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A wet hike and reluctant Walmart shoppers

So… I think we can all agree that I’ve been terrible about blog posting.  Life has been so crazy and hectic.  Not in a bad way… just in a “the merry go round keeps spinning and I don’t really have a chance to get off for a breather” kind of way.

I could try to go way back and talk about everything that Mike and I have been doing since the first of the year, but that’s too far back.  And who knows how good my memory actually is anyway… it probably doesn’t even go back that far.  January feels very far away.

So let’s just go back a month or so.  The one and only bestie Lia came to visit in mid June!  What a blast!  We had a very fun week together… a good mix of hiking, nice restaurants, and tourism (the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit at Seattle Center!).  And I still have to get you Mike’s and my pictures from your visit, Lia… oops!

I took the whole week off of work, had a job interview on Monday (more on that later), and then Lia flew in on Tuesday and stayed the rest of the week.  The job interview on Monday was a little surreal.  These all-day tech interviews always seem a little surreal to me.  I interview with five or six people over the course of the day, and then at the end of the day I find myself in the parking garage or at the bus stop thinking, How did that go?  Did they think I’d be a good fit?  Do I think they’d be a good fit for me?  Basically I walk out of there not knowing anything and having no feelings yet.  I typically need a good night’s sleep before I can actually process the interview and decide whether I think it went well, whether I think they’ll want to hire me, and whether I think I’ll want to take the job.  So it was especially perfect that on Tuesday, rather than continuing to think about the job interview, Lia flew in, and instead I got to hang out with her and take off my job-hunting hat for awhile.

Lia!  In Seattle!  :)

Lia! In Seattle! 🙂

Mike didn’t have Tuesday off and worked late (which is mostly what he’s been doing this spring and summer), so Lia and I Uber’d up to Capitol Hill and went to a great tiny hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant and shared several dishes.

Yummy Indian!

Yummy Indian!

The spinach curry was especially amazing!  After that we headed back to Mike’s and my house, and lucky Piper got a catnip mouse present from her Aunt Lia.  What a lucky cat!  She definitely went crazy over the catnip mouse!

On Wednesday we went to a couple of different shopping areas and had lots of fun.  Well, Lia and I did.  Mike may or may not have enjoyed this part.  He did get two new pairs of shoes, though, so at least he benefited from the trip.

We had decided to go hiking on Thursday, which we did, although in retrospect maybe we should have tried to find a drier day!  It was drizzling rain in Seattle, but as we drove east towards the Cascades the rain increased, and by the time we got to Lake Serene where we were planning to hike, it was raining pretty atrociously.  However, we had all brought raincoats, so in theory there was no issue.  We decided to at least start hiking, and see how it went.  The first 15 minutes was fine.  Our rain coats still gave the impression of being water proof, and our feet were still dry (despite the fact that the trail in some places resembled a creek more closely than it resembled a trail).  Half an hour in, we were definitely wet.  Wet as in: our coats were definitely water resistant rather than water proof, and their resistance had given way to the endless rain.  By this point our feet were starting to feel a little damp as well.  It’s amazing how many other things can be endured as long as one’s feet are warm and dry.  Damp feet lead to damp spirits.  There are my words of wisdom for the day.

We continued hiking for another hour, and ended up at the most beautiful waterfall!  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  I had literally no idea that there was anything so beautiful so close to the city!  Mike and I had seen Snoqualmie Falls several times, which is amazing, but this was amazing in a much more rugged, wild, kind of way, whereas Snoqualmie Falls has a hydroelectric plant surrounding it.  😉

You can google pictures of Bridal Veil Falls in Washington State.  It was raining too hard for us to take pictures (although it looked strangely mystical and ethereal through the rainy mist).  Once we had stopped for a few minutes at the falls and were no longer climbing up a mountain, we realized that we were actually freezing and a hasty trip back down would likely be in order.  Soaked honestly didn’t begin to describe us… drenched may be a better word.  We returned back down the mountain path pretty hastily, noting that the trail resembled a creek even more closely than it had done on our ascent.  We finally arrived back at the car and weren’t even sure how to proceed to get into the car.  We were all dripping water, and although I had thoughtfully remembered to pack about thirty protein bars and 2 gallons of water, somehow had neglected to pack so much as a hand towel.  We at least got out of the wettest of our clothing (i.e. those outer “water-proof” jackets) and decided we would stop at the first store we came to so that we could buy towels, a change of clothes, and warm up and dry off, so in the meantime we packed into the car and drove away shivering and still very wet as Mike kicked the car heater into high gear.  We drove for about twenty minutes without seeing any store that looked like it would have clothes and towels.  (There seems to be a problem with these wilderness hikes…. there are no hot showers or malls nearby.  This is my main problem with hiking.  Really it’s my only problem with hiking.  Can someone solve this?)

However, we eventually came across a store, and as my luck that day would have it, that store was Walmart.  I have ethical problems with Walmart and have basically sworn them off.  But now, freezing and drenched and forced to choose between my Walmart standards and my warmth, I am somewhat ashamed to say I chose my warmth.  (Only somewhat ashamed because… you all know you would have done EXACTLY THE SAME.)

We walked into the store as a confident, bedraggled, group of three, looking like we’d just emerged from living in the wilderness for the past year, and we left a dripping trail of muddy water as we headed directly to the clothes section.  The squeaking from our three collective pairs of water-logged shoes was loud enough that it drowned out the 90’s pop music playing on the Walmart sound system.  I was forced to admit to myself that Walmart may actually have been the only store in the history of the world where we didn’t even stand out despite our disheveled appearances.  An advantage of shopping at Walmart: You can literally show up wearing ANYTHING.  And people do.  All the time.

