Category Archives: Running

A race and a suspicious dome light

We are heading into spring… finally!  Just when I had about had it with the cold, rainy, windy weather in Seattle, we got a gorgeous sunny 50 degree day.  I went for a run in the afternoon, and it was perfect.

Two weekends Mike and I had a remarkably social weekend (for us… we really aren’t huge social butterflies and usually prefer a quiet evening with Piper watching Netflix than going out).  However, on Friday night we were just getting back from the gym when I got a text from a friend of mine saying she and her boyfriend were in Fremont and wanted to know if we wanted to meet up with them.  My first thought was that a hot shower, pajamas, and Netflix sounded pretty compelling, but Mike and I decided to take showers and go meet them anyway, and I’m glad we did.  We had a fun time.  Sometimes I think we just need a kick in the pants to get us out the door, and then we can be highly social with the best of them.  😉  That’s the great thing about this friend of mine… she is always one to give a last-minute kick in the pants and text me to come hang out or go to a yoga class, etc.  She sits at the desk next to me, and it’s really fun having a girlfriend at work.  That has (surprisingly?) not really happened to me much in over a decade of working.

On Sunday night we got together with several of my running friends.  We had them over to our house and then went out to a restaurant after an hour or so.  I tried very hard to be a good hostess and got cheese, crackers, hummus, wine, sliced fruit, and nuts, and made sure the house was very tidy.  I think it was a success.  The five of us had a blast and one of the friends is already thinking about turning this into a monthly get-together.  Works for Mike and me!

Despite enjoying our social weekend, it meant that we didn’t get as many errands run as usual, so this past weekend we were ready for a quiet weekend in.  I had a half marathon on Saturday morning, so we didn’t stay up very late.  I got up bright and early Saturday morning, drove across the lake to Redmond where my race was, and proceeded to freeze while I waited for the race to start.  It was projected to be a high of 68 degrees, but at 6:30am it wa 30 degrees.  The half marathon itself was flat and we basically ran south through Redmond along the east side of Lake Sammamish until we hit 13.1 miles, and then they had buses to bring us back to Redmond and our cars.  I knew that a group of friends from my running group were manning the water stop at mile 11, so it almost made it feel like all I had to do was run 11 miles rather than 13… I was almost thinking of that as the finish line and the last two as just the bit at the end.  It ended up being a gorgeous day for running, and when the sun came up the weather started warming up considerably.  I hadn’t run for two days before the race with the idea that I was going to run it fast (even though technically I’m marathon training and this is just another training run, not a race).  I didn’t feel as energetic as I had hoped for the first mile because I was cold and my muscles were stiff and I realized I really should have run a warm-up mile or two beforehand.  Typically I do, but it was just so cold that I wanted to stay in my warm car with the heat blasting until the last second.  After a couple of miles, I settled in and found my pace and targeted a few people that I thought I could stay with during the race.  With a marathon I’ve never had any luck doing that.  At some point in the marathon, either you or the people you’re trying to stay with will get tired and need to drop back.  But for a half it’s more likely both you and they can sustain the pace for the duration of the race.  I was a little frustrated with myself while I was running because at no point did running feel easy.  I keep waiting for that magic day when I go for a run and it feels like I’m flying and the whole process is effortless.  I have felt that, but it’s usually not when it’s 30 degrees out, and it’s usually not when I’m marathon training.  Anyway, I digress.  I just kept plodding along… I was working to hold my pace, but I wasn’t dying.  There’s a very fine line between working and dying.  Basically, working turns into dying if you hit an uphill, but since this was a flat race I didn’t hit any hills so the working didn’t progress to dying.  At the second mile marker, my watch showed that I’d gone 2.25 miles.  Great.  Just what I felt like… running a long course (one that was actually more than 13.1 miles).  However, I just let the miles keep ticking off on my watch, counting down until I hit mile 11 and would see running group friends.  There were water stops about every two miles and since the sun was out I was actually ready for water at most of the stations.  When I ran through the mile 11 water stop I exchanged some high fives with running friends and I saw some inspirational posters the running group had put up by the trail.  One said, “There will be a day when you can’t do this.  Today is not that day.  KEEP GOING!”  I loved it… exactly the motivation I needed to finish up the final 2 miles.  I was not able to give a final kick in the last quarter mile to the finish line, which was probably a sign I was already maxed out.  I was able to hold my pace though and just had to deal with those hotshots who want to blow by you with 100 yards left until the finish line.  My previous fastest half marathon was 1:42:42 (~7:50 min/mile pace).  My dream goal for this race was to break the 1:40 mark, and as I turned the final corner and saw the finish line clock up ahead, it read 1:39!  I held my pace, and ended up with a final time of 1:39:13 (~7:35 min/mile pace).  Although knocking 15 seconds off your per mile pace doesn’t sound huge, it actually is.  That’s something you have to do each mile for the whole race.  And I broke the 1:40 barrier!  I’ll take it!  Afterwards, I got on the bus back to Redmond, got back to the car, turned on the heat full blast, turned on the overhead dome light to locate my ear buds, gel, and other race paraphernalia, and then drove back across Lake Washington to Seattle.  (The dome light will be important later in this story.)  Mike was just waking up when I got home.  He was sleepy, but not too sleepy to have followed my time via the live tracker for the race, and he complimented my speed.  It was a good race.  I’ve had honestly a lot of pretty bad races.  It really makes me appreciate the ones where everything lines up.

