A beautiful spring. :)

I realize it seems as though I’ve fallen off of the earth lately as far as this blog is concerned.  Truth to tell, it almost feels to me as though I’ve fallen off the face of the earth lately.  I’ve definitely been rushing from one thing to the next over the past few months.  Actually, it’s pretty much been since January.  Just to recap, in early January I started a new job.  In late January Mike and I put in an offer on a house.  About a thousand signatures later, we moved into our new home in late February.  The month of March was spent cleaning, unpacking, taking things to Goodwill, figuring out what the contractors still needed to work on in our house (i.e. the heater, the grout in the bathroom, one of the light fixtures, the refrigerator… etc).  The month of April was spent getting things for our new house in preparation for entertaining Mike’s parents and my brother who are coming to visit in May and June, respectively.  Also during the month of April and into early May, the yoga teacher training really amped up in intensity and I found many of my Friday nights and weekends filled which, although I seriously love the teacher training, ensured that my time to work on organizing the house was limited.  And somehow, after four and a half years in Seattle with a surprisingly small social life outside of work, we’ve actually been hanging out with friends more, which has also cut into blogging time.

However, I don’t want to lose touch with the blog.  It’s really my best way of keeping everyone back in the midwest aware of the fact that we’re still alive and life is still plugging along.  :)  And now that things seem to be on their way to slowing down a little, I want to reconnect.

Piper looks like she needs to reconnect too...

Piper looks like she needs to reconnect too…

So let’s see… where should I start?

This weekend Mike’s parents are coming, and we are getting excited!  We’ve been doing lots of cleaning and organizing to make sure that our house is in as good a state as we can get before they get here (although the basement still isn’t organized… we’ll have to work on that later this summer).  Then in June, my brother is coming for a visit, so I’m already making plans for things to do with him.  :)

The yoga teacher training is nearing an end.  It really amped up in intensity during March and April, and now I only have one Friday night class left and our four-day yoga retreat at the end of June.  No more full weekend classes!  It’s been an awesome, crazy ride, and I’ve loved it, but I am ready to have a little more free time.  :)

We have an afghan that my Mom and grandma and I made years and years ago over our new couch so that Piper doesn’t scratch it with her back claws.  However, the afghan is about a foot and a half too short.  My mom knitted up a bunch of squares for me, and now I’m in the process of sewing them together to add on to the afghan so that it’s long enough.  Mike, whose mechanical and electrical knowledge knows no bounds, finds it a little mysterious that yarn can be made into squares and those squares can be put together.  I remember once when Mike was at my parents’ house, my mom mentioned something about sewing a button on and Mike looked at her like she’d lost her mind.  Mike’s experience with losing buttons on a coat is that it means you either have to hold your coat shut or you have to buy a new coat.  So interesting how different peoples’ minds work.  :)

And yet somehow all this stuff is easy...

And yet somehow all this stuff is easy…

 

Mike and I have been using our new grill pretty much every weekend.  We’re getting good at prepping the veggies for the grill, and Mike has a really good sauce to use with chopped-up grilled carrots made up of honey, balsamic vinegar, and some other stuff.  Very yummy!  :)

 

Grill food!

Grill food!

 

Grill veggies!

Grill veggies!

I joined a run club at Mike’s and my gym and have been enjoying the weekly runs with a group.  It definitely motivates me to run faster!  Sometimes, probably too fast.  Last week I was trying to keep up with a guy who’s legs were probably twice as long as mine.  I don’t know why I thought I’d be able to do that.  :)  I kept up with him for the first three miles, and then dropped back for the second three miles.  At least I’m out there pushing myself.  Our whole run club is going to run a 15k race together at the end of May sponsored by Brooks Running Shoes, so I’m excited about that!

Mike has been doing all of those housey kinds of projects that I knew he would love.  He’s been drilling holes everywhere, hanging up pictures, towel hooks, etc.  He’s also been putting felt feet on the bottom of all of our furniture and adjusting the heights of all of the desks so that they’re correct for hardwood floors now rather than carpeted floors.  He also built a bench to put inside the closet in the downstairs bedroom.  He has been carrying tools everywhere and has been making more trips to Home Depot than I can possibly count.  It’s becoming his new favorite thing to brows concrete cleaners and various types of screws at Home Depot.

I think someone forgot to tell Mike that we don't have space in a townhome for him to do this...

I think someone forgot to tell Mike that we don’t have space in a townhome to do this…

Mike also got a drill to put up pictures, and he has been drilling holes everywhere he can find a place to drill a hole.  He is absolutely LOVING his new drill!

Last weekend was my first weekend without yoga teacher training in awhile, so Mike and I ran a bunch of errands on Saturday and pretty much relaxed on Sunday.

In other random news, is Seattle the only place I would see this?

A signal for a bike.  Next to a one way street sign.  Below a 'straight only' sign for cars.  Confusion abounds!

A signal for a bike. Next to a one way street sign. Below a ‘straight only’ sign for cars. Confusion abounds!

 

In yet more random news, does anyone remember how I kept collecting all those Puffins cereal boxtops with the plan of adopting a Puffin?  When I started collecting boxtops (like six years ago.  I’m not kidding… it was actually six years ago) you needed 250 boxtops to “adopt” one puffin for a year.  However somewhere along the line, the number changed from 250 to 20.  What?!?  So I basically had enough to adopt eight Puffins!  I sent in a huge manilla envelope with all the boxtops rubberbanded in groups of 20 back late last year and kind of forgot about it.  And then literally the day that we were moving out of our apartment, my Puffins certificates came in the mail.  Close call to missing that!  (although maybe the Post Office would have forwarded it?)

One of my eight Puffins!  (Well, 'mine' for a year anyway.  I think after that I need more boxtops.)

One of my eight Puffins! (Well, ‘mine’ for a year anyway. I think after that I need more boxtops.)

