was raining too hard for us to take pictures (although it looked strangely mystical and ethereal through the rainy mist).  Once we had stopped for a few minutes at the falls and were no longer climbing up a mountain, we realized that we were actually freezing and a hasty trip back down would likely be in order.  Soaked honestly didn’t begin to describe us… drenched may be a better word.  We returned back down the mountain path pretty hastily, noting that the trail resembled a creek even more closely than it had done on our ascent.  We finally arrived back at the car and weren’t even sure how to proceed to get into the car.  We were all dripping water, and although I had thoughtfully remembered to pack about thirty protein bars and 2 gallons of water, somehow had neglected to pack so much as a hand towel.  We at least got out of the wettest of our clothing (i.e. those outer “water-proof” jackets) and decided we would stop at the first store we came to so that we could buy towels, a change of clothes, and warm up and dry off, so in the meantime we packed into the car and drove away shivering and still very wet as Mike kicked the car heater into high gear.  We drove for about twenty minutes without seeing any store that looked like it would have clothes and towels.  (There seems to be a problem with these wilderness hikes…. there are no hot showers or malls nearby.  This is my main problem with hiking.  Really it’s my only problem with hiking.  Can someone solve this?)

However, we eventually came across a store, and as my luck that day would have it, that store was Walmart.  I have ethical problems with Walmart and have basically sworn them off.  But now, freezing and drenched and forced to choose between my Walmart standards and my warmth, I am somewhat ashamed to say I chose my warmth.  (Only somewhat ashamed because… you all know you would have done EXACTLY THE SAME.)

We walked into the store as a confident, bedraggled, group of three, looking like we’d just emerged from living in the wilderness for the past year, and we left a dripping trail of muddy water as we headed directly to the clothes section.  The squeaking from our three collective pairs of water-logged shoes was loud enough that it drowned out the 90’s pop music playing on the Walmart sound system.  I was forced to admit to myself that Walmart may actually have been the only store in the history of the world where we didn’t even stand out despite our disheveled appearances.  An advantage of shopping at Walmart: You can literally show up wearing ANYTHING.  And people do.  All the time.

We immediately split up, Mike heading for the men’s section, and Lia and I heading for the women’s section.  Five minutes of frantic searching later uncovered a terrible discovery.  All of the clothes were SUMMER WEAR!  It’s fifty degrees outside, the air conditioning is blasting inside, we are all soaked to the bone, but it’s JUNE!  And the only thing we can find in the clothing aisles are tank tops and bikinis!!  I was beginning to think I was getting what I deserved for breaking my never-shop-at-Walmart standards when Lia located some hoodies.  They had no hoodies in our size, so Lia and I both had to get a couple sizes up and we both snagged a couple pairs of long workout pants as well.  Lia was slightly more selective in choosing workout pants, which proved to be a good choice later when we put them on and mine were so baggy they basically hung down to my knees and I had to inelegantly bunch the waistband up in front of me with one hand.  Underwear was next, and it was nearly impossible to find that in our size too.  We also found a couple of towels which were surprisingly fluffy given their $2.97 price tag.  (How can a full size bath towel be that cheap?  Isn’t that the price of a Nestle candy bar?  Or a pack of gum?  Or… I don’t know… the tax on a movie theater ticket?  Is this why people shop at Walmart??)

After hurriedly paying for our purchases and getting exactly no weird stares while in line at the checkout (again, it must be remembered that this is Walmart), we all headed for the restrooms to towel off and change into our new luxury clothing.  Fortunately the restroom was almost empty when we entered, and Lia and I took our bag of goodies into one of the big stalls and shut the door.  Stripping out of the wet clothes and drying off with the surprisingly fluffy towels did a lot to revive us.  Getting the hoodies and workout pants on did even more to revive us.  While we were in the midst of changing and talking and giggling through chattering teeth, a couple women came in to use the restroom and I honestly have no idea what they thought we were doing in there.  Especially when we both emerged from the same stall with soaking wet hair wearing clothes 4 sizes too big and then primly washed our hands thoroughly at the sinks as though having bathroom hands was the biggest issue we were facing at the moment.

Back outside we located Mike and drove home.  And for dinner, we out for steaming hot bowls of Vietnamese pho to recover from the experience and warm up from the inside out.  We also had spring rolls, because spring rolls are always amazing.

Mmm… I had planned to get a little more info in this blog post, but I think the hike took front and center.  Maybe that’s as it should be.  It was a hike worthy of remembering.  And for the record, after one time through the wash, the surprisingly fluffy Walmart towels were surprisingly un-fluffy.  They basically had no more fluff and resembled thin cloths.  Who knew that a towel could lose that much fluff and still remain physically in one piece?  That’s almost an art of design in and of itself.

Interestingly, although that was a very unusual day for me, I actually had a deja vu moment related to that hike a couple of weeks later that I’ll detail in the next blog post.  Which will hopefully not take a month to arrive.  🙂

Friends!

Friends who hike together get wet together!

 

And… I must include a picture of Piper because she is loving the sun these days!

Gorgeous sun-cat!

Gorgeous sun-cat!

 

I hope everyone is having a great week!  🙂

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A new boxing gym and lots of warm sun!

What a long blogging absence!

Well, spring has come to Seattle.  Almost summer, really.

Mike and I have been enjoying some warm evening walks and great grilling sessions.  We are definitely ready for summer!  Oh, and our heat-loving cat is also ready for summer and spends most of her time lounging in furniture next to windows where she can soak up the sun’s rays.

This past few weekends were kind of a whirlwind.  In a sad twist, the boxing gym that I have been attending and loving for the past year closed.  Not enough members to make it financially viable!  😦  A big group of us from the gym went out last Wednesday night after the final boxing class for the gym and had a great time together laughing and chatting.

