Category Archives: Seattle

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

Races, family, and getting back in the blog-posting saddle

Somehow my puzzling has fallen by the way side.  I’m not sure what happened.  I bought two puzzles at the same time around Thanksgiving, and had so much fun putting the first one (a gnome castle) together.  The second one (a view of Venice at night) has just been languishing on the dining room table for over a month.  I dutifully assembled the border and a few small chunks of pieces, and then it’s just sat on the kitchen table.  I’m honestly not sure what happened.  My best guess is that a gnome castle is somehow inherently interesting.  And maybe a picture of Venice isn’t (although the real experience of going to Venice definitely is).  Regardless, I disassembled the little bit of puzzle I’d done so that we have more dining room table real estate back since I don’t seem to be getting puzzling traction.  Mike is trying to be sorry that the puzzling isn’t working out, but it’s hard for him because he’s looking forward to having a full dining room table again.

I ran a really fun 15k race a couple weekends ago.  The route was scenic and went along the waterfront downtown and then north all the way up SR-99 right past Mike’s and my house before turning around and heading back downtown again.  There were 12,000+ people signed up for the race, so it was recommended that you arrive early.  I used to be so conscientious about getting to races early, and now I count it a victory if I arrive just as the start gun is going off.  It took me about fifteen races before I realized that if you get to a race early all that earns you is the right to stand in the cold (and usually wet) morning for an extra forty-five minutes.  Oh, and it also gives you the right (the need, actually) to use the port-a-potties at least twice before the start of the race.  And, really, who wants to use a port-a-potty even once (much less twice)?  So now I try to time my arrival so that I’m barely in the nick of time and I’m completely happy.

When I woke up to an almost sunny morning the day of the race, I was optimistic that I would get out of the whole race dry.  I hopped a bus downtown (picking one that wasn’t on a re-route schedule for the race).  The race started and ended at Seattle Center, which is an area where a lot of Seattle events take place.  There are two main advantages to running races that start at Seattle Center.

  1. They have a huge auditorium (several actually), and they always open up the main one before races.  So if you don’t want to stand around outside freezing to death waiting for your race to start, it’s very advantageous to pick a race like this one that has a giant heated space to do your stretching in prior to the race.  Literally the trickiest part of any race is to arrive early enough to get a parking spot while also being late enough so that you aren’t standing outside forever waiting for the race to start.
  2. Bathrooms!  Lots and lots of them.  It’s somehow in a runner’s psychology to decide fifteen minutes before the start of the race that they should use the restroom one last time.  This causes literally huge and terrible lines at all the port-a-potties stationed at the race start lines.  However, when you have a giant auditorium you have (you guessed it!) INDOOR bathrooms.  And a lot of them!

I arrived plenty early, so I hung out inside stretching.  All was well until about ten minutes before race time when people started crowding to the windows and I saw that it had started pouring rain.  I really hadn’t dressed specifically for rain.  I had a running coat on, but it wasn’t waterproof, and I didn’t have a hat.  I did have a wide headband that I figured would help a little though.  I watched as some of the more prepared people around me started pulling out disposable glorified garbage bags to slip over their heads like ponchos to keep the rain off.  I watched as some of the less prepared people wearing shorts and tank tops shifted from one foot to the other.  We all headed out en masse towards the start line and fortunately the rain already seemed to be lessening.  We headed off down hill towards the waterfront.  That was nice from a scenic perspective, but I’m always suspicious of races that start off with a mile of down hill running.  What goes down must come up (at least where running races are concerned), and I knew I’d be seeing those same hills later in the race but I’d be headed up instead of down.  We ran down along the water front for a mile or two and then turned and headed back up towards Seattle Center.  The rain had cleared and the sun was actually out.  I was getting overly warm and contemplated tying my coat around my waist but ultimately decided against it since I didn’t feel like stopping.  We ran past Seattle Center and headed north on Aurora all the way up past Mike’s and my house and almost to the zoo.  When we got close to the turnaround point to start heading back south to Seattle it started to rain again all of a sudden.  When we turned south, I realized that there was a strong south wind that I hadn’t noticed before because it had been at my back but now it was in my face in full force.  At least it was mostly downhill headed back to Seattle!  After about half a mile of running south, the skies opened up and it started pouring rain.  I tried to check the time on my running watch, but it was raining so hard that I couldn’t wipe the water off of my watch fast enough to see the time (while running anyway).  At that point I was committed.  I was already soaked so I had nothing left to worry about.  I tore back down Aurora, looking forward to seeing Seattle Center, a finish line, and a warm building (not necessarily in that order).  The rain finally let off a few miles later, and I ran the final couple of miles in only a sprinkling, misty rain.  Since I was already soaked, though, it almost didn’t matter whether it kept raining hard or not.  At some point your clothes physically aren’t going to absorb any more water.  When I finally hit the place where we turned west to go to Seattle Center I tried to kick up my pace a notch and was surprised that my body didn’t want to go any faster.  Maybe I had been running faster than I’d realized given that I didn’t have anything extra left to give at the end?  I managed to keep up my pace through the last quarter mile, but I definitely wasn’t able to speed up at all.  The finish line (with the big warm auditorium behind it) was a welcome sight, and I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:18:12 and an average pace of 8:24 min/mile.  Definitely better than I was expecting, especially given the weather and the hills.  Or maybe the weather actually helped, because I was motivated to get the race finished.  😉

