Halfway through 2016! (How did that happen so fast?!?)

Here we are in the second half of 2016… wow, has time ever flown by!  And I have not been very consistent with writing on my blog (major understatement).  I have missed writing on it, but somehow I am always. doing. something.  Almost literally.  I keep thinking of things I would like to write on my blog, but then never take the time to actually write them.  So what have Mike and I been up to that I am apparently never at my computer long enough to write a blog post these days?

Well, for starters, Mike has continued to be busy with travel here and there and that keeps both of us on our toes (always prepping for him either coming or going).  It looks like that’s finally going to slow down a little which will be nice.  It’s getting difficult to keep explaining to Piper why her best friend is gone.

"I'll lay on top of you so that you can't go anywhere."

“I’ll lay on top of you so that you can’t go anywhere.”

 

I’ve also been continuing my running, and my running buddy and I had a great half marathon three weeks ago!

A 1:45 half marathon!

A 1:45 half marathon!  If we look happy it’s because we ARE!  :)

 

We’ve signed up for a full marathon in Portland in the fall and are really excited!  We’re planning to train together through the summer… we have both helped each other become much faster over the past couple of months.

I also picked up boxing several months ago and am kind of in love.  I’ve been taking 2-3 classes a week for the past three months, so at this point I’m committed.  I ordered my own pair of boxing gloves so that I can stop using the gym’s.  I ordered them partially because it’s time to take my boxing relationship to the next level and partly because my mom thinks it’s the funniest thing in the world that I’m learning to box and she wants a picture of me in Rocky shorts wearing my boxing gloves.  I’m way too embarrassed to ask someone in my boxing class to take a picture of me with my gloves on (like… do I think I’m Floyd Mayweather or something??), but if I have my own gloves Mike can take my picture himself.  Anyway, the boxing gloves are on the way, with a picture of boxing Karena to follow in the near future.

Mike and I also finally started an herb garden on our roof!  We carried tons of soil and heavy planters up to our roof.  And by “we”, I mean “Mike”.  I carried nothing.  I’m a boxer and a runner, not a weight lifter.  ;)

 "Any more sixty pound bags you need me to carry up THREE FLIGHTS OF STAIRS??"

“Any more sixty pound bags you need me to carry up THREE FLIGHTS OF STAIRS??”  Good thing this man lifts weights.

 

For the first round of the herb garden, I only planted basil, silver thyme, parsley, and rosemary.

Garden Project: Phase 1

Garden Project: Phase 1

 

Round 2 occurred when the nursery we go to had a Fourth of July sale… 40% off all herbs!!

Garden Project: Phase 2

Garden Project: Phase 2

Phase two consisted of one additional (and healthier-looking) basil plant, golden thyme, oregano, and mint.  The mint is in a separate pot in the planter because apparently that’s how you do mint so that it doesn’t take over all of your other herbs.

Mike and I also picked up hiking!  We went on a big hike up Mount Si over the Fourth of July weekend.  Eight miles roundtrip!  The website says that he first four are solely uphill, and Mike and I can vouch for that.  Four miles steadily and steeply uphill!!

Our shoes are ready for some trail miles! Eight, to be exact.

Our shoes are ready for some trail miles! Eight, to be exact.

 

The drive to Mount Si was only 45 minutes… so close!!  It was also very cloudy, but we figured that climbing a mountain is probably better on a cool, cloudy day than on a hot, sunny day.

The drive to Mount Si

The drive down I-90 to Mount Si

 

The sun actually ended up coming out, but the trail was almost entirely shaded by all of the big, old trees.  The hike was amazingly beautiful.

Lots of gorgeous, old trees!

Lots of gorgeous, old trees!

 

It's a looooong way up to those treetops! (But don't worry... we surpassed those treetops by a long way before we reached the top of the climb.

It’s a looooong way up to those treetops! (But don’t worry… we surpassed those treetops by a long way before we reached the top of the climb).

 

The view from the top was amazing.

I don't know about you, but this is why I climb mountains.

I don’t know about you, but this is why I climb mountains.  Otherwise I’d just, you know, box.

 

In other completely and totally random news, I have picked up adult coloring.  Has anyone heard of this as a thing??  The pictures have much finer levels of detail than children’s coloring books (and thus require more work to stay inside the lines).  Apparently it’s good for your mental health too.  Bonus!  I find it relaxing to sit down with my uber adult, detailed coloring book and colored pencils.  And tell myself it’s way more adult than what I did when I was five.  ;)

For the Fourth of July, Mike and I didn’t watch the fireworks (even though they shoot them off about a mile from our house so we really should have gone).  But I was really busy coloring and Mike was looking up record players online, so it was pretty hard for us to justify leaving our house.  We did go over to a friend’s house who was having a dinner party earlier in the day, though, and that was so much fun!  It is blueberry season here in Washington, so there were loads of fresh blueberries on sale at the grocery store.  So I ended up making blueberry bars to bring, and they were well-received.  :)  We ate outdoors because it was so nice outside, but it got colder as it got darker so then we all ended up inside for dessert.

In addition to looking up record players, Mike has been busy helping me with the herb garden.  (It’s a good thing someone was strong enough to carry all those bags of soil to the roof, because Piper and I certainly weren’t.)  He’s also been researching lighting fixtures because he wants to add light to our kitchen and put up a pendent light in the kitchen.  I helped select the pendent light, and then I’m staying out of it.  This is definitely a Mike kind of project.

Also, we finished watching this season of Game of Thrones.  And by the way, for a season that was as ho-hum as this season, it sure went out with a bang!!  I will NOT post any spoilers, but oh my gosh!  That final episode of this season had my jaw dropping after the first twenty minutes.

So, long story short, things are plugging along here.  Mike, Piper, and I are enjoying the summer.  Well, we mostly are.  Piper has another UTI, but at least this one can be treated with pills instead of daily injected antibiotics like last time.  And so it goes.  That poor girl.  She’s a lot crankier when she has a UTI, though, so she’s been a little difficult to live with lately.  Even more queenly and intolerant than her normal queenly and intolerant self.  :)

Our first CSA produce delivery is next week, so I’m very excited for some new cooking inspiration from all of the farm fresh produce… I literally can’t wait!  I’m so excited that I texted Mike in the middle of the workday to let him know that I was excited.  Clearly I only communicate about important matters.  ;)

And work continues to be busy for both Mike and me.  Mike is doing some work that he finds more interesting these days, so that’s nice.  And work is really busy for me too.  I somehow managed to get myself promoted again, this time to technical lead for my team.  I keep thinking about that phrase about everyone getting promoted to their own level of incompetence (is that something from Dilbert and the pointy-haired boss?  Where did I hear that phrase?).  I keep feeling like I’m going to hit that point soon if I haven’t already.  That point where I’m out of my depth and am just being incompetent at my job and really need to be demoted to get to a productive point again.

And that’s our life in a nutshell these days!  Hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth and is looking forward to the second half of 2016!

Happy 4th from my queen cat who likes to sit on dining room chairs, but only dining room chairs that have towels on them.

Happy 4th from my cranky queen-cat who likes to sit on dining room chairs, but only dining room chairs that have towels on them.

