Happy 2014! I literally cannot believe how quickly 2013 has come and gone! Is Halloween really over? Thanksgiving? Christmas? New Years??
Mike’s and my LED Christmas tree had been struggling all through the holidays with flickery lights and even cut out periodically despite a battery change the week before Christmas. On January 3rd it died for good. It was kind of a bummer watching our tree get dimmer and dimmer and more and more flickery as Christmas drew nearer. It was the opposite of a build-up towards Christmas and instead felt like It almost felt like a relief when the lights stopped turning on completely. We bought a new LED tree on sale after Christmas, though, so hopefully this one will be more reliable. It plugs in rather than being battery-powered, which seems like a better design. There’s 120V at the wall… why not take advantage of it instead of feeding a dozen C batteries into it over the course of the holiday season?
Speaking of the holiday season, I started noticing a couple of weeks ago that whenever I stepped out of the stairwell onto the second floor I was instantly greeted with an overwhelming smell of dirty socks. NOT pleasant. At first I thought it was just a freak occurrence, but then I started noticing it every time I stepped out of the stairwell onto the second floor. I had no idea what could be causing it unless some occupant had such terrible hygiene that it permeated the air outside of their apartment. Which, given the apartment building we live in, was unlikely. Then one day I realized that the door right across from the stairwell had a giant spruce wreath hanging on it, and as I got up close to the wreath I saw that it was real rather than artificial. And it was starting to die, probably helped along by the dry air in the hallway. It’s a little disconcerting how much dying spruce smells like dirty socks. Hopefully now that New Years is over the wreath will disappear soon and the air on the second floor can recover.
Mike gave me a Williams Sonoma gift card for Christmas, and I had already decided that it was time to buy a Vitamix blender! The motor in my old blender was dying (probably helped along by my trying to make hummus in it a few months ago). We headed to the University Village mall the day after Christmas ready to shop for Vitamixes! It was extremely crowded which surprised me. People were still shopping after Christmas? It seems like there would be a shopping lull and everyone would be tired of shopping. Unless, like me, they all had gift cards ready to use. We got to the parking ramp, and the first floor was completely full. There was a sign at the end of the first level saying “600 stalls. Continue up.” Mike takes these signs very seriously. He doesn’t believe in leaving our car among a bunch of crazily parked cars and frantic people getting in and out of parking spots. Mike always drives to the highest (or lowest, if it’s an underground parking ramp) level possible and then tries to find the most out-of-the-way parking spot that is not adjacent to any other cars. This consequently means it usually takes us twenty minutes to actually get out of the parking ramp after we’ve parked our car because we’re out in some no-man’s land of parking that no one else even knows exists. So, as usual, Mike “continued up” as the sign directed until we had reached the very drafty top level and there were no other signs to “continue up” (and very few other signs of human life for that matter). Mike navigated to a spot in a corner that had a cement wall on one side and a BMW on the other side, because as Mike pointed out, the BMW owner was likely to be just as paranoid as us about getting dents and probably wouldn’t open their car door into us. Twenty minutes later found us exiting the parking garage and heading to Williams Sonoma in the rain. Many discussions and contemplations later, we walked out of Williams Sonoma with a red Vitamix!
Back at home, Mike insisted I read the entire Getting Started guide before I started using it. At least he only made me read the English version. He was getting so hyped up about the operating manual that I thought he was going to insist I read the German and Scandinavian versions as well to make sure I didn’t miss any intricacies that might be present in only one of the languages. Once I was done with the getting started guide, I threw some frozen kale, cucumber, pineapple, parsley, ginger, and celery into the blender.
Basically the Vitamix completely pulverized everything. There was nothing solid left… not so much as a stray seed. Everything was 100% smooth. It’s a pretty crazy machine. Its motor is of such high quality that Mike loves it and doesn’t like me to make smoothies without him because he likes to watch the blades run and hear the consistent stable spinning of the motor. 🙂 So far I’ve made three green smoothie variations for me and a strawberry banana one and a strawberry pineapple one for Mike. He said they were very good. One of our New Years resolutions is going to be to make a lot of healthy smoothies and get a lot of great use from our new Vitamix!
