Category Archives: 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

Random ramblings

Busy, busy, busy lately!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I feel like we haven’t thought everything through.

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interviewing and a Ragnar relay

It was amazing having a week off of work while my friend Lia was here, but my life got back to being crazy right after she left.  As mentioned in the last blog post, I was interviewing for jobs lightly in June, and it become more intense towards the end of June.  Typically with tech interviews the first couple of interviews are phone interviews which are relatively easy to work around your schedule, although they require some prep.  Then if you make it through those, you start getting full day interviews scheduled, and those require a lot more prep and are a lot harder to work around your schedule.  So I had a one-day interview the day before Lia flew in (see previous blog post), and I had another one the week after Lia left, and those were the two primary jobs I was considering.

The interview before Lia came went well, but it honestly didn’t feel like the right fit for me.  The work was all work that I already know how to do (and have been doing) for the past couple of years.  It honestly didn’t really feel worth it to me to change jobs just so I could keep doing the same thing… I really wanted some opportunities to grow and do something totally different.  The job that I was interviewing for a week later at Sonos seemed much more in line with my goal to learn and grow.  The “gotcha” there is that it of course meant that I wasn’t uber qualified for the job.  Oh, and the second “gotcha” is that most of the team was located in the Boston Sonos office rather than the Seattle Sonos office.  So a few *slight* roadblocks.  However, the first two phone interviews went really well, so I found myself with a full day interview scheduled in Boston.  I flew out on Sunday afternoon and got to Boston around 6pm.  Ideally enough time to get to bed early and adjust to the time difference since Boston was a three hour time difference from Seattle.  I interviewed all day on Monday, and then flew back to Seattle on Tuesday at 7am (4am Seattle time!).

The interview itself felt like it went really well.  I got good vibes from everyone on the team, as well as the hiring manager, and the other people on the interview loop.  Of course, I didn’t have much domain knowledge for the job (embedded software team lead), but I was very up front about that before the Boston trip, so everyone was on the same page as far as my knowledge went.

After the interview, the hiring manager invited me to dinner with himself and a few other managers.. super nice of him!  I was honestly exhausted after the trip and the day of interviewing, but it seemed like a good sign that I got a dinner invite and I wanted to spend more time getting to know the people at Sonos.  We went to a tapas place with an outdoor patio and sat outdoors during dinner… the weather was just perfect!  After dinner, I went back to the hotel and decided that I REALLY needed a run to wind down and calm my adrenaline-filled day.

The St. Charles River that runs through Boston is just gorgeous!

So pretty! And calming!

So pretty! And calming!

 

The sun set while I was running, and it was just so peaceful.

Lovely

Lovely

And then of course there was the 4am alarm the next morning (1 am Seattle time!) so I could catch my 7am flight.  Kind of an exhausting trip, but such a great interview experience!

Long story short, I got a job offer, accepted it, and started at Sonos on Monday (7/31).  Super excited to be there, and I’m already learning so much!  Ready for the journey!  🙂

So… what else has been going on?

Well, two weeks after the interview, I had a big team relay race (Ragnar Northwest Passage) that I had signed up for back in December.  Basically, a team of 12 people split up into two vans run a 200 mile relay race over 1-2 days.  I honestly was feeling like I already had so much going on that I wasn’t sure about doing the race, but I had already signed up and it definitely wouldn’t have been fair to bail on my 11 other team members.  So I went into it with the goal just to get through it.  And of course, as is the way with many things in life, I had such an amazing time!!  I’ll detail how it all went.  I apologize in advance if you have no interest in running.  But for what it’s worth, Ragnar isn’t a normal race, and you may read this and decide that you want to run one too.  🙂