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Filed under Cats, Cooking, CSA, Gardening, Life in Seattle, Pictures, Running, Seattle, Weather, Work

Spring in Seattle

So let’s talk running.  I haven’t talked a lot about running in the past few blog posts, but my running has been going really well.  As in… I have never been this fast.  A friend and I ran a 15k (~9.3 mile) race last week, and we averaged a 7:45min/mile pace.  I typically don’t even run that fast for a 5k, much less a 15k.  And it’s crazy how it all seems relatively effortless.  I’ve been trying to think what might have changed, and I’ve really only changed one thing since my running started improving so radically over the past few months.  I (finally!!) took the advice of a naturopath doctor I went to two years ago who told me that my body had trouble processing B-12, and recommended a special B-12 supplement for people with the MTHFR genetic mutation (which apparently a big percentage of the population, including me, has).  Since anemia is also a symptom of B-12 deficiency, maybe this supplement will also stop the on-and-off again anemia I’ve had forever?  Regardless, the B complex vitamins affect energy levels strongly, so maybe my body finally has some methylated B-12 at its disposal and has energy to burn?  So I’m speculating that the B-12 levels are what’s making the difference in my running.

Regardless, my friend and I had a great race last weekend!!

After the race in front of Lake Union!

After the race in front of Lake Union… notice the Space Needle to the right of my head

Oh!  And in other super-fun-fitness news, a new fitness studio opened up very near our house, and they offer a wide variety of classes.  I was instantly intrigued by the boxing class they offered so I started taking that.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  So much fun!!  I literally love it!  The hour long class just flies by without me noticing it.  The first half of the class is warm-up/conditioning (so things like holding a plank pose, jumping rope, etc).  The second half we get on our wrist wraps and gloves and hit heavy bags.  HOW HAVE I NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE??  It is absolutely a blast!  So now I’m trying to do that Monday evenings and Saturday mornings.  I’ve done cardio kickboxing before, but this is actual boxing where they talk about keeping your hands in guard position to avoid getting hit by your opponent and stuff.  It’s so much fun, and the instructor is so patient and helpful.  I already bought my own wrist wraps and I feel like a ‘real’ boxer of the Simon and Garfunkel variety walking to class carrying them, even though in reality I’m completely a beginner and still forget not to pull my elbow back before going in for an uppercut and forget my footwork as soon as I start doing punching combinations.  :)

Lest anyone think that I have a corner on the fitness-fun market, Mike faithfully goes to the gym twice a week and lifts very, very heavy weights.  I tried to get him to come to boxing with me, but he literally can’t understand the joy of hitting something hard.  I get out of work on Monday and can’t wait to get to boxing class where I can pound the living daylights out of a heavy bag, but Mike just doesn’t get that.  He wants to go to the gym and deadlift and benchpress 150+ pounds, which sounds like a huge nightmare to me.  So each to his own, right?  :)

Since we’re on a fitness roll, I’ll continue on this theme for another paragraph.  :)  Now that I’m a registered yoga teacher and a certified personal trainer, I have twice the continuing education credits to rack up every couple of years so that I can renew both.  And before you ask… no, you can’t use the same credits for both.  That would make life too easy.  :)  So I’m currently taking a class for renewing the PT certification in Corrective Exercise.  It’s a fascinating class and is making me a lot more aware of my own movements and the movements of those around me.  I’m literally finding myself riding in the car with Mike and commenting on a jogger running by who has a hip hike and a knee abduction going on that probably indicates a tight IT band and a weak gluteus maximus.  Mike patiently puts up with me.  :)

Speaking of the nice weather (was I??), it has been amazing!  The Saturday and Sunday of the Memorial Day weekend were really wet and windy and I got caught in a downpour during my long run.  I literally walked in the door soaking wet.

Running in the rain.  But with gorgeous purple flowers!

Running in the rain. But with gorgeous purple flowers!

However, starting on Memorial Day the weather has just been wonderful!  The weather has been in the high 70’s/low 80’s with just enough of a breeze to keep things cool and keep our house from overheating.

Watching sailboats on Lake Union last week with our neighbors!

Watching sailboats on Lake Union last week with our neighbors!

 

While watching sailboats, I got friendly with a couple of ducks...

While watching sailboats, I got friendly with a couple of ducks…

Piper of course loves the sun, and quite frankly Mike and I are loving it too.  We have been grilling at least once a week for the past month… we’ve already grilled our standard favorites multiple times.  We’ve grilled lots of corn, potatoes, and kale, and have also done some sweet potatoes and a pepper and onion mix.  And for the carnivores among us, we have also done chicken and beef franks and hamburgers.  And all of our leftover food always gets eaten!  Every last nibble.  Yum!!  We are definitely enjoying the grill so far this summer!

The first time we grilled franks this summer, I was trying to explain to Mike the trick to making sure they got brown all the way around and Mike just looked at me like I was crazy.

I paused.  “Do you already know how to do this?”

“I know how to do everything,” Mike replied, somewhat imperiously.  “There are multiple ways to do things and I know them all.”

Well, you can’t get much more of a grill master than that.  ;)

So, while our summer is off to a great start, it has been busy!  Mike was in California on business part of last week and thought he was going to be gone this week as well but it’s been pushed out so it will be next week instead.  So with the unpredictability of his travel it’s really difficult to plan anything.  That’s been a little draining for him, and my job has been really busy which has been a little draining for me.  I basically got promoted to senior level right when we had a department-wide reorganization and, being one of the few senior engineers in the department, I’m expected to be one of the driving forces in the new organization.  Hmm… tall order!  :)

Basically I think Mike and I are ready for a vacation but haven’t really decided how to handle that since Piper basically needs daily injections.  I think a perfect example of where we’re at mentally is when I was making Mike scrambled eggs and toast for dinner tonight.  When I cracked the eggs, they seemed thinner-shelled than normal, and I said, “hmm”.  Mike instantly picked up on that.

“Is there something wrong with the eggs?”

“No, no,” I assured him.  “They’re fine.”

Mike looked at me, kind of tired and 100% not convinced.  “Can I have a normal egg?  I’m not in the mood to weather a weird egg.”

And that’s where we are at, I think.  Totally fine but not in the mood to weather any weird eggs.  :)

In frivolous, uninteresting news, I got a bright pink workout tank top on sale.  I mean really bright pink.  Like… almost iridescent.  It looked fine online, but… in person it’s a little intense.  When I wear it I feel like I’m basically screaming for people to look at me, which I don’t really like.  Also, I was doing sit-ups while wearing it, and the towel I had underneath my back turned pink.  So basically I now know that I can’t wash it with anything else or it will bleed neon pink over everything.  #firstworldproblems!  What is the lesson for me to learn here?  ;)  Don’t buy workout shirts on sale?  At least not sight unseen?  Or only buy innocuous colors that can’t bleed over anything?  (Incidentally, I’ve tried that, but then I end up with pale grey shirts that I have to worry about everything else bleeding other colors onto.  At least the neon pink shirt holds its own… I have no fear that it will turn any other color in the laundry other than that extremely loud boisterous neon pink.

