Category Archives: CSA

Boxing shoes and blue mascara

Recently Mike and I headed back to the midwest to visit family.  We are getting too old to take red-eye flights (although Mike has been claiming he’s “too old” for this since 2005), so we always pretty much plan on one day of travel each way.  It was great to see everyone in both Mike’s and my families and get to spend some quality time with them.  But it was definitely tiring.  When we got back on Tuesday, we were ready for a weekend, but a weekend was still several days away.

Interestingly one of the things I missed during the time in the midwest was cooking.  How random!  It is really strange that something that started purely as an “I want to eat healthy and know where the food I’m eating comes from so I guess I’m willing to cook” attitude has morphed into a “When is the next load of CSA produce coming because I want to cook immediately.  Very strange.

Anyway, I got parsnips from this week’s CSA produce which is always a red flag to make some kind of stew, because Mike loves parsnips in stews and most of the time when he asks for them they aren’t seasonable so I use rutabagas instead and hope he will be fooled (he’s usually not… parsnips have a distinct taste).  Most of the veggies this week were very fall-oriented root vegetables, so I did a lot of roasting.  I roasted up beets and leeks (a great combination by the way!  Add fennel as well if you have it!).  I also roasted up garlic cabbage, two different varieties of squash, and some cumin-spiced cauliflower.  And of course I made a pot of beef stew with the parsnips and other veggies.

Here’s one interesting thing.  As I took bag after bag of the produce out of the fridge to wash and cut and prep, I kept waiting for these yellow carrots to show up.  I clearly remember getting them in the CSA box because I thought it was weird that they had included half the carrot greens for the carrots (i.e. they hadn’t trimmed the greens all the way off, but they had trimmed all of the leafy good part off and just left the long, hard stalks).  So I specifically remember noticing those carrots.  And I went through all the bags of produce and they weren’t there.  I repeat: they weren’t there.  I literally have no idea where they went, but I have the uncomfortable feeling that I may have done something stupid with them.  Like throw them away, or put them under the sink with the onions, or… you get the idea.  If they show up, I’ll let you know.  In the meantime, I guess that was for the best because I wasn’t sure how I was going to use them anyway.  Mike prefers orange carrots and gets suspicious with me when I use carrots of other colors.  The splash of orange color is pretty nice in soups/stews in comparison to the pale yellow of the other carrots.  Also, I bet the orange carrots must have more beta carotene, but you couldn’t prove that by me.

The one thing that I somehow forgot in the hotel room in Michigan was my tube of mascara.  Not a big deal, especially since there was a new mascara brand that my hairdresser wanted me to try anyway.  I went and got some my first day back in Seattle.  I got it in Midnight (the same color name as my previous mascara).  All good, right?  Right??  Well, the next day I put on the new mascara in front of my bathroom mirror and then went to work.  Still all good.  Then I went to the restroom and under the track lighting in front of the sink I saw that my mascara was a glittery blue.  Well, well.  Fortunately the glittery blue only seems to show up under very specific lighting which doesn’t include the normal lights at work or at home.  But definitely does include the track lighting in the restroom at work.  Mike told me that it was likely due to fluorescent lighting.  I was planning to go to boxing that night and wondered whether or not my mascara was going to look blue in the gym.  I figured Mike would know.  He was out of town for work, so I texted him.

“You think the lights at the gym are fluorescent?”

“Yes.  Why?”

“Darn.  Ok.  Then I have to stop by the store before boxing to get new mascara or it will look glittery blue.”

“No, I think it’s halogen track lights that cause the glitter.  Filament bulbs like our stove hood.”

“Oh, I thought you said fluorescent?”

“I meant halogen.  But I can’t fully guarantee that.  I’m basing this on what lights make your engagement ring sparkle.”

“Yeah diamonds and glitter mascara are very similar.  😉  Oh maybe I can test it at the our stove.  Before I leave for boxing.”

“Either way nobody would care if your mascara glittered or not.”

“I care.  It looks stupid.  Black glitter is fine.  Blue glitter… is just ridiculous.”

“At boxing nobody would likely notice.”

“Some things must not be left to chance.”

“Actually Floyd Mayweather wore gold shorts for his last fight.”

“And if I get to be as good as Floyd Mayweather I’ll wear glitter blue mascara.”

“I think I’ve seen flashier things than blue sparkle in the boxing ring.  Lol”

“Lol”

I love our text conversations.  🙂

On another boxing note, I have been trying to find boxing shoes for a long time, because my running shoes really aren’t cutting it in boxing.  Running shoes are pretty much built assuming you’re only moving your feet forward and backward… not side to side.  So after only a couple of boxing sessions, I typically see my running shoes start to develop holes in the sides of the shoes (typically the outer little-toe side of the shoe) from all the side-to-side motion in boxing.  Mike and I have been to several sporting goods stores in the Seattle area looking for boxing shoes with no luck.  I basically have three issues finding boxing shoes.

  1. There isn’t actually such a thing as “boxing shoes”.  There are wrestling shoes that boxers also wear.
  2. How many female wrestlers have you ever heard of?  None?  Exactly.  So there really aren’t women’s wrestling shoes.  Women get men’s wrestling shoes.
  3. So, since I had to get men’s wrestling shoes, I knew I’d have to try them on before I bought them since I literally had no idea what size wrestling shoe I would wear in men’s sizing.