The same weekend of the race, Mike did a lot of landscaping work.  He pulled weeds in the front and along the side of our townhome and then laid down “beauty bark” which is apparently something that helps prevent weeds from growing in the future, although I’m a little unclear how that works.  I did lots of cooking while he did that.  I have been getting bored of cooking variations on the same things, so I made up some different dishes this week.

I started with smoky chicken with crispy chickpeas, and then made an eggplant coconut curry and a maple chicken with roasted squash.  Everything turned out surprisingly good.  I am loving Clean Eating magazine and am now getting my recipes almost exclusively from there.

Despite all my cooking, Mike and I felt like going out to dinner one night a couple weeks ago, so we went to a Taco Bar that was only a few blocks from our house but somehow we had never been there.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  I have literally never had tacos that good in my entire life.  I had the black bean sweet potato tacos and they were phenomenal.  They took tacos to an entirely new level.  I was already contemplating how soon we could return as we left.  Afterwards we went to a whiskey bar conveniently located only a block from the taco bar.  I enjoyed some scotch while Mike opted for Old Fashioned’s.  It was all entirely too good.  And it being only a four minute walk from our house?  Amazing!  How are we somehow blessed enough to live close enough to all of this stuff??  Then we came back to our house and started watching an episode of Suits, a law show that we’ve been watching off-and-on, but we were too tired to finish it.

I have been in a ‘second cat’ mood these days, so much so that I got Mike to go with me to the Seattle Humane Society last weekend to look at cats.  However, I had already poured over all the available cats on their website prior to going, so I already had one specific one that I wanted to see.  Unfortunately he wasn’t actually at the Humane Society… he was at a Petsmart in Issaquah to get more exposure.  Darn.  Again, Mike tried to be appropriately sad for me even though he doesn’t want to get another cat.  He even offered to go to the Petsmart with me to see the cat, but I declined.  Issaqah is a ways away and it was a pretty rainy day.  And I didn’t feel like I was actually going to get a cat that day so it would have been a rather futile effort.

My music choices have been beyond bizarre lately.  I’ve been alternating between old Celtic folk music, 90’s rock/alternative, modern rap, and he new Chris Cornell album (because I think Chris Cornell basically deserves his own genre).

This past week, Mike’s parents were here visiting from Michigan!  What a treat!  We got to hang out with them and with Mike’s sister Catherine and her two daughters over the weekend.  It was a whirlwind weekend that started with a ferry ride to Whidbey Island followed by a little shopping and a long drive to Deception Pass.  We were attempting to get there before dark and didn’t really manage that.  However, it was surprisingly gorgeous at night, especially with the full moon overhead illuminating the gorge and water below the bridge.  So that actually worked out well.  We ended up getting back down to Everett late, and Mike and I went out to dinner with his parents at an Irish pub close to their hotel (really about the only place we could find that was still open at 11pm).  The food there was good, though, so it turned out to be a good choice!  The next day we went on an abbreviated trip to the zoo.  I say ‘abbreviated’ because we didn’t really get to the zoo very early, so we skipped parts of the zoo and just focused on the animals that the kids especially wanted to see.  It was a nice day for walking around the zoo regardless, though, and we enjoyed it!  The following day was filled with some shopping and some wine tasting in Woodinville.  We went on a short tour of Chateau St. Michelle and I was impressed with the lineage of their wines and interested to hear about how they create their wines.  It was fun to hang out with everyone for a few days!  Going back to work after such a full weekend to a day packed with back-to-back meetings definitely felt like a change!  But at least the day flew by!