In other frivolous news, I read an article that eating pickles and pickle juice after running helps rebalance sodium levels.  Apparently vinegar is also really good for helping lower inflammation in your body after a run.  Any excuse to eat pickles and pickle juice, right?  Am I right??  Well, Mike doesn’t think so.  Mike can’t stand pickles and isn’t a fan of this new trend I’m trying.  He claims I smell like pickles the rest of the day.  One day I came home from boxing and ate some pickles and Mike, always creative in coming up with less-than-flattering nicknames, pronounced me a “boxing pickle-nose”.  So that’s my current nickname around the house.  Lucky me.  I still don’t have as many nicknames as Piper though.  I literally couldn’t count all of them.  I think the only reason Piper hasn’t learned the entire English language is because she’s kept busy just keeping track of all of the new nicknames we have been giving her over the years.

In other news, one of our rose bushes died over the winter, so a month ago Mike put in a new one.

Can you guess which one Mike put in?  If you guessed the super thriving looking one, you are RIGHT!

Can you guess which one Mike put in? If you guessed the super thriving looking white one, you are RIGHT!

 

One more thing this guy can do... grow roses...

One more thing this guy can do… grow roses…

Already Wednesday evening… on to the weekend!  Mike and I have a cooking class this weekend which should be fun called “Cooking without Recipes”.  I think that’s the next step for me in my cooking development… relying less on recipes.

I hope everyone is enjoying the start to the summer!

Puget Sound from my office building... gorgeous!

Puget Sound from my office building… gorgeous!

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Filed under Cats, Cooking, Friends, Gardening, Life in Seattle, Pictures, Running, Weather

Winnie-the-Pooh and brown sugar bears

We have been having the most gorgeous weather in Seattle!  On Friday it was 82 degrees and sunny… perfect for being outdoors!  I went on a run Friday morning with the run group I’m part of, and the weather was literally the best running weather ever!  After work, Mike and I definitely took advantage of it and walked down to downtown Fremont and went to Eve, a new restaurant that opened a couple of months ago!  It was our first time there, and it was a really fun, relaxing evening.  On Saturday morning the weather was still ok and I went for an 11 mile run in the morning, but by the afternoon it was cloudy and rainy so Mike and I drove around running errands.  We were cold and a little wet, so around noon we stopped for lunch in Everett at a Thai restaurant that Mike recommended and it was so good!!  Mike had the green curry with chicken and I had the yellow curry with veggies and the food was so good!  I had them spice my food to a level 5 (according to the menu 5 was VERY VERY spicy, but fortunately it was all good.  Typically Thai food isn’t uber spicy, and a 5 star Thai spice is nothing like a 5 star Indian spice (which would probably kill me on the spot).  It was so nice to have traffic back to normal this weekend!  For the past week or two all of the traffic in Seattle has pretty much been at a standstill because one of our only two north/south highways was closed.  The WA-99 viaduct is hard for me to explain, but this wikipedia article does a good job.

Life has been busy these days!  Mike’s job has been keeping him busy and he’s still got business trips to California about every other week, so we’re always thinking about the next trip to the airport.  He’s also been cleaning out his office room and selling stuff on ebay/craigslist and getting that room more livable.  Work has been really busy for me too, and my manager is out for a couple weeks which definitely makes everything busier.  I’ve also been studying for the NASM corrective exercise specialist certification in the evenings/weekends.  That will let me renew my personal trainer certification for the next renewal cycle, and it’s awesome knowledge both for my own fitness and for the yoga teaching I’ve been doing.  Basically, the goal of the course is to learn how people’s muscle imbalances manifest themselves, how they can get injured as a result, and how to correct the imbalances through targeted exercises.  I’m finding it fascinating, and it’s a good review of all the muscles in the quadriceps and hamstrings muscle groups… somehow I never seem to remember all of the muscles in those groups.  :)

I’m also still spending time taking care of little Piper!  I’m now giving her fluids and a pill every day and putting special phosphor-reducing powder stuff on her food daily.  She’s doing really well on the new plan, though, so that’s great.  She definitely was enjoying the hot sunny weather last week and spent lots of time on the couch in the sun!  :)

Happy Sun-Cat

Happy Sun-Cat

I’ve also been doing cooking on the weekends.  The past two weekends Mike and I did a lot of grilling… yum!  The first weekend, I baked up parmesan chicken and Mike grilled corn, potatoes wrapped in foil, and a foil packet of chopped green peppers and onions.  The second weekend, Mike grilled beef franks, corn, and sweet potatoes, and I made baked beans from scratch (including soaking the navy beans the night before, boiling them, slow cooking them, etc).  The baked beans turned out pretty well, but honestly I was a little underwhelmed.  I mean they were fine, but honestly canned/boxed baked beans are really just as good.  Maybe because they make them in such a bulk process that they’ve totally got everything figured out??  Regardless, it was fun making them from scratch for once, but I don’t think that will be our new norm.  ;)

This weekend it was too rainy to grill so I cooked up some roasted veggies and some chicken risotto.  I’m thinking about making up a lentil veggie soup for me too, but haven’t decided yet.  I still have some leftovers to finish up!

In other cooking news, I was really looking forward to getting CSA vegetables this spring, but the farm I’ve been going through the past couple of years isn’t offering a CSA this year.  :(  So I’m going to try a new CSA and hope that it’s as good.  The one I’m going to try doesn’t start until early July, though, so I’m going to have to buy my own produce at the grocery store for another month and a half.

In other news, I’m afraid I lost my brown sugar bear.  If you aren’t familiar with brown sugar bears, you are either completely missing out or you have never used brown sugar.  Basically, the brown sugar bear is a terra cotta, clay-looking bear that you soak in water and then put in your opened bag of brown sugar.  And somehow the brown sugar absorbs the water from the brown sugar bear and then it stays moist instead of getting super hard.  I am in general not a fan of really specific kitchen utensils and prefer more general purpose ones, but I 100% make an exception for the brown sugar bear.  This thing is magic and awesome.  When I told Mike I lost my brown sugar bear, he looked at me skeptically.

“Where could you have possibly lost it?”

What I didn’t particularly want to admit to, is that I had a feeling it was still in my bag of brown sugar but had gotten buried and was no longer visible.  One of my to-do items today is to sift through my brown sugar looking for the bear.  Because honestly if it’s not in the brown sugar I have no idea where it is.  I noticed that in the Amazon link for purchasing the brown sugar that I linked to above, there’s an option for buying a set of two brown sugar bears.  That makes me wonder if I’m not alone in losing the bear.  Maybe it’s a common thing for it to become buried in brown sugar and stay “lost” until a great deal of brown sugar is consumed and it surfaces again.  Either that, or it’s common for people to have two open bags of brown sugar and need one brown sugar bear for each bag?  I would scoff at this idea except that I happen to have two open bags of brown sugar right now (I opened one at some point without realizing I already had an open one.  This is compounding my lost brown sugar bear problem because I’m going to have to sift through two bags of brown sugar looking for it.).

Mike spent some time on the landscaping last weekend and he was intensely precise with spreading beauty bark (aka mulch) around the rose bushes.  I argued that he shouldn’t have to be such a perfectionist with everything he does and that the quality of the beauty bark spread wasn’t worth his time.

“I can’t help being drawn to quality,” he said, his head near the base of the rose bush.  Then, after a pause, he turned to look up at me with a roguish smile.  “That’s what drew me to you.”

I opened my mouth to respond and then shut it again.  Well.  Hmm.  Hard to argue with that logic.  That took the wind out of my sails, even though I know Mike well enough to know that he was just trying to get me on his side about the importance of the mulch around the rose bush roots.  ;)  In other news, though, the new rose bush Mike planted looks great and has some lovely roses on it!

