Category Archives: CSA

I reserve the right to choose all future pillowcases

Super exciting news on Mike’s front!  The Amazon Go store that he has been working on for the past several years is now officially open to the public!  Today was the first day it was open, and there was quite a line of people waiting to get into the line-less store.  🙂  I have been there multiple times since Amazon employees and some family members have been able to go for the past year.  But now it is officially open to all of the public… very exciting times for Mike and his hard-working team!

The line for the Amazon Go store!

The line for the Amazon Go store!

 

Mike has been talking to me about creating a new header for my blog.  Mine is *slightly* outdated.  And by *slightly*, I mean that it’s been my blog header for over five years.  Definitely time for a new look and feel!  The tricky part is that winter is not the best time for photos in Seattle, so we have to find a time when the weather is nice-ish for outdoor photos.

Now it is time to talk pillowcases.

Mike and I bought queen-sized sheets for our bed several years ago, and Mike said that beds always get too warm when you’ve been under the blankets for awhile, so he suggested getting these special sheets that stay cool.  I don’t get hot at night, but sure, why not?  That was my first mistake, because every night when I put my head on my pillow, I get an instant shock of cold which kind of wakes me up.  Those sheets work entirely too well.  I’m thinking they have liquid nitrogen flowing in the fibers.

Anyway, when we were picking out sheets at the store, I then reached for the king-size pillowcases, and Mike stopped me.  “Those are king-size.  Our bed and pillows are queen-sized.”  He picked up a set of queen-sized pillowcases instead.

Alarm bells started going off in my head.  I am someone who believes in changing sheets like some people believe in changing their underwear; as often as possible.  I wash our sheets at least once a week and love the feeling of getting under clean sheets at night.  I also time it so that I have showered shortly before getting into the newly-sheeted bed so that I am not immediately dirtying the bed by my mere presence.  (Slight dramatization, but unfortunately only slight).  This basically means that I spend a great percentage of my life putting clean sheets back on beds, and I want to streamline that process and make it as easy as possible.  Having pillowcases one size bigger than the pillows literally saves minutes on every bed linen change.

I let the man who has never washed sheets in his life (to my knowledge) choose the size of my pillowcases.  I let the man who has only made the bed once (to my knowledge) choose the size of the pillowcases.  And by the way, the one time he did make the bed, the sheets started coming off in the middle of the second night, because I’m not convinced he knows the difference between the fitted and flat sheets.  Anyway, I let him put back the king-sized pillowcases and pick up the queen-sized pillowcases.  And every weekend since then for the past three years, I get to do the whole ‘shake the life out of the pillow to get it into the pillowcase’ dance.  Every.  Weekend.  You know who doesn’t have to do that dance?  People who buy pillow-cases one size bigger than their pillows.  Those are lucky people.  Mike’s pillow is technically ‘queen-sized’, but I’m not buying it.  That pillow barely fits into the queen pillowcase.  And by barely, I mean that when the pillow is fully in its case, the edge of the pillow is exactly at the edge of the pillowcase… there is no overlap of the pillowcase.  This has the interesting and undesirable consequence that, depending on how Mike’s head is aligned when he sleeps, it’s possible for him to get an imprint of the pillow zipper on his skull because the pillowcase doesn’t fully cover the pillow.  If I buy king-sized pillowcases now, they won’t match the rest of the sheets, since we didn’t go with the norm and buy white sheets.  And they won’t be freezing cold, which Mike loves.  But I’m biding my time.  The next pillowcases on my horizon are definitely king-sized, even if they are of an arctic temperature.  Too bad Mike can’t pick pillowcases as easily and flawlessly as he picks out nails and decking materials.

