Category Archives: Food

A new boxing gym and lots of warm sun!

What a long blogging absence!

Well, spring has come to Seattle.  Almost summer, really.

Mike and I have been enjoying some warm evening walks and great grilling sessions.  We are definitely ready for summer!  Oh, and our heat-loving cat is also ready for summer and spends most of her time lounging in furniture next to windows where she can soak up the sun’s rays.

This past few weekends were kind of a whirlwind.  In a sad twist, the boxing gym that I have been attending and loving for the past year closed.  Not enough members to make it financially viable!  😦  A big group of us from the gym went out last Wednesday night after the final boxing class for the gym and had a great time together laughing and chatting.

Love this group!

Love this group!  Well, not the two people at the bar.  I have no idea who they are.  😉

Hopefully our community will last despite the gym closing.

Final boxing class! Clearly this class builds great arms and shoulders

Final boxing class! Clearly this class builds great arms.

The boxing instructor from there also teaches at another gym, so I went there for a trial run last weekend.  It was good… I could see myself going there regularly.  There’s a picture of a panda bear with googly eyes wearing boxing gloves hanging over the water fountain and I’m kind of in love with it.

This is how I feel when I have to spar with heavyweights

This is how I feel when I have to spar with heavyweights

When I mentioned it to my boxing coach, he laughed and said that everyone loves that panda and he doesn’t know where the picture came from.  There’s also a giant colorful painting of the Seattle city skyline with a beautiful phoenix rising from its midst.  I think the idea is that you work out and…. rise above your expectations… in Seattle….. I’m not really sure exactly the idea.  But it’s oddly inspiring anyway.  The owner’s dog Brody also frequents the gym and I can totally get into petting a big, friendly great dane mix while I’m wrapping up.  In the class on Saturday, there was a super nice but very tough woman who my boxing coach says is my future sparring partner.  There’s also a super nice guy with a mohawk and a couple of newer boxers.  All in all, I think it will work out.  I’m going again tomorrow after work with one of my boxing buddies from the old gym.  I have the feeling several of us will end up there.  🙂

There’s also a pull-up bar in the new gym, and I did four unassisted pull-ups on that yesterday.  Getting stronger!  My dad always asks me if the boxing is going to help me to defend myself if necessary, and based on this article I ran across from a few years ago, maybe yes?  I know I definitely wouldn’t try to mug anyone in my boxing class.  🙂

While we’re on the topic of articles, I’m also in love with this dog who flunked out of police academy for being too friendly.

Apart from finding a new gym, I have been doing some cooking lately.  My most recent creations are a coconut red lentil dal and roasted herbed chicken with brussels sprouts and carrots.

Red lentil dal

Red lentil dal

 

Roasted herbed chicken with veggies

Roasted herbed chicken with veggies

 

My team at work also had a team building event last week where we attended a cooking class together.  It was pretty fun.  We made tapas, which are basically Spanish small plates.  Definitely a lot of cooking has been going on lately!  This weekend, though, I’m prepping for Lia’s arrival on Tuesday instead of doing a bunch of cooking.  I’ll likely do some cooking while she’s here, but nothing that I’ll make ahead of time.  Anything cooked will be fresh from the oven!  🙂  Hopefully the weather is good enough to grill one day too.  🙂  Most of our days have been beautiful lately but they have been interspersed with rain.  We’ll see how the weather goes!

Last weekend I went out with Mike and a couple of friends and I was talking about how great it was to have a cat.  Then yesterday morning, one of my previously-petless friends texted me and said she she was at the humane society and was getting a cat.  Then she called me half an hour later and said she was at the pet store and wanted advice on what litter/food/toys/etc to buy.  Then she texted me that night to say that her new cat was asleep on her lap and was purring.  So sweet!!!  I’m glad I’m spreading the cat love.  🙂

This weekend was a really relaxing, laid-back weekend.  Mike did a lot of cleaning in his office room and I did some cleaning of my bathroom drawers.  They were embarrassingly cluttered with soap, extra containers of floss, moisturizer that I haven’t even used yet, etc.  I didn’t get it organized up to Mike Danenberg standards, but they are better than they were before.