Gorgeous!!

Gorgeous!!

Piper has been such a lap cat lately!  Maybe because the weather has been warmer, she’s been less active and has spent more time lounging in our laps.  As I type this, she is literally lying with her rump in my left elbow and her chin on top of my right wrist.  In case you’re wondering, yes, that makes typing difficult.  ;)  However, when I try to get a picture of her and me together, she still always tries to get away.  She is so photogenic, but hates getting her picture taken!

The look on Piper's face is priceless!

The look on Piper’s face is priceless!

What I’m listening to lately: Everything.  Music from the 60’s through 2016.  For some inexplicable reason I have been coming back to the Smashing Pumpkins pretty regularly and have been listening to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness at least a few times a week.  I’m not sure why.  For some reason their music has been resonating with me lately.  Also, did anyone notice that Kygo came out with a new album on Friday?  Most of the songs had already been released as singles, but it is still worth a listen if you’re a Kygo fan (which I kind of am… not a rabid fan, but a reasonable fan.  Is there such a thing?)  :)

Completely unrelated to anything else, Mike and I got in a Winnie-the-Pooh discussion yesterday.  I love Winnie-the-Pooh but Mike wanted to know what is up with a bear who only wears a shirt and no pants and who is called ‘the Pooh’.  What’s ‘the Pooh’?  I tried to convince Mike (unsucessfully) that the books were better than the cartoons but I didn’t succeed.  And honestly I haven’t read those books in so long that maybe they’re actually not good and I only remember them as being good.  Who knows?  :)  Any strong thoughts one way or the other on Winnie-the-Pooh?

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Filed under Cats, Cooking, CSA, Food, Life in Seattle, Pictures, Weather, Work

Cooking, running, and filtering

Spring (summer?) finally came to Seattle this past weekend!  We were getting temps in the 70’s and everything was sunny and warm!  It has been so nice that I have been walking some extra blocks before catching the bus so that I can enjoy the weather longer.

Mike and I had probably our most relaxing weekend in recorded history.  For once we had nothing that needed to be done… only minimal chores.  I ended up going for a run on Saturday morning and inadvertently ran into a race.  It was actually a race that I had considered running and then decided against.  So I got to run part of it anyway.  :)  About the most ambitious thing we did was get a car wash.  Our car was literally coated in pollen, so a carwash definitely seemed appropriate.  Unfortunately we neglected to take into account that there’s still plenty of pollen floating around the air, so by the following morning our car was covered with pollen again.

We went out Friday night and went downtown to the Belltown neighborhood and had a blast.

We walked past the new biospheres that Amazon is building downtown so that Mike could show them to me.

Mike and biodomes

Mike and biospheres

 

We also went out to eat at a really nice pizza place that had an amazing bar!

Pizza and old-fashioneds.... yum!

Pizza and old-fashioned’s…. yum!

I have been doing a lot of cooking lately.  This weekend I made chicken parmesan with spaghetti squash and carrot cumin coconut soup.   I also cooked up some acorn squash and roasted up some vegetables.  I had made the carrot soup before, so I knew how amazing it was.  I did one weird thing making it though.  I decided I wanted it to be more brothy and less lentil-y this time than last time so I decided to add more broth.  However, I wanted to keep the cumin and coriander proportions right, so I ended up doubling the amounts of everything that went into the soup except for the lentils.  After I had doubled the carrots, garlic, celery, and onion I stopped to think about it and realized it would have been much easier to just make the recipe as-is and halve the amount of lentils rather than double the entire receipe except for the lentils.  Oh well!  It’s so good that I definitely don’t mind having the extra soup!

The chicken parmesan was another story.  It was full of unknowns.  I’ll start at the beginning.  The natural foods grocery store that we go to offers a lot of cooking classes (a couple a week).  Mike and I signed up for one called “Mastering the Pan” that showed you how to sautee, sear, and other pan-related techniques.  The class was so much fun!  It was a hands-on class where we all helped out chopping things up and cooking them under the instructor’s direction.  The instructor for the class is actually a chef, and he was extremely knowledgeable!  He was so knowledgeable that I trusted (almost) everything he said about cooking.  Well, one of the things he said is that you should always use stainless steel pans rather than non-stick.  He said that when you burn something or something sticks to the pan when you’re using a stainless steel pan, it’s not the pan’s fault… it’s the cook’s fault.  As someone who has only had a few brushes with stainless steel pan cooking, I felt like he was talking directly at me.  He taught us how to gauge the heat of the pan by listening to the oil and other techniques for cooking with stainless steel pans.  As it happens I have a nice stainless steel pan, but have mostly been too afraid to use it because whenever I cook with it, it seems as though everything sticks to it.  So I decided that I should put my new cooking skills to use while they were fresh in my mind, which was why I decided on the chicken parmesan receipe.  It involved pan searing chicken followed by baking the chicken in the oven, which was exactly like one of the things we’d done in the class.  So it felt mostly within my comfort zone.  I was intimidated enough by the whole pan searing in a stainless steel pan thing that I cut and chopped all the vegetables for the recipe and prepared the breading for the chicken before I even so much as turned the stovetop on.  Then with bated breath, I turned on my burner, liberally poured some oil in the bottom of the pan, and waited anxiously to see the oil form ‘legs’, a term we had learned in class that meant the oil was forming lines moving vertically up the sides of the pan and was ‘medium-high’ heat.

“Hey,” Mike said.  “Why is your pan starting to smoke?  Do you have the heat on too high?”

I had been so intent watching for ‘legs’ that I had barely noticed the smoking.  I stared at my pan, trying to figure out why it was smoking so much more than the instructor’s pan.  As I glanced at my bottle of olive oil on the counter, understanding dawned on me.

“I used olive oil,” I said, slightly ashamed that I had already forgotten that the instructor had specified that olive oil is not good for searing because it’s not a high heat oil.

“That’s not a high heat oil.  It smokes,” Mike said.  “You better open the windows and get that off the stovetop before our smoke alarms start going off.”

Yup.  And time to find the sunflower oil.

Fifteen minutes later I had cleaned and dried my pan, rid the kitchen of smoke, and was ready for round two against the stainless steel pan.  Did I say ‘against’?  I meant ‘with’.  Clearly.

I dunked the chicken in my egg mixture and then in the breading.  Then I tossed the first three pieces into the pan.  First of all: don’t ‘toss’ chicken into a pan with hot oil on it.  I got a few oil drops on my legs and it wasn’t the best feeling I’ve ever had.  Then I went to prep the other pieces of chicken in the breading mixture.  That only took me a few minutes, but before I had even finished, Mike spoke up again from behind me.

“Is the chicken burning?  It looks like it is.  Remember this isn’t like in the class where we were searing chicken with the skin on.  This is skinless chicken breast with a breading on it.  Searing chicken skin takes a lot longer than browning a breading.”

The chicken was burning.  I whisked it out of the pan and onto a baking sheet.  I carefully inspected it.  The side in contact with the pan was darker than desired, but it was still ok.  I stuck it back in the pan, turning the other side down to sear (this time making sure that I only let it sear for a minute or two).  Then I popped the whole set of chicken pieces in the oven.