For the rest of the day Mike and I ran errands (kitty litter, groceries, etc), and we ended up going to one of our favorite restaurants for dinner.  They accidentally put Mike’s order in wrong and were really apologetic, but honestly we were just enjoying hanging out at the restaurant talking and didn’t have any problem with them taking the time to put in the order a second time.  On Sunday, it was literally the nicest day we’ve had since probably last August!  70 degrees and sunny!  Mike puttered around the house, putting silicone on the bottom of the railings on the deck and things like that.  I did some cooking and laundry and enjoyed laying on the couch in the sun with Piper in my lap.  (I think the half marathon was catching up with me.)  Then in the evening Mike and I watched the first episode of Horatio Hornblower.  Mike’s dad mailed us the DVD’s, so we started watching them.  I remember really liking the shows, but I saw them years and years (maybe 20 years??) ago.  Interestingly, there were still specific parts that I remembered.  Strange what your brain thinks is worth remembering.

I was at work on Monday morning when Mike texted me that our car wouldn’t start.  I instantly remembered turning on the dome light after the race.  I had been very careful to make sure that I turned it off when I got back to Seattle, because I actually have drained a car battery by leaving that dome light on in the past, and it’s not a pleasant experience.  So I wasn’t sure how it could have been me leaving the dome light on… but maybe I somehow thought I saw the light go off, but it didn’t actually??  Regardless, we also had the original battery still in a 10 year old car, so we figured it should be replaced anyway.  Mike was initially worried that it might be the alternator, but the fact that we didn’t drive anywhere on Sunday and then the car wouldn’t start on Monday seemed to indicate that the battery wasn’t capable of holding a charge without the alternator (or I had left the dome light on).  Mike jumped it Monday night after work, and sure enough, the dome light was on inside.  Face palm.  Although it was a little weird, because the passenger dome light was on, and I turned the driver’s side dome light on after the race.  It also seems a little suspicious that we drove around all day on Saturday after the race and apparently neither of us noticed that the dome light right in front of our eyebrows was on.  Or else one of us bumped and turned it on while we were putting groceries in the car or something??  Anyway, very strange.  But the upside is that we replaced the battery, and there’s nothing wrong with replacing a 10 year old battery anyway.

As it turns out, Mike is going to China at the end of March, so we selected some luggage for him.  We were very fortunate and got it extra on sale at Macy’s.  There was also an additional deal that if you bought it but didn’t pick it up until March 18, you got an extra 30% off.  (This seemed like a very strange condition for a sale, but the sales woman told us having these type of “VIP pre-sales” was actually very common in retail.  So there you go.  You learn something new every day!

So anyway, not a lot of very exciting things going on here.  Mike’s work on the house continues, our busy-ness at work continues, my marathon training continues (although I’m over halfway done!), and our hanging out with Piper continues.  Difficult to complain, so I won’t.  🙂

And spring is coming!  Any day now… Mike and I are ready for it!

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Filed under Friends, Life in Seattle, Running, Seattle

The Dilemma of the Dishrag

I have a serious dishrag problem going on over here.  Let me give you the background.  While I was in Boston, Mike did a grand cleaning the night before my return.  He usually does this, and it is appreciated.  The tricky part was that he couldn’t find my normal dishrag to wash the dishes and ended up breaking out a new one that I hadn’t used before.  It is red, and since I’ve been back and started using this new dishrag I’ve discovered that it is bleeding red color over everything.  Whether I wipe down the counters or hand wash dishes in the sink, this dishrag turns everything red.  I’m not entirely sure what to do about this.  I definitely can’t wash the dishrag until I’m confident that it won’t bleed red on everything else that it’s washed with.  But it doesn’t seem to be slowing down on bleeding red.  Even the tag on the dishrag has been dyed a bright red.  I’m starting to wonder if I’m going to be left with a white dishrag by the time this is all said and done.  So far the dishrag doesn’t appear to have changed in color but everything around it definitely has.  Or maybe it’s a magic dishrag and will proceed to bleed all over everything for years without ever noticeably changing color itself.