We immediately split up, Mike heading for the men’s section, and Lia and I heading for the women’s section.  Five minutes of frantic searching later uncovered a terrible discovery.  All of the clothes were SUMMER WEAR!  It’s fifty degrees outside, the air conditioning is blasting inside, we are all soaked to the bone, but it’s JUNE!  And the only thing we can find in the clothing aisles are tank tops and bikinis!!  I was beginning to think I was getting what I deserved for breaking my never-shop-at-Walmart standards when Lia located some hoodies.  They had no hoodies in our size, so Lia and I both had to get a couple sizes up and we both snagged a couple pairs of long workout pants as well.  Lia was slightly more selective in choosing workout pants, which proved to be a good choice later when we put them on and mine were so baggy they basically hung down to my knees and I had to inelegantly bunch the waistband up in front of me with one hand.  Underwear was next, and it was nearly impossible to find that in our size too.  We also found a couple of towels which were surprisingly fluffy given their $2.97 price tag.  (How can a full size bath towel be that cheap?  Isn’t that the price of a Nestle candy bar?  Or a pack of gum?  Or… I don’t know… the tax on a movie theater ticket?  Is this why people shop at Walmart??)

After hurriedly paying for our purchases and getting exactly no weird stares while in line at the checkout (again, it must be remembered that this is Walmart), we all headed for the restrooms to towel off and change into our new luxury clothing.  Fortunately the restroom was almost empty when we entered, and Lia and I took our bag of goodies into one of the big stalls and shut the door.  Stripping out of the wet clothes and drying off with the surprisingly fluffy towels did a lot to revive us.  Getting the hoodies and workout pants on did even more to revive us.  While we were in the midst of changing and talking and giggling through chattering teeth, a couple women came in to use the restroom and I honestly have no idea what they thought we were doing in there.  Especially when we both emerged from the same stall with soaking wet hair wearing clothes 4 sizes too big and then primly washed our hands thoroughly at the sinks as though having bathroom hands was the biggest issue we were facing at the moment.

Back outside we located Mike and drove home.  And for dinner, we out for steaming hot bowls of Vietnamese pho to recover from the experience and warm up from the inside out.  We also had spring rolls, because spring rolls are always amazing.

Mmm… I had planned to get a little more info in this blog post, but I think the hike took front and center.  Maybe that’s as it should be.  It was a hike worthy of remembering.  And for the record, after one time through the wash, the surprisingly fluffy Walmart towels were surprisingly un-fluffy.  They basically had no more fluff and resembled thin cloths.  Who knew that a towel could lose that much fluff and still remain physically in one piece?  That’s almost an art of design in and of itself.

Interestingly, although that was a very unusual day for me, I actually had a deja vu moment related to that hike a couple of weeks later that I’ll detail in the next blog post.  Which will hopefully not take a month to arrive.  🙂

Friends!

Friends who hike together get wet together!

 

And… I must include a picture of Piper because she is loving the sun these days!

Gorgeous sun-cat!

Gorgeous sun-cat!

 

I hope everyone is having a great week!  🙂

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A random day in the life…

It has been a long time since posting!  But interestingly, I’m starting to miss writing.  And that was part of the point anyway, I think… stop writing until I missed it.  Let’s see… it’s basically impossible to post about everything Mike and I have been up to in the past several months, so I’ll just put some random things down in the random order that they enter my head and we’ll see how it goes.  Yes?  Good.  On we go.

I feel like my life has been on fast-forward the past couple of months.  Basically here’s the low-down on the basics.

Mike has been trying to bring his lunch to work with him more often.  This is for two main reasons:

  1. Save money.  Lunch downtown is typically expensive.
  2. Eat healthier.  Apparently I’m a healthy cook.  Who knew?  😉
  3. Faster lunches.  Heating up something quickly in the office microwave is always faster than running out for an actual lunch hour.  (Spoiler alert: Mike and I have been very busy at our jobs the past six months!!)

What does this mean for me?  COOKING!  I enjoy cooking anyway, but I have gone from cooking one or two meals on Sunday afternoon to cooking more like 4 or 5 (there are very few meals Mike and I can both enjoy, hence the big variety).  For instance, this past weekend I made chicken and rice casserole with roasted broccoli, herbed baked chicken, beef brisket, broccoli lentil soup, and an assortment of side dishes.  That means basically Sunday afternoons are almost entirely spent cooking.  Good news: I’m becoming a better, more confident cook.  Bad news: Mike still mostly likes meat and potatoes, so I’m a *little* stifled in the creativity department.  I have been cooking myself some slightly more exotic spicy foods, though.  And maybe it’s just as well Mike doesn’t like them, since I seem to go through the leftovers pretty quickly all by myself.  😉

This weekend will likely be a little busy.  Tomorrow night Mike and I are going out to dinner with a coworker of mine from work and his wife.  It’s a little weird because I don’t actually know him very well.  He is originally from Ireland, moved to Palo Alto for work, and just moved to Seattle because his wife’s family now lives in Seattle.  The first day I met him in the Seattle office, I could tell right away he was from Ireland because of the accent, and we got talking about Ireland.  As it happened, Mike and I were going to the grand opening of an Irish pub in Fremont the following day (a block from our house!!  That’s clearly a dangerously close distance!), so I invited him and his wife along.  Fast forward to the following day, and there we were…. Mike, me, him, and his wife, along with two of their friends from San Francisco, and two of his friends from Ireland crowded into a crazy loud, crazy crowded Irish pub.  There was live Irish music booming through the pub (and I do mean booming… they had a guy there playing the bagpipes!  He was playing Scotland the Brave… which isn’t Irish… but…. whatever, right?).  😉  Anyway, it was a super fun evening, but a little light on actually talking since the pub was LOUD!  And my coworker’s Irish friend and his Brazilian wife were amazing.  🙂  The Brazilian woman and I ended up doing Irish dancing along with a bunch of other people in the pub.  It was a little interesting being taught to Irish dance in front of a noisy pub audience by a Brazilian woman, but it was such a blast!!  Loved it!  Let it never be said that I missed out on an opportunity like that.  🙂  So it was a fun night, but Mike and I didn’t really get to know my coworker and his wife much.  So…….. after this huge long backstory, Mike and I are getting together with them for dinner at a quieter restaurant tomorrow night.  Anyway, that will be fun!  We’re going to an epic restaurant in Seattle that Mike and I haven’t been to before because we typically don’t go to epic restaurants when it’s just the two of us (and we’ve actually been going out even less lately since I’ve been doing lots of cooking).