 

I was all excited to read all about my Puffins.  Go to the Barbara’s Bakery website!   Read about puffins!  Buy Puffins cereal and collect boxtops to adopt your own puffin!  (Or just send me your boxtops and I’ll renew adoption on one of my puffins.)  ;)  Mike already has one of his friends whose kids eat puffins cereal donating to my Puffins cause.  And I had an old friend at Amazon who ate Puffins and always brought me his boxtops too.

Mike and I discovered that the fire station in our neighborhood is the coolest one ever.  Check it out… they’ve got a statue of Piper on their roof!

Is that Piper up there?  No, it's 1000 times bigger than Piper.

Is that Piper up there? No, it’s 1000 times bigger than Piper.  But it’s walking off of a roof, which seems like the kind of thing Piper would think was a good idea.

 

Random fact of the day: Starbucks baristas will have NO idea how to spell Karena!  ;)

Um... kind of sounds the same...

Um… kind of sounds the same…

 

Random fact #2: I saw this old Volkswagen beetle and kind of fell in love with it.  Too bad it’s not for sale, right?  I mean, this is a cool car to drive around, right??

Too cute!

Too cute!

 

This Friday night Mike and I have some friends coming over to watch episodes of Planet Earth.  I’m not quite sure how that happened.  Especially since we only have a 40 inch TV.  I probably should have mentioned that to my friends before I invited them over to watch Planet Earth?  Oh well…

Anyway, I’ll try to be up here posting more regularly.  As far as everything in life, I’ve got a handle on the new job (not so new anymore… I’ve already been there five months!  How did that happen?), Mike’s work has been going well, yoga teacher training is nearing a close, grilling at our new townhome is awesome, Piper’s loving the sunshine and all the windows, we’ve been connecting with friends more regularly, and we feel very grateful that things are starting to slow down a little.

It’s important to take some time and smell the roses.  Or lounge in the sunshine.  :)

Piper believes in setting a good example for Mike and me

Piper believes in setting a good example for Mike and me

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Filed under Animals, Apartments, Cats, Cooking, Friends, Pictures

Starting to enjoy summer!

Last week was a week of working during the day and getting the house more cleaned up at night.  We’re getting to the point where the main things left to organize are Mike’s office room and the shoes in the bedroom closet.  Not so bad!  :)

We also got our new dining room table yesterday, which is weird.  I literally haven’t had a dining room table in so long that I barely know what to do with it.  I’ve been eating on the couch and (in our more recent apartment) at a kitchen bar area for years now.  Actually, I was thinking back, and the last time I had a dining room table was when I lived in my second apartment in Heritage Hill, and that was over five and a half years ago.  Time definitely flies.  So I’ll have to take some time to get used to that.  :)  Mike, who values eating food at a table and not getting crumbs on the couch, is definitely ready for the transition.  ;)

Two weekends ago I had another yoga teacher training weekend, which meant I didn’t have time to do much else.  The topics were very interesting though!  As always, the time went by really quickly!  I was just looking at the class schedule the other day and I realized that there are only two weekends left plus the final four-day retreat at the end.  This class has gone by really fast!  It’s hard to believe I’ve been doing this since early November!

This past weekend was the first weekend in awhile in which Mike and I didn’t feel like there was anything super pressing to do, so we relaxed.  Well, mostly.  Mike cleaned all of the grout in the upstairs bathroom on Sunday afternoon while I went crazy in the kitchen.  I basically used every pot I owned, and made a chicken and broccoli stirfry over rice, a dozen hard-boiled eggs, a huge pan of vegetables roasted in coconut oil  (Thank you for the tip about the coconut oil, LJ!), and a batch of banana avocado muffins.  It was quite the afternoon!  I started with chopping up all the vegetables for the roasted vegetables, because that part’s so easy… no thinking and no recipe required!  The veggies this week included yams, potatoes, beets, and asparagus.  When I got ready to coat the vegetables in coconut oil, I had a little bit of a shock because the coconut oil was more of a solid than a liquid,  Then I remembered (pretty belatedly) that coconut oil is almost purely saturated fat, and that saturated fats are solid at room temperature.  Fine time for my nutrition classes to make an appearance.  However you don’t get to be my age without having a little ingenuity.  I turned to the trusty microwave, and a minute later my kitchen literally smelled like a tropical paradise.  Yum!  :)

Success!

Success!

Next up was the chicken stirfry, and there were no surprises there (except that by the time I’d steamed the broccoli, cooked the rice, and made up the chicken mixture, I’d used three pots.  That seemed a little excessive.

Three pans later...

Three pans later…

Next I put the eggs on to boil while I mixed up the banana avocado muffin batter.  The banana avocado muffins were really out of character for me to make, honestly, but I had a two-fold goal.  One: I had three bananas that were really going bad and needed to be used ASAP.  Two: I had just bought a muffin tin and was ready to take it for a spin.  Oh, and I guess a third reason was because I wanted to feel like I was feeding Mike something reasonably healthy.  I watched Mike closely as he ate his first muffin, hot from the oven.  I was pretty afraid he’d notice the green tinge to the muffins and not even give them a chance, but fortunately he was too tired from cleaning the grout and didn’t even notice.  He started chewing away while I watched him intently.  After wolfing down a third of the muffin Mike became aware that I was watching him.  He started chewing more slowly.

“What’s up?”

“Nothing.  Do you like the muffins.”

“Yeah, they’re good.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Really?”

Mike started chewing even more slowly and glanced at the muffin in his hand.

“Really.  Why do you keep asking?”

“Nothing.  Well, I mean, it’s just that they’re healthy.”

Mike stopped chewing altogether and set his muffin down on the table.  “How healthy?” he asked suspiciously.  “What’s not in here that should be, or in here that shouldn’t be?”

When I told him it was avocado, he seemed half apalled, half relieved.

“Well, all right then,” he said, as he stared at the muffin and started to realize that its color was a little unusual.