I was in Van 2, which meant that the six runners in Van 1 started running the relay first.  The race started up by the Canadian border around 10am, and the six of them had to cycle through their legs before my van started.  Our van met them about thirty miles south of the initial starting point at the start of Leg 7.  We arrived there in plenty of time to pick up our Ragnar shirts, decorate our van windows (which seemed to be an exceedingly popular thing to do) and “tag” other teams’ vans with our team’s magnets (another exceedingly popular thing to do).  I also learned that you mark the numbers of people that members of your van pass on the van as well, so you can keep track.  It’s all in fun though… everyone who passed me was really nice and encouraging to me, and I did the same when I passed others.  And then around 2:30pm, we got word via text message from Van 1 that they were close to the exchange point.   So our first runner, Alex, queued up at the exchange point, ready to grab the baton and start running.  The first exchange point was really busy… lots and lots of teams waiting for their first set of runners coming in.  When the sixth runner from our first van streaked up, Alex grabbed the baton and took off, and then Van 1 got a break for several hours while our van of 6 people cycled through their legs.  The members of Van 2 piled into our van and started off to the exchange point between Alex (runner 7) and Anna (runner 8).  It was HOT.  And most of the roads weren’t shaded.  A couple of us in the van checked the weather and saw that my leg (9) and Drake’s leg (10) were going to be the two legs during the hottest part of the day.  And I really wasn’t trained for this with all the interviewing prep I’d been doing.  Ugh.  Oh well.  Time to put my running shoes on, pull a Nike, and “Just Do It”.  Alex handed off to Anna, and we piled back into the van and drove to the next exchange point.  I had time to do a few stretches and use the porta potty before we saw Anna coming down the road.  The sun was very hot on my head.  This was going to be rough.  I grabbed the baton and started off.

Starting the first leg after taking the handoff from Anna

Starting the first leg after taking the handoff from Anna

My first leg was 6.6 miles, which isn’t a ton but felt like a lot in the hot sun.  I hadn’t brought a water bottle with me, because it wasn’t hot in Seattle, so I didn’t realize how hot the race was going to be.  Fortunately one of the other runners (Ken, who really ended up being our hero) lent me his.  The van passed me around mile 3, and they offered to give me water, but I shook my head.  I had made my legs find a groove and didn’t want to risk stopping.  Plus I had the water bottle that I was carrying with me.  After what seemed like a really long time, I finally saw the “1 mile left” marker by the road and picked up my speed a little (even though Anna had warned me that sometimes those “1 mile left” signs were a little inaccurately placed).  A mile later, I approached the hand-off, gave the baton to Drake (who was already sweating just standing in the hot sun), and then he took off.

Checking off my first leg on the van window

Checking off my first leg on the van window

I was left standing there with my other van members literally dripping sweat.  My average pace was 7:54min/mile.  Fortunately we had tons of baby wipes in the car.  Most of the runners in our van were veteran Ragnar relay runners who knew the value of baby wipes in the absence of a hot shower.  I wiped off as best I could, and we headed for the next exchange point.  Nick started stretching.  His leg was fairly short, so he wanted to run it fast.  Drake came in hot and breathing hard and handed off to Nick.  Back in the van, we were already starting to plan.  Anna’s achilles had been bothering her a lot in the few weeks prior to the race, and it was really hurting after her first leg, so we were trying to figure out a way to minimize her running by trading legs.  My next leg was 2.2 miles, and hers was 5.5 miles, so she and I decided to swap.  And Ken, our 12th and final runner, who is a running monster, said he’d take her third leg in addition to his own (which meant he was running four legs instead of the three everyone else was running).

Nick came in fast, and Ken took off fast (they’re both 7 – 7:20 min/mile runners).  When we picked Ken up after his leg, we had about four hours off while Van 1 took over for the next six legs.  We found our way to a grocery store that had a buffet in the deli area and we all got some dinner.  I didn’t want to eat anything that might upset my stomach since I knew we’d be doing our night runs next, and night running definitely wasn’t something my body was used to.  After eating, we drove to the exchange point where we’d pick up from the Van 1 runners.

Driving to the next exchange point in the fading light... the number of people we passed marked on the van window

Driving to the next exchange point in the fading light… the number of people we all passed while running aggregated and marked on the van window

A bunch of vans were already there and many runners had sleeping bags laid out on the grass to try to catch a few hours of sleep.  Unfortunately there was a giant Ragnar party going on at one of the houses across the street from the exchange point, and they were blasting loud music and had a lights show going on, even though it was already 10pm, and the sun was setting.  The six of us went to a grassy area and foam rolled out our muscles to keep them from getting stiff before we started our second legs.