And realized that I was kind of left with a mess.  Searing chicken in a pan results in lots of pops of oil that render your stovetop kind of a mess.  I had pretty much decided that I was done with the whole stainless steel pan experiment (it was fun while it lasted… it’s not you, stainless steel pan; it’s me!).  But then Mike tried the chicken.  And he really liked it!  And had seconds.  And then thirds!  Unprecedented!

So, I think I need to keep the stainless steel pan along the sidelines, ready to come to my aid for the occasional seared or sautéed dish that can benefit from some heavy heat.

You’re probably wondering what Mike was doing all the time I was cooking (besides showing up occasionally to let me know what I was doing wrong… I swear he has like a sixth sense when I don’t know what I’m doing.  He never hangs around when I’m cooking stuff like veggies that he knows I can handle in my sleep.).

Well, Mike was installing a water filter inline with our refrigerator so that the water and ice cubes that come from our refrigerator are now FILTERED.

This was my idea (so that we can have the clearest, cleanest water possible), and Mike spent like a month researching how to do it and the best filters and everything, and then he got ready to work.

Every conceivable tool. Actually, not every conceivable tool. I've been in Tool World in Lowes and Home Depot way too many times to think these are the only conceivable tools.

Every conceivable tool. Actually, not every conceivable tool. I’ve been in Tool World in Lowes and Home Depot way too many times to think these are the only conceivable tools.

 

He also got out all the flanges and bolts and screws and farrells he needed.

Bolts and screws and... yeah. Lots of stuff.

Bolts and screws and… yeah. Lots of stuff.

And then he got to work hard-core.

Working hard. And thoroughly. And one-track-mindedly. I couldn't get him to respond much during this time.

Working hard. And thoroughly. And one-track-mindedly. I couldn’t get him to respond much during this time.

 

Piper wondered what all the cooking and plumbing fuss was about.

Actually she didn’t wonder at all.  She napped in the sun.

SO much more fun than working!

SO much more fun than working!

 

And eventually Mike had an awesome setup and the filter project was finished!

A filter! And a water regulator and a gauge. Because what's the use of anything if you can't measure it?

A filter! And a water pressure regulator and a gauge. Because what’s the use of anything if you can’t measure it?

 

I finished cooking way before Mike finished, so I went on a run in the gorgeous weather and saw lots of cool stuff.

This flowering tree had the most beautiful flowers! No idea what kind of tree it was...

This flowering tree had the most beautiful flowers! No idea what kind of tree it was…

 

This St. Bernard puppy is already as tall as my knee and already weighs like four times what Piper weighs. SO CUTE!

This St. Bernard puppy is as tall as my knee and already weighs four times what Piper weighs. SO CUTE!

 

Crossing the Aurora Bridge at dusk... I love my neighborhood!

Crossing the Aurora Bridge at dusk… I love my neighborhood!

 

And then later, Piper and I had to cuddle up for a selfie!

Say 'cheese' Piper! Piper? Piper?

Say ‘cheese’ Piper! Piper? Piper??

Unfortunately the weather was really too good to last given that it’s only early April.  Monday was significantly colder, and Tuesday was colder yet along with a lot of rain.  Ah, well.  It was a taste of summer, so hopefully we have a beautiful summer to look forward to!

And that’s all for this blog post!

I love this cat.  Which no one who reads this blog knew previously.

I love this cat. Which no one who reads this blog already knew.  ;)

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Filed under Cats, Cooking, Food, Life in Seattle, Pictures, Running, Seattle, Weather

Races, family, and getting back in the blog-posting saddle

Somehow my puzzling has fallen by the way side.  I’m not sure what happened.  I bought two puzzles at the same time around Thanksgiving, and had so much fun putting the first one (a gnome castle) together.  The second one (a view of Venice at night) has just been languishing on the dining room table for over a month.  I dutifully assembled the border and a few small chunks of pieces, and then it’s just sat on the kitchen table.  I’m honestly not sure what happened.  My best guess is that a gnome castle is somehow inherently interesting.  And maybe a picture of Venice isn’t (although the real experience of going to Venice definitely is).  Regardless, I disassembled the little bit of puzzle I’d done so that we have more dining room table real estate back since I don’t seem to be getting puzzling traction.  Mike is trying to be sorry that the puzzling isn’t working out, but it’s hard for him because he’s looking forward to having a full dining room table again.

I ran a really fun 15k race a couple weekends ago.  The route was scenic and went along the waterfront downtown and then north all the way up SR-99 right past Mike’s and my house before turning around and heading back downtown again.  There were 12,000+ people signed up for the race, so it was recommended that you arrive early.  I used to be so conscientious about getting to races early, and now I count it a victory if I arrive just as the start gun is going off.  It took me about fifteen races before I realized that if you get to a race early all that earns you is the right to stand in the cold (and usually wet) morning for an extra forty-five minutes.  Oh, and it also gives you the right (the need, actually) to use the port-a-potties at least twice before the start of the race.  And, really, who wants to use a port-a-potty even once (much less twice)?  So now I try to time my arrival so that I’m barely in the nick of time and I’m completely happy.

When I woke up to an almost sunny morning the day of the race, I was optimistic that I would get out of the whole race dry.  I hopped a bus downtown (picking one that wasn’t on a re-route schedule for the race).  The race started and ended at Seattle Center, which is an area where a lot of Seattle events take place.  There are two main advantages to running races that start at Seattle Center.

  1. They have a huge auditorium (several actually), and they always open up the main one before races.  So if you don’t want to stand around outside freezing to death waiting for your race to start, it’s very advantageous to pick a race like this one that has a giant heated space to do your stretching in prior to the race.  Literally the trickiest part of any race is to arrive early enough to get a parking spot while also being late enough so that you aren’t standing outside forever waiting for the race to start.
  2. Bathrooms!  Lots and lots of them.  It’s somehow in a runner’s psychology to decide fifteen minutes before the start of the race that they should use the restroom one last time.  This causes literally huge and terrible lines at all the port-a-potties stationed at the race start lines.  However, when you have a giant auditorium you have (you guessed it!) INDOOR bathrooms.  And a lot of them!