Mike wasn’t the only one who enjoyed the muffins though.  On Tuesday I was on my way home from work talking to my Mom on the phone.  I was just telling her about Piper’s strict diet and how she’s not allowed grains of any kind as I approached our house.  My voice started to trail off as I realized that there was an upside down muffin on the bottom stair just inside the door.  Good grief!  I pulled open the door and examined the muffin.  She had definitely eaten some off of the top and had torn the muffin wrapper and eaten another little chunk out of the bottom, but most of the muffin seemed in one piece.  So there was at least a fair chance that there wouldn’t be huge litterbox consequences to pay for her indiscretion.  I went to look at the muffin pan, because I had left all of the muffins in the muffin tin covered with a sheet of aluminum foil.  Sure enough, Piper had chewed a hole all the way through the aluminum foil directly above one of the corner muffins.  She had then apparently discovered that the foil lifted up, because the foil was also bent upwards in the corner, and the single muffin in the corner had been removed from the tin.  Piper was mewing and seemed all around very pleased with herself.  She had “caught” the muffin and had presented most of it to us as a gift on the stairs, the same way that she would likely leave us part of any mouse she caught.  I guess there are many worse things that a cat could leave on my kitchen steps… I’m probably lucky.  ;)

Since the weather has been so lovely lately, Mike and I have been taking a lot of walks.  We’ve found some fun and interesting things.

I fell in love with this old beetle... too bad it wasn't for sale.

I fell in love with this old beetle… too bad it wasn’t for sale.

We also discovered that we are literally right around the corner from a fire station.  Which hopefully we’ll never need, but it’s good to have it there, right?

Love the Piper cat on top!  :)

Love the Piper cat on top! :)

 

There’s still work that Mike and I are actively doing with the house as well.  Mike did some paint touch-up stuff after work this week.

Hard at work!  At his second job, which is owning a house

Hard at work! At his second job, which is owning a house

 

Piper has been loving the warmer weather lately too.  She spends lots of time at windows!

Keeping an eye on the street outside

Keeping an eye on the street outside

 

Lounging in the sunshine

Lounging in the sunshine

 

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and enjoys beautiful weather!  :)

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Filed under Baking, Cats, Cooking, Food, Pictures

Lots of house projects!

And here we are again.  The past few weeks have been extremely busy.  (I feel like this is starting to sound like a theme.)

Because we have new construction, apparently it took the post office awhile to figure out what to do with us, so we didn’t get mail for the first couple of weeks and had to have it held at the post office and then go to pick it up each week.

So these days Mike and I have been unpacking, organizing, and drilling lots of holes.  Well, more specifically, Mike has been drilling.  He hung up a rod for my pots and pans to hang on.  He hung up hooks for coats inside the front door.  Next up is hanging up rings for our towels in the bathrooms.  The guy has been going crazy with the drill lately.

Mike drilling like crazy!

Mike drilling like crazy!

He’s also been working on unpacking some of his studio stuff.  I was working with him moving stuff around in his studio room a few days ago and picked up a big, long, black stand.

“Wow!” I said.  “This thing is huge.  This is like the guitar stand to end all guitar stands!”

Mike just stared at me and then it.  “Ok,” he finally said.  “But that’s not a guitar stand… it’s a tripod for a camera.”

Clearly, I don’t know what all of the things he has are.  ;)

What else has been going on?  Well, the grout got reworked, and Mike sealed the grout in the kitchen so I have finally started to cook and use the kitchen again!  No more filling up our water glasses in the downstairs bathroom because we’re afraid of getting water (and thus the beginning of mildew) on the grout above the sink!  The first day I was able to use the kitchen I went a little overboard and made up roasted vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, a batch of chicken burgers, and a slow-cooker chicken veggie soup.  This weekend I kept things light and just cooked up some more roasted root vegetables… this time it was asparagus, beets, potatoes, and yams.  I was planning to put onions and carrots in as well, but I ran out of room in my pan.  :)

Work has been busy but good for both of us.  Piper went to the vet on Thursday for a six-month checkup by the vet for UTI’s.  It looks like she’s got a clean bill of health!  It was 60 degrees on Thursday and sunny so I just walked over to the vet with Piper.  Piper, who usually hates being taken places in her carrier, was surprisingly docile and quiet.  I think she was just enjoying the beautiful weather!  She is absolutely loving the new home.

Looking out into the sun

Looking out into the sun

 

All stretched out in the sun

All stretched out in the sun

 

Being goofy in the evenings...

Being goofy in the evenings…

 

A chair that Mike and I bought on sale a week ago got delivered, and this weekend we got it out of the box.  It was fully assembled, but did need feet put on it.  When we were at the store looking at chairs, the woman who helped us said that the feet would be inside the chair when we received it.

“You have no idea how many people call us complaining that they didn’t receive the feet,” she laughed.  I didn’t laugh along with her.  The last chair Mike and I bought was from Target and when it was delivered, I thought they’d forgotten the feet until Mike found them inside the chair itself.

Mike and I also went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and we bought some clothes hampers and a trash can.  When we came out and wrestled all three of those things into our Civic, Mike was tired and threw the crumpled receipt into the center console.

“Can I just throw this receipt away?” Mike asked.  “Or do I need to file it?”

“Throw it away,” I said.  “It’s not like we’re going to return hampers.”

“What if they don’t hold clothes?” Mike asked, not too tired to have lost his sense of humor.  “What if they don’t hamp?”

Speaking of fitting things in our Civic, we have fit some pretty crazy stuff in our car over the past few weeks including, but not limited to, a six foot ladder, a seven foot long piece of acrylic (that Mike said was for a “bumper” on the edge of a corner in the basement… I think he was intimating that I scraped up one of the corners of the wall, but I don’t think I did  ;)), and a 4ft by 2ft Ikea desk (and the feet were still on the desk when we put it in!!).  That little Civic has proven to be extremely versatile!  I wonder if Honda engineers tested for these kinds of use cases.  Hey, let’s see if we can fit an Ikea desk in here… I bet people will want to do that at some point.