Waiting for our night runs

Waiting for our night runs… Drake out cold

Drake wrapped himself in a sleeping bag and enviably fell asleep immediately.  The rest of us just foam rolled and talked as it got darker and darker.  Around 11pm we got word that the Van 1 runners were just about done, so Alex got ready to go and got to the exchange point.  There were still quite a few runners around us, but definitely not as many as there were the first time we exchanged between Van 1 and Van 2.  Our team was surprisingly fast (certainly not the fastest, but faster than we had expected to be) and had started putting some distance between us and other teams.  Alex took off, and I (taking over for Anna) would be going next.  I had originally been dreading the night leg, but after the super hot sunny weather earlier, I was actually very excited to run in the cool darkness.  With the sun down, it was 55 degree running weather… completely perfect!  And my night leg would be along the shore of a lake, over the lake on a mile-long boardwalk, and then along the other side of the lake to the hand-off point.  I was definitely shivery as I waited for Alex to show up at the exchange point.  Running in 55 degree weather is perfect, but just standing there waiting isn’t quite as perfect.  Finally I saw Alex’s swinging hand lamp (almost everyone else had headlamps, so Alex was easy to spot) coming down the road.  He was running fast and almost missed seeing me until I yelled his name.  And then I was off!  The van wasn’t able to stop to give me any water or anything on this leg because it was on trails by the water (and on the boardwalk bridge over the water), so there wasn’t any access for cars.  But I didn’t need water.  I didn’t need anything.  The weather was cool, there was no hot sun beating down on my head, and I felt like I was flying!  When I hit the mile-long boardwalk, I completely zoned out and just focused on the rhythmic thud-thud-thud of my footsteps on the boards, and I came off of the boardwalk at a dead run.  Half a mile more, and I’d be at the exchange point.  I even managed to pass a few people as I emerged from the trail at the exchange point.  I handed off to Anna for her 2.2 miles, and then I was done with the second leg.  And it felt great.  Well, great is a little strong of a word.  My hip flexors were kind of sore.  But overall I felt great.  It’s that runner’s high that everyone talks about.  The night runs were tough on our team, because there were some really long ones.  Alex had a 10 mile run, Nick’s was 9 (and went over the huge Deception Pass Bridge to Whidbey Island), and Ken’s was 9.  So we were driving most of the night.  Around 3:30am we handed off to Van 1 and went to get a few hours of sleep.  We had less of a break this time, because the lengths of Van 2’s last legs were pretty short, so we knew they wouldn’t take more than three hours or so to get them all run.  We drove to the final exchange point hoping to get a little sleep since (with the exception of Drake) no one had slept yet.

The last exchange point was at a school, and runners had the option of sleeping in the school if they wanted.  Sleeping in a room with a couple hundred other people on a hard gymnasium floor didn’t appeal to me, so I decided to sleep in the van.  Eventually, Nick, Anna, and Alex went into the school to sleep, and Ken, Drake, and I tried to find comfortable positions to sleep in the 15 passenger van… so nice that we had such a big van!  We all got our own row!  Definitely not like the crowded car trips you may have taken in the past!  I still ended up mostly curled up in a ball against some of the luggage though (probably not the best thing for my already-sore hip flexors, but oh well!  It was an adventure!).

I had set my alarm for 5:30am so I could have a little time to clean up in the school bathrooms before we would be taking over from Van 1 for our final let around 6:30am.  However, I ended up waking up around 5am without the alarm for a grand total of 1.5 hours of sleep.  I grabbed the container of baby wipes, my last change of running clothes, and headed into the school.  I looked and felt like a mess.  Almost no sleep, sweat from two runs still sticking to me, my hair pointing every which way.  There were already people up and moving around in the school, so there was a line in the women’s restroom.  While I waited for a restroom stall, I used one of the sinks to at least brush my teeth and wash my face.  Then, when I got into a stall I pulled out a bunch of baby wipes since that was all the “shower” I was going to get.  I found myself in that little bathroom stall staring down at my bag of running clothes, and my meager bag of toiletries and feeling like a total mess, and it felt like such a deja vu moment of Lia’s, Mike’s, and my experience a few weeks earlier when we got rained on during our several hour hike and ended up cleaning up afterwards in a Walmart bathroom.  I couldn’t stop myself from laughing.  Was this a new pattern in my life?