Piper pretty much just lay in the sun all day.  Sometimes she was on the couch, sometimes in her heated bed, and sometimes on the floor near the back door, but always in the sun.

One cool thing I discovered recently is that the Seattle Light Link Rail system (i.e. our train/subway-ish transit system) that used to mainly go between downtown and the airport now has stations in Capitol Hill and in the University district.  I knew they were building them, but didn’t realize they were finished until a group from work wanted to take the Light Link Rail up to Capitol Hill.  We literally got there in three minutes.  Three minutes!  I can’t stress how amazing this is!  Taking driving, traffic, one-way streets, and parking into account, that easily would have been a thirty minute trip by car.  Public transit is amazing!  The Capitol Hill and University stations are both really nice and shiny and new too.  That definitely opens up more evening dinner options for Mike and me since we normally didn’t go to Capitol Hill because parking is such a pain up there.

I went to try out a new gym this afternoon with some of my friends from our old gym that closed.  The class we took was pretty fun.  It was basically circuit training that took place in a giant, sunny studio with floor-to-ceiling windows on two full walls of the gym.  It also had a giant projector that showed what song was currently playing in the gym.  Overkill?  Probably.  Reasonably fun for a change?  Yes.  Interestingly, despite the giant projector displaying the song currently being played, there wasn’t a clock anywhere in the gym.  I don’t like to think of myself as a clock watcher (how many minutes are left of this workout anyway??), but I do like to have some sense of whether I’m thirty minutes in or fifty minutes in.  So that was a little weird.  Wouldn’t it have been easy to make the projector also show the current time as well as the current song?  I can’t really see myself going back to the gym anyway because it’s pretty pricey for the monthly membership fee and honestly didn’t have a ton to recommend it besides it’s floor-to-ceiling windows, but it was fun to try.

Our weather in Seattle today was 80 degrees and sunny.  Perfect!  Although it does mean I have to be better about watering my tomatoes.  A few of the plants looked a little wilted when I went out to check on them today.  (The sungold tomato plant actually has small tomatoes on it already though… soooooo exciting!)  The basil is of course thriving.  It loves 80 degrees and constant sun.  Actually, Piper and that basil plant are very similar from that perspective.

Hoping everyone has a wonderful week… we’re already approaching the solstice and the end of our lengthening summer days.  How did that happen so quickly?

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Winnie-the-Pooh and brown sugar bears

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

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

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

Happy Sun-Cat

Happy Sun-Cat

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

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

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

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

“Where could you have possibly lost it?”

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

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

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

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

Gorgeous!!

Gorgeous!!

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

The look on Piper's face is priceless!

The look on Piper’s face is priceless!

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

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

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

Cooking, running, and filtering

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

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

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

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

Mike and biodomes

Mike and biospheres

 

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

Pizza and old-fashioneds.... yum!

Pizza and old-fashioned’s…. yum!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yup.  And time to find the sunflower oil.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Bolts and screws and… yeah. Lots of stuff.

And then he got to work hard-core.

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

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

 

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

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

SO much more fun than working!

SO much more fun than working!

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

Say 'cheese' Piper! Piper? Piper?

Say ‘cheese’ Piper! Piper? Piper??

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

And that’s all for this blog post!

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

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

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

Happy 3rd Anniversary to Us!

Mike and I have had a really busy December… I mean a really, really busy December.  With Mike’s long hours the past week or so, I haven’t been doing much cooking so all my careful weekly food prep is kind of out the window right now.  (Hopefully I’ll get back on board after the holidays… it can be one of my New Year’s resolutions.  Which reminds me… I should look back to last year’s resolutions and see if I got anywhere with them!)