Then my run club is having a meetup in West Seattle Sunday morning, so I’ll be doing my long run with them.  Then Monday morning I’m flying to Palo Alto for work, so I’ll be away most of the week.  I’m getting Mike set up with vet appointments so that he doesn’t have to inject Piper with fluids and antibiotics himself while I’m away.  I took her in for her routine check-up on Wednesday, and the vet said that she is doing amazingly well.  Her kidney values are stable, no bacteria in her urine.  Basically we have a super healthy cat.  The only caveat is the once a day antibiotic injection, once a day fluid injection, once a day pepcid pill, the special kidney diet food, and epikiten powder sprinkled on all her meals.  But that’s all.  Other than that she is apparently as healthy as a horse!  🙂  She even gained 0.4 lb taking her to a whopping total of 6.7 lb.  What a victory!

Piper's usual unblinking stare while sitting on my lap

Piper’s usual unblinking stare while sitting on my lap

What else?  Well, the weather has been unexpectedly cold, windy, and (gasp!) snowy this winter.  It’s like we’ve had much snow, but we’ve had like six days of snow instead of our usual half day.  Apparently this is the snowiest winter in Seattle in the past 32 years or something like that.  I’m having a hard time coping over here.  What am I supposed to do with all this snow???  I’m going to have to buy a windshield scraper or snow shovel or something (right now we don’t own either).  One day last week, there was a giant snowstorm (read: we got FOUR INCHES OF SNOW in FREMONT.  That has NEVER happened while we’ve lived here.).  The entire city went crazy, a tanker overturned on I-5 (the only north/south interstate for commuters), I-5 got shut down for six hours while they got the tanker out of the road, in the meantime all the crazy I-5 traffic was diverted in and around Seattle causing massive commuter delays.  I ended up walking 4.5 miles home from work, and given the hundreds of people waiting at the bus stops, it was the correct thing to do because I would have been waiting for a bus for a looooong time.

Snow!  With footprints in it!!  This NEVER happens!

Snow! With footprints in it!! This NEVER happens!

In other news, I tried to adopt a second cat.  Multiple times.  And it failed.  Let me tell you about it.  First I saw the most adorable (A-DOR-A-BLE) kitten named BB on the Seattle Feline Rescue website that had a genetic problem with her back legs and couldn’t walk very well.  I was all set to go through physical therapy sessions with her and fix up our stair-heavy townhome to be more friendly to a mobile-challenged kitten.  And I kept looking at the picture of her adorable fuzzy, black face every hour at work to coo over her.  I showed her picture and description to all of my coworkers and they all assured me that she was a perfect fit for my household.  She showed up on the website on Sunday, and it took me two days to convince Mike to let me call on her.  I called Tuesday, and she was already being adopted.  WHAT?!?  I was rudely awakened from my dreams of Piper and little BB curled up together on the couch while Mike and I were away at work.  Next I dragged (literally) Mike to a cat adoption event two weekends ago, and we met a beautiful senior, blind cat named Rita.  I fell in love with her gentle demeanor and her soft grey fur and there was no way she would want to bully Piper (even Mike agreed with this).  I asked if I could hold Rita (i.e. outside of her crate), but they said I couldn’t do that without filling out an adoption form.  And, by the way, they had run out of adoption forms.  O…. k.  They told me to call the adoption hotline, which I did the next day.  I was interviewed by a stern-sounding woman whose first question was, “What kind of a home are you going to give Rita?”

Maybe I’m overly dense, but I had no idea what she was looking for as an answer to that question.  A good home?  A loving home?  A home with the finest tuna on a silver tray?  After that I was asked where Rita would sleep.  I explained that my current cat typically slept with us on the bed and I figured Rita would sleep there as well if she wanted to.

“Well, what if she doesn’t want to sleep on your bed?” the woman asked me, as if I was making a great deal of assumptions about Rita’s nocturnal preferences.  “Then where will she sleep?”

“Umm…” I wasn’t sure what the *right* answer was here.  “Wherever she wants?  Our current cat has a heated bed.  We were planning to get one of those for Rita as well.  Maybe she would want to sleep there.”

Anyway, that was probably the first ‘interview’ I’ve had in my life that really didn’t go well.  (Actually there was one internship interview I had in college that went more poorly, but I won’t go into that here.)  Somehow I seemed to “pass” the interview, because the woman told me she would pass my contact info on to Rita’s foster mom.  However, apparently I wasn’t the most desirable applicant for Rita, because when Rita’s foster mom called me two days later there were already two people in line to meet Rita.

And then my hair dresser told me that when she got a second cat, her first really old cat lost the desire to live and died a week later.  Talk about a traumatizing story.  So then I decided that maybe it’s best not to get any other cats while we have Piper.  Which, of course, made Mike supremely happy.

Speaking of cats!  Mike and I saw Kedi this past weekend.  It’s a story about street cats in Istanbul.  I loved seeing the streets of Istanbul through the cats that live in them and revel in the freedom and friendship they have with the human inhabitants there.  So fun!  I definitely love my four-legged, furry friends!!

My pensive furry friend

My pensive furry friend

I also ran a 15k race last weekend with my best racing buddy.  We raced together all last spring/summer/fall and ran Portland together.

Off to a strong start this season!

Finishing up the race by the space needle under a gorgeous blue sky!