I arrived plenty early, so I hung out inside stretching.  All was well until about ten minutes before race time when people started crowding to the windows and I saw that it had started pouring rain.  I really hadn’t dressed specifically for rain.  I had a running coat on, but it wasn’t waterproof, and I didn’t have a hat.  I did have a wide headband that I figured would help a little though.  I watched as some of the more prepared people around me started pulling out disposable glorified garbage bags to slip over their heads like ponchos to keep the rain off.  I watched as some of the less prepared people wearing shorts and tank tops shifted from one foot to the other.  We all headed out en masse towards the start line and fortunately the rain already seemed to be lessening.  We headed off down hill towards the waterfront.  That was nice from a scenic perspective, but I’m always suspicious of races that start off with a mile of down hill running.  What goes down must come up (at least where running races are concerned), and I knew I’d be seeing those same hills later in the race but I’d be headed up instead of down.  We ran down along the water front for a mile or two and then turned and headed back up towards Seattle Center.  The rain had cleared and the sun was actually out.  I was getting overly warm and contemplated tying my coat around my waist but ultimately decided against it since I didn’t feel like stopping.  We ran past Seattle Center and headed north on Aurora all the way up past Mike’s and my house and almost to the zoo.  When we got close to the turnaround point to start heading back south to Seattle it started to rain again all of a sudden.  When we turned south, I realized that there was a strong south wind that I hadn’t noticed before because it had been at my back but now it was in my face in full force.  At least it was mostly downhill headed back to Seattle!  After about half a mile of running south, the skies opened up and it started pouring rain.  I tried to check the time on my running watch, but it was raining so hard that I couldn’t wipe the water off of my watch fast enough to see the time (while running anyway).  At that point I was committed.  I was already soaked so I had nothing left to worry about.  I tore back down Aurora, looking forward to seeing Seattle Center, a finish line, and a warm building (not necessarily in that order).  The rain finally let off a few miles later, and I ran the final couple of miles in only a sprinkling, misty rain.  Since I was already soaked, though, it almost didn’t matter whether it kept raining hard or not.  At some point your clothes physically aren’t going to absorb any more water.  When I finally hit the place where we turned west to go to Seattle Center I tried to kick up my pace a notch and was surprised that my body didn’t want to go any faster.  Maybe I had been running faster than I’d realized given that I didn’t have anything extra left to give at the end?  I managed to keep up my pace through the last quarter mile, but I definitely wasn’t able to speed up at all.  The finish line (with the big warm auditorium behind it) was a welcome sight, and I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:18:12 and an average pace of 8:24 min/mile.  Definitely better than I was expecting, especially given the weather and the hills.  Or maybe the weather actually helped, because I was motivated to get the race finished.  ;)

The same weekend of the race, Mike did a lot of landscaping work.  He pulled weeds in the front and along the side of our townhome and then laid down “beauty bark” which is apparently something that helps prevent weeds from growing in the future, although I’m a little unclear how that works.  I did lots of cooking while he did that.  I have been getting bored of cooking variations on the same things, so I made up some different dishes this week.

I started with smoky chicken with crispy chickpeas, and then made an eggplant coconut curry and a maple chicken with roasted squash.  Everything turned out surprisingly good.  I am loving Clean Eating magazine and am now getting my recipes almost exclusively from there.

Despite all my cooking, Mike and I felt like going out to dinner one night a couple weeks ago, so we went to a Taco Bar that was only a few blocks from our house but somehow we had never been there.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  I have literally never had tacos that good in my entire life.  I had the black bean sweet potato tacos and they were phenomenal.  They took tacos to an entirely new level.  I was already contemplating how soon we could return as we left.  Afterwards we went to a whiskey bar conveniently located only a block from the taco bar.  I enjoyed some scotch while Mike opted for Old Fashioned’s.  It was all entirely too good.  And it being only a four minute walk from our house?  Amazing!  How are we somehow blessed enough to live close enough to all of this stuff??  Then we came back to our house and started watching an episode of Suits, a law show that we’ve been watching off-and-on, but we were too tired to finish it.

I have been in a ‘second cat’ mood these days, so much so that I got Mike to go with me to the Seattle Humane Society last weekend to look at cats.  However, I had already poured over all the available cats on their website prior to going, so I already had one specific one that I wanted to see.  Unfortunately he wasn’t actually at the Humane Society… he was at a Petsmart in Issaquah to get more exposure.  Darn.  Again, Mike tried to be appropriately sad for me even though he doesn’t want to get another cat.  He even offered to go to the Petsmart with me to see the cat, but I declined.  Issaqah is a ways away and it was a pretty rainy day.  And I didn’t feel like I was actually going to get a cat that day so it would have been a rather futile effort.

My music choices have been beyond bizarre lately.  I’ve been alternating between old Celtic folk music, 90’s rock/alternative, modern rap, and he new Chris Cornell album (because I think Chris Cornell basically deserves his own genre).

This past week, Mike’s parents were here visiting from Michigan!  What a treat!  We got to hang out with them and with Mike’s sister Catherine and her two daughters over the weekend.  It was a whirlwind weekend that started with a ferry ride to Whidbey Island followed by a little shopping and a long drive to Deception Pass.  We were attempting to get there before dark and didn’t really manage that.  However, it was surprisingly gorgeous at night, especially with the full moon overhead illuminating the gorge and water below the bridge.  So that actually worked out well.  We ended up getting back down to Everett late, and Mike and I went out to dinner with his parents at an Irish pub close to their hotel (really about the only place we could find that was still open at 11pm).  The food there was good, though, so it turned out to be a good choice!  The next day we went on an abbreviated trip to the zoo.  I say ‘abbreviated’ because we didn’t really get to the zoo very early, so we skipped parts of the zoo and just focused on the animals that the kids especially wanted to see.  It was a nice day for walking around the zoo regardless, though, and we enjoyed it!  The following day was filled with some shopping and some wine tasting in Woodinville.  We went on a short tour of Chateau St. Michelle and I was impressed with the lineage of their wines and interested to hear about how they create their wines.  It was fun to hang out with everyone for a few days!  Going back to work after such a full weekend to a day packed with back-to-back meetings definitely felt like a change!  But at least the day flew by!

It’s already almost April…. I literally have no idea how that happened!  My goal for April is to post more blog entries.  I’ve really been letting that go lately because it literally feels like I am always 100% busy.  However, it’s important to keep the blog posts coming… I sometimes think  that writing is about the only ‘creative’ outlet I have these days, so it’s definitely important to keep it up!

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!  And my mom reminded me that Easter Sunday is this weekend.  So Happy Early Easter to everyone!  (How is it already Easter?  It must be here early this year!)

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Filed under Cooking, Family, Life in Seattle, Rain, Running, Seattle, Seattle Restaurants, Visitors

Why you should not wash all your coats at once

My blog posting lately has been woefully sparse lately.  I’m very aware of this, and hope that things slow down.  In all honesty, 2016 has been a whirlwind!!  Mike has been traveling back and forth to California for work since his company has a location there as well as in Seattle, and his team works with them quite a bit.  So in the past three weeks, Mike has spent at least part of each week in California.  And he was there for two weeks in December and one week in January.  This has meant that airport runs, doing laundry, and packing clothes to accommodate these frequent trips are no longer a novelty but a part of life.  It’s looking like this will slow down soon, but in the meantime everything has been hectic since I’ve been taking care of things that Mike would normally take care of.  Case in point: On Monday I worked from home to be there when a home inspector came to look at our house (we’re coming up on our one-year warranty!  How have we already been here a year??).  On Friday I was at work in a meeting with a co-worker and had to take a quick break before the meeting to call the mechanic about taking a look at the TPMS in our tire.  After my call, my co-worker shook her head and said, “You have been busy lately!”  On top of that, my job has been super busy lately.  I’ve been at Groupon just about a year, and I’ve found from past experience that after I’ve been at a job for about a year I understand it well and end up getting pulled into a variety of projects.  I love it because my days fly by, but holy cow!  It has been keeping me busy lately!!

So, that’s my big long disclaimer.  Basically I know I haven’t been posting… I hope things get better after mid-March when the biggest project I’m working on launches.

Here are some practical, random thoughts on having a husband who seems to be gone on business half of the time.