Anyway, Mike has been working a lot, and I have spent my evenings shuttling Piper around to the vet, giving her meds, running errands, etc.  It’s all good, but Mike and I will both be glad of a little time off over Christmas and New Years!

Fortunately, we both took time to celebrate our third wedding anniversary.  I feel like it should actually be our 10th anniversary instead of our third since we’ve actually been together over 10 years, but oh well.  We’ll go with three.  Three is a good number.

I made plans to go to a live show and dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse downtown.  I have co-workers from Brazil, so I have discovered the entity that is the ‘Brazilian Steakhouse’.  I even bought a Groupon for it (yay Groupon!), so it was much cheaper than it would have normally been.  We got there, and the interior was just beautiful!  Dimly lit, dark wood… very lovely!  We had a very relaxing time hanging out, listening to their live Brazilian music, and making multiple trips to their super amazing all-you-can-eat salad bar.  I came back from my first trip to the salad bar with a hugely overloaded plate full of exotic olives, sliced veggies, roasted veggies, pickled veggies, and a few odds and ends like roasted mushroom salad (SOOOO good!  And I don’t even like mushrooms!) and quinoa salad.  Mike’s eyes shot up when he saw how full my plate was.

Mine is the plate on the right. ;)

Mine is the plate on the right. 😉

“Are you going to be able to eat all that??” he asked.

“Ha!” I said.  “You’ve actually been with me for ten years without knowing the copious amounts of vegetables I’m able to eat?”

I not only ate that whole plate but I went back for another similarly-sized one.  Mike shook his head while he attacked our meat platter.

Lots of different types of meat

Lots of different types of meat

 

Suffice it to say we both left absolutely stuffed!  Great food, great atmosphere, great company!  Here’s to three years and hopefully many more!

Mike relaxing

Mike relaxing

It has been raining cats and dogs out here.  And I don’t mean typical Seattle rain… I mean, rain pouring from the sky, rivers flowing down the street kind of rain.  Every time I mention to Mike how much it is raining, he says, “Well, our plants are probably happy.”  This is the difference in perspective when you become a home owner, I guess!

Seattle rain and fog. This is what we're known for. This and coffee.

Seattle rain and fog. This is what we’re known for. This and coffee.

On Tuesday I took my CPR refresher class after work.  It’s probably the fifth or sixth time I’ve taken the class, so you wouldn’t think there would ever be any new info in them, but surprisingly each instructor has a different background and a different take on the info so I always find that the time goes by really fast and I always pick up some useful nuggets of information.  One of Tuesday’s nuggets: if you are alone and encounter a person who needs CPR, you should first call 9-1-1 and then start CPR if the person is an adult; you should do two minutes of CPR and then call 9-1-1 if the person is a child.  Interesting.  Also of interest: King County (Seattle) has the highest rate of survival for cardiac arrest in the world.  I seem to remember hearing that in my last CPR class, too, so maybe it’s been at the top of the list for the past two years?  Not sure on that one!  Last item (potentially) of interest: My bottom hand when doing CPR was really sore the next day and felt bruised.  Maybe I’m a little bit too enthusiastic in my CPR?  Anyway, now I’m all renewed for my personal trainer cert for the next two years.

I went to Piper’s vet one evening after work last week to get a refresher course in giving antibiotic injections since guess who is not responding to the current antibiotic?  If you guessed Piper, you’re wrong.  It’s the bacteria in Piper’s bladder.  Apparently those bacteria are resistant to the antibiotic pill that’s been working so well for us for the past couple of years.  Don’t use antibacterial soap, folks.  This is what it leads to: resistant bacteria.  Maybe if Piper wasn’t always washing her paws with antibacterial soap…

Anyway, we’ll see how well twice daily injections go over with Piper.  And with me!  We have fallen into a good rhythm with the subcutaneous fluids that I give her every other day.  That just feels a lot less often than the twice a day antibiotics I’m now giving her.  It feels like I’m always calculating when 12 hours has passed and it’s time to give her another injection.  But onward and upward, right?  That’s Piper’s feeling.