I just finished reading “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption”.  It was an absolutely raw, horrifying, beautiful story.  A friend recommended it to me, and she’s a big reader, so I feel like she’s pretty discriminating.  I would highly recommend reading the book.  I think it was just made into a movie, as well.  I haven’t seen the movie, but the book was amazing.  True stories of human resilience are amazing and inspiring and awe-inducing to me.

Mike is reading Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage a book about Ernest Shackleton, the explorer who went to the South Pole.  The book was recommended to him by a coworker he went to Minnesota with last month.  The past week we’ve shared crazy (true!!) snippets from each of our respective books, and it’s just amazing.  The words “Endurance” and “Resilience” which feature prominently in the titles of our books really say it all.  We both really love reading true stories of human lives!  It has also undoubtedly helped Mike’s and my reading that the TV isn’t hooked up yet.  ;)  So no Top Gear, and no other shows.  A friend of mine at work lent me a new movie that just came out on video called “Whiplash”.  It’s about a drummer, but I don’t know anything else about it.  Hopefully Mike and I will watch it next weekend.  We can easily get the TV hooked up… we just haven’t done it yet.  A cable guy came and got us all hooked up with internet/cable our first weekend in the new house, but we haven’t gotten the TV all set up yet.  The cable thing was also another one of those this-is-only-a-problem-with-new-construction kind of incidents.  He spent five hours here because our town homes are new so he had to actually run a new wire out to our home from the main data line on the street.  Talk about scary jobs!  He had a ladder that he hooked over the cable line on the street and then he climbed up that.  And it was a windy day.  Wow.  The ladder was moving, and the cable guy seemed a little disconcerted when he came back down, but he did a great job!

With all of this going on, we’ve still had the chance to go out on a couple of dates.

Going out for a night on the town.  :)

Going out for a night on the town… standing next to our very own tree!  :)

 

I have also been making some time to run… the weather has been getting warmer here.  It’s definitely spring!  I went on a short run a couple nights ago, and it was wonderful!  It was very slightly misting, and so peaceful and beautiful.

Looking into Seattle at night

Looking into Seattle at night

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Filed under Beets, Cats, Cooking, Food, Furniture, Pictures, Running

A new home at lightening speed

As if the whirlwind from the holidays and then starting a new job wasn’t enough, Mike and I somehow wound up with a very insane month and a half.  It all started on Saturday, January 24th.  We had been given a copy of our new lease to sign, and we were encouraged to sign early to be entered in a drawing to win a $500 cash prize.  (Nice!)  We had to sign our lease by January 25th to be entered to win the drawing, so even though our lease wasn’t up until the end of February we decided to sign early to be entered for the cash prize.  However, our week leading up to January 25th was so busy that we didn’t have time to.  There was a big party event at our gym on Wednesday that we attended, and on Thursday the 22nd Mike and I went out for dinner with a couple of my friends from Amazon and their significant others.  On Friday the 23rd I reminded Mike that we really needed to sign our lease to be entered in that drawing.  We planned to sign it on Friday night, but after work we just felt like going for a drive and listening to the new Above and Beyond CD.  We got back late and forgot to sign the lease.  Saturday the 24th dawned, and I woke up, mentally resolving that as soon as Mike was up we really needed to sign the lease.  In the interim, I walked to PCC for groceries.  And on the way there, I saw something that would change our plans… a sign for an open house at a new set of townhomes.

I didn’t think much of it immediately, because Mike and I were planning to renew our lease that day.  But from the address on the sign I saw that it was actually extremely close to our apartment… which was a primary factor we were looking for in a home.  On the way back from PCC I looked up the website listed on the sign.  The pictures were gorgeous!  I hurried the rest of the way home and woke Mike up.

“Mike!  You have to look at this.”

Mike lifted a groggy head.  “I do not.  You’re just trying to get me to wake up.”

“No, really.  You do.”

Mike reluctantly got up, but got more awake when he saw the house pictures.

“I know we’re supposed to sign the lease today, but let’s at least check these out first,” Mike said.  “Let’s get coffee and then walk by the town homes and see what they look like.”

As it turned out, the town homes were having an open house that weekend that started at noon.  We showed ten minutes before the open house started, eager to look around.

And somehow, less than 36 hours later, we found ourselves having put in an offer which the builder accepted.  And we were now entering the “closing” stages of home ownership, pending a building inspection, an appraisal of the property by an unbiased third party, and pending the final approval of our home loan.  Talk about lightening speed.  I think we may have set land speed records with this one.  Going from planning to re-sign your current lease to nearly home-owners in less than 36 hours.  We were so fortunate to have the help of an excellent realtor and an excellent mortgage consultant… they literally seemed to be up at all hours of the night to make this happen for us.  However, as quickly as homes go in Seattle, we couldn’t believe that we managed to get this one without entering any crazy bidding wars, especially given that 50+ couples toured the homes just in the first day of the open house and there was another town home in the group that was purchased at the same lightening speed with which we purchased ours.  And given that all of our friends who have purchased in this area have had lots of bidding wars and experiences with waiving building inspections to make themselves more attractive to sellers and then offering more than the home is actually listed for to avoid being outbid by someone else.  Crazy!  And we were crazy enough that Piper was starting to act crazy as well.

I can't explain what's happening in this picture...

I can’t explain what’s happening in this picture with our crazy cat…

The next week was literally crazy with signing paperwork.  For the builder, for the realtor, for the escrow company, for the mortgage company… always something to sign for someone!

The following week was crazy with getting a builder inspector set up, getting info on the house, setting up a final walkthrough, and getting the remainder of our financials to the mortgage company.

The week after was all about getting ready to move.  Somehow we had to pack and get our stuff moved out before the end of February when our lease ran out.

After a lot of work on a lot of people’s parts, we closed on our home on 2/24/15, got the keys, and started moving things in that night, with our big moving day coming on the 27th.

Since moving last weekend, things have continued to be a blur.  We’ve been trying to unpack, but Mike had a very busy week last week at work, and I had yoga teacher training all this weekend.