I emerged from the bathroom stall feeling a little cleaner and a lot clearer headed.  Interestingly, my most tired point had been around midnight, but my run at 1:30am woke me up and got me going again.  And that 1.5 hours of sleep really seemed to have brought new life to me.  Alex was already awake and getting ready.  Apparently the Van 1 runners were running even faster than we’d been anticipating, and they were going to come in 15 or 20 minutes early.

Van 2. Drake, Nick, Alex, Anna, me, and Ken

Van 2. Drake, Nick, Alex, Anna, me, and Ken

Everyone in our van got roused, got ready, and prepped for our final run.  Alex took the hand-off a little after 6am.  The nice thing about the early runs is that the sun wasn’t fully up yet, so it wasn’t as hot as yesterday.  My run wasn’t until 8am or so, though, so I fully expected that the sun would be fully up and it would be hot.  But definitely not as hot as the afternoon run the day before!

Alex came in strong, despite the hills that were the hallmark of the final legs, and handed off to Ken, who was taking Anna’s last leg.  He took off like he had a bear chasing him, and we drove towards the next exchange point.  I stretched as much as I could, but at that point I was stiff and sore, both from the two previous runs and from sitting in a van for 24 hours.  So I honestly wasn’t really trying to optimize my general muscle soreness… I was just trying to optimize my last run.  I figured if I could get through that, I could take the whole week to recover if I wanted to.  Ken came in strong (as always), and I picked up from him.  It took me a mile just to get into a rhythm.  My stiff legs were rebelling.  I kept waiting for the van to pass me, but it didn’t.  I wondered if they’d given Ken some extra time to dry off and stretch out, since he still had one more leg to run.  My last leg was 7 miles.  It was definitely hilly.  Up a hill, down a hill, up a hill, down a hill, etc.  Not the best movement for my sore muscles, but at least this last leg was mostly shady.  There was only about a mile that was in the full sun, and I knew that the last half mile was all downhill, so that was good to look forward to.  Finally when I was halfway done with my leg, the van passed me.  They offered me water, but at that point I had my legs in a groove and definitely didn’t want to stop.  When I turned the last corner and felt the final downhill start, a huge runner’s high kicked in.  I was almost done!!  I ran as fast as I could down the final hill, and Drake was at the bottom waiting to pick up from me.  He headed off for his last leg, and I tried to process the fact that I was done running.  However, we didn’t have a lot of time to process, because we had to head to Drake’s hand-off point.  Everyone’s last run was strong, and Ken, our final runner, was really fast (despite it being his fourth leg, and despite the hot sun which was now definitely overhead).  All of us waited a tenth of a mile back from the finish line for Ken to come in so that we could all cross the finish line together.  As it happened, Ken was chasing down the runner in front of him and was running so fast that he didn’t even see the eleven of us (despite the fact that we were all wearing bright turquoise matching running shirts), and so he tore across the finish line with the rest of us running frantically behind trying to catch up to him.  🙂

Official finish line pic for our team of 12

Official finish line pic for our team of 12

 

Because we had more men on our team than women (7 men, 5 women) we were judged in the Men’s Open category and came in 8th out of 162 teams in that division with a final time of 26:38:27.9.  We all ran fast, but we definitely could not have pulled that off without Ken.  He would have won the MVP award if we had one.  🙂  But anyway, it was absolutely a blast!  It took running, which is such an individualized sport, and turned it into a team sport where we all worked together and all cheered each other on.  I am totally hoping to do it again next year (maybe even on the same team if that same team forms again).

And you’re probably all thinking… this job interview stuff is fine, and the Ragnar relay is fine, but where is MIKE in all of this??  I read the blog mostly to hear about what MIKE is doing!

So Mike wasn’t interested in running Ragnar, but he has been going to the gym regularly and lifting lots of heavy weights.  Very heavy weights.  Dead-lifting, benching, squatting… those kinds of heavy things.

Mike has been very work-focused for the past several months.  I suggested to him that he get a hobby, but he is enjoying learning a bunch at work and said he would rather work extra hours than have a hobby (crazy guy!!).  So he has been working, and he also read a really long autobiography of Keith Richards’ life (from the Rolling Stones) that I got him for his birthday last year.  It took him awhile to start reading it, but when he actually started reading it, he literally couldn’t stop.  Some nights he came to bed at 3am, having read for several hours.  Now that he finished that, we bought the biography of Elon Musk for him to read.  And we have been watching Game of Thrones together now that the current season is airing.  And he’s been playing with Piper.  🙂

We still go out for a date night at least once a week.  Last week’s was Thai food in the Queen Anne area of Seattle, and it was DELICIOUS!