As usual, I spent quite a bit of Sunday afternoon cooking.  I chopped all my veggies on Saturday, though, and it was amazing how much faster that made the cooking go on Sunday!  Maybe something to do on future Saturdays (as long as I can motivate myself to do that work on Saturday).

Mike ended up going into work on Sunday afternoon.  Quite frankly there is plenty of work that I could be doing at work too, but there was so much to do around the house (i.e. laundry, cooking, tidying, doing a thorough cleaning of Piper’s litter box, washing dishes, etc), that I felt like I might as well spend the weekend doing work around the house and spend the week doing Sonos work.  I did use the opportunity to listen to a couple of podcasts and some Smashing Pumpkins.  Unfortunately Mike was over Smashing Pumpkins by the end of the 90’s so he doesn’t really appreciate me playing their albums on repeat. I also play Linkin Park on repeat, but Mike doesn’t mind quite as much with them because at least he didn’t listen to them much in high school/college, so while he doesn’t care for most of their music at least he isn’t actively tired of it.  🙂  When I leave Mike to his own devices to listen to music he typically has been listening to classical music.  He is so much more cultured than me.  I would love to be able to say I liked classical music and mean it, but the truth is that most of it sounds the same to me.  Which doesn’t mean that it sounds bad.  It just feels like listening to the same song forever.  At some point in my life I really need to devote some time to learning to appreciate classical music.

Marathon training is continuing to truck along.  Today was my third Sunday in a row running a long run of 18 miles.  Next week I ramp to 20, and then I get a 13 the following week.  That 13 sounds so good right now.  I’m actually at the point with 18 miles where I feel like I’m running massive distances all around the city but usually still seem to be half a mile short and need to tack on a bit extra at the end.  Mike’s lifting at the gym has been going really well too.  He has actually started using chalk to be able to keep his grip on the bar for lifting the really heavy weights he’s doing.  He is lifting weights that seem unimaginable to me, but strangely he says that he enjoys it.

Mike and I almost went to Home Depot today, but instead we went to a couple hardware stores instead.  I’m sure our absence was noted by the Home Depot employees, so hopefully we won’t get a cold greeting the next time we go there.  We also went to the pet store and got Piper some more cans of cat food.  We have started feeding her cat food that isn’t just the vet-prescribed kidney-specific food.  She was so bored of that food that she was starting to just boycott eating.  (As a note, I know dogs don’t typically do this, but this is very typical for cats.  At least for our cat.  If she’s not interested in the food, she would rather eat nothing than it.  Sometimes I worry that she has no survival instinct at all.  Our plan is to feed her some non-vet-prescribed food and some vet food.  That will make sure that she eats something, but still gets good nutrients as well.  The first time I gave her the non-vet food, she went insane and ate the entire can (it was a small can, but still!), and then a few hours later she wanted another can.  It makes me feel terrible… like I’ve been starving her or something when I’ve actually been paying top dollar for vet-prescribed food for her.  #firstworldproblems

Mike and I felt like watching something different on Friday night, so we started watching the old Alfred Hitchcock movie Vertigo.  I’m a fan of a lot of those old Hitchcock movies, but Mike hasn’t seen many of them so it’s fun to re-watch them while he sees them for the first time.  We only watched the first half of Vertigo on Friday, so we’ll likely watch the second half tonight.

Pearl Jam announced a few special shows they’ll be doing in Seattle in 2018 to combat homeless-ness, and Mike and I are thinking we will go!  The concerts are just a few days away from our dating anniversary (which will be 13 years this year, by the way.  Does time ever fly or what??).  I still can’t believe that I haven’t run into any of the Pearl Jam members in or around Seattle.  They all live here, and when I first moved to Seattle I assumed it would be only a matter of time until I ran into one of them.  Oh, hey, look!  Stone Gossard is in line at the grocery store in front of me buying organic kale and tic tacs!  I mean, Seattle isn’t that big, right?  But now, eight-ish years later I’m thinking I’m just not going to run into them.  We just must not run in the same circles.  Eddie Vedder must not spend much time at yoga studios or at Home Depot.