Mike and I found some wrestling shoes at a Big 5 Sporting Goods store, but the smallest size they had was a size 8 in men’s.  I tried that on, and it was way too big.  So this weekend, Mike kindly agreed to drive me all the way to Issaquah (which feels like it’s SO FAR AWAY, because it’s way east of Bellevue but is actually only 17 miles away) because there’s a big Dick’s Sporting Goods there.  As it turned out, they had a good selection of wrestling shoes!  I was pretty determined that I wanted either Nike’s or Asiics because those are the big two providers of wrestling shoes (Nike has traditionally been the main provider, but they seem to be moving out of the space and Asiics is moving in).  I found a pair of 7.5’s and tried those on.  Hmm.  They were ok… but kind of big.  I tried 7’s next.  Those were good.  I had just about decided to go with those, when Mike handed me another pair to try.  They were a size 6 and were a boy’s shoe instead of men’s and I was pretty confident they would be way too small but I tried them on anyway.  And as it turned out… they fit perfectly.  But they weren’t even men’s shoes… they were boy’s!  And they weren’t Asiics or Nikes… they were Adidas (which to me feels like a very “has-been” 80’s brand… sorry to anyone who loves Adidas or works for Adidas or is sponsored by Adidas).

I frowned down at them.

“I can’t get boy’s shoes… it’s humiliating.”

“No,” Mike said.  “It’s totally fine.  You just have small feet.”

“I do not have small feet,” I said defensively.  “I wear 8.5 in women’s running shoes.  There is nothing small about my feet.”

“Well, they’re a boy’s size,” Mike replied.  “And I like how these shoes look.  Besides, they are cheap because they’re kids shoes.  That’s nice.”

I couldn’t really argue with him, since that seemed to be the objective truth.

I tried a different tactic.  “But they’re ADIDAS!  That’s an 80’s brand!  What do they have to do with boxing?!”

“It’s pretty hard to argue with the price,” Mike shrugged.  “I think Adidas are fine.  They make a lot of soccer shoes.  See?” he said, pointing to the soccer shoe section made up largely of Adidas shoes.

I squinted at the shoes.  “All the ugly 80’s styled ones are Adidas.  The other brands are better for soccer shoes.”

Long story short, I walked out with the Adidas.  #firstworldproblems

And now I have boxing shoes!  Which I’m excited to try out Monday night!

Today Mike has been cleaning algae and gunk off of the roof in preparation for winter.  I’ve been cooking.  And Piper has been enjoying the sunshine after a week of rain!  I hope the nice weather lasts!  Our October this year was the rainiest in Seattle on record!  Typically we get 3 inches of rain; this October we got 10!  We are ready for some sunny days to offset all the water.  🙂

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Filed under Cooking, CSA, Life in Seattle, Rain, Seattle

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

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

Thankful things and the pie-making process

Mike and I had a great Thanksgiving and were especially grateful for the long weekend following it!

All right.  Here we go on things I’m thankful for, in no particular order (I know some people try to make these lists in priority order or in alphabetical order or whatever, but I am really not up to that level of organization.  I actually feel pretty good about just making the list at all.  😉

Piper: As I mentioned in the last post, she’s been a sick little cat recently, which has definitely made me more affectionate and appreciative of her.  I’m also probably spoiling her a bunch now too.  *sigh*  Oh, well.  I like to think she deserves it.  😉  She’s very intuitive, affectionate when the occasion calls for it, annoyed and short-tempered when the occasion calls for it, and 100% honest about her feelings always.

Mike: Seriously, this guy is it.  He’s smart, philosophical, open-minded, honest to an absolute fault, funny, cute, very kind to all animals, thoughtful, musical, and very handy with everything mechanical and electrical.

Family: Obviously we don’t see family very often because we’re so far away, but it’s always a blessing to know that both Mike’s and my families are supportive and always available!

CSA Produce: Seriously, every year I do this CSA produce thing, I get better at it.  This year I wasn’t stumped with any of the ingredients I got and I felt like I was much less wasteful in previous years.  And it was always so refreshing to get a fresh load of produce every week.  It kept me cooking all summer long!  The CSA just ended last week, and I’m not really sure how to stay on the cooking wagon now.  Hopefully my new cookbooks will help!

New Cookbooks: I went to an author book-signing event at a cookbook store a few blocks from our house, and that was so inspiring!  I bought that cook’s cookbook and then I also bought a vegan cookbook that I am loving!  Since cooking and eating end up being every day occurrences, anything that gets me more excited about cooking is a good thing!

A New House: This time last year Mike and I were still renting and, as nice as that was, it’s nicer to have our own space that we actually own.  We are also thankful to have found a place in a neighborhood that’s really difficult to buy in.

Friends: It feels like a lot of the time that Mike and I have put in getting to know people over our five years in Seattle has really paid off in terms of a lot of good friends.  Most weekends we’re getting together with one friend or another, and we feel very grateful for that network of people to socialize with!

Jobs: Mike and I both currently have jobs that we feel satisfaction in, and we both work in pretty good teams and get along well with our coworkers.

God: I have been blessed in many ways and feel like God continues to lead Mike and me in our paths in this strange place called Earth in this strange thing called life.  I feel very fortunate in that!

Cute Dogs: It literally makes my day every time I see a cute dog.  The other day Mike and I were in a sock store (yes, the whole store is actually dedicated to selling socks… it’s really the best store ever), and I saw a guy there with two keeshonds.  I had to say ‘hi’ of course, and he even let me take a picture of them.  So sweet!  So cute!  I love dogs!  And cats.  And most other animals really.

Pot Racks: Mike put up a pot/pan rack in the kitchen shortly after we moved in, and it is the BEST!  I’ve never had one before, but now when I want a pot or a pan I literally just reach over to the rack and pull off the one I want… no more digging through cupboards trying to find the right pan which might be under five other pans.  Revolutionary to cooking, for sure!