Love this group!

Love this group!  Well, not the two people at the bar.  I have no idea who they are.  😉

Hopefully our community will last despite the gym closing.

Final boxing class! Clearly this class builds great arms and shoulders

Final boxing class! Clearly this class builds great arms.

The boxing instructor from there also teaches at another gym, so I went there for a trial run last weekend.  It was good… I could see myself going there regularly.  There’s a picture of a panda bear with googly eyes wearing boxing gloves hanging over the water fountain and I’m kind of in love with it.

This is how I feel when I have to spar with heavyweights

This is how I feel when I have to spar with heavyweights

When I mentioned it to my boxing coach, he laughed and said that everyone loves that panda and he doesn’t know where the picture came from.  There’s also a giant colorful painting of the Seattle city skyline with a beautiful phoenix rising from its midst.  I think the idea is that you work out and…. rise above your expectations… in Seattle….. I’m not really sure exactly the idea.  But it’s oddly inspiring anyway.  The owner’s dog Brody also frequents the gym and I can totally get into petting a big, friendly great dane mix while I’m wrapping up.  In the class on Saturday, there was a super nice but very tough woman who my boxing coach says is my future sparring partner.  There’s also a super nice guy with a mohawk and a couple of newer boxers.  All in all, I think it will work out.  I’m going again tomorrow after work with one of my boxing buddies from the old gym.  I have the feeling several of us will end up there.  🙂

There’s also a pull-up bar in the new gym, and I did four unassisted pull-ups on that yesterday.  Getting stronger!  My dad always asks me if the boxing is going to help me to defend myself if necessary, and based on this article I ran across from a few years ago, maybe yes?  I know I definitely wouldn’t try to mug anyone in my boxing class.  🙂

While we’re on the topic of articles, I’m also in love with this dog who flunked out of police academy for being too friendly.

Apart from finding a new gym, I have been doing some cooking lately.  My most recent creations are a coconut red lentil dal and roasted herbed chicken with brussels sprouts and carrots.

Red lentil dal

Red lentil dal

 

Roasted herbed chicken with veggies

Roasted herbed chicken with veggies

 

My team at work also had a team building event last week where we attended a cooking class together.  It was pretty fun.  We made tapas, which are basically Spanish small plates.  Definitely a lot of cooking has been going on lately!  This weekend, though, I’m prepping for Lia’s arrival on Tuesday instead of doing a bunch of cooking.  I’ll likely do some cooking while she’s here, but nothing that I’ll make ahead of time.  Anything cooked will be fresh from the oven!  🙂  Hopefully the weather is good enough to grill one day too.  🙂  Most of our days have been beautiful lately but they have been interspersed with rain.  We’ll see how the weather goes!

Last weekend I went out with Mike and a couple of friends and I was talking about how great it was to have a cat.  Then yesterday morning, one of my previously-petless friends texted me and said she she was at the humane society and was getting a cat.  Then she called me half an hour later and said she was at the pet store and wanted advice on what litter/food/toys/etc to buy.  Then she texted me that night to say that her new cat was asleep on her lap and was purring.  So sweet!!!  I’m glad I’m spreading the cat love.  🙂

This weekend was a really relaxing, laid-back weekend.  Mike did a lot of cleaning in his office room and I did some cleaning of my bathroom drawers.  They were embarrassingly cluttered with soap, extra containers of floss, moisturizer that I haven’t even used yet, etc.  I didn’t get it organized up to Mike Danenberg standards, but they are better than they were before.

Piper pretty much just lay in the sun all day.  Sometimes she was on the couch, sometimes in her heated bed, and sometimes on the floor near the back door, but always in the sun.

One cool thing I discovered recently is that the Seattle Light Link Rail system (i.e. our train/subway-ish transit system) that used to mainly go between downtown and the airport now has stations in Capitol Hill and in the University district.  I knew they were building them, but didn’t realize they were finished until a group from work wanted to take the Light Link Rail up to Capitol Hill.  We literally got there in three minutes.  Three minutes!  I can’t stress how amazing this is!  Taking driving, traffic, one-way streets, and parking into account, that easily would have been a thirty minute trip by car.  Public transit is amazing!  The Capitol Hill and University stations are both really nice and shiny and new too.  That definitely opens up more evening dinner options for Mike and me since we normally didn’t go to Capitol Hill because parking is such a pain up there.

I went to try out a new gym this afternoon with some of my friends from our old gym that closed.  The class we took was pretty fun.  It was basically circuit training that took place in a giant, sunny studio with floor-to-ceiling windows on two full walls of the gym.  It also had a giant projector that showed what song was currently playing in the gym.  Overkill?  Probably.  Reasonably fun for a change?  Yes.  Interestingly, despite the giant projector displaying the song currently being played, there wasn’t a clock anywhere in the gym.  I don’t like to think of myself as a clock watcher (how many minutes are left of this workout anyway??), but I do like to have some sense of whether I’m thirty minutes in or fifty minutes in.  So that was a little weird.  Wouldn’t it have been easy to make the projector also show the current time as well as the current song?  I can’t really see myself going back to the gym anyway because it’s pretty pricey for the monthly membership fee and honestly didn’t have a ton to recommend it besides it’s floor-to-ceiling windows, but it was fun to try.

Our weather in Seattle today was 80 degrees and sunny.  Perfect!  Although it does mean I have to be better about watering my tomatoes.  A few of the plants looked a little wilted when I went out to check on them today.  (The sungold tomato plant actually has small tomatoes on it already though… soooooo exciting!)  The basil is of course thriving.  It loves 80 degrees and constant sun.  Actually, Piper and that basil plant are very similar from that perspective.

Hoping everyone has a wonderful week… we’re already approaching the solstice and the end of our lengthening summer days.  How did that happen so quickly?

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