Finishing up the race by the space needle under a gorgeous blue sky!

 

The daylight is finally starting to come earlier (although with daylight savings time this weekend, I’ll lose an hour of it again).  Why??   I need that hour of daylight in the morning to help me get up!  Also, I’m not really into losing an hour of sleep this weekend, especially right before my Palo Alto trip.

Love these early morning run views!

Love these early morning run views!

 

As far as what Mike’s been up to lately, he has a slightly different role at work (systems development engineer), so he’s been spending more time at work ramping up.  He’s enjoying himself, so I’m happy about that!  He has also been working out at the gym more frequently lifting weights.  He just hit a personal record on deadlifts (I think it was 3 sets of 3 at 245lb… I literally can’t even comprehend that much weight!)  We have also been experiencing lots of interesting office politics at our jobs (particularly with both of us being more senior, we’re seeing a lot of the “behind the scenes” parts of how our departments work).  Interesting, to say the least.  And it’s pretty clear that neither of us fit the “conformist” role very readily.  So lots of philosophical discussions around that in the evenings while we hang out with Piper.  And he’s also researching BMW’s.  I am unclear whether or not this means there is a new car in our future.  He may just enjoy looking up nice cars.  Or he may be gearing himself up.  Once again, I am unclear.  😉

Have a wonderful daylight savings weekend!  Note to self: Must remember to change all the non-auto-adjusting clocks in the house or I risk being confused about the time until we fall off daylight savings time again in the fall!

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Already autumn! Scarves and rosebushes…

If you are reading this, you must be a very patient person who’s content to follow a blog for months without hearing so much as a peep from the author.  Either that or you are subscribed to the blog so you can forget it exists until an email pops up in your inbox letting you know that the author has finally awoken from her non-blogging insanity and has something new up for the world to see.

I’m not sure where to start with Mike’s and my busy summer.  At a high level: I’m almost done with marathon training for Portland (the race is this Sunday!), Mike has been doing lots of home improvement projects, my role at work has changed to being an engineering lead in addition to my old role, Mike’s work has morphed towards more of a systems engineering role, Mike can successfully grow rosebushes, and I have been cooking up all my CSA produce diligently every Sunday afternoon and haven’t let anything go bad.  Oh, yes, and Piper has another urinary infection (UTI’s for those of us who are very familiar with the acronyms at this point).

That’s our summer in a nutshell.

I mean, there are lots of other things I could say.  It was a beautiful summer.  Lots of warm, sunny days, lots of relaxing evenings at restaurants (well, one evening a week, which is what Mike and I usually keep ourselves to), time with friends, long hours running in sweat-soaked shirts (which has transitioned this fall to long hours running in rain-soaked shirts)… and so on.

So that’s a very high-level synopsis of our summer.  But what are we actually doing?  On a day-to-day basis?  In a way that doesn’t read like a resume of our lives and a list of events (since life is, after all, much more than a list of events or a series of checkboxes).

Let’s start with the small things.  Yesterday the weather turned suddenly and surprisingly cold and rainy.  Well, I was surprised anyway.  I probably don’t look at the weather report often enough.  I ended up going to work in a thin jacket on a cold, blustery, rainy day.  I made it to work, but when I went out to grab lunch I made the decision that I was not going to spend all afternoon frozen.  I made a beeline for the shopping district downtown and walked right into Nordstrom Rack with a hunch they would have a nice scarf to keep me warm.  Just inside the door was a rack filled with the fluffiest, most giant scarves I had ever seen (slight exaggeration, but only very slight).  And they were on sale.  Very rarely do things in life line up this nicely, but this time they did.  I grabbed a green striped one, and literally three minutes later I was on my way again with the widest, fluffiest, most giant scarf ever wrapped around my head and neck.  It was so fluffy, in fact, that I couldn’t bring myself to take it off when I got back to the office.  So I took my coat off, but continued to wear my fluffy scarf.  I got so many comments on my fluffy-scarfed appearance that afternoon that I lost count.  My favorite was from a co-worker who said I was morphing into a Babushka (read: Russian elderly woman).  Right.  On.  The.  Mark.  I refused to apologize for the scarf or take it off.  I let any of the doubters feel how fluffy it was, and pretty much had everyone convinced by the end of the day that it was the best scarf ever.  It shed green fluff all over my office chair and my nice, black coat, but there is a price that must be paid for warmth and I was more than willing to pay it.  🙂

While I’m on the subject of winter-wear, I have two coats for this type of fall weather in Seattle, and I’ve been alternately wearing one or the other over the past couple of weeks just depending on which one I happen to grab off the coathook on my way out the door.  One of them has a hole in the left pocket, and the other has a hole in the right pocket.  It is a constant battle of memory to make sure that I remember which coat pocket has a hole in it on any given day.  If I’m not careful, I’ll wind up putting something in the coat pocket with a hole and it’ll fall out.  The struggle is real,  people!  (#firstworldproblems)  I am pretty sure that a less lazy person would just sew the holes shut, but that is apparently not how I roll.  I prefer to look at it as a test of my memory each day.  Let’s see… phone goes in the left pocket today.

Last summer was really hot and dry and one of our rosebushes out front died.  It was a yellow rosebush but I have never cared for yellow roses, so I asked Mike if we could replace it with a white one instead.  We went to Skye Nursery (the most amazing plant haven ever!!) and picked out an Icecap white rosebush early this spring.  Mike did a bunch of research on planting rosebushes, even though I told him that all he had to do was dig a hole in the ground and stick the rosebush in it.  Technically he didn’t even need to dig a hole, since the hole was already there from the previous dead rosebush.  However, Mike persevered and planted the skinny little stalk in the perfect way at the perfect depth with the perfect potting soil, and that thing has thrived!!  It is putting all of the other rosebushes to shame and is still brightly and proudly blooming with a bunch of blossoms now while all the other rosebushes have lost their blooms for the winter.  It’s such a little beacon of whiteness from the front of the house.  I love it!!  So, in case there was any question on the matter, Mike can grow rosebushes.  Awesome rosebushes that put all other rosebushes to shame.  (And this surprises exactly no one who knows Mike.)