By the way, we got a new deck put on the roof, overseen by Mike.  Mike spent a lot of time researching decking materials and deck screws and finding a great contracting company to work with, and the result looks great.  We won’t be able to enjoy it up there until spring, but that’s ok.  The deck will be up there waiting for us until then.  🙂

In other news, we finished the Why We Fight series on Netflix that was produced by Ronda Rousey.  We both loved it.  Super informative and particularly interesting to anyone who follows MMA, boxing, Muay Thai, etc.  Now that we are finished with that, it looks like it’s back to the Nero Wolfe episodes which we have been enjoying immensely.  Last week we debated whether or not the show actually gave us the info to figure out the murder beforehand (i.e. if we just had the clues that Nero Wolfe had in the show, could we figure out the mystery?).  So to test it out, we watched an episode closely right up until Nero Wolfe was ready to reveal the killer, and then we stopped it, talked through our theories, and then restarted it again from the beginning.  We arrived at the end for the second time pretty confident of the killer, but it was an anticlimatic ending.  Nero Wolfe was able to get the killer to give themselves away, but actually had no proof.  That’s an extreme aberration for Nero Wolfe.  Usually he’s armed with proof.  We thought about trying the experiment again with another episode, but we kind of lost momentum after that episode, and honestly it takes some of the fun out of enjoying Nero and Archie’s antics if we’re trying to catch every clue.

In other news, my best running buddy was unfortunately out of town over the weekend, and my other running buddy friend was running a shorter distance and faster than I wanted to run, so I did my 16 mile run solo.  Honestly, the time went by fast.  I ran through the Magnolia Bluff area, way above the Puget Sound, and it was beautiful!  Sixteen miles down… marathon here I come (well, here I come in late April… technically I still have several months of training left).

From the Magnolia Bluff....

Magnolia Bluff….

I ran from there down to the waterfront, and the wind was strong so there were even some whitecaps as the water hit the rocky coast.  So gorgeous!

So amazing... this view never gets old

So amazing… this view never gets old

But quite honestly, it was pretty cold and windy, so I was just as glad to turn back east towards downtown and back up around Lake Union towards home.

I also did quite a bit of cooking over the weekend.

Veggie fritattas (before I cooked them)

Veggie fritattas (before I cooked them)

 

Mediterranean salad

Mediterranean salad

 

Piper is still doing really well and not enjoying the cold weather… she’s definitely a fan of sitting on laps and warm blankets these days.

Not much better than a fluffy blanket in the winter.  Yes, that is my bare foot in the background.

There is not much better than a fluffy blanket in the winter. Yes, that is my bare foot in the background.

 

I’m off to Boston next week, and the weather so far is looking like high 30’s/low 40’s.  I’m really hoping it stays in that vicinity and they don’t get hit with a nor’easter (is that spelled correctly??) while I’m there.  I’m definitely learning about a lot about New England from my Boston coworkers.  For instance, TB stands for Tom Brady, who is the best quarterback (and most amazing person?) in the history of the universe.  ‘Wicked’ means ‘exceptionally cool and of rare quality’ (example: Taza chocolate from Boston (which is amazing by the way!! It’s stone ground, and I can’t get enough!).  Also fluffernutter is a very popular treat/snack.  Dunkies (otherwise known as Dunkin Donuts) has the best coffee around.  Coming from Seattle, I can’t quite agree on this one as our coffee selection is extensive, but Bostonians are serious about their Dunkies.  They are also serious about their craft beer, particularly TreeHouse.  I have also heard that ‘if you live west of I-95, you basically need a covered wagon to get there’.  I thought about pointing out exactly how many miles eastern Massachusetts is from the actual Oregon trail, but thought better of it.

Interesting regional differences!  🙂  I hope everyone’s week is off to a great start!

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Filed under Cooking, CSA, Food, Life in Seattle, Momentous Events, Pictures, Running, Seattle

Star Wars and Shepherd’s Pie

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh.  I saw one like a week ago.”

“What?  Really?  Where?  The basement?”

“No.  The main floor.”

“Where on the main floor?”

“The dining room.”

“Was it a big spider?”

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

“Did you kill it??”

“No.  It ran underneath something.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s this?”

“Shepherd’s pie.”

“Oh.  And it’s ready now?”

“Yes.”

“Can I have some?”

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

“Well.  I guess I could have some.”

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

So clearly at least that meal went over well.  🙂

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

Happy Monday everyone!

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

Random ramblings

Busy, busy, busy lately!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I feel like we haven’t thought everything through.

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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