And so there we are.  After four and a half years in Seattle we are homeowners!  We had been looking for houses throughout the summer and fall, but didn’t find anything we liked that we could move fast enough on.  Given that the market slows down in the winter (who wants to move in the rain?), we had given up on the idea of finding anything this year and were planning to renew our lease and continue our search next year.  And then this happened.  Literally hours before we were going to sign a 12-month lease.  Crazy!  Everything moved really, really fast, and we didn’t have much of a chance to think about whether or not we were ready for home ownership.  However, if there’s one thing Mike and I have been learning over the past several years it’s that sometimes you need to go with your instincts and not spend too much time mired in indecision and doubt.  When something is right, you tend to know it on some level far below your consciousness.

So anyway, now we have moved into the house and are attempting to get settled.  We’re somewhat hindered in this, because with new construction homes, there are often little things that get overlooked that have to get done later.  For instance we have some contractors coming in next week to redo a few parts of the grout in the bathroom, and Mike has been working on sealing the grout in the downstairs bathroom.  This whole thing has been such a great exercise in teamwork for Mike and me.  Mike handled all of the interactions with the realtor and the building inspector.  I handled all of the interactions with the leasing agents.  We both worked really hard to get everything packed after work in the week leading up to our move.  The night before the movers came, we stayed up until 2am packing, and were up at 6am the next morning to continue packing.  After the movers moved the bulk of our stuff on Friday, I went to yoga teacher training class on Friday night.  On Saturday morning we got up early and met with a blinds guy to get blinds ordered for some of the windows in our house.  After that, we went back to our apartment and worked on cleaning the apartment, packing the last boxes of stuff, and throwing tons of stuff away.  We made a trip to Goodwill late Saturday evening.  On Sunday we got up early again and the internet guy came to hook up our cable and our new couch was delivered (not that there was much room for it since we’d barely had any time to unpack).  Then we ran errands getting things like a trash can, a laundry hamper, and some other necessities.  We also did grocery shopping.  By Sunday night we were both mentally and physically exhausted.  We had gotten so many things done in creative ways we never would have thought of had necessity not been the mother of invention.  These included, but were not limited to, using an entire roll of aluminum foil as an emergency shower curtain, fitting a huge Ikea desk in the back of our Civic (still not sure how we pulled that off), and putting felt feet on all six legs of a 400-lb solid wood dresser with just the two of us.

Long, long story behind this one....

Long, long story behind this one…

Despite our extreme fatigue we felt pretty unstoppable.  On Sunday night we went out to a pizzeria near our home and had a late dinner.

Salad...

Salad…

 

... and pizza

… and pizza

“This is nuts!” Mike said as we relaxed over dinner and drinks.  “It’s like every day we get up early, put in a 15 hour day working as hard as we can… and then we wake up early the next day and do it all over again!”

While we completely understand that our problems are totally first-world problems and we actually feel very blessed with the opportunity to own a home, we were literally both just SO EXHAUSTED.  Mike’s quadriceps were toast from climbing up and down so many stairs with heavy boxes.  The soles of my feet were sore from all of the walking carrying heavy boxes.

Now I’m happy to report that we are settling in in the new home.  I located the box containing the kitchen silverware this weekend, and eating with real silverware goes a long way to making me feel at home.  I also figured out how the new washer, dryer, and dishwasher work (they’re all much more high-tech than the ones at our previous apartments), so we can have clean clothes and clean dishes.  Some things still aren’t unpacked.  I still haven’t found my laptop in the boxes yet, so I’m typing out this blog post on Mike’s computer.  However, all in all, we’re feeling much more comfortable in the new home.  Next weekend will be even better since I’ll be able to help get things in order more.  This weekend I was in yoga teacher training all weekend, so I wasn’t much help except in the early mornings.

And how is Piper adjusting to this move?

What an attitude!

What an attitude!

She LOVES the new space!  She is constantly at one of the many, many windows looking out at people walking by, cars driving by, or just random sights, sounds, birds, dogs, etc that she sees.  There are so many things for her to see and process!

Stairs?  These are interesting...

Stairs? These are interesting…

 

Relaxing on the new couch... and loving the afghan!

Relaxing on the new couch…. and loving the afghan!

 

So where are we at now?

image2

Well, it’s spring.  Our magnolia tree is budding.  Work is finally slowing down for Mike.  I’m loving my yoga teacher training.  We’re getting unpacked (many more pictures will follow when we’ve gotten our new home set up).  We are loving falling asleep at night to the sounds of traffic on Fremont Avenue.

Life is good.  We are very blessed.  And I don’t feel that way just because of the house.  At the end of the day, a house is just an inanimate object and not really a tool for creating happiness.  However, the process of buying the house… all of the support we received, all of the people who helped us, all of the advice we got, all of the things we learned, the way Mike and I worked so well and so efficiently together even under pressure and tight deadlines… those things I’m truly thankful for.

Have a wonderful, blessed week everyone.  :)

 

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A Story of Two Couches

Somehow time has just been flying since I started at my new job on January 5th!  That first week I was so focused on getting up to speed on the new job, and then that weekend I had yoga teacher training all weekend, followed by my second week of trying to get up to speed.  And then this past weekend arrived, which was kind of a break from the go-go-go.

The past couple of weeks have just been crazy for Mike and me.

We drove down to Tacoma to try to test drive an Alfa Romeo.  We threw our couch into a huge dump at a transfer station in Shoreline.  We drove down I-99 during the NFC playoff game and heard thunderous cheering from the Seahawks stadium.  I did a 9 mile run at an average page of 8:37 per mile (way faster than I’ve been running in the recent past… clearly the iron supplements are helping!).  We went out to a local Japanese restaurant for sushi.  Mike made Piper a cardboard box wall that she has been playing with endlessly.  I’ve been learning node.js and coffeescript (no, I’m not kidding… that’s the name of the language.  If you can call it a language, since it’s essentially a more “friendly” way of programming javascript.  I don’t think it’s as friendly as Javascript, but that’s probably because I’m coming from a Java background, so Javascript seems plenty friendly to me.)  :)  Mike got a new silver globe.  Mike and I finished another past season of Top Gear.  I love that show almost beyond belief.  Mike and I retried our turkey burger experiment since I kind of burned them the first time I made them.  There you go… a thirty-second slice in the life of Mike, Karena, and Piper.