On a happier note, my parents sent me grapefruit knives and spoons after reading one of my blog posts complaining about how messy it was to eat grapefruit, and those are working out really well.  I still wouldn’t exactly say that it turns grapefruit into a non-messy fruit, but it certainly helps and lowers the messiness level.  Likely a good investment for anyone who enjoys citrus, but doesn’t enjoy the mess.  On other food-related notes, I’ve been drinking giant smoothies for breakfast more often lately.  I always felt like smoothies weren’t filling, but now that I’m adding protein powder, flax seed, and chia seed, they are incredibly filling.  Especially ones as big as the ones that I make.  The only downside to that is that I’m running the (very) loud blender at 6am.  And when I say ‘loud’, I mean LOUD!  Mike helped pick out the blender and it has a motor the size of a lawn mower (and quite frankly is waranteed significantly longer than the typical mower).  I try to close the bedroom door first so I don’t wake Mike, but honestly it’s so loud he can still hear it.  Fortunately it doesn’t seem to disturb his sleep too much, because he hasn’t actually gotten out of bed as a result of me running the blender.  I asked him this morning whether or not he had been hearing the blender in the morning.

“About half of the time,” he said.

Well, given that I’ve only been making smoothies about half of the mornings, it looks like unfortunately he is hearing it every single time.  🙂  I had hoped he would be able to sleep through it at least once!  What I should do is make the smoothies the night before, but I am too busy doing things to clean up from that day to worry about things for the next day.  Thinking about chores and to-do items that affect days farther out than today is a little more than my brain is willing to take on.

Here we are though… ready to start another week!  How is it already mid-February!  Soon it will be time to do taxes.  That sure came fast.  Every year Mike and I do our taxes and it feels like it will be an eternity until the next time we have to do them, but it always comes up again so fast!    Happy almost-tax season everyone!  May you all get awesome refunds!  😉

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Filed under Concerts, Cooking, Food, Life in Seattle, Pearl Jam, Running, Seattle, Smoothies

Travel and Working Together

Well, here I am in Boston the night before my flight back to Seattle.  As always with these Boston trips, it’s been a very full week.

My flight out of Seattle was at 6am, which sounded ok when I scheduled it, but then of course I realized that I should get to the airport 90 minutes before my flight, and it would take me 20-30 min to get to the airport.  And, of course, I can’t go from being sound asleep to being in a car to the airport, so I likely needed to budget some time to get up, brush my teeth, and become awake enough to somewhat interact with the world.  Bottom line: I ended up setting my alarm for 3:30am.  Pretty early!  So early that I didn’t even have breakfast, and breakfast is a pretty important part of my mornings.  I asked my Uber driver who took me to the airport whether he always worked so early, and he said it was actually that he worked late.  Wow.  So his day wasn’t over and mine was beginning.  Definitely very early (or late)!

Typically when I’m waiting at airports I just read a book or browse the internet on my phone, but this past Sunday I felt in the mood to people-watch (probably because my brain wasn’t awake enough to read yet).  Such a wide variety of people!  The guy sitting kitty-corner to me in the row in front of me was watching the movie Dunkirk, which Mike and I saw a month or so ago.  About every ten minutes the flashing color of his screen would attract my attention, so I feel like I effectively re-watched the movie.  Speaking of Dunkirk, it was a really good movie, if war movies are interesting to you.  The only thing that bothers me about war movies is that they are all the same.  I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way, because I know that people have gone through agonizing and gut-wrenching experiences as a result of very specific wars.  But for those very people, it seems as though the particular reasons for the war and all of the political circumstances associated with it are very far away when it comes to the day-to-day living during war time.  A great example of this is All Quiet on the Western Front.  That was a great book detailing WWI from a soldier’s perspective.  He was not on the winning side, but it really doesn’t matter.  All people from both sides of the war can likely relate to his story.  All this being said, my main point is that Dunkirk is likely not drastically different from other war movies you will see, except for the little navy of civilian ships that come to save the troops at Dunkirk.

Somehow I thought that getting up so early would effectively ensure that I got to bed early Sunday night and got on EST quickly, but I ended up having a hard time falling asleep, and unfortunately that seemed to be the pattern for the week!  Couldn’t get to sleep at night, but morning came early.  At least there was always coffee to keep me going until I got back to Seattle.  🙂

Mike and I had a relaxing evening the night before I left for Boston since it was our last night together for the week.  We went out to dinner and then watched a Nero Wolfe episode (I’m not sure what we’re going to do when we’ve finished those episodes).

Last weekend while I flew to Boston, Mike spent some time re-attaching some parts of the railing on our deck that were removed when we had the new deck put on.  Mike tried very hard to make a single Home Depot trip by buying multiple variants of screws during the first trip, but still ended up having to make one more trip.  I went with him for the first trip, and he went by himself for the second trip while I did laundry.  As an aside, Mike firmly believes that packing for a trip is trivial as long as all the laundry is done.  I tend to agree with him.  It certainly makes the process much faster when you aren’t waiting for key items to come out of the dryer!