Learning: Both Mike and I have been learning a lot at our new jobs this year, and that’s awesome.  That was really what we both switched jobs hoping to accomplish, so it’s wonderful to see that playing out.

Lots of things to be thankful for in 2015!

And now let’s talk about other things.  Specifically pie-baking kinds of things.  I actually made a pie for the Thanksgiving potluck at our neighbors, but I feel like, as with so many things I do, it was an adventure.

Let’s start with the basics.  My first thought was that I would make my Grandma’s apple pie.  Aside from being amazing, there’s something cool about bringing a third-generation recipe apple pie to a potluck, right?  I emailed my mom over the weekend asking for the recipe and I received this email back:

I’d be happy to send you Grandma’s apple pie recipe, except that she never used a recipe.  I can tell you about how I make mine, based on what she did, though.  (I don’t really have a recipe, either.  🙂 )

This is the problem with coming from a long line of excellent bakers.  No one has a recipe.  Recipes are for people who don’t know what they’re doing (like me).  My mom proceeded to give me some basic instructions which may or may not have included such phrases as “1/4 cup of flour (about, depending on how juicy the apples are….more or less)” and “a generous amount of cinnamon”.  Unfortunately those measurements mean nothing to me.  If there’s not a ‘generous’ scoop I can fill up and dump in the pie, it’s really a no-go from my perspective.  And what exactly is or isn’t a ‘juicy’ apple?  Aren’t they all kind of juicy?  Plus, my mom and grandma’s “recipe” has a top crust, which I was a little unsure about.  Bottom crusts are easier because if they crumble, worst case you can just mash them onto the bottom of the pie plate.  Top crusts actually have to stay together enough to place them across the entire top of the pie.  So I turned to the internet and found a recipe for an apple crumble pie.  I was a little iffy on it because it called for using canola oil instead of shortening or butter, but what do I know?  Maybe everyone was using canola oil these days and butter was so twentieth century.  On Tuesday I went to the grocery store and got all the ingredients for the apple crumble pie.  I was feeling pretty good about things until I talked to a friend at work who’s a great baker and who was coincidentally also making a pie for Thanksgiving.

“You’ll be fine,” he assured me.  “As long as you chill the shortening or butter before you roll up the pie crust you can’t go wrong.”  So… he and my mom both use shortening for pie crusts.  Maybe no one does use canola oil and I just had some weird rogue allrecipes.com recipe.  By the time I got home I had decided I couldn’t possibly make a pie using canola oil.  Fortunately, allrecipes.com, as if knowing my plight, sent me a ‘Thanksgiving recipes’ email that included a highly rated 4.5 star caramel apple pie.

Done.  I headed out to the store again and got the ingredients for the new pie (which included butter so I immediately felt better).  I also, fortunately remembered that I didn’t have a pie tin, so I got one of those while I was there as well.  I wasn’t sure whether or not I had a pastry cutter either, but they didn’t have any of those at the grocery store so I figured I’d make do with what I had.  After I got home I dug out my rolling pin (that I don’t think I have used in the past, oh, ten or so years) and looked for a pastry cutter.  As it turned out,  I didn’t have a pastry cutter.  I had something that looked kind of, sort of similar, but it was a microplaner for cutting herbs.  If you were ever wondering if you can replace a pastry cutter with a microplaner, you can’t.  I tried.  Enough said.

My first act towards actually making the pie crust was spilling flour on the floor.  Not a very propitious beginning, but oh well.  At this point I was committed.  I cut up my chilled butter as small as seemed reasonable and mixed up the pie crust.  It was a kind of long process.  I belatedly realized that the recipe I was using suggested pulsing the dough using a food processor (which I don’t have) so I had to make do with a fork.  When I added all the chilled liquid to the dry dough, I stared at the pathetically small pile of liquid in disbelief as I started attacking it with a fork to mix it in.  Well, that wasn’t working.  It vaguely reminded me of meatloaf.  There never seems to be enough liquid in the meatloaf either until I start mixing it with my hands.  Well, that gave me an idea and ten minutes I had a good pile of well-mixed dough and very buttery hands.  I put the dough in the fridge to chill for the day with a feeling of satisfaction.  I was going to let it chill all day and then make the pie in the evening.

That evening I realized I had made a generic pie crust recipe, which included the crust for both the top and the bottom.  I actually figured that was ok.  That way I had a ‘back-up’ crust.  If I screwed up the first one I had another set of dough on deck.  I chopped the dough in half with a knife and then took the larger of the two halves for my bottom crust.  I attacked it with the rolling pin.  And realized that it was WAY too hard to roll out!  How do people do this?  I had to basically mash the mound down into a flatter pancake before I could even start rolling it out.  Maybe it was because I chilled it all day?  However, (surprisingly?) I got something that looked remarkably like a bottom pie crust after awhile.  I had totally watched my mom often enough to know to fold the crust in half, and then lift it up over the pie plate and then unfold it and tuck it around.  Things were going really well.  Too well, really.  I was suddenly filled with doubt.  Was my crust too thick?  Is that why it rolled out without cracking or crumbling?  Because it was too thick?  Well, too late to do anything about it now.

A pie crust!  Well, the bottom part at least...

A pie crust! Well, the bottom part at least…

Now was the time to make the ‘caramely’ stuff to pour over the apples in the pie.  Basically sugar and butter melted with a little cinnamon.  I got that started on the stove.