And what about the bigger things that are slightly more impactful than rosebushes and scarves (although honestly I feel like those are two very impactful things in my life)?

Let me talk about work.  I’m a software development engineer in test (which means pretty much exactly nothing to someone not familiar with the software field).  What I do isn’t really important, especially not to talk about on a blog.  But I do want to talk a little bit about what I’ve been working on this summer, because I’ve been working a lot on team development which is something that is a lot more relevant to most people than most parts of my job.  We had a big re-organization around the first of the year which resulted in four new teams.  A few months later, I was moved to being the engineering lead for one of the teams.  New teams are a funny thing.  All of the people on the team are trying to get a sense of where they add value, what areas they are the subject matter expert in, how to interact with all of the other team members, etc.  Bottom line: no one’s very comfortable.  Everyone’s trying to figure out the new team dynamics.  I felt a little ill-equipped to lead a team, especially a newly-formed team, since management really isn’t my thing.  It was a lot of work…. figuring out how to be a team lead, how to prepare and report weekly status, working with the program manager for my team to define priorities, estimate engineering effort and complexity for each month, serve as a buffer and decision maker for the team, make sure everyone on the team stayed focused on the right priorities, and helping all of the team members find their niche on the new team.  But the really cool part is that I feel like we are there.  When I watch the team interact in meetings, I love what I see.  All of the team members feel comfortable enough to speak up, voice concerns, have disagreements in a respectful and sometimes humorous way, no one is afraid to admit when they’re wrong, and everyone is a subject matter expert in some areas.  It makes me feel really proud of them.  And a little bit proud of myself because I feel like I helped facilitate that.  I helped create that environment where everyone feels free to speak up and everyone has a place.  In our quarterly meeting with all of the leads and managers, the manager of the program managers said that he had taken time to speak one-on-one with each member of the engineering team, and that they were all happy and feeling good about the team and about their work.  My manager attributed that to me (not strictly true, of course, because I had a great group of people to start out with… but even so, it seems as though I’m doing something right in this “engineering lead” role).  So, anyway, finally I’m able to talk about some of my work that isn’t just relegated to being some “technical” stuff that no one’s interested in hearing about.  😉

And of course, lots of running for me this summer training for the Portland Marathon!  Some pictures from my runs:

Sailboats on Lake Union!

Sailboats on Lake Union!

 

Aurora Bridge

Aurora Bridge

 

Near University Bridge

Near University Bridge

 

Evening run....

Evening run….

 

Early morning run

Early morning run

 

Watching all the crew boats out practicing on Saturday morning on the lake

Watching all the crew boats out practicing on Saturday morning on the lake

 

From this morning's run.  :)

From this morning’s run. 🙂

 

In case you weren’t aware, I seriously live in the most gorgeous city… these cityscapes just never get old for me.  🙂

I also participated in the Girls Who Code program that Groupon hosted in Seattle this summer.  It’s a program that teaches high school aged girls how to code.

A picture of me and my mentee from the Girls Who Code program.  Love this girl!!  (P.S. Why do I always wrinkle my nose like crazy when I'm smiling??  I look like I'm grimacing!)  ;)A picture of me and my mentee from the Girls Who Code program.  Love this girl!!  (P.S. Why do I always wrinkle my nose like crazy when I'm smiling??  I look like I'm grimacing!)  ;)

A picture of me and my mentee from the Girls Who Code program. Love this girl!! (P.S. Why do I always wrinkle my nose when I’m smiling?? I look like I’m grimacing!) 😉

 

Speaking of things I love… these two top the list!

LOVE!!  :)

LOVE!! 🙂

 

And speaking of Piper… what would a blog post be without a couple cute pics?

In the sun...

Upside down in the sun…

 

On a kitchen chair...

On a kitchen chair…

 

On a laptop getting cat hair deep into the keyboard...

On a laptop getting cat hair deep into the keyboard…

 

I’ll also include a couple pics of my work in the kitchen so that everyone actually believes I’m still cooking regularly.  🙂

Cooking up pasta sauce and sauteed greens.  Soup is simmering in the pot on the back of the stove.  I'm definitely a multitasker!

Cooking up pasta sauce and sauteed greens. Soup is simmering in the pot on the back of the stove. I’m definitely a multitasker!

 

Prepping veggies!

Prepping veggies!

 

Piper likes to oversee my work from the kitchen windowsill.  She makes sure I get the job done right.

Piper likes to oversee my work from the kitchen windowsill. She makes sure I get the job done right.

 

On a completely unrelated note, Mike discovered this fall that he actually likes pumpkin beer despite not liking pumpkin (although, really, who doesn’t like pumpkin?  It’s basically just like squash and what’s not to like about squash??), so we’ve had our share of pumpkin beer around the house this fall.  I think it’s really helping Mike get into the “autumn spirit”.  How is it already almost Halloween?  The holidays will be here before we know it!  There are only three weeks left of the CSA produce, which is a little crazy.  It feels like I just started getting deliveries.

On another note, Mike has been taking bunches of pictures with his camera so that he’s all prepared for taking pictures at the marathon this weekend!  Hopefully he’ll get pics of me, my friend, and her husband since we’re all running.  In all likelihood my friend and I will run the race together and her husband will run on ahead because he’s speedier.  Mike’s all prepped with his camera to get good action shots!  And this will be a good trial run of being gone for a night or two away from Piper, since we’ll be away for five nights going back to Michigan later this month.  Hoping that she does fine with us gone and just the cat sitter coming in to take care of her and give her the daily fluids!