My marathon training is continuing to ramp up.  I did an 18 mile run last Saturday, and another one this weekend.  Unfortunately, because my running buddy was out of town last weekend, I did that one alone.  This weekend she was back, so we ran together.  Quite frankly the run this weekend was brutal because we were both sleep-deprived and dehydrated and all of those other fun things that come with traveling.

My marathon training plan is definitely more aggressive this round than it’s been in the past, because I’m trying for a more aggressive finish time.  Normally I wouldn’t already be at 18 miles this early in my training cycle.  I have to say, though, that the 16 and 18 mile runs haven’t been feeling terrible.  i.e. it’s not like I finish them feeling like I’m exhausted and I can’t go any farther.    Of course I’m tired at the end, but not exhausted.  I’m hoping that’s a good sign.  I’ve also been doing a lot of stretching and yoga to let my muscles recover and have been downing lots of protein powder to give my muscles what they need to rebuild.  Last weekend Mike and I looked at the weather the night before my long run so I could decide when to run.  Basically if I ran at 3am, I could have a cold run, but no rain or wind.  If I waited until 6-8am I could have a warmer run with a stronger wind but it would be really rainy.  If I waited till 10am, I could have a warner run with no rain, but the wind was supposed to be gale force.  Choices, choices!  I ended up running at 7:30am and got rained on, but it wasn’t too bad.  Honestly at some point once you’re properly saturated, there’s not much more the rain can do to you.  And of course it’s key to wear clothing that mostly protects you from the wind and elements, even if it’s raining.  One thing I have definitely learned living in Seattle, though, is that there really isn’t “waterproof” clothing.  It’s actually “water resistant”.  The key difference there is that waterproof seems to indicate that you can wear it and not get wet.  The actual truth is that it keeps you dry approximately 12 minutes longer than non-waterproof clothing.

Mike’s work has been busy the past couple of weeks with the public launch of the Amazon Go store.  I’ve seen a lot of articles about it pop up on various news sites, and it’s cool that it’s generating interest.

Because of his busy-ness at work last week and my busy-ness at work and traveling, we were both pretty tired on Saturday.  I went grocery shopping, and that was about as ambitious as I got.  We both got quite a lot done on Sunday afternoon though.  I cooked up a bunch of food: Mediterranean quinoa salad, sweet potato curry, beef stew, chicken rice with veggies, and roasted root veggies.  Mike cleaned out my bathroom sink drain and re-installed some screws in the railing on the deck and hosed down the whole deck.  One thing I love about Mike’s and my relationship is that our strengths tend to be in different areas.  A couple examples just from this weekend:

I told Mike my bathroom sink drain was going slowly and asked him if he could look at it and pour Draino in it or something.

“Hmm,” he said.  “I don’t know that I want corrosive stuff going down our pipes.  That’s more what renters do; not what homeowners do.”

“How else do you clean it out?” I asked.

Two hours later, Mike had disassembled some pipe under the sink, cleaned out a bunch of (apparently pretty disgusting) glob of toothpaste, hair, and soap scum that seemed to be glued together by my mascara.  The water went down the sink so fast that it was gone before I could see it.

Then a couple hours later, I got our kitchen trash by the back door for Mike to take out to the trash bin.  Mike looked at it.

“There’s no room for that,” he said.  “The trash is full.”

“I’m sure it’s not completely full.  There’s always room for one more.  Can’t you just put this one bag in?”

Mike looked at me.  “It’s full.  Nothing else will fit in.”

Having some experience with Mike’s version of “full trash”, I looked at him.  “Is the lid on the trash can closed all the way?”

“Yes, but I could only just barely get it closed.”

“Ok.  Don’t worry about it.  I’ll take care of it.”

“Don’t wreck our trash can trying to get your bag inside!” Mike warned as he headed back to the deck.

I went outside and found that reports of the trash’s full-ness were greatly exaggerated (or else my family just has a lot of experience trying to jam trash into already full trash containers… this is also very plausible).  I got my bag in, packed things down a little with my hands, and easily closed the lid.

Mike came down from the deck 15 minutes later, and noticed the absence of the trash bag.

“Where is the trash?”

“I put it in the bin.”

“Is the lid open?  Is trash spilling all over the sidewalk?”

“No!  And the lid is closed.”

He looked at me suspiciously.  “Is the trash container broken?  What did you do?  Did you stand in the trash can and jump up and down”

“No!!  Of course not!  Go look for yourself.”