Mike and me having yummy Thai food! Mike's with a spice level of 1, and mine with a spice level of 4. Exactly how we like it. :)

Mike and me having yummy Thai food! Mike’s with a spice level of 1, and mine with a spice level of 4. Exactly how we like it. 🙂

 

And…. that’s all that’s been going in our corner of the world lately.  Hopefully now I’ve talked about the big things going on, and the next post can be a more day-in-lives-of-Mike-Karena-and-Piper kind of post.  I PROMISE to get Mike out doing more things so that there will be more info on Mike in the next post… Stay tuned!  🙂

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Filed under Cats, Friends, Pictures, Seattle

Boxing shoes and blue mascara

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes.  Why?”

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

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

“Oh, I thought you said fluorescent?”

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

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

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

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

“At boxing nobody would likely notice.”

“Some things must not be left to chance.”

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

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

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

“Lol”

I love our text conversations.  🙂

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

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

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

I frowned down at them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Halfway through 2016! (How did that happen so fast?!?)

Here we are in the second half of 2016… wow, has time ever flown by!  And I have not been very consistent with writing on my blog (major understatement).  I have missed writing on it, but somehow I am always. doing. something.  Almost literally.  I keep thinking of things I would like to write on my blog, but then never take the time to actually write them.  So what have Mike and I been up to that I am apparently never at my computer long enough to write a blog post these days?

Well, for starters, Mike has continued to be busy with travel here and there and that keeps both of us on our toes (always prepping for him either coming or going).  It looks like that’s finally going to slow down a little which will be nice.  It’s getting difficult to keep explaining to Piper why her best friend is gone.

"I'll lay on top of you so that you can't go anywhere."

“I’ll lay on top of you so that you can’t go anywhere.”

 

I’ve also been continuing my running, and my running buddy and I had a great half marathon three weeks ago!

A 1:45 half marathon!

A 1:45 half marathon!  If we look happy it’s because we ARE!  🙂

 

We’ve signed up for a full marathon in Portland in the fall and are really excited!  We’re planning to train together through the summer… we have both helped each other become much faster over the past couple of months.

I also picked up boxing several months ago and am kind of in love.  I’ve been taking 2-3 classes a week for the past three months, so at this point I’m committed.  I ordered my own pair of boxing gloves so that I can stop using the gym’s.  I ordered them partially because it’s time to take my boxing relationship to the next level and partly because my mom thinks it’s the funniest thing in the world that I’m learning to box and she wants a picture of me in Rocky shorts wearing my boxing gloves.  I’m way too embarrassed to ask someone in my boxing class to take a picture of me with my gloves on (like… do I think I’m Floyd Mayweather or something??), but if I have my own gloves Mike can take my picture himself.  Anyway, the boxing gloves are on the way, with a picture of boxing Karena to follow in the near future.

Mike and I also finally started an herb garden on our roof!  We carried tons of soil and heavy planters up to our roof.  And by “we”, I mean “Mike”.  I carried nothing.  I’m a boxer and a runner, not a weight lifter.  😉

 "Any more sixty pound bags you need me to carry up THREE FLIGHTS OF STAIRS??"

“Any more sixty pound bags you need me to carry up THREE FLIGHTS OF STAIRS??”  Good thing this man lifts weights.

 

For the first round of the herb garden, I only planted basil, silver thyme, parsley, and rosemary.

Garden Project: Phase 1

Garden Project: Phase 1

 

Round 2 occurred when the nursery we go to had a Fourth of July sale… 40% off all herbs!!

Garden Project: Phase 2

Garden Project: Phase 2

Phase two consisted of one additional (and healthier-looking) basil plant, golden thyme, oregano, and mint.  The mint is in a separate pot in the planter because apparently that’s how you do mint so that it doesn’t take over all of your other herbs.

Mike and I also picked up hiking!  We went on a big hike up Mount Si over the Fourth of July weekend.  Eight miles roundtrip!  The website says that he first four are solely uphill, and Mike and I can vouch for that.  Four miles steadily and steeply uphill!!