We had stuff spread out on the table here, and she was very interested!

We had stuff spread out on the table here, and she was very interested!

Mike and I did some Christmas shopping for our nieces last weekend and ended up at Toys ‘R’ Us.  Holy cow!  That store is crazy!  Has it always been that giant and that crowded??  Somehow as a kid the only time I remember being there was when I got a new bike and I really only remember the bike aisle.  But there seemed to be just millions and millions of toys.  One of our nieces likes the Elves and Friends lego sets.  I totally do too, although I don’t own any!  Cora, you and I should hang out and play legos!!  🙂  I am not too old for that!  😉

Last weekend I went for a run  at 4:30pm, which at this time of year in Seattle might as well be midnight.

This is 4:30pm! How is that even possible??

This is 4:30pm! How is that even possible??

 

Love this bridge at night! (Or, you know, 4:30pm)

Love this bridge at night! (Or, you know, 4:30pm)

 

I had heard of the movie Love Actually multiple times through the years as a good, British Christmas movie, but had never watched it.  Well, I decided this was the year to see it!  Piper and I watched it while Mike was working late, and it was so good!  At least I liked it.  Lots of different, heart-warming stories going on, some happy and some sad.  So good!  Warning if you decide to watch it: I cried through the last twenty minutes and I’m not typically a movie crier.  But there’s only so many heart-warming love stories I can withstand at one time, and this movie has like fifteen.  I made Mike watch it with me later (and he agreed only if he could drink a beer while watching).  I again cried through the last twenty minutes (even though I completely knew what was coming this time) and Mike didn’t cry at all, shrugged at the end, and said they were nice enough stories.  We are going to see the special Christmas release of Quentin Tarantino’s new movie Hateful Eight on Christmas Eve, and I strongly suspect that will be much more Mike’s speed that Love Actually.  🙂

Our Christmas Day plans are still undecided, which at this point probably means we don’t have any.  Which is fine!  We’ll both have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off, so that makes for a four-day weekend.  I should probably get my cooking in gear enough to at least make a nice meal even if it’s not the over-the-top traditional Christmas meal.  I asked Mike if he wanted to order the pre-cooked meal from the local grocery store this year, but he said that a whole turkey is always so much food.  Which it is.  And that we’ll end up wasting most of it.  Which we will.  And that we’ll forget to freeze the turkey before it goes bad.  Which we always do.  So I think we’ll go for something smaller and less traditional this year, but I haven’t decided what yet.  Maybe something Mexican?  Quesadillas maybe??

Piper has decided that she likes the Christmas tree, so it turns out that our little Halloween cat is also a Christmas cat!

Halloween Christmas Cat!

Halloween Christmas Cat!

 

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!  (Because sadly as busy as things have been with Mike’s work and with Piper’s health the past couple months I haven’t gotten any Christmas cards out at all).  So a blog ‘Merry Christmas’ callout to friends and loved ones may be the closest we get this year!

One of our neighbors came over and dropped off a plate of Christmas cookies one day this week… all different flavors and types… just the kind of plate my mom would make up (although no frosted cut-out cookies… Mom, you’re still the only person I know hard-core enough to make those!)   I am so full of admiration… both of them work full time…. where do they find the time to make a big variety of Christmas cookies?  Clearly I need some lessons in time management!

Anyway, Merry Christmas again, from the west coast Danenberg household!  Sending lots of love for a wonderful 2016!  🙂

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Filed under Animals, Cats, Christmas, Food, Holidays, Life in Seattle, Pictures, Rain, Running, Seattle, Seattle Restaurants, Weather, Winter

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

The Lunar Eclipse of 2015!

Here we are with another weekend gone!  This weekend went by FAST!  It was definitely our coldest weekend of the year so far with temps hitting the high 60’s, and somehow it seemed as though Mike and I were outdoors all weekend!