He had to admit the trash was all contained in the bin, but it was still packed down more than his usual preference.  🙂

Another example: My luggage zipper and part of the outside case broke during my trip to Boston.  Nothing crazy… it’s just very old luggage, and it’s been well-worn for awhile.  Mike looked at it and decided it was time to find new luggage.  I was ready to buy the first piece of luggage I saw, but Mike insisted on taking time to research the issue.  He asked me all about my preferences.  Was my current piece of luggage too big?  too small?  Was I happy with its type, size, and placement of zippered compartments?  Did I need to travel with clothes that I didn’t want to get wrinkled?  Did I have a color preference?  Did I carry things in that bag that were breakable?  Did I use the luggage as a carry-on or only checked baggage?  If I used it as a carry-on, did I place the luggage in overhead bins or under the seat in front of me?.  Basically I had to fill out a questionnaire on my luggage usage, but now Mike has located the perfect piece of luggage for me, and I literally didn’t have to make any luggage choices myself.  Pretty nice!  🙂

I can’t believe the weekend is already over!  I hope everyone has a really good week!  We got sunshine here in Seattle today which was such a nice change from the clouds and rain!

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Filed under Cooking, Food, Life in Seattle, Running, Travel

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

A Record Number of Home Depot trips

Mike and I were planning on having a relaxing evening of watching TV shows on Friday night, but I was at the gym Thursday night and seemed to have some kind of reaction to the bleach solution they were mopping the floors liberally with, and my nasal passages were really inflamed and sore yesterday.  To make matters, I had to move desks at work on Friday, and that involved lots of moving dusty things around, which of course further irritated my (apparently) sensitive nasal passages.  If you’ve never had sore nasal passages, I can tell you it isn’t particularly pleasant.  I found myself massaging my nose on multiple occasions on Saturday.  It basically felt like the inside of my nose had gone twelve rounds in the ring and lost.  Anyway, I was also sneezing and didn’t end up wanting to do much show watching.  So I went to bed early Friday night and woke up feeling much better on Saturday, and better yet on Sunday.  In fact, on Sunday, the only remnant of my swollen nose I noticed is that when I chopped up onions my nose was slightly irritated.  Typically for some (genetic??) reason, I can chop onions all day long and feel nothing, even when Mike is really affected by them and he’s in another room.  I remember years ago, I did some volunteer work with a group of people from work where we cooked a bunch of food, and I was in charge of chopping onions.  I chopped onion after onion after onion, and everyone else in the kitchen was dying from the pungency, and I wasn’t affected at all.  So weird how every person is different!

As usual, I spent a lot of time on Sunday prepping food for the week.  I made a coconut curry dish last week that was so good I made it again this week.  I am hoping it tastes good, but I definitely neglected it while I was watching other dishes, and the kale I added to it got a little too wilted and sad.  Last week I was more on top of that particular dish since I hadn’t made it before, and I got the kale cooked at the perfect point where it was wilted, but still had some shape and body to it.  Live and learn!  Because of an abundance of turnips, I am trying out some mashed turnips because Mike likes mashed potatoes so much.  The trick here is that since turnips are slightly more bitter than potatoes, I’m afraid Mike will notice the difference and not want the turnips.  I tried to cover up the flavor with some seasonings, but we’ll see how well that goes.  I haven’t specifically told him it’s mashed turnips, so we’ll see whether I get away with this or not.  😉

In other exciting news, my parents adopted another rescue dog.

Just when you thought their rescue dogs couldn't get any cuter!

Just when you thought dogs couldn’t get any cuter!

This is Barney, and he is adorable.  He joins their other rescue dog Lady, and already seems to be bonding and fitting in well with their family.  I admit I feel *slightly* envious.  The same day they found out about Barney, I found out about a gorgeous tortoiseshell cat that was looking for a home.  She was extremely mild (necessary to get along with Piper), and I really wanted her.  I talked Mike into going to look at her over the weekend, but of course she was already adopted within a few hours of her picture going up on Facebook.  Although I guess Piper probably wouldn’t have liked another cat, so maybe it’s for the best anyway.

On another note, I’ve started reading a series of books that my grandma and mom have read, but I have not: The Cat Who books.  I have to say that I am loving them so far.  Just the right balance between mystery, intrigue, and wit.  I have also started reading the Stephanie Plum books, which are hilarious.  Mike’s dad turned me on to those when we were in Michigan, and they are pretty funny.  Also on my reading list: The Power of Habit.  It is an amazing book to help us understand how we form habits and to replace bad habits with good ones.  I’m also reading Principles by Ray Dalio, the famous investor.  It’s an interesting book so far, made up of small snippets, or principles, he has used to guide the actions in his life.  I like the way he stresses that everyone will likely have different principles, but it’s important to have principles.  i.e. how are you going to approach work?  family?  life?  Anyway, the past few years I’ve been finding myself reading more, and my books are usually divided down the middle between productivity/business/technical books, and fluffy mysteries.