Our shoes are ready for some trail miles! Eight, to be exact.

Our shoes are ready for some trail miles! Eight, to be exact.

 

The drive to Mount Si was only 45 minutes… so close!!  It was also very cloudy, but we figured that climbing a mountain is probably better on a cool, cloudy day than on a hot, sunny day.

The drive to Mount Si

The drive down I-90 to Mount Si

 

The sun actually ended up coming out, but the trail was almost entirely shaded by all of the big, old trees.  The hike was amazingly beautiful.

Lots of gorgeous, old trees!

Lots of gorgeous, old trees!

 

It's a looooong way up to those treetops! (But don't worry... we surpassed those treetops by a long way before we reached the top of the climb.

It’s a looooong way up to those treetops! (But don’t worry… we surpassed those treetops by a long way before we reached the top of the climb).

 

The view from the top was amazing.

I don't know about you, but this is why I climb mountains.

I don’t know about you, but this is why I climb mountains.  Otherwise I’d just, you know, box.

 

In other completely and totally random news, I have picked up adult coloring.  Has anyone heard of this as a thing??  The pictures have much finer levels of detail than children’s coloring books (and thus require more work to stay inside the lines).  Apparently it’s good for your mental health too.  Bonus!  I find it relaxing to sit down with my uber adult, detailed coloring book and colored pencils.  And tell myself it’s way more adult than what I did when I was five.  😉

For the Fourth of July, Mike and I didn’t watch the fireworks (even though they shoot them off about a mile from our house so we really should have gone).  But I was really busy coloring and Mike was looking up record players online, so it was pretty hard for us to justify leaving our house.  We did go over to a friend’s house who was having a dinner party earlier in the day, though, and that was so much fun!  It is blueberry season here in Washington, so there were loads of fresh blueberries on sale at the grocery store.  So I ended up making blueberry bars to bring, and they were well-received.  🙂  We ate outdoors because it was so nice outside, but it got colder as it got darker so then we all ended up inside for dessert.

In addition to looking up record players, Mike has been busy helping me with the herb garden.  (It’s a good thing someone was strong enough to carry all those bags of soil to the roof, because Piper and I certainly weren’t.)  He’s also been researching lighting fixtures because he wants to add light to our kitchen and put up a pendent light in the kitchen.  I helped select the pendent light, and then I’m staying out of it.  This is definitely a Mike kind of project.

Also, we finished watching this season of Game of Thrones.  And by the way, for a season that was as ho-hum as this season, it sure went out with a bang!!  I will NOT post any spoilers, but oh my gosh!  That final episode of this season had my jaw dropping after the first twenty minutes.

So, long story short, things are plugging along here.  Mike, Piper, and I are enjoying the summer.  Well, we mostly are.  Piper has another UTI, but at least this one can be treated with pills instead of daily injected antibiotics like last time.  And so it goes.  That poor girl.  She’s a lot crankier when she has a UTI, though, so she’s been a little difficult to live with lately.  Even more queenly and intolerant than her normal queenly and intolerant self.  🙂

Our first CSA produce delivery is next week, so I’m very excited for some new cooking inspiration from all of the farm fresh produce… I literally can’t wait!  I’m so excited that I texted Mike in the middle of the workday to let him know that I was excited.  Clearly I only communicate about important matters.  😉

And work continues to be busy for both Mike and me.  Mike is doing some work that he finds more interesting these days, so that’s nice.  And work is really busy for me too.  I somehow managed to get myself promoted again, this time to technical lead for my team.  I keep thinking about that phrase about everyone getting promoted to their own level of incompetence (is that something from Dilbert and the pointy-haired boss?  Where did I hear that phrase?).  I keep feeling like I’m going to hit that point soon if I haven’t already.  That point where I’m out of my depth and am just being incompetent at my job and really need to be demoted to get to a productive point again.

And that’s our life in a nutshell these days!  Hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth and is looking forward to the second half of 2016!

Happy 4th from my queen cat who likes to sit on dining room chairs, but only dining room chairs that have towels on them.

Happy 4th from my cranky queen-cat who likes to sit on dining room chairs, but only dining room chairs that have towels on them.

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

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