I’ll expound on just a couple of the more interesting things we’ve been doing over the past two weeks (don’t worry… I won’t elaborate on node.js or coffeescript.)

Let’s talk about couches.  And cats.  And cats who have some wires cross and occasionally urinate on couches.  Yes, that would be our cat.  After an incident last Monday, Mike put his foot down.  “We are not cleaning this couch again.  It’s going in the trash.”  The next day he came home with two little wheely carts.  The day after I found directions to the Shoreline Recycling Transfer station and a confirmation for rental of a Zip van on the kitchen counter.  The day after he asked me what I was doing on Sunday morning.

And that was how we found ourselves on Sunday morning in the middle of a huge downpour driving out to pick up a Zipvan with our little wheely carts in the trunk.  Zipcar gives all of their cars names (maybe for easier identification for people who don’t know car makes/models?  I’m not sure.)  Anyway, Mike told me the Zipvan we were picking up was named Exeter which annoyed me like crazy.  If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s a poorly chosen name.  And how do you pronounce that anyway?  “Ex-ter”?  “Ex-e-ter”?  The Zipvans we’d rented in the past had much better names (Eskimo and Elmer.  I think Zipcar had an ‘E’ name thing going on because the vans were Ford E models.)  Driving to pick up the car, I kept suggesting better names for the Zipvan to Mike.

“How about Eleanor?”

“I don’t think these vans seem like girls.”

Silence for about 30 seconds.  “How about Emerald?  It’s even in the Emerald City, which fits.”

“Emerald’s not a real name.”

“Neither’s Eskimo, and that’s the name of one of their other vans.”

Silence for another 30 seconds.

“What about Eddie?”

“That’s a name from the early 1900’s.  Besides even if you pick a name, you don’t work for Zipcar.” Mike paused.  “Unless you’re actually planning to call them about this?”

I considered the idea while Mike rolled his eyes.  “What about Eggshell?”

“I rent these vans when I want to tote a bunch of heavy stuff.  Eggshell sounds too delicate.  I wouldn’t want to rent a van named Eggshell.”

“Good point.”

Silence.

“What about Emmett?  Like the doc in Back to the Future?”

Mike paused.  “Emmett’s pretty good.”

I leaned back against the seat finally, satisfied.  And in protest of the bizarreness of Exeter, I called our van Emmett during the duration of our trip.  I have since thought up another good van name: Equinox.  So, Zipcar, if you need names for your Zipcars, you know who to call.

Once we picked up the van and headed back to our apartment, the challenge began.  Somehow we had to muscle the couch out of our apartment to the elevator, and then down to the van using the wheely carts.  Fortunately, both Mike and I have been lifting a lot more weights since the last time we tried this, and we found that we had pretty good combined muscle power.  Unfortunately, the hallway to the front door was narrower than we remembered and the front door was set at an angle to the hallway that didn’t bode well for getting the couch out.  To further complicate things we had an entry bench just inside the door intruding into the hallway that wasn’t there when we moved the couch in the first time.  And because of his love for sturdy things, Mike had thoughtfully nailed it to the wall, so moving it wasn’t an option.  Twenty minutes later, I was pretty impressed with Mike’s lats and we had flipped the couch around a couple times in the narrow hallway and somehow had it in the hallway.  Mike muscled it onto the wheely carts and we proceeded down the hallway pushing our giant couch.

Getting it from there down the elevator and into the van was mostly a testament to muscle combined with wheely carts.  We drove the couch all the way up to Shoreline and Mike backed the van up to the five foot concrete railing around the huge dump.

“So we just maneuver the couch out of the back of the van and right over the edge of the guard rail?” I asked Mike.  He nodded his agreement.  I got in the van behind the couch and pushed hard as Mike pulled on it to guide it.  It went flying out the back of the van and we found it suspended, one end on the concrete guardrail and one end still in the van.  There was a heavy chain link about three feet above the concrete guardrail, and I called out to Mike, “Careful!  We don’t want this chain sticking on the couch and keeping it from going down!”

“It’s not catching on the couch!” Mike called back as he gave one final heave which sent the couch careening into the giant dump.

Except that the back edge of the couch was indeed now caught on the giant chain, leaving the couch effectively suspended in midair over the edge of the dump.  The chain looked like it was straining against the weight of the couch.  One of the workers at the dump watched us with what looked like amusement.  Great.  Just what we needed… an audience.  I lunged towards the chain to try to pull it over the back edge of the couch while Mike yanked down as hard as he could on the back edge of the couch so that I could get the chain clear.  A moment later, the couch fell into the dump with a big thud.  The guy working there wandered over to us and looked down at the couch.

“Nice couch,” he said, looking it over with the eye of a future owner.

“Yeah,” Mike said, hot, breathless, and never one to beat around the bush.  “Our cat peed on it like 6 times.”

“Oh!” The guy made a face and took several steps back.  “This is the place for it then.  You can never get that stuff out no matter how hard you try.”

A few minutes later we were driving out of the dump, minus one couch.  Our only couch, when it came to that.

And that was how we found ourselves downtown at a furniture store later that afternoon looking at couches.  And interestingly, whereas when Mike and I shopped for a couch seven years ago and neither of us were very picky, this time was completely different.  I noticed that the arms of some couches were too wide, some couches were too deep.  Some were too poofy, some didn’t come in exactly the shade I thought would go with the apartment.  Some looked too old-fashioned, some looked too western.  Some didn’t look like they’d wear well, some had weird gimmicks on them (Head-rests that fold down into the couch?  Really?).  The sales lady assured me I wasn’t too bad and that she’d had much pickier customers, but I was doubtful.  While we were debating about couches, Mike became intrigued with a silver-colored globe that was also at the store and examined it.  (If you think you don’t need a globe, guess where the country of Chile is in relation to Seattle.  If you’re like anyone I’ve asked so far, you’ll be shocked.)  An hour later, Mike and I had selected a couch which met most of our specifications and was on sale.