It’s already almost April…. I literally have no idea how that happened!  My goal for April is to post more blog entries.  I’ve really been letting that go lately because it literally feels like I am always 100% busy.  However, it’s important to keep the blog posts coming… I sometimes think  that writing is about the only ‘creative’ outlet I have these days, so it’s definitely important to keep it up!

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!  And my mom reminded me that Easter Sunday is this weekend.  So Happy Early Easter to everyone!  (How is it already Easter?  It must be here early this year!)

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Filed under Cooking, Family, Life in Seattle, Rain, Running, Seattle, Seattle Restaurants, Visitors

Why you should not wash all your coats at once

My blog posting lately has been woefully sparse lately.  I’m very aware of this, and hope that things slow down.  In all honesty, 2016 has been a whirlwind!!  Mike has been traveling back and forth to California for work since his company has a location there as well as in Seattle, and his team works with them quite a bit.  So in the past three weeks, Mike has spent at least part of each week in California.  And he was there for two weeks in December and one week in January.  This has meant that airport runs, doing laundry, and packing clothes to accommodate these frequent trips are no longer a novelty but a part of life.  It’s looking like this will slow down soon, but in the meantime everything has been hectic since I’ve been taking care of things that Mike would normally take care of.  Case in point: On Monday I worked from home to be there when a home inspector came to look at our house (we’re coming up on our one-year warranty!  How have we already been here a year??).  On Friday I was at work in a meeting with a co-worker and had to take a quick break before the meeting to call the mechanic about taking a look at the TPMS in our tire.  After my call, my co-worker shook her head and said, “You have been busy lately!”  On top of that, my job has been super busy lately.  I’ve been at Groupon just about a year, and I’ve found from past experience that after I’ve been at a job for about a year I understand it well and end up getting pulled into a variety of projects.  I love it because my days fly by, but holy cow!  It has been keeping me busy lately!!

So, that’s my big long disclaimer.  Basically I know I haven’t been posting… I hope things get better after mid-March when the biggest project I’m working on launches.

Here are some practical, random thoughts on having a husband who seems to be gone on business half of the time.

  1. I have to turn the heat up higher at night.  Apparently Mike runs hot enough that he heats up the bedroom, and without him I need extra heat of the electric variety.
  2. The dishwasher doesn’t get full before I run out bowls.  I’m a bowl person and eat almost anything I can out of bowls, and Mike is more of a plate person.  What that means is that when Mike isn’t here to fill up half of the dishwasher with plates, I run out of bowls before the dishwasher is full enough to run.  #firstworldproblems
  3. Trying to cook is difficult, since Mike often leaves town and doesn’t get back until the food I’ve cooked has gone bad.  I really need to learn the art of freezing food.  For some reason it intimidates me and I never do it.  And if I do, I never thaw it because I really don’t know how, so I end up throwing it out after six months anyway, thus defeating all the point to having frozen it in the first place.
  4. Piper expects me to play with her since Mike isn’t around as much, but then when I try to play with her she just stares at me with her eyes half closed as if to say ‘Really?  Really??  That’s all you got?  That’s pathetic.  Where’s Mike?’   And then ten minutes later I see her throwing her crumpled receipt up the stairs and then running after it by herself.  So apparently Mike is the best person to play with.  Piper herself is second best.  And I am third best.  Or last best.  Or just the worst.  I haven’t decided how I’m spinning this situation to myself yet.

In other news, despite Mike’s frequent trips, I have been doing a lot of cooking.  This weekend I made a tomato veggie soup that was yummy!  I increased the amounts of all of the spices, which I think helped a lot.  Otherwise it may have been a little bland for me.  But I’m also the person who puts salsa and sriracha on everything, so I may not be representative of the general population.  I also made some balsamic brussels sprouts that turned out really well.  Mike ate the first bite and then turned to me solemnly and told me that was the best thing to ever come off of our stove.  Score!  Sunday night I made red peppers stuffed with chicken and veggies.