Mike and I hit a new record on ‘number of Home Depot trips in one day’.  We went to two Home Depots first thing in the morning, one in Seattle, and one up north in Everett because Mike said they had a better screw selection.  Then we came home, and Mike realized he had forgotten two screws.  I’m not sure how that was possible since he bought like 30 screws at Home Depot, but he said he did.  And then after that we had to go to Lowe’s, because apparently they have better paint than Home Depot (or at least the kind of paint that Mike wanted).  Then, Saturday night when we had planned on watching a show together, Mike said he wanted to finish up some work with the light switch in the dining room first.  I said that was fine.  I didn’t realize that was going to involve him turning off the circuit breaker to the dining room/living room so that my Sonos music stopped playing, the power to the TV was pulled, and all of the lamps in the vicinity went off.  After an hour or so of working, I asked him if he was close to being done.

“Well,” he said.  “I have some bad news.”

I leaned back on the couch and prepared myself to take it.

“I want to replace this light switch.  I don’t like it.  I have to go back to Home Depot.”

There was silence for a few moments.

“I’m guessing you don’t want to come with me?”

“That’s correct,” I said.  “I think four trips in one day is crossing a line.”

Then, the following day, the first words he said to me when I returned from my run were “I have to go to Home Depot and get some blocks for my painting.”  Keeping that man away from Home Depot would be a futile attempt, so I don’t attempt it.

Mike and I have been continuing to watch the Nero Wolfe mysteries, and we have also been watching Why We Fight, a season of eight shows produced by Ronda Rousey that details different types of fighters (i.e. Muay Thai, boxing, wrestling, MMA, etc).  Super interesting!  And it’s shown on Verizon’s Go90 video streaming service (who knew they were trying to jump into the ‘streaming original content’ game?).  I haven’t quite figured out how Go90 makes money, because all of their shows are free to stream online, and I haven’t seen any commercials or ads yet.  Regardless, this show has been really interesting so far!  It’s only one season of eight episodes, and we are already halfway done with episode 6, so we are almost done.  Hopefully another season gets made.

In other news, I am now officially one week into marathon training mode.  Eugene 2018!  My running buddy and I ran 16 miles this morning.  She is running Boston in mid-April, and I will be running Eugene two weeks later, so we’re pretty close training schedule wise.  Sixteen miles is the longest that either of us have run since we did Ragnar in July of 2017, so it has clearly been awhile.  It was slightly painful, but not as bad as I expected.  I still was able to come home, shower, and then spend three hours in the kitchen food prepping standing up (which quite frankly is sometimes pretty painful after a long run).  I had a great time catching up with her, especially since she’ll be out of town next weekend, and we’ll both be out of town the weekend after that (her in Colorado and me in Boston), so we won’t be running together for another couple of weeks.

Pic from my run this morning

Pic from my morning run

I just feel so amazed that I can run four miles from my house and see this… Mount Rainier past the Puget Sound.  So grateful!!

Tonight Mike and I are planning on relaxing and watching shows, since he has been painting railings and re-installing light switches and I have been cleaning, cooking, and doing laundry.  Time for some relaxation!  🙂  Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

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Filed under Cooking, Dogs, Dogs + Cats, Food, Life in Seattle, 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

A Shiny New Year

How is it already 2018?   A brand new year.  Maybe it will be a year of more consistent blogging.  Why not?  It’s a time for new beginnings!

Every year I try to make New Year’s resolutions, and everyone around me admonishes me and tells me I need to focus on “goals” instead of resolutions, and I can make goals anytime; not just at New Years.  While I guess that’s true, there’s something nice about starting “goals”, “resolutions”, or whatever other terminology grabs you, on the first day of a new year, all else being equal.

My year is off to a fairly inauspicious start.  I went to boxing on the Friday before New Years, and the boxing instructor had us doing weighted squats.  I’ve done weighted squats in the past, but haven’t done them at all in the past few years, but after five sets of those combined with weighted lunges, my legs were toast.  And by “toast”, I mean that I woke up Saturday morning pretty much unable to sit down and requiring stair railings and handicap bathrooms.  To say that my glues (aka butt) was sore would have been a gross understatement.  Going up and down stairs was next to impossible, and when I told Mike my butt was sore and he jokingly slapped my butt, I let out a screech that neighbors five doors down could have heard.  I work out often enough that I’m no stranger to sore muscles, but this was different entirely.  I told Mike I was swearing off squats and even went so far as to suggest that I would get a shirt made that said “I don’t do squats.” and wear it to subsequent gym sessions.  Mike even drove me to the grocery store rather than me walking there (which is what I would typically do).