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A new home at lightening speed

As if the whirlwind from the holidays and then starting a new job wasn’t enough, Mike and I somehow wound up with a very insane month and a half.  It all started on Saturday, January 24th.  We had been given a copy of our new lease to sign, and we were encouraged to sign early to be entered in a drawing to win a $500 cash prize.  (Nice!)  We had to sign our lease by January 25th to be entered to win the drawing, so even though our lease wasn’t up until the end of February we decided to sign early to be entered for the cash prize.  However, our week leading up to January 25th was so busy that we didn’t have time to.  There was a big party event at our gym on Wednesday that we attended, and on Thursday the 22nd Mike and I went out for dinner with a couple of my friends from Amazon and their significant others.  On Friday the 23rd I reminded Mike that we really needed to sign our lease to be entered in that drawing.  We planned to sign it on Friday night, but after work we just felt like going for a drive and listening to the new Above and Beyond CD.  We got back late and forgot to sign the lease.  Saturday the 24th dawned, and I woke up, mentally resolving that as soon as Mike was up we really needed to sign the lease.  In the interim, I walked to PCC for groceries.  And on the way there, I saw something that would change our plans… a sign for an open house at a new set of townhomes.

I didn’t think much of it immediately, because Mike and I were planning to renew our lease that day.  But from the address on the sign I saw that it was actually extremely close to our apartment… which was a primary factor we were looking for in a home.  On the way back from PCC I looked up the website listed on the sign.  The pictures were gorgeous!  I hurried the rest of the way home and woke Mike up.

“Mike!  You have to look at this.”

Mike lifted a groggy head.  “I do not.  You’re just trying to get me to wake up.”

“No, really.  You do.”

Mike reluctantly got up, but got more awake when he saw the house pictures.

“I know we’re supposed to sign the lease today, but let’s at least check these out first,” Mike said.  “Let’s get coffee and then walk by the town homes and see what they look like.”

As it turned out, the town homes were having an open house that weekend that started at noon.  We showed ten minutes before the open house started, eager to look around.

And somehow, less than 36 hours later, we found ourselves having put in an offer which the builder accepted.  And we were now entering the “closing” stages of home ownership, pending a building inspection, an appraisal of the property by an unbiased third party, and pending the final approval of our home loan.  Talk about lightening speed.  I think we may have set land speed records with this one.  Going from planning to re-sign your current lease to nearly home-owners in less than 36 hours.  We were so fortunate to have the help of an excellent realtor and an excellent mortgage consultant… they literally seemed to be up at all hours of the night to make this happen for us.  However, as quickly as homes go in Seattle, we couldn’t believe that we managed to get this one without entering any crazy bidding wars, especially given that 50+ couples toured the homes just in the first day of the open house and there was another town home in the group that was purchased at the same lightening speed with which we purchased ours.  And given that all of our friends who have purchased in this area have had lots of bidding wars and experiences with waiving building inspections to make themselves more attractive to sellers and then offering more than the home is actually listed for to avoid being outbid by someone else.  Crazy!  And we were crazy enough that Piper was starting to act crazy as well.

I can't explain what's happening in this picture...

I can’t explain what’s happening in this picture with our crazy cat…

The next week was literally crazy with signing paperwork.  For the builder, for the realtor, for the escrow company, for the mortgage company… always something to sign for someone!

The following week was crazy with getting a builder inspector set up, getting info on the house, setting up a final walkthrough, and getting the remainder of our financials to the mortgage company.

The week after was all about getting ready to move.  Somehow we had to pack and get our stuff moved out before the end of February when our lease ran out.

After a lot of work on a lot of people’s parts, we closed on our home on 2/24/15, got the keys, and started moving things in that night, with our big moving day coming on the 27th.

Since moving last weekend, things have continued to be a blur.  We’ve been trying to unpack, but Mike had a very busy week last week at work, and I had yoga teacher training all this weekend.

And so there we are.  After four and a half years in Seattle we are homeowners!  We had been looking for houses throughout the summer and fall, but didn’t find anything we liked that we could move fast enough on.  Given that the market slows down in the winter (who wants to move in the rain?), we had given up on the idea of finding anything this year and were planning to renew our lease and continue our search next year.  And then this happened.  Literally hours before we were going to sign a 12-month lease.  Crazy!  Everything moved really, really fast, and we didn’t have much of a chance to think about whether or not we were ready for home ownership.  However, if there’s one thing Mike and I have been learning over the past several years it’s that sometimes you need to go with your instincts and not spend too much time mired in indecision and doubt.  When something is right, you tend to know it on some level far below your consciousness.

So anyway, now we have moved into the house and are attempting to get settled.  We’re somewhat hindered in this, because with new construction homes, there are often little things that get overlooked that have to get done later.  For instance we have some contractors coming in next week to redo a few parts of the grout in the bathroom, and Mike has been working on sealing the grout in the downstairs bathroom.  This whole thing has been such a great exercise in teamwork for Mike and me.  Mike handled all of the interactions with the realtor and the building inspector.  I handled all of the interactions with the leasing agents.  We both worked really hard to get everything packed after work in the week leading up to our move.  The night before the movers came, we stayed up until 2am packing, and were up at 6am the next morning to continue packing.  After the movers moved the bulk of our stuff on Friday, I went to yoga teacher training class on Friday night.  On Saturday morning we got up early and met with a blinds guy to get blinds ordered for some of the windows in our house.  After that, we went back to our apartment and worked on cleaning the apartment, packing the last boxes of stuff, and throwing tons of stuff away.  We made a trip to Goodwill late Saturday evening.  On Sunday we got up early again and the internet guy came to hook up our cable and our new couch was delivered (not that there was much room for it since we’d barely had any time to unpack).  Then we ran errands getting things like a trash can, a laundry hamper, and some other necessities.  We also did grocery shopping.  By Sunday night we were both mentally and physically exhausted.  We had gotten so many things done in creative ways we never would have thought of had necessity not been the mother of invention.  These included, but were not limited to, using an entire roll of aluminum foil as an emergency shower curtain, fitting a huge Ikea desk in the back of our Civic (still not sure how we pulled that off), and putting felt feet on all six legs of a 400-lb solid wood dresser with just the two of us.