Now was the time to peel, core, and slice a bunch of apples.  So somehow I was really fast at peeling, coring, and slicing apples, and it felt like second nature.  Have I done this before??  I always eat apples whole and never peel them, so I’m not sure how I would know how to do this… but regardless, that part went fast.  Then I went back to my recipe.  My original plan had been to make a crumble top even though the allrecipes recipe I was using called for a lattice top.  The way I figured it, from a risk perspective, crumble tops are low risk, full pie crust tops are medium risk, and lattice tops are high risk.  However I did have a hunk of dough left over for another pie crust, and rolling out the bottom pie crust hadn’t been too bad.  What the heck.  I grabbed my floury rolling pin again, accidentally dumping a fresh cup of flour on the floor.  *Sigh* Oh well.  Time to clean up the floor and then try the top pie crust.  Halfway through rolling out the top pie crust I just decided to make it a lattice top.  Why not live a little dangerously right?

In progress...

Who needs a pasty cutter when you’ve got a PIZZA CUTTER?  That thing cut through the dough like it was butter.  Actually the crust is almost entirely made out of butter so that is a really accurate simile.

 

Yeah, strips aren't so bad

Yeah, strips aren’t so bad

 

Now the caramel-y stuff on top.  I spilled one drop of caramel topping.  Sure beats the whole cup of flour I spilled.

Now the caramel-y stuff on top. I spilled one drop of caramel topping. It sure beat the whole cup of flour I spilled.  Clearly my kitchen skills were improving towards the end.

 

Ta-da!  A pie.  Because no one has probably ever seen one before and will be super excited about this picture

Ta-da! A finished pie. Because probably no one has ever seen one and will be super excited about this picture

 

Surprisingly, the pie crust itself turned out great!  The part that didn’t turn out as great was the pie filling.  It tasted good but was too runny.  Probably my apples were too juicy or something.  Clearly I don’t have this pie thing fully figured out yet!

Thanksgiving Day was fun!  Saturday morning I prepped the brussels sprouts with the shallot and balsamic sauce I was putting over them.  Then I headed to the yoga studio where I’m now a sub teacher, because they had a bunch of their teachers participating in their special Thanksgiving Day gratitude class, and I helped perform adjustments during the class.  It was a great class!  Full of energy and full of people!  I also got to meet most of the other instructors there, which was great.  Then I got back, got cleaned up, roasted the brussels sprouts, and headed over to our neighbors’ house.  They had quite a few people over so it made for a good group.  Everyone brought good food, and I overate the cranberry sauce because it was sooo good!  But then regretted it for the next day and a half since my stomach really can’t take as much sugar as I’m sure was in there.  Fortunately my stomach felt pretty good in time for teaching yoga on Sunday morning, and that was the main thing I cared about.  After all the bustle leading up to Thanksgiving, Mike and I were both happy to just enjoy a relaxing, laid-back rest of our weekend.  Although we just started watching Man in the High Castle, a new Amazon prime show, and it is WAY intense.  We watched several episodes of that, so I guess we technically didn’t have the most relaxing possible weekend, but it was intense in a good way.  🙂

I feel like I’ve already talked a lot, so I’ll save some things to say for my next blog post, but I’ll leave you with two of the best things I saw this week… super cute-animal related, so if you can’t stand looking at cute animals you should probably skip the links.  😉  Happy Thanksgiving!

Adorable parent/baby animal pictures

Kitten meets a bunny – And why is that bunny shuffling instead of hopping?  He looks absolutely adorable, but I thought bunnies hopped??

P.S. I went through all the pictures on my phone and apparently I have no pictures of Mike or me over Thanksgiving.  Apparently my picture-taking priorities were as follows:

  1. Pie-making process
  2. Everything else

And I guess I never got as far as ‘everything else’.

I hope everyone else had a wonderful Thanksgiving and took significantly more pictures of friends and loved ones than I did!

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Filed under Cats, Cooking, CSA, Food, Life in Seattle, Seattle, Thankful Things Thursday, Thanksgiving, Winter, Yoga

My First Trip to Autozone in Five Years

It has been raining like crazy in Seattle for about a week.  Any thought of droughts that we had during the summer has completely been obliterated.  But, of course, our little area of Fremont has kept its Seattle spirit, regardless of the torrents of rain.  On Saturday morning when I was looking out the window I saw a man with no umbrella and no hood on his coat riding down Fremont Ave on the sidewalk on a Segway in the pouring rain.  It really didn’t look like safe weather for Segways.  I mean, do they even test those things in the rain on hills?  Probably not, but the guy seemed to be maneuvering it fine, so maybe it was just my perception that Segways aren’t really rain friendly!

On Saturday night, we had some friends over for about an hour, and then we all went out to dinner.  They brought their two and a half year old son, and Piper, even though she was still recovering from a round of antibiotics, was so interested in him!  He was very gentle with animals, and we told him Piper wasn’t feeling very well.  He still wanted to go up to her and very carefully patted her on the head.  Piper, who doesn’t like being patted on the head, didn’t mind at all when he did it and she was fascinated with the way he jumped up and down on the rug and the way he crawled under the chair to sit next to her.  You could see the wheels turning in Piper’s head.  I think she thought he was half cat/half person or something.  🙂

The clutch pedal on our car started to squeak so Mike stopped by an auto parts store to get some kind of grease to lubricate it.  There was a guy with the hood of this cat open, a bunch of tools on the ground around him, who was working on his car a couple feet outside of the door.  Ah, it brought back memories of all of those Autozone trips in Michigan.  There always seemed to be someone working on their car in the Autozone parking lot.  And the aisles were set up exactly as I remembered them!  And they’re still selling boxes of those blue machinist paper towels.  And those icky smelling ‘air fresheners’ that you can hang from your review mirror (because who wouldn’t want to smell strong, chemically pine scent a foot in front of their nose while driving?).  And there was a person hogging the attention of the person at the counter who basically wanted the Autozone employee to do everything but fix their car for them.  (Actually they probably would have been fine with the employee fixing their car if he had offered… which he didn’t.  But they did ask his advice for like fifteen minutes.)  It was all just like I remembered.d  Ah, Autozone.  The memories we share.  🙂