“With the money we saved on the couch, we should buy the globe,” Mike said.  “I don’t think countries are changing much days, so it’s time to invest in a globe.”

“Done,” I replied, and we walked out of the store with a globe and a delivery date for our couch.  Which incidentally isn’t for another couple of weeks so in the meantime when we watch shows we’re spreading a towel on the floor, picnic-style.  Fun, fun.  :)

Now let’s talk about football.  Not because I care about it very much but because Seattle won the NFC championship on Sunday in a crazy game and is now heading for the super bowl with the Patriots.  On Sunday, during the game, Mike and I were couch shopping, so we clearly weren’t very game-focused.  We did monitor it enough to know that Seattle was down by like 16 points at halftime so we decided Green Bay was probably going to win.  (I wasn’t heartbroken about that… I was born in Wisconsin.)  However, as we left the store we started to see that Seattle seemed to be catching up in the 4th quarter.  It looked like they might actually win.

Mike fiddled with the car stereo trying to find an AM station that was broadcasting the game while we drove home.  We stopped for ice cream, thinking that Green Bay was going to win again, but after scoring 15 points in the 4th quarter it looked like the Seahawks had a chance.  And then the game entered overtime.  Mike and I went in so he could get some ice cream since we figured the overtime would go for awhile.  The ice cream place which ALWAYS has a line going out the door and around the street corner was completely empty.  Apparently everyone besides us was glued to a television somewhere watching the game.  As we got back in the car, the radio came on and the Seahawks had just scored.  And won.  Wow!  What a comeback!

In completely unrelated news, Mike and I did a turkey burger experiment over the weekend in which I made up the turkey burger patties and Mike cooked them (since I kind of burned them last time).  Mike ate them, but said that it was very clear to him why turkey burgers aren’t as popular as beef burgers.  So there you have it.  Beef > turkey.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful 2015 so far and staying warm with all the cold weather across the country!

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2015… New Beginnings!

Happy 2015!

Mike and I spent a very low-key NYE because Mike was still getting his energy back from his cold.  He has been drinking lots of tea and honey lately (thanks for the honey, Dad!).

Wintery weather has finally returned to Seattle… and by wintery I mean low 30’ish degrees and (somehow?) sunny.  Typically we’d be getting constant rain by this time of year, but somehow we’ve avoided that so far.  Surprisingly I don’t mind too much.  ;)  Although I haven’t been working for a couple of weeks, it feels like I have been so busy!  My first Monday off of work I went through the pantry and threw out expired food.  Clearly I have some sort of process problem, because there was expired soup I threw out from January of 2013… two years expired!  This is the problem with staying in an apartment for more than one year.  Traditionally every time I moved apartments I would do things like throw out all expired food and thus I never had food that was more than one year from its expiration date.  I also did some general house cleaning, went to the grocery store, finally got caught up on responding to emails, and finished one of the books for my yoga teacher training class.  Tuesday I cleaned all the floors in the apartment, cleaned Piper’s litterbox, did more general house-cleaning, made Beef Teriyaki for Mike, wrote a paper for my yoga teacher training class, and worked out hard-core with Mike (as many bench presses as we could do, 50 burpees, 50 box jumps, 50 kettlebell swings… etc!).

Beef Teriyaki

Beef Teriyaki

I think the beef teriyaki turned out well… it looked like real beef teriyaki should look.  But I had to ask Mike whether it tasted good or not… that seems like a bad sign.  If it was really good he would have thought of saying something on his own, right?

I also made up some turkey burgers for Mike, and we had a philosophical difference as to what ingredients should go into a turkey burger.  I was pretty sure that you put in bread crumbs, eggs, parsley, and possibly a few other spices.  Mike contended that adding bread crumbs to ground turkey was basically making a turkey meatloaf, not turkey burgers, and that all I needed to do was shape the ground turkey into patties and then cook them.  I found multiple recipes on allrecipes.com to back me up, but Mike said that of course a recipe site would include additional ingredients.  “They can’t just make a recipe for turkey burgers with one ingredient,” he said.  “That would look stupid.  So they have to throw a bunch of other stuff in.  That doesn’t mean that’s the way a turkey burger should be made.”  Eventually we landed on a compromise.  I did not add the bread crumbs and eggs, which were the most egregious ingredients to Mike (odd, since he really likes both bread and eggs), but I did add some delicious freshly dried parsley (a Christmas gift from Mike’s mom… thank you, Marcia!) and minced garlic.  The final verdict was rather underwhelming because Mike told me they seemed tasty but too overdone.  Apparently I overcook turkey burgers.  Oh well.  Live and learn.  :)  The good news was that Mike thought the taste was good underneath the overdone-ness, so we can probably stick with our recipe compromise.

Mike and I had been watching at least part of a Top Gear episode most evenings lately, and last week we saw an absolutely hilarious episode in which Jeremy, Richard, and James tried to construct a hovercraft out of a Ford van to provide people living in constantly flooded areas of the UK a method of transportation.  The youtube video I linked to is just a clip, but the whole episode is hilarious.  I don’t think Mike and I have laughed so hard in a long time.

We also discovered somewhat by accident that we both enjoy watching boxing, so we ended up watching some boxing highlight matches from 2014.  Fun!  :)

On the flight on the way back from Michigan Mike and I were in a Boeing 737 which plays one single movie during the flight (unlike the bigger aircraft which let you choose from a selection of movies).  I was hopeful that watching a movie would make the time pass by more quickly, so I waited expectantly as the airline stewardess announced the movie: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I wrinkled my nose and turned to look at Mike.  Of all the movies on the planet, that had to be one in which I had less than no interest in watching.  I never saw the draw of martial art fighting turtles, even back in the 80s when they were such a huge thing.  However, the movie turned out to be pretty entertaining for two primary reasons.