Mike and I had a relatively quiet New Year’s Eve. Last year on New Year’s Eve we happened to be driving back home from somewhere and were hungry, and we discovered that, although all the restaurants in Seattle are booked far in advance for New Years, the bars inside of the restaurants aren’t. I think this is mostly because you can’t reserve seating in the bars and no one thinks to try them, assuming they must be as packed as the restaurant. Thus on NYE we found ourselves sitting in a steakhouse on the shore of Lake Union that was absolutely filled to capacity, but with the bar completely to ourselves. The bartender was very nice and was able to recommend a good gin drink for Mike called a gimlet. I got their signature bloody mary which was excellent and came with a peperocini, a hot pepper, and a giant Mediterranean olive on a skewer in the drink. The olive was so good that I almost asked for a giant bowl of them as my entree. Instead, even though I could see a giant jar of said olives beneath the bar counter, I ordered a kale and broccolini-based salad as my entree to avoid the inevitable awkwardness of trying to order a bowl of bar olives. Let me tell you though… that was a good olive. Completely superb. Mike, of course, ordered a steak. (We were at a steakhouse after all, and he hadn’t had steak in a few months.) In addition to the great food and uncrowded bar, the view from the bar was gorgeous!
It was chilly when we left, but Mike took a minute to snap a couple of pictures of Lake Union in the dark on his cell phone.
This is our super secret New Year’s Eve spot, so I can’t let you know exactly where it is… we don’t want the bar area getting full next NYE! 😉
New Year’s Day was even more low-key for us. Mike woke up energetic with lots of plans for the day, but his energy was quickly spent and we ended up watching West Side Story instead. West Side Story, of course, was my idea because Mike had chosen the past few movies so it was my turn. Although the movie was punctuated by a few sarcastic comments (“Are they going to start snapping their fingers again now?”), I think we both enjoyed the movie, and Mike tolerated all the singing as well as could be expected. He also had a lot of interesting commentary on that era based on Wikipedia articles he read to gain a better understanding of the background of West Side Story. I like to think I open up his cultural world a little by occasionally asking him to watch movies and listen to music that he would never watch or listen to without me. 😉 Likewise, he opens up my cultural world, and since I picked West Side Story, the following day he wanted to watch Elysium, an action end-of-earth-as-we-know-it movie starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. It wasn’t the best movie I’ve ever seen but I liked it more than I like most action movies (although there were so many unrealistic parts that both Mike and I had to suspend our disbelief pretty much indefinitely). There were a few areas in the movie where large sequences of computer codes scrolled down a terminal window, and I couldn’t help laughing at the hex codes being displayed followed by a skull and crossbones symbol (I guess meaning “this program can cause DEATH… use with caution!” 🙂 ). I get such a kick out of it in these techie movies when everyone’s eyes are rigidly fixed on scrolling computer codes that are supposed to be reprogramming the ecosystem of an entire planet. I looked up the computer codes in movies after watching Elysium and discovered this very interesting article about where producers get the computer codes that scroll by on the screens in movies. Elysium’s codes came from the ‘Intel Architecture Software Developer’s Manual Volume 3: System Development’. 🙂 Interesting!
Today Mike and I had an insane cleaning day. We scrubbed, vacuumed, dusted, tidied, and otherwise cleaned such that tomorrow we’re ready to take some pictures of our apartment for the blog. 🙂 Piper was pretty traumatized between all the cleaning and vacuuming, so she fell asleep pretty soundly once Mike and I stopped cleaning and things were back to normal. It’s pretty exhausting being a scared cat all day I guess. 🙂
I wish everyone a wonderful 2014! Stay warm, everyone in the midwest! It sounds like the temps there are frigid! I’ve been complaining about the cold weather here (low of 32 degrees at night), but I have officially stopped complaining since I heard Michigan got down to -7 degrees. WOW! That is COLD!