It's autumn in Seattle!

It’s autumn in Seattle!

On Saturday Mike had a fitness challenge event that he signed up for through the gym.  It was basically four different events made up of things like sprints, pushups, carrying heavy dumbells around, etc.  Mike definitely figured it would be really tough, but neither one of us figured on it being so long.  Each of the four events took around 10 minutes, and there were over 50 people participating who were broken up into 8 ‘heats’.  That basically meant that however you looked at it, each event took around an hour and a half, and the whole thing took around 6 hours.  Mike and I dressed reasonably warm, but the event was held outdoors at a turf field half an hour north of Seattle and it was very windy and cloudy so it felt pretty cold.  Also, being outdoors for six hours in general gets pretty chilly unless it’s really warm outside.  During the times where Mike wasn’t participating in his heats, we walked around and talked.  I speculated on how they maintained the ‘turf’.  It was grass-looking, but yet definitely not real.  I wondered aloud to Mike what happened if someone spilled gatorade in it.  Literally twenty minutes later, a representative from the school that owned the field walked up looking for the person in charge of our event.  Two minutes after that, the gym fitness director was walking around telling everyone that only water was allowed on the turf field… no other beverages.  Mike turned to me.  “Well, that answers your question,” he said.  “It must screw it up somehow because that guy sure doesn’t want it on his field.  About half an hour before the end of the event, it started to rain.  Everyone ran to their cars for coats and umbrellas.  One advantage of the ‘turf’ is that at least things didn’t get muddy.  🙂  By the time the event ended, Mike had worked out really hard and was pretty beat.  We headed home, and Mike took a nap in the afternoon and then woke up feeling more refreshed.  On Sunday morning I went for a 10 mile run, and the weather was perfect!

From my run...

From my run…

It was still chilly, but when you’re running that’s fine (and even kind of desirable).  I took a route that I’ve only taken once before just for a change of scenery and it was fun.

Hazy Seattle...

Hazy Seattle… if I had moved the camera one millimeter to the left I wouldn’t have cut the Space Needle in half, but I was blinded by the sun

I arrived home windblown with a pink nose, and Mike said he wanted to run some errands so we headed out again once I showered.  Then in the afternoon, I opened the kitchen window and prepped and cooked up a bunch of CSA produce while Mike wired more ethernet stuff.  I think he’s headed towards the end of that project, but his eye for detail and desire for quality are making sure that he improves the wiring rather than just adding to it.  I made a triple green tomato soup, chicken with rice and carrots, and a summery tomato basil salad (which admittedly may be too summery for the current very fall-like weather).

Then on Sunday evening, I was really excited to go outside and see the lunar eclipse.  It was supposed to start in Seattle around 7pm because that’s when the sun would set enough for the moon to be visible.  However, the moon would already be mostly eclipsed by that point.  I was ready to see what there was to be seen!  I basically cooked all afternoon, and then around 7pm when the sun was supposed to start setting I grabbed Mike and told him we should head outdoors in search of the eclipse.  Mike was in the middle of some wiring and hadn’t really heard anything about the eclipse but gamely through on some flip fops and headed out with me.  We didn’t see the moon anywhere, so we decided to head towards the Aurora bridge because we figured we would have an uninterrupted view east from there.  As we walked out onto the bridge we saw that there were about ten other people on the bridge.  Apparently we weren’t the only ones who thought the Aurora bridge would be a good viewing spot.  We all stood there, lining the pedestrian walkway of the bridge while we waited somewhat impatiently for it to get darker.  Finally it got dark-ish.  Definitely dark enough to see a moon.  We had just seen the moon the night before and it was huge and unmistakable, even shortly after sunset.  But, I reminded myself and Mike that the eclipse was going on at the moment, which was probably why we couldn’t see the moon.

“So basically we came out here to not see a moon?” Mike teased.  “This isn’t very good entertainment.”