Although I have been doing pretty well in the cooking department, I had an instance of very bad wife-dom a week ago (Is wife-dom a word?  No?  I guess I just made it up then.)  Mike had gotten back from one of his trips late, and his windbreaker didn’t smell great.  I threw it in the washer, and while I was at it I threw his second, slightly heavier coat in the wash too.  I made a mental note to myself that I had to move those to the dryer before I went to bed or Mike wasn’t going to have a coat to wear to work the next morning.  Well, we all know what happens with mental notes.  (Or maybe just what happens to me with mental notes?  Lately I feel as though I always have twenty things in my head that I’m remembering to do and a few always fall off my radar.  Or maybe I’m just living in denial and it’s actually a ‘senior moment’?  😉 )  Anyway, of course, I went to bed forgetting all about the coats and didn’t remember them until the next morning when Mike was getting ready for work.  I threw them in the dryer then, but it was really too late.

“So I have no coat?” Mike asked, when I confessed what I had done.

“Well…” I hedged.  “Not no coat.  Just not those two coats.”

“But those are the only two coats I ever wear,” Mike said.  Good point, but not one I was going to cede without a fight.

“Right… but you still have that down coat,” I reminded him.

“Yeah, but it’s super hot.  I’ll get overheated in one second.”

I was already frantically looking through our closet and emerged triumphantly with his running jacket.  “Here!  This is even black.  And it’s not too cold out today.  This will work.”

Mike shrugged, put it on, and left for work.

And of course, it started to rain that day and we got a windstorm.  As I walked to lunch with a coworker I told him all about how I had washed all of my husband’s coats and left him with nothing to wear except a running jacket.  And, as I recounted it to my coworker, I remembered that the running jacket didn’t even have a hood.  And Mike never carries an umbrella because he typically wears one of his two coats with hoods that were at that moment in the dryer.  I felt guilty for wearing my hood.  I felt like I should put it down.  Since I had taken away both of Mike’s hoods, what right did I have to be enjoying my hood?

I was concerned about Mike on and off all day as I looked out the window at the rain and wind.  I even contemplated crazy stuff like going home over lunch to get his now-dry coat and then dropping it off with him at work.  But frankly work was way too busy for me to have much more than a bathroom break all day so an extended lunch to go home and back wasn’t really in the cards.  Then I thought that after work I could at least drop off my umbrella with him at work so he would have something while he waited for the bus, but he ended up leaving too early for me to do that.  I had only been home a few minutes when he arrived.  I hurried him in out of the rain and offered him a hoodie.  He looked at me like I was crazy.

“What’s that?”

“It’s a hoodie!  So you can warm up after being wet and frozen with no coat all day.”

“What?”

“You only wore your running jacket today, and there was a windstorm and it rained!”

Mike looked at me as though only barely understanding me.  “Oh, I actually got too warm in this coat.  It wasn’t very cold out.”

So apparently I spent significantly more time thinking about that than he did.  🙂

I have been listening to so much music lately… I’m not sure, but I’ve definitely been in a music mood lately.  I have been loving Chris Cornell’s new album

Incidentally, this article about why you should date an engineer is literally the funniest article I have seen in all of 2016 so far.  I could not stop laughing when I read it.  Could.  Not.  Stop.  So accurate.  Numbers 9 and 15 have literally happened to us exactly as they are written.  Multiple times.  The only way in which I seem to be more of the “engineer” in the relationship are numbers 11 and 19 (I laugh at myself for re-arranging the dishes in the dishwasher even as I continue to do it.  Time.  After.  Time.  After.  Time.)

Incidentally my running has been getting fast.  I ran 2 two-mile intervals at a 7:30min/mile pace last week.  That is fast for me!  How did this happen?  A good friend at work is taking a three day hiking/climbing trip at Mt. Rainier in July with a mountain climbing group.  His ambition is starting to remind me that I keep planning to do a sub 4 hour marathon.  Maybe 2016 is the year?  All of that training sounds like a pain… but…. the thought of a shot at that four hour marathon sounds pretty good.  We’ll see.  🙂

Speaking of mountain climbing, has anyone seen the documentary Meru??  Oh my gosh… SO good!!  Watch the trailer at the link I gave so you can see if it’s your kind of movie, but I loved it!  Such an amazing story!

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Filed under Cats, Cooking, Life in Seattle, Seattle, Weather, Winter

Happy 3rd Anniversary to Us!

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

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

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

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

Mine is the plate on the right. ;)

Mine is the plate on the right. 😉

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

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

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

Lots of different types of meat

Lots of different types of meat

 

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

Mike relaxing

Mike relaxing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

Halloween Christmas Cat!

Halloween Christmas Cat!

 

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

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

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

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