In other news, Mike and I have been invited to one of our neighbor’s houses for Thanksgiving for a potluck.  They’re providing turkey and potatoes, and everyone else can sign up to bring things.  I’m a little excited.  What will I bring?  What will I bring??  Since I’ve been doing a lot of cooking over the summer with the CSA produce, I feel ready to take on a Thanksgiving potluck!  I was thinking about balsamic roasted brussels sprouts (because that’s about the only way Mike likes eating brussels sprouts), and maybe an apple crumble pie (strategically chosen so that I don’t have to mess with making a top pie crust.  I know I’m ready to take on the potluck world… but maybe not the top pie crust world.)

Speaking of CSA produce, I made some good stuff with this last batch.  I made a curry lentil soup from this vegan cookbook I just bought.  I would totally recommend the cookbook by the way!  The recipes all look amazing and aren’t difficult!  The woman who wrote the cookbook also writes a blog (ohsheglows.com), so check that out if you’re looking for great, tasty, easy vegan recipes!  I also made a beef stew with a bunch of the root vegetables I got.  And I rounded out my efforts with a pan of roasted vegetables (mostly beets, but I’ll try to find a different way to sell them to Mike when I offer them to him.  As soon as he hears the word ‘beet’, he pretty much shuts down.).

In other news, Mike and I got four new tires for our car.  Going into winter it seemed smart to have grippy tires, especially since our’s were getting old.

I have surprisingly been running, despite the cold, rainy, windy weather.  I’ve just been strategically picking my times so that I’m running during the warmest, driest parts of the week.  On Sunday evening I went for a hill run.  I was just mentally spent, and that is the best time to run.  I pounded up and down the same hill over and over and realized that I finished four miles of hills averaging an 8:33 min/mile.  That is fast for me, people!  I usually run hills more in the 9 – 9:30 range.  Clearly I had some stress or something to work off because I barely registered that I was running faster than usual, and I felt completely released and relaxed when I got home afterwards.

In Piper news, she has had quite a week.  A couple weeks.  About a month actually.  And so have Mike and I.  Urinary infections + two types of antibiotics + appetite-inducing pills + every other day subcutaneous fluid injections + a whole new diet == a healthy Piper.  At least so far.  Lately when people ask me what I’ve been up to, I want to say ‘taking care of my cat’.  Which sounds extreme and like I must have time for lots of other things.  But, you know, I actually don’t.  Let’s go through her current regime…. just to make sure I’m not forgetting anything.

Morning & Evening:

  • Two pills – an appetite inducer (because guess who stopped eating during this whole episode?  Not that I can blame her…) and an antacid to get rid of heartburn caused by weak kidneys
  • Special food to help her kidneys (usually given multiple times throughout the evening because she’s back to eating and she’s HUNGRY!)

Every other evening:

  • Subcutaneous fluids (fancy vet-speak for ‘give your cat an injection and pump them with 10ml of water’) – administered by me

Once she’s feeling better:

  • Subcutaneous antibiotic injections twice a day (again, administered by yours truly… I am going to be a pro at this subcutaneous business!  At least I hope so for Piper’s sake since she’s the one getting her neck ruff injected by me all the time.)

In all seriousness, though, I’m just glad that there are things I can do to help her… even though I wasn’t super excited about having to learn how to give her injections, I just love her to pieces!

In completely unrelated news, I finally ran out of space on my iPhone (all those pictures of Piper I keep taking, I think) so I went to backup my iPhone via iTunes (which I do maybe twice a year).  My phone was SO FULL that it was too full to do a backup.  Apparently a backup requires some temp space on the iPhone… which I totally didn’t have.  Also of interest, I checked how many apps were running and it was twenty.  Twenty!  How did that happen?  That’s definitely something Mike would give me a hard time about given that he doesn’t even have twenty apps on his whole phone.  However, he wasn’t home at the time so I was spared that minuscule embarrassment.

The weather here in Seattle has been crazy!!  Thirty-seven hours of consecutive rainfall, people!  And 370,000 people without power because of windstorms!  That’s a LOT of people!  At some point don’t the clouds run out of water??  And the answer to that would be a resounding YES.  After 37 hours apparently even Seattle clouds are out of water.  Not to worry, though!  The rain has (mostly) stopped.  Now we have a windstorm!  I went out to lunch with two coworkers today, and it was kind of nuts!  We nearly got blown around the sidewalk by a wet, raindrop-filled gusty wind!  I think the wind is supposed to die down tomorrow, though, so we’ll see how things go.

With all the rain, Mike and I are constantly coming and going from the house with umbrellas, and that has caused us to run out of good places to put wet umbrellas that are waiting to dry.  Since necessity is the mother of invention, I realized this evening coming home from work that we have cobbled together a solution to the problem.  I had set a small box by the back door that I was planning to break down and lacked motivation to actually break down, and that has become our bona fide umbrella holder.  And it’s disposable enough that it’s fine if it gets wet and ruined.  Does anyone else have a good ‘where do we put the wet umbrellas’ solution?  And if you have an attached garage, coming into your house through the garage and putting the umbrellas in the garage before entering the house is NOT an acceptable solution.  I mean, it clearly is for you, but we don’t have a garage (attached or otherwise).

Today on the bus coming home from work I ran into a friend from my yoga teacher training earlier in the year!  What a wonderful opportunity to do a quick catch-up with her while we rode the bus home together!