Long, long story behind this one....

Long, long story behind this one…

Despite our extreme fatigue we felt pretty unstoppable.  On Sunday night we went out to a pizzeria near our home and had a late dinner.

Salad...

Salad…

 

... and pizza

… and pizza

“This is nuts!” Mike said as we relaxed over dinner and drinks.  “It’s like every day we get up early, put in a 15 hour day working as hard as we can… and then we wake up early the next day and do it all over again!”

While we completely understand that our problems are totally first-world problems and we actually feel very blessed with the opportunity to own a home, we were literally both just SO EXHAUSTED.  Mike’s quadriceps were toast from climbing up and down so many stairs with heavy boxes.  The soles of my feet were sore from all of the walking carrying heavy boxes.

Now I’m happy to report that we are settling in in the new home.  I located the box containing the kitchen silverware this weekend, and eating with real silverware goes a long way to making me feel at home.  I also figured out how the new washer, dryer, and dishwasher work (they’re all much more high-tech than the ones at our previous apartments), so we can have clean clothes and clean dishes.  Some things still aren’t unpacked.  I still haven’t found my laptop in the boxes yet, so I’m typing out this blog post on Mike’s computer.  However, all in all, we’re feeling much more comfortable in the new home.  Next weekend will be even better since I’ll be able to help get things in order more.  This weekend I was in yoga teacher training all weekend, so I wasn’t much help except in the early mornings.

And how is Piper adjusting to this move?

What an attitude!

What an attitude!

She LOVES the new space!  She is constantly at one of the many, many windows looking out at people walking by, cars driving by, or just random sights, sounds, birds, dogs, etc that she sees.  There are so many things for her to see and process!

Stairs?  These are interesting...

Stairs? These are interesting…

 

Relaxing on the new couch... and loving the afghan!

Relaxing on the new couch…. and loving the afghan!

 

So where are we at now?

image2

Well, it’s spring.  Our magnolia tree is budding.  Work is finally slowing down for Mike.  I’m loving my yoga teacher training.  We’re getting unpacked (many more pictures will follow when we’ve gotten our new home set up).  We are loving falling asleep at night to the sounds of traffic on Fremont Avenue.

Life is good.  We are very blessed.  And I don’t feel that way just because of the house.  At the end of the day, a house is just an inanimate object and not really a tool for creating happiness.  However, the process of buying the house… all of the support we received, all of the people who helped us, all of the advice we got, all of the things we learned, the way Mike and I worked so well and so efficiently together even under pressure and tight deadlines… those things I’m truly thankful for.

Have a wonderful, blessed week everyone.  🙂

 

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A Story of Two Couches

Somehow time has just been flying since I started at my new job on January 5th!  That first week I was so focused on getting up to speed on the new job, and then that weekend I had yoga teacher training all weekend, followed by my second week of trying to get up to speed.  And then this past weekend arrived, which was kind of a break from the go-go-go.

The past couple of weeks have just been crazy for Mike and me.

We drove down to Tacoma to try to test drive an Alfa Romeo.  We threw our couch into a huge dump at a transfer station in Shoreline.  We drove down I-99 during the NFC playoff game and heard thunderous cheering from the Seahawks stadium.  I did a 9 mile run at an average page of 8:37 per mile (way faster than I’ve been running in the recent past… clearly the iron supplements are helping!).  We went out to a local Japanese restaurant for sushi.  Mike made Piper a cardboard box wall that she has been playing with endlessly.  I’ve been learning node.js and coffeescript (no, I’m not kidding… that’s the name of the language.  If you can call it a language, since it’s essentially a more “friendly” way of programming javascript.  I don’t think it’s as friendly as Javascript, but that’s probably because I’m coming from a Java background, so Javascript seems plenty friendly to me.)  🙂  Mike got a new silver globe.  Mike and I finished another past season of Top Gear.  I love that show almost beyond belief.  Mike and I retried our turkey burger experiment since I kind of burned them the first time I made them.  There you go… a thirty-second slice in the life of Mike, Karena, and Piper.

I’ll expound on just a couple of the more interesting things we’ve been doing over the past two weeks (don’t worry… I won’t elaborate on node.js or coffeescript.)

Let’s talk about couches.  And cats.  And cats who have some wires cross and occasionally urinate on couches.  Yes, that would be our cat.  After an incident last Monday, Mike put his foot down.  “We are not cleaning this couch again.  It’s going in the trash.”  The next day he came home with two little wheely carts.  The day after I found directions to the Shoreline Recycling Transfer station and a confirmation for rental of a Zip van on the kitchen counter.  The day after he asked me what I was doing on Sunday morning.

And that was how we found ourselves on Sunday morning in the middle of a huge downpour driving out to pick up a Zipvan with our little wheely carts in the trunk.  Zipcar gives all of their cars names (maybe for easier identification for people who don’t know car makes/models?  I’m not sure.)  Anyway, Mike told me the Zipvan we were picking up was named Exeter which annoyed me like crazy.  If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s a poorly chosen name.  And how do you pronounce that anyway?  “Ex-ter”?  “Ex-e-ter”?  The Zipvans we’d rented in the past had much better names (Eskimo and Elmer.  I think Zipcar had an ‘E’ name thing going on because the vans were Ford E models.)  Driving to pick up the car, I kept suggesting better names for the Zipvan to Mike.

“How about Eleanor?”

“I don’t think these vans seem like girls.”

Silence for about 30 seconds.  “How about Emerald?  It’s even in the Emerald City, which fits.”

“Emerald’s not a real name.”