We waited for another ten or fifteen minutes.  I looked around and realized that the bridge was filling up.  There were probably 50 people there at this point, all straining their eyes towards the eastern horizon hoping to see some glimpse of a moon.  Finally Mike nudged me in the side.

“Hey… is that weird wisp thing the moon?”

“What weird wisp thing?” I asked.

“A couple inches above that blinking light on the horizon.”

I strained my eyes, and did in fact see a weird wisp thing where Mike was pointing.  It was way too faint to be distinguishable as a moon, but in the absence of other clouds it seemed likely that maybe it was the moon.  Mike and I continued watching that spot, and over the next ten minutes that wisp transformed into a dark reddish moon!  I was ecstatic (although a little cold since we’d been outside for about 45 minutes at that point).

“If I would have known we were going to be out here for so long I wouldn’t have worn flip flops,” Mike said.  “I thought the eclipse would be faster.”  He paused and looked at all the people around us with cameras.  “I also wish I would have brought my camera with me.”

At this point according to my reliable internet source, the moon was in the darkest part of the earth’s shadow (the umbra), so there shouldn’t be any major visual changes until the moon started emerging from the earth’s shadow on the other side.  Mike and I decided to go home, get warm clothes and cameras, and head back.  We headed back home and discovered that the moon was now high enough in the sky that we could see it from our roof.  I was all for staying at home and watching the remainder of the eclipse from the warmth of our house, but Mike wanted to try to get some pictures of the moon over Lake Union, so he wanted to go back to the bridge.  I’m not sure how good the pictures that he got were… he still has to get them off of his camera.  In the meantime, here’s a really grainy one of Mike and me on the Aurora bridge and the very faint, very wispy start of a visible moon.  Not quite the caliber of the other pictures of the eclipse I’ve seen circulating around the internet, but I’m going with it.  😉

The lunar eclipse... kind of

A weird wisp thing that is actually a moon to the right of my head

Here’s another pic… the dot in to the left is the moon; the dot to the right is an airplane.  Apparently my phone camera doesn’t have the resolution to tell the difference since they look pretty much the same.

The dot to the left is the moon

The dot in the center is the moon

 

The photo gallery here has much better Seattle moon pictures.  In fact they make mine look pretty terrible, so I’m not sure why I posted mine.  Hindsight, my friends, is 20/20.

This week has been pretty crazy at work for both Mike and me.  I am looking forward to a weekend in which we have nothing planned!  No gym events, no cleaning the floors since I just cleaned them last weekend… no nothing!  Well, actually some laundry.  And of course dishes.  And errands.  But aside from that stuff, nothing planned.  🙂

We have some friends who are in Italy right now and they’re posting pictures of Venice on Facebook… it’s making me very nostalgic for Mike’s and my trip there!  I am really ready for one of those giant European vacations!  We’ll probably take a big trip next spring, and that can’t come quick enough for me!

In other mildly interesting news, I’m taking an intro krav maga class with two friends from work next week.  Actually it sounds weird to say ‘two friends’, because it’s basically a peer of mine, and then the director of our department.  So basically if I screw up crazily I get to do it in front of the director of my department.  🙂  If you aren’t familiar with krav maga and aren’t motivated enough to click on the link above, it’s basically a form of self defense fighting developed for the Israeli military.  I’m not entirely sure how the class will go, but the studio where they teach it is on my bus route home, and I’ll try most things if they’re on my bus route and don’t inconvenience my commute too much.  🙂

I have the feeling this Friday night will be a go-out-to-dinner kind of night for Mike and me.  After the crazy busyness of the week we won’t feel like cooking or even heating up leftovers.  And then maybe a movie or a few shows… something relaxing!  🙂  Next week is also going to be busy for both of us, and then the week after I’m going to Houston for three days for a tech conference with a group of people from work.  Fun!

I wish everyone a wonderful rest-of-the-week!

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