When I picked up the CSA produce today I was NOT prepared for how big the box was!  The preliminary email sent out about it said that it was a ‘holiday box’ and that it would be ‘bigger than usual’, so I took two big reusable bags to pick up the produce instead of my more usual one.  Fortunately I was able to stuff everything into the two bags, but between the giant bag of carrots, potatoes, turnips, and squash and the other bag filled with two feet tall leeks and the most giant stalk of celery I’d ever seen it was an interesting few blocks of walking home!  I was grateful that the wind had died down enough that I wasn’t getting blown off my feet (although quite frankly with all that produce as ballast I probably was better off with the produce than without it).

Is anyone else strangely taken by Seal’s new album 7?  I’m loving Daylight Saving and have listened to it a disturbing number of times since its release last week.  I love Seal’s voice and the way he infuses meaning into all of his lyrics.  Supposedly this album is very personal to him, and it really comes through to me.  Actually there has been a lot of new music I’ve been loving this fall.  Any music anyone else is loving lately?

I’m thinking I definitely want to do a Thanksgiving post this year where I just focus on things I’m thankful for.  Especially after Piper being sick, I’m ready to focus on all the wonderful blessings Mike and I have!  So if you’re in a thankful mood too, look forward to that post and/or maybe put together a list of your own.  It’s one of my favorite things to do this time of year!

Onward to the weekend!  🙂

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Filed under Animals, Cats, Cooking, CSA, Food, Holidays, Life in Seattle, Rain, Running, Seattle, Thanksgiving, Weather

A Teepee for a Halloween Cat

This has been a busy week or two!  Very, very busy.  Work and everything else has just been pretty crazy for both Mike and me.

I’ll start with the stuff at the top of my mind first.

I didn’t get Piper as a kitten, so I have never had any idea when her birthday might be.  I always called her my little Halloween cat since she’s all black, though, so I kind of said that her birthday was Halloween.

A month or so ago we turned one of our armchairs upside down on the floor to put felt feet on the bottom of it and Piper ran underneath the upside down chair and absolutely loved it.  She was so disappointed when we turned the chair right side up again.  This gave Mike cause to think about ‘hidey-holes’ and after some time thinking, he came to the conclusion that what Piper needed was a teepee.  I was skeptical especially when he pointed out a giant one built for a 10 year old that would never fit in our living room without being the major focal point, but Mike continued to do his research and he ended up finding a place on Etsy that custom makes pet teepees.  Mike emailed back and forth with them about getting a solid black teepee with a solid black fleece cushion inside (Piper seems to know that she’s black and she likes blending in, so she always likes hanging out/in/around black things.)  Her teepee arrived in the mail today and Mike did the minimal setup work.

Did Piper like it?

You bet she did!

You bet she did!

 

(Mike says she looks like a Jawa from Star Wars.  I looked them up, and I think Piper is WAY cuter than Jawa.  He also says she looks like some kind of dark fairy nymph from an old fairy tale.)  Basically when Piper is in her teepee and her eyes are closed I literally cannot see her in there.  It’s Piper’s perfect hidey-hole!

Last Friday night after work Mike and I went out with some friends to Toulouse Petit.  I had heard of the restaurant before, and it was rumored to be very nice, but we had never been there.  Somehow we almost never get to Queen Anne, the neighborhood the restaurant is in.  The restaurant itself was lovely!  Dim lights and lots and lots of candles!  In fact a couple hundred tea light candles were mounted on the back wall, and they looked amazing!  I speculated on how long it might take the servers to light those each evening, but the general consensus in our group was that multiple people probably did it and it probably didn’t take that long.

We really didn’t dress up for Halloween.  I was all ready to go as a dark fairy (having bought a costume last year and never having worn it), but Mike was unsure.  And by unsure, I mean he really would rather have done almost anything in the world rather than dress up.  I suggested he could go as Steve Jobs.  That seemed like an easy costume since it’s basically a black turtleneck and jeans and Mike already has the brainy look going for him.  But Mike wasn’t into that.  Then, to compound to Mike’s uncertainty about dressing up, we were invited over to the house of some friend’s on Halloween.  I was excited to see them, but we weren’t going over for a Halloween party… we just went to hang out.  No costume required.  Or even expected.  So what I ended up doing was dressing up in my dark fairy costume Friday night (Halloween Eve) when we went out to dinner so that at least I could get a little mileage out of my costume.  I wasn’t prepared to be the only person in the restaurant who was in costume (come on people… it’s HALLOWEEN EVE!  Where are your costumes??).  What was worse is that, for practical reasons I decided not to wear the wings of my dark fairy costume (because it was cold outside and I couldn’t put on my coat if I had the wings on… funny how none of my coats accommodated wings with a three foot span) and apparently the wings “made” the costume.  Without them I was a woman in a short, black, lace-y dress and dark eye make-up.  I got complimented by two of the waiters on looking nice, but no one knew I was dressed up for Halloween.  So that whole trying to dress up for Halloween was kind of a bust.  Next time I’m wearing the wings even if I freeze.

What else has been going on?

Mike has been doing landscaping.  Lots and lots of landscaping.  Last Sunday he was outside most of the day ruthlessly rooting out weeds and laying down wood bark chips to keep the weeds from returning (or at least returning as fast).  It was basically pouring rain all day Sunday so he was working outdoors in the rain, the wind, and the dirt all day.  He did take a couple breaks to enjoy the seasonal oatmeal stout from Fremont Brewery.

Enjoying some beer while working in the rain ALL DAY! How did he not get sick??

Enjoying some beer while working in the rain ALL DAY! How did he not get sick??