  1. I have to turn the heat up higher at night.  Apparently Mike runs hot enough that he heats up the bedroom, and without him I need extra heat of the electric variety.
  2. The dishwasher doesn’t get full before I run out bowls.  I’m a bowl person and eat almost anything I can out of bowls, and Mike is more of a plate person.  What that means is that when Mike isn’t here to fill up half of the dishwasher with plates, I run out of bowls before the dishwasher is full enough to run.  #firstworldproblems
  3. Trying to cook is difficult, since Mike often leaves town and doesn’t get back until the food I’ve cooked has gone bad.  I really need to learn the art of freezing food.  For some reason it intimidates me and I never do it.  And if I do, I never thaw it because I really don’t know how, so I end up throwing it out after six months anyway, thus defeating all the point to having frozen it in the first place.
  4. Piper expects me to play with her since Mike isn’t around as much, but then when I try to play with her she just stares at me with her eyes half closed as if to say ‘Really?  Really??  That’s all you got?  That’s pathetic.  Where’s Mike?’   And then ten minutes later I see her throwing her crumpled receipt up the stairs and then running after it by herself.  So apparently Mike is the best person to play with.  Piper herself is second best.  And I am third best.  Or last best.  Or just the worst.  I haven’t decided how I’m spinning this situation to myself yet.

In other news, despite Mike’s frequent trips, I have been doing a lot of cooking.  This weekend I made a tomato veggie soup that was yummy!  I increased the amounts of all of the spices, which I think helped a lot.  Otherwise it may have been a little bland for me.  But I’m also the person who puts salsa and sriracha on everything, so I may not be representative of the general population.  I also made some balsamic brussels sprouts that turned out really well.  Mike ate the first bite and then turned to me solemnly and told me that was the best thing to ever come off of our stove.  Score!  Sunday night I made red peppers stuffed with chicken and veggies.

Although I have been doing pretty well in the cooking department, I had an instance of very bad wife-dom a week ago (Is wife-dom a word?  No?  I guess I just made it up then.)  Mike had gotten back from one of his trips late, and his windbreaker didn’t smell great.  I threw it in the washer, and while I was at it I threw his second, slightly heavier coat in the wash too.  I made a mental note to myself that I had to move those to the dryer before I went to bed or Mike wasn’t going to have a coat to wear to work the next morning.  Well, we all know what happens with mental notes.  (Or maybe just what happens to me with mental notes?  Lately I feel as though I always have twenty things in my head that I’m remembering to do and a few always fall off my radar.  Or maybe I’m just living in denial and it’s actually a ‘senior moment’?  ;) )  Anyway, of course, I went to bed forgetting all about the coats and didn’t remember them until the next morning when Mike was getting ready for work.  I threw them in the dryer then, but it was really too late.

“So I have no coat?” Mike asked, when I confessed what I had done.

“Well…” I hedged.  “Not no coat.  Just not those two coats.”

“But those are the only two coats I ever wear,” Mike said.  Good point, but not one I was going to cede without a fight.

“Right… but you still have that down coat,” I reminded him.

“Yeah, but it’s super hot.  I’ll get overheated in one second.”

I was already frantically looking through our closet and emerged triumphantly with his running jacket.  “Here!  This is even black.  And it’s not too cold out today.  This will work.”

Mike shrugged, put it on, and left for work.

And of course, it started to rain that day and we got a windstorm.  As I walked to lunch with a coworker I told him all about how I had washed all of my husband’s coats and left him with nothing to wear except a running jacket.  And, as I recounted it to my coworker, I remembered that the running jacket didn’t even have a hood.  And Mike never carries an umbrella because he typically wears one of his two coats with hoods that were at that moment in the dryer.  I felt guilty for wearing my hood.  I felt like I should put it down.  Since I had taken away both of Mike’s hoods, what right did I have to be enjoying my hood?

I was concerned about Mike on and off all day as I looked out the window at the rain and wind.  I even contemplated crazy stuff like going home over lunch to get his now-dry coat and then dropping it off with him at work.  But frankly work was way too busy for me to have much more than a bathroom break all day so an extended lunch to go home and back wasn’t really in the cards.  Then I thought that after work I could at least drop off my umbrella with him at work so he would have something while he waited for the bus, but he ended up leaving too early for me to do that.  I had only been home a few minutes when he arrived.  I hurried him in out of the rain and offered him a hoodie.  He looked at me like I was crazy.

“What’s that?”

“It’s a hoodie!  So you can warm up after being wet and frozen with no coat all day.”

“What?”

“You only wore your running jacket today, and there was a windstorm and it rained!”

Mike looked at me as though only barely understanding me.  “Oh, I actually got too warm in this coat.  It wasn’t very cold out.”

So apparently I spent significantly more time thinking about that than he did.  :)

I have been listening to so much music lately… I’m not sure, but I’ve definitely been in a music mood lately.  I have been loving Chris Cornell’s new album

Incidentally, this article about why you should date an engineer is literally the funniest article I have seen in all of 2016 so far.  I could not stop laughing when I read it.  Could.  Not.  Stop.  So accurate.  Numbers 9 and 15 have literally happened to us exactly as they are written.  Multiple times.  The only way in which I seem to be more of the “engineer” in the relationship are numbers 11 and 19 (I laugh at myself for re-arranging the dishes in the dishwasher even as I continue to do it.  Time.  After.  Time.  After.  Time.)

Incidentally my running has been getting fast.  I ran 2 two-mile intervals at a 7:30min/mile pace last week.  That is fast for me!  How did this happen?  A good friend at work is taking a three day hiking/climbing trip at Mt. Rainier in July with a mountain climbing group.  His ambition is starting to remind me that I keep planning to do a sub 4 hour marathon.  Maybe 2016 is the year?  All of that training sounds like a pain… but…. the thought of a shot at that four hour marathon sounds pretty good.  We’ll see.  :)

Speaking of mountain climbing, has anyone seen the documentary Meru??  Oh my gosh… SO good!!  Watch the trailer at the link I gave so you can see if it’s your kind of movie, but I loved it!  Such an amazing story!

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Filed under Cats, Cooking, Life in Seattle, Seattle, Weather, Winter

A Missing Puzzle Piece

I have been on a huge sautéed greens kick lately.  The grocery store where I buy produce has a deli section, and sometimes you can buy pre-made sautéed greens.  Which I love and buy whenever they have it (which is not often).  I’ve tried to make my own, but I feel like I’m not doing it right.  Mine turn out all wilted, which is ok I guess, but not as good as the crisp, tender texture of the ones that I buy.  I just bought some kale to try making it again, though, so I’m far from done trying to figure this out.  You would think that with the more complicated things I’ve made sautéed greens would be easy, but apparently not.