1) We didn’t pay for the headphones to hear the movie, so we were free to add in our own dialog, which I have no doubt was more entertaining than the real thing.

2) Will Arnett is always hilarious to watch.  Arrested Development, anyone?

Also, Mike knew more about the turtles than I did.  Apparently they were trained by an old ninja rat and were the result of some crazy science experiment (who isn’t?  Spiderman, the Fantastic Four, etc.  etc.  etc.).

I’m hoping the jet engine was too noisy for any of our surrounding neighbors to hear how enthusiastically we were adding our own dialog.  The guy on the other side of me was wearing headphones, so I’m hoping for the best.  I don’t want to ruin anyone else’s experiences with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Also, for those of you who have been waiting for the FINAL set of pictures from our England/Ireland trip in April, here they are!  https://www.flickr.com/photos/m_danenberg/sets/72157649670295949/

Both Mike and I are ready for 2015.  I threw out some old clothes this morning to symbolically ring in 2015.  Discarding the old… and ready for the new!  I wish everyone an amazing 2015!

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A brief trip to Michigan

Mike and I had a great trip to Michigan for three days the weekend before Christmas.  Sadly (or maybe not?) we didn’t get many pictures of our time there.  The point was to see people and “be in the moment”, so photography was limited.  Also, Mike didn’t want to take his big camera since that’s a pain to carry around and bring through the airports and everything.

The flights were pretty good, although flying through O’Hare the weekend before Christmas was asking for lots of delays (which we definitely experienced).  :)  At least O’Hare was pretty and decorated for Christmas!

O'Hare

O’Hare

 

Although the trip was fast (fast enough that we never really did switch to Eastern Standard Time and ended up staying up till 2am every night we were there), it was good to see family, particularly near the holidays.

Since we got back, we’ve been laying low.  Mike got a bit of a cold, so we’ve been doing low-energy things like watching movies.  We just finished “2001: A Space Odyssey“.  Surprisingly, this movie is a lot better than I expected.  It reminds me of trance music in that it doesn’t rush ANYTHING.  With Trance music you listen to it measure after measure and wait for a change… but you only hear very subtle changes.  With “2001: A Space Odyssey”, you wait and wait for climax scenes and they elusively evade you and continue instead with long, drawn-out scenes accompanied by symphonic music.  I’m not joking.  I think (hope?) it’s a testament to my increased level of maturity that I actually enjoy the more drawn-out scenes.  It’s certainly a refreshing change from modern movies in which something has to happen every 37.2 seconds or else the short-attention-spanned audience gets bored.

We also watched Bronson (also a movie Mike chose) about the most violent criminal in British history.  It was a strange film… very psychedelic and highly stylized.  I would almost say it was like a Wes Anderson film except that, unlike Wes Anderson movies, Bronson was heavily based on an actual person’s life and was therefore bereft of a lot of the crazy twists and turns characteristic of Wes Anderson’s movies.

To counteract all of this intenseness, I suggested watching the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, a completely comedic movie with no hidden messages or meanings (except possibly to avoid hosting Christmas?)  Mike tolerated the movie, although it was definitely not the kind of movie he would have chosen.  It’s been interesting to watch so many movies in a few days… we rarely watch one more than every couple of weeks.

Apart from movie-watching so that Mike can rest up and get over his cold quickly, Mike has been spending some time processing the remainder of the pictures from our England/Ireland trip.  He’s hoping to get them done in 2014 so that he can start 2015 with a clean slate… no picture processing to-do items in it!  He got the third set of pictures posted yesterday!  Here’s a link in case anyone’s interested in seeing them: England and Ireland III .

We’ve also been working through some cat issues.  Piper’s cat sitter said she was as good as gold while we were gone, and she didn’t seem traumatized in the slightest when we returned.  However, she’s seemed low-energy (maybe like she has a cat-cold to match Mike’s cold?) and she’s done some inappropriate urination including (but not limited to) my yoga mat.  I genuinely wish I could understand the way her brain works.  I’m trying to give her some treats now after using the litterbox to make sure she knows that’s “good” behavior but she’s not an eager-to-please dog; she’s a queenly cat.  I’m not sure she’s getting the message.

Although I haven’t been working for the past two weeks, it’s crazy how quickly the time has been going by.  The first half week was cleaning the apartment (which could actually already stand to be cleaned again), the next week-ish was devoted to Christmas shopping for our nieces and our Michigan trip.  Mike has had the cold since getting back from Michigan, so we’ve been in low-energy mode since then.  I have finished reading several books for my yoga teacher training, so I guess I’ve been at least a little productive.  I didn’t do crazy after-Christmas shopping, but I did buy new running shoes in preparation for marathon training.  I also bought a new yoga mat since Piper ensured that my old one needed to be thrown out.

Mike has been finishing up an old project at work that he’s been working on for over a year, so going into 2015 it’s looking like he’ll be 100% done with the old project and spending all of his time on the new project.  He’s really looking forward to focusing on new and different things!

Mike wanted to get out of the house yesterday evening because he’d been working on pictures for a few hours and was ready for a break, so we drove about fifteen minutes north to go to the Alderwood Mall, which we had driven past but never actually gone to.  As it turns out, it was a pretty sizable, busy mall.  It had the biggest movie theater we’d ever seen, and it also had a Lego store.  I was really surprised at some of the Legos they have now!  (The UN headquarters?  Really?)  There’s also a really cool thing now that I would have LOVED when I was younger.  For $10, you can build your own lego person out of a huge assortment of faces, hair, hats, clothes, etc.  So cool.  And so economical, given that there are whole Lego sets that I wanted as a child specifically because they had “the hair with the red ponytail” or the “wooden-legged pirate” in them.  Regardless, we didn’t buy anything at the mall, but we did have fun looking.  :)

I hope everyone else had a wonderful Christmas and has exciting plans for the New Year!

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