I foam rolled and stretched for almost an hour Saturday night while Mike and I watched a Nero Wolf mystery, and that had me feeling slightly better, but certainly not back to normal and certainly not able to do any squats.  I had a twelve-mile run planned with my running buddy Anna on Sunday morning, and I really didn’t want to cancel it because of uncooperative glutes unless I absolutely had to.  Sunday morning, I felt like a long run would be doable, although probably not enjoyable.  Fortunately Anna was somewhat sore from a gym session on Saturday, so we took our time on the run.  The first eight miles weren’t too bad, but that last four miles every single muscle in my lower legs was screaming.  It had been a while since I was that happy to be finished with a run.  I got back home exhausted.  Not so much because of the run itself, but because of struggling against my sore legs the whole time.  I basically showered and collapsed on the couch.  I pulled myself off of the couch an hour later to get a slow cooker meal started for Mike, but I felt tired and out-of-it enough that it took me longer to get the ingredients together than usual.  Piper seemed to sense the way I was feeling and she mostly seemed to want to hang out on the couch with me.  I had eaten after my run, but it wasn’t until I ate an orange and a couple of handfuls of chocolate chips that my energy levels bounced back (I’m crediting those dark chocolate chips… yum!).

With my brain now powered by the energy from the chocolate chips, I realized that I had turned the slow cooker on four hours earlier but had forgotten to actually plug it in.  So I basically had four-hour-old room-temperature chicken sitting on my counter.  Oops.  I called myself all kinds of names for forgetting to plug the slow cooker in and wasting the ingredients, but Mike shrugged and told me that everyone makes mistakes sometimes and I should just forget about it.  “Unless you always forget to plug the slow cooker in,” he said.  “If that’s the case, you probably need to re-think your process of preparing slow cooker meals.”  Good advice as usual coming from Mike’s corner.

In the absence of the chicken meal, Mike and I ended up going out for New Years Eve to a restaurant near our house called Eve.  It actually worked out perfectly because they were completely booked for later times (i.e. 8pm, 9pm), but there was literally no one there yet at 6pm when we went.  Apparently everyone else wants to actually be at the restaurant when the New Year officially starts at midnight, but for those of us who can’t stay up till midnight without the help of many cups of coffee anyway (me), having a 6pm dinner and getting out of the restaurant before the NYE partiers show up works well.  🙂  We had a relaxing dinner that was really filling in a restaurant that was mostly empty.  It was a fun way to end the year!

On Monday there was a special New Year’s yoga class at the yoga studio I’ve been going to, so I went to that, hoping it would work out the rest of my glute and quad soreness.  It did, in fact, work out my soreness, but it was the hardest yoga class I’ve ever taken.  It was a special New Year’s class where you do 108 surya namaskar flows.  Just for reference, each surya namaskar includes at least one push-up… sometimes as many as three, depending on the variation.  So it was an hour and a half class in 102 degree heat with really challenging flows.  Wow!!  Great class, but HARD.  The good news is that I sweated absolutely everything out in that class including my soreness, so my legs are finally usable again.  I didn’t really think that’s what it would take to get them back to normal!

I took the Christmas tree down today, and I think Piper wasn’t really thrilled about it.  To be honest, neither was I.  It’s always a little depressing to put all the lights and ornaments away and realize that you’re still only in the beginning stages of winter and have a lot of days ahead with little daylight, lots of rain (or snow), but that you have no fun holidays or decorations to break up those months.  Oh well.  In all honesty, we were having light problems with our tree anyway, so we couldn’t have kept it up indefinitely.  Three days before New Years, the integrated incandescent lights in the top quarter of our tree stopped working, so the tree looked kind of lopsided.  Sometime before next Christmas we need to figure out if there’s a good way to fix our current tree, or whether we should just get a new fake tree.  Mike suggested that maybe we should just get a real tree next year, but I’m not super excited about killing a tree and getting pine needles all over the floor.  Regardless, we have another eleven-ish months to figure it out!

In a freak twist, we had a white Christmas in Seattle.  It started snowing on Christmas Eve, and then all of the snow melted by December 27th.  That’s just about the correct amount of snow in my opinion.  Just enough for a white Christmas, but nothing extraneous to hang around and mess up commuting.  😉

I hope everyone had an amazing New Year’s!  Here comes 2018!

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Filed under Christmas, Cooking, Holidays, Life in Seattle, Running, Seattle Restaurants, Weather, Winter