Piper has found the New Best Toy in the World.  Mike and I went to Home Depot last weekend and there was a survey at the bottom of our receipt that made the receipt extra long.  (By the way, does anyone actually fill out any of those store surveys?  I haven’t done this even once ever in my life.)  Mike carelessly crumpled up the receipt when we got home, and Piper’s eyes instantly became as big as saucers.  I’m not sure why… something about the sound of the crumple?  So Mike tossed the receipt to her, and she went crazy!  She ran around batting it back and forth, and she even carried it in her mouth up and down the stairs.  This was clearly the best toy in a long, long time!  So for the past several days Mike plays with the receipt with her in the evenings by throwing it around for her.  Her favorite is when he throws it up the stairs and she has to chase it without knowing which stair it will land on.  Another one of her favorite things is batting it underneath the railing to the basement and then running down all the stairs to retrieve it.  It’s crazy how much she likes it!  Interestingly, Mike thought the receipt was lost last night and crumpled up a new receipt for Piper to play with and she had no interest in it.  So there’s something special about that particular receipt.  Fortunately we found it underneath an end table, so we were in the clear and didn’t lose Piper’s Most Favorite Toy of All Time.  :)

In other Piper news, I took Piper back to the vet for her six week check (six weeks of being on antibiotic injections), and she is doing great!  She was up 0.2 lb (which doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re a 6lb cat it’s actually a significant percentage of your body weight), and her kidney enzymes and her urine look good.  So now she and I are done with the antibiotic injections (at least until the next UTI?), and I’m giving her subcutaneous fluids every third day instead of every other day.  It’s awesome!  I think Piper was really ready for a break from all those injections!

So what have I been up to with all my free time now that I’m not giving twice daily antibiotic doses?  Well, Mike and I took a cooking class on Sunday afternoon with some friends.  It was fun!  The theme of the class was ‘Market to Table’, which basically meant that it was cooked with local ingredients that you can get from one of the year-round farmer’s markets (of which Pike Place is the most famous).  I am always interested in learning new cooking techniques and getting ideas for new ingredients so it was pretty interesting.  By chance, the cooking school happened to be in the same building that Mike and I used to live in when we lived in South Lake Union.  It was a little weird that we never went there when we lived right upstairs but now that we moved across town we went.  After the class we went next door to one of the best coffee shops in Seattle for a coffee (which we always do when we’re in the neighborhood… their coffee is so good!  It is so strange going in there now because most of the people that we know who worked there have long since moved on.  We used to know all of the baristas when we lived right upstairs!  It’s interesting going in there now and realizing how much has changed… and then realizing that we are at the point in our life in Seattle where we actually think of a lot of our time in Seattle as being in the distant past.  It’s been three years since we lived down there!

Some of you may remember that I ambitiously bought a 1500 piece puzzle and Mike and I worked on putting it together.  I was hoping to fully convert Mike to liking puzzles, but I was only partially successful.  He was a good sport about doing the puzzle occasionally, but he definitely didn’t enjoy it the way I do.  I actually think the most successful evening we had involving the puzzle was when he was watching an old-school Japanese samurai move from the 1940’s in all its dubbed glory while I puzzled several feet away at the dining room table.  It was really the best for both of us.  I was able to monitor the movie enough for Mike to make comments to me about it throughout so he was happy and I got to puzzle while hanging out with Mike so I was happy.

Anyway, we had one interesting puzzling evening a few weeks ago in which I was trying in vain to find one particular puzzle piece.  I had found all of the pieces around it, so it was just one empty place in a big area that was otherwise completed.  Mike and I teamed up to try to find that piece for an hour.  Mike kept saying they forgot to ship that one piece in the puzzle box, but I have done enough puzzles to know that there are always pieces you think are missing, but you find them later. I assured Mike he just had to “trust the process” and the piece would turn up.  However, we didn’t find that piece.  A day later we still hadn’t found it.  I was starting to secretly doubt “the process” and wonder if we had somehow lost the piece.  Or maybe Piper had batted it off the table and under some furniture?  I did some discreet checking but still didn’t find the piece.  I had finally given up on it and was working on another part of the puzzle when I realized that one of the pieces I had already put together didn’t quite fit after all.  I jiggled it back and forth a little before determining it actually didn’t fit for sure.  I pulled it off and realized with a flash of joy (yes, joy.  Apparently finding puzzle pieces fills me with joy.  Don’t judge.) that it was the piece I was missing!  I stuck it in and got the same feeling I used to get playing Dungeons and Dragons on Atari in the 80’s.  You would go through all these mountains getting supplies, boats, keys, arrows, etc, you would kill wild beasts and monsters and then you would finally find two halves of a crown.  And when you got the second half, the whole screen lit up, the two pieces of the crown fit together, and there was the sound of a gong.  Fun stuff.  But anyway, that moment of finding the piece felt the same to me as the moment of finding the second half of the crown… very final and satisfying.  My faith in the puzzling process is restored!

Anyway, that was a long rabbit trail, but before I leave the puzzle topic entirely, I want to make sure to say that Mike and I finished the puzzle!

Our gnome puzzle... completed down to the last piece!

Our gnome puzzle… completed down to the last piece!

 

Surprisingly, Mike is now proud of the puzzle and doesn’t want to take it apart.  Or at least that’s what he says.  What is probably more likely is that he actually doesn’t want to take it apart because I already have another 1500 piece puzzle on deck and he doesn’t want to get roped into working on another puzzle.  And we definitely don’t have room on our dining room table for a completed puzzle and in-progress puzzle.

I’ve been trying to feed Piper healthy foods for her kidneys, and I have a wide assortment of foods to give her.  The problem is that there is no rhyme or reason to what food she wants on any given day.  So I am basically guaranteed that she will be in the mood for one of the six foods I have for her (one and only one), but I don’t know which one.  And she changes her mind each day, so the one thing I do know is that there’s a very low percentage of chance that she’ll want the same food she had yesterday.  And if it’s not the food she’s in the mood for she won’t eat it.  It’s a guessing game basically every day.  So that’s usually a fun part of each morning… which food will Piper want this morning?  Apparently the phrase “hunger makes the best sauce” doesn’t apply to cats.  For them only the best sauce makes the best sauce.  And furthermore, that sauce changes from day to day.

Piper likes the food she likes and snoozing on laps.

Piper likes the food she likes and snoozing on laps.

 

The Starbucks a few blocks from our house showcases different local art each month, and I always make a point of stopping in occasionally to look at the art.  This month there’s some cool prints on slats of reclaimed wood.  One of them had part of a quote from the Velveteen Rabbit on it that I thought was so sweet!

“You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” – The Velveteen Rabbit

I messaged Mike a picture of the art, and Mike messaged back.  “What?  Your eyes drop out?  That doesn’t sound cool.”

And then it turned out that Mike has never read The Velveteen Rabbit.  *Sigh*  I love that story!

On a completely unrelated note, I have found that whenever I wear my tall boots to the grocery store I forget to bring my reusable grocery bags.  (If you don’t know what reusable grocery bags are or never use them, you definitely don’t live in Seattle.  Plastic bags aren’t legal here so grocery stores have paper bags, but you have to pay five cents for each one to encourage people to use reusable bags.  So everyone mostly uses reusable bags.  Those nickels add up fast.)  Anyway, I always remember to put the reusable bags by the front door, but then somehow when I’m walking to the store I realize that I don’t have them anymore.  I finally realized what’s causing this.  My tall boots have a big long zipper on them, and zipping up those two tall boots seems to take exactly long enough to make me forget the reusable bags.  I always remember my bags when I wear my shorter boots.  But those zippers are only about a third the length of the tall boots.  So somewhere in the time between zipping the length of my shorter boots and the length of my longer boots, I forget the bags.  Interesting.  Now that I realize what’s causing my forgetfulness, I wonder if I will remember the bags regardless of my boot height?  Awareness of the cause of the problem is halfway to a solution, right?  ;)

I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

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Filed under Animals, Cats, Cooking, Life in Seattle, The Arts in Seattle