If it had been anyone else I’m sure they would have gotten a cold, but Mike doesn’t really get colds.  I think he’s had three in the entire time I’ve known him (12ish years).  (Speaking of time going by… Mike and I will be celebrating our three-year wedding anniversary in a little over a month.  Talk about time flying!)

We also went to a garden nursery to get some new bushes for the landscaping.  I was only so-so interested, but they did have an amazing holiday section!  It was basically like a Christmas winter wonderland.

Christmas! (Who cares that it's only early Nov?)

Christmas! (Who cares that it’s only early Nov?)

Mike would have liked to recruit me to work on the landscape, but I had CSA produce to cook (*whew*… lucky break!), so I stayed indoors and cooked up homemade meatballs and a giant pot of vegetable soup.  I’ve discovered that the real secret to using up CSA produce is to make everything you’re going to make with your veggies and then throw the rest in a pot, simmer it for three hours with vegetable stock and plenty of fresh chopped basil, and you’re golden.  It’s like the perfect “catch-all” plan for other vegetables you may not know what to do with.  I also roasted up a brightly colored pan of root vegetables, golden beets, red beets (which have a fancier name, but I can’t remember what it is), yams, potatoes, and carrots.  Plus plenty of thyme.  I think thyme may be the secret to taking beets to a palatable level.

 

Colorful root vegetables, including beets

Colorful root vegetables, including beets

 

On Halloween, as mentioned, Mike and I went to some friends’ house.  They had just bought a new home, and we got our first chance to see it.  It was beautiful and I loved the work they’d done decorating it!  Of special note: they had a pantry.  That’s right… a specific walk-in closet-ish area full of shelves for food.  Ooooooh!  Loved it!

And their pets loved Mike.  It was so cute!!

Mike... the life of the party. Also, the animal magnet.

Mike… the life of the party. Also, the animal magnet apparently.

 

Possibly of interest: I’m now a sub teacher for Bala Yoga in Fremont and will be sub’ing my first class on November 29th.  I’m also a sub for a gym nearby.  How exciting!  In addition to teaching at my corporate job, it looks like I’ll have some studio experience also.

Lately Mike has also been doing touch-up painting around our house.  Piper loves it when Mike paints because he brings out his work light which emits a ton of heat.

Piper's very own heater

Piper’s very own heater

 

I’m actually loving running in the cooler weather!  The days are all cool and cloudy.

Cloudy fall days...

Cloudy fall days…

 

Piper’s enjoying the few rays of sunshine we’re getting these days.  She’s been a little quieter and more thoughtful.  I think she’s mentally gearing up for the colder, shorter, darker days of winter.

A very pensive Piper

A very pensive Piper

 

Also, if you love cats, here are some of the rarest breeds of wild cats.

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Filed under Animals, Beets, Cats, Christmas, Cooking, CSA, Friends, Halloween, Holidays, Life in Seattle, Pictures, Seattle, Weather, Yoga

Autumn carwash fun

This weekend was a pretty laid-back weekend during which Mike and I got a lot of stuff done.  Mike had some stuff to do at work, so he headed off to work on Saturday, and I went to the bootcamp class at our gym, and then headed out to a hair appointment.  I absolutely love my hair stylist… she is amazing and inspirational and such an artist!  I was thinking about it the other day, and I’ve been going to see her for over four years!  She’s been at three different salons during that time, and I just keep following her.  I’m currently very fortunate because she’s in a salon literally one block south of my house.  So convenient!  🙂  I remember when I used to have to walk up a mile long hill to get to her salon!  🙂

I haven’t been talking much about CSA produce and cooking on the blog, but rest assured, a lot has been happening in that department!  Saturday afternoon I chopped up all my veggies and then Sunday afternoon I did some cooking!

The highlights were:

  • Roasted beets and potatoes with fresh thyme
  • A soup that started out as a tomato green bean soup but very quickly morphed into ‘throw everything that isn’t nailed down into the pot’ soup
  • A chicken sausage pasta dish

Everything turned out really well, and I have to say I was impressed with the beets roasted with thyme.  As I recall, on one of my posts long ago (almost exactly a year ago, in fact) both Lia and Aunt Joanie extolled the virtues of roasted beets with herbs.  I was highly doubtful and have tried roasting them in the past with dried thyme and still really wasn’t on board with them.  Maybe I just didn’t have the right herb combination?  But this weekend I tried them with fresh thyme, and the world stopped revolving around the sun for a second!  Wow!!  Very good!  In fact I tried to get Mike to eat some by calling them ‘roasted veggies’.  He said sure.  Then I brought him a bowl and he saw they were beets and wrinkled his nose.

“Never mind,” he said.  “I don’t like beets.”

After a little cajoling I managed to get him to try some, and he went so far as to say he ‘actually didn’t mind them cooked this way’.  All things considered, that’s a pretty ringing endorsement.  And when you consider all of the antioxidants and iron in beets, how can you say no?  So that was my big cooking success of the weekend.  🙂

I also started making a tomato green bean soup that I made all the time last summer with my abundance of green beans.  However, I kept throwing in a little of this and a little of that, and the next thing I knew my tomato green bean soup had somehow morphed into tomato, green bean, summer squash, cucumber, swiss chard, red pepper soup.  First I thought I’d just add some summer squash because it was a good way to use up summer squash (of which I’ve gotten a lot this summer).  The summer squash was in the same bag in the fridge as three cucumbers.  Three cucumbers is a LOT of cucumbers, so I decided to chop one up into the soup.  I did that and then felt like it looked like there was almost no cucumber in there compared to all the other veggies, so I decided, why not?  And chopped up the other two cucumbers as well.  Then I remembered a red pepper I needed to use up, so that went in as well.  And I had just washed a whole head of swiss chard, and so somehow that ended up in the soup as well.  The soup turned out phenomenally!  About the only thing I made sure I did from the recipe was to put in the quarter cup of fresh basil.  Let me tell you, my friends, I have discovered that there is basically no soup, no salad, and no roasted vegetables that do not benefit from a quarter cup of fresh basil.  I’ve become so fanatical about it that I’ve been buying about a quarter pound of it a week (which seems pretty excessive for a spice!) and have gotten Mike to promise that we can have an herb garden on our roof in the spring.  Sadly I discovered that basil cannot be successfully planted in October, even in Seattle where the weather is pretty mild year round.  Apparently basil should be planted in May in Seattle, and without doing all the mental mathematic acrobatics, May is a long time away.  Ah well.  I guess that will give me time to learn how to grow basil so that I don’t kill it as soon as I plant it.  I’ll likely be pinging the only master gardener I know (*coughDad) to see what I’ll have to do to keep basil alive.  Apparently it’s a finicky plant.  Rosemary grows everywhere from the Pacific Northwest to the desert with ease (which probably explains why I was so successful growing it the past couple of years, because basically it doesn’t care what you do to it), but basil is easily killed.  I have a conscientious friend who inadvertently killed his basil plants, and I myself killed a basil plant back when I lived in the midwest.  So I’m really only cautiously optimistic.  Growing basil might be beyond my skill level.

The third thing I made was a ‘robust Italian sausage’ slow cooker meal.  I added some stuff… like a bunch of roma beans and an extra onion.  I didn’t throw fresh basil into that… Mike doesn’t have quite the love affair with basil that I do and I wasn’t sure he would appreciate it.  As it was, he really liked it.  When I ask him what he wants, he can’t really think of anything to ask for except for chicken soup.  But then when I make chicken soup he’s kind of tired of it.  So he’s been telling me to just make something.  When I found the Italian sausage thing it looked like something he’d like, but something that I could ‘healthify’ with less pasta than the recipe called for, organic chicken sausage, and extra veggies.  Everything turned out well!  So nice!

What else has been going on?

Let’s see…

Work has been busy!!  For both Mike and me!  On Monday when I left work the Seahawks vs Lions game was starting in Century Link stadium (which happens to be right across the street from where I work), and I actually saw the fireworks go off to signal the start of the game.  It was a lot louder than I thought it would be, but I did have the presence of mind to snap a couple pictures of the firework smoke before it faded away.

Fireworks behind the Union Station clock tower at the stadium

Fireworks behind the Union Station clock tower at the stadium

 

With autumn coming and the days getting shorter, I’m also seeing gorgeous sunrises in the mornings as I wait for the bus and in the evening when I’m downtown.

Walking around the South Lake Union area at dusk

Walking around the South Lake Union area at dusk

 

Piper has been unsure about the colder weather.  It definitely means that she wants to cuddle up more with us for warmth.

Pretty typical place for Piper lately

Pretty typical place for Piper lately

 

Mike has still been working on his ethernet wiring project.  He had some kind of breakthrough tonight that he was really happy about.  He went around talking about things being ok again due to mis-measurement errors.  I think he forgot to take into account the thickness of a door jam or something.  Anyway, he’s happy, so I’m happy.  🙂

By the way, I was reading the news the other day and saw this.  What in the world is up with that?  Wooly mammoth bones found in Michigan?  Crazy!  And I saw this.  Beard championships?  Really??  I think I’ve just been overwhelmed with strange news this week!

Next week I’m going to a tech conference in Houston with a bunch of people from work.  It’ll be fun!  We’ll go to lectures, and talks, and stuff like that.  I’m excited!  I’m planning to make up a big pot of chili this weekend so Mike has something easy to heat up while I’m gone.  Mike has already said he’s going to need a project to do while I’m gone.  I suggested the ethernet project, but I think he’s hoping that will be done this weekend before I leave now that he knows that some measurements were miscalculated.

Last Sunday Mike asked me if I wanted to go with him to get a carwash.  Not exactly the world’s most exciting date, but I was up for it.  😉  We drove all the way up Aurora looking for Mike’s favorite car wash.  Going through car washes is always kind of fun.  Am I the only one who feels like car washes are a remnant from another era?  There is literally nothing mechanical like that anymore.  It’s basically made up of a bunch of gears and levers that move around and whack your car with brushes and pummel it with soap and water.  And that giant dryer at the end that basically walks up your windshield?  I mean, really?  Car washes are old school.  Interesting and kind of fun, but very old school!  You know what else is old school?  Those giant vacuum machines outside of the car washes.  And that of course was where Mike wanted to go once we’d gone through the car wash.  I like the car wash because it’s kind of interesting (especially for someone with a two minute attention span like me since it really doesn’t last any longer than that), but the dryers are a different matter.  Mike basically kicks me out of the car so that he can vacuum my seat and then he wants to stay at the dryers until we are all out of quarters.  Every time the dryers start beeping crazily indicating that the time is running out Mike frantically starts feeding more quarters into it.  Because there’s no way we want it to stop.  Because basically we want to stand outside in the chilly evening vacuuming all night.  I watch the timer hopefully thinking that the time is almost up… and then Mike throws more quarters into it at the last minute, resetting the time back to five minutes.  Ah, well.  All good things come to an end eventually, even  fun with dryer machines.  Because at some point we actually do physically run out of quarters (and all cash money we have that can be converted into quarters).

I hope everyone is having a good week!  I’m ready to make chili this weekend!  Anyone else enjoying fall foods yet?

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Filed under Beets, Cats, Cooking, CSA, Gardening, Life in Seattle, Pictures, Seattle