“Neither’s Eskimo, and that’s the name of one of their other vans.”

Silence for another 30 seconds.

“What about Eddie?”

“That’s a name from the early 1900’s.  Besides even if you pick a name, you don’t work for Zipcar.” Mike paused.  “Unless you’re actually planning to call them about this?”

I considered the idea while Mike rolled his eyes.  “What about Eggshell?”

“I rent these vans when I want to tote a bunch of heavy stuff.  Eggshell sounds too delicate.  I wouldn’t want to rent a van named Eggshell.”

“Good point.”

Silence.

“What about Emmett?  Like the doc in Back to the Future?”

Mike paused.  “Emmett’s pretty good.”

I leaned back against the seat finally, satisfied.  And in protest of the bizarreness of Exeter, I called our van Emmett during the duration of our trip.  I have since thought up another good van name: Equinox.  So, Zipcar, if you need names for your Zipcars, you know who to call.

Once we picked up the van and headed back to our apartment, the challenge began.  Somehow we had to muscle the couch out of our apartment to the elevator, and then down to the van using the wheely carts.  Fortunately, both Mike and I have been lifting a lot more weights since the last time we tried this, and we found that we had pretty good combined muscle power.  Unfortunately, the hallway to the front door was narrower than we remembered and the front door was set at an angle to the hallway that didn’t bode well for getting the couch out.  To further complicate things we had an entry bench just inside the door intruding into the hallway that wasn’t there when we moved the couch in the first time.  And because of his love for sturdy things, Mike had thoughtfully nailed it to the wall, so moving it wasn’t an option.  Twenty minutes later, I was pretty impressed with Mike’s lats and we had flipped the couch around a couple times in the narrow hallway and somehow had it in the hallway.  Mike muscled it onto the wheely carts and we proceeded down the hallway pushing our giant couch.

Getting it from there down the elevator and into the van was mostly a testament to muscle combined with wheely carts.  We drove the couch all the way up to Shoreline and Mike backed the van up to the five foot concrete railing around the huge dump.

“So we just maneuver the couch out of the back of the van and right over the edge of the guard rail?” I asked Mike.  He nodded his agreement.  I got in the van behind the couch and pushed hard as Mike pulled on it to guide it.  It went flying out the back of the van and we found it suspended, one end on the concrete guardrail and one end still in the van.  There was a heavy chain link about three feet above the concrete guardrail, and I called out to Mike, “Careful!  We don’t want this chain sticking on the couch and keeping it from going down!”

“It’s not catching on the couch!” Mike called back as he gave one final heave which sent the couch careening into the giant dump.

Except that the back edge of the couch was indeed now caught on the giant chain, leaving the couch effectively suspended in midair over the edge of the dump.  The chain looked like it was straining against the weight of the couch.  One of the workers at the dump watched us with what looked like amusement.  Great.  Just what we needed… an audience.  I lunged towards the chain to try to pull it over the back edge of the couch while Mike yanked down as hard as he could on the back edge of the couch so that I could get the chain clear.  A moment later, the couch fell into the dump with a big thud.  The guy working there wandered over to us and looked down at the couch.

“Nice couch,” he said, looking it over with the eye of a future owner.

“Yeah,” Mike said, hot, breathless, and never one to beat around the bush.  “Our cat peed on it like 6 times.”

“Oh!” The guy made a face and took several steps back.  “This is the place for it then.  You can never get that stuff out no matter how hard you try.”

A few minutes later we were driving out of the dump, minus one couch.  Our only couch, when it came to that.

And that was how we found ourselves downtown at a furniture store later that afternoon looking at couches.  And interestingly, whereas when Mike and I shopped for a couch seven years ago and neither of us were very picky, this time was completely different.  I noticed that the arms of some couches were too wide, some couches were too deep.  Some were too poofy, some didn’t come in exactly the shade I thought would go with the apartment.  Some looked too old-fashioned, some looked too western.  Some didn’t look like they’d wear well, some had weird gimmicks on them (Head-rests that fold down into the couch?  Really?).  The sales lady assured me I wasn’t too bad and that she’d had much pickier customers, but I was doubtful.  While we were debating about couches, Mike became intrigued with a silver-colored globe that was also at the store and examined it.  (If you think you don’t need a globe, guess where the country of Chile is in relation to Seattle.  If you’re like anyone I’ve asked so far, you’ll be shocked.)  An hour later, Mike and I had selected a couch which met most of our specifications and was on sale.

“With the money we saved on the couch, we should buy the globe,” Mike said.  “I don’t think countries are changing much days, so it’s time to invest in a globe.”

“Done,” I replied, and we walked out of the store with a globe and a delivery date for our couch.  Which incidentally isn’t for another couple of weeks so in the meantime when we watch shows we’re spreading a towel on the floor, picnic-style.  Fun, fun.  🙂

Now let’s talk about football.  Not because I care about it very much but because Seattle won the NFC championship on Sunday in a crazy game and is now heading for the super bowl with the Patriots.  On Sunday, during the game, Mike and I were couch shopping, so we clearly weren’t very game-focused.  We did monitor it enough to know that Seattle was down by like 16 points at halftime so we decided Green Bay was probably going to win.  (I wasn’t heartbroken about that… I was born in Wisconsin.)  However, as we left the store we started to see that Seattle seemed to be catching up in the 4th quarter.  It looked like they might actually win.

Mike fiddled with the car stereo trying to find an AM station that was broadcasting the game while we drove home.  We stopped for ice cream, thinking that Green Bay was going to win again, but after scoring 15 points in the 4th quarter it looked like the Seahawks had a chance.  And then the game entered overtime.  Mike and I went in so he could get some ice cream since we figured the overtime would go for awhile.  The ice cream place which ALWAYS has a line going out the door and around the street corner was completely empty.  Apparently everyone besides us was glued to a television somewhere watching the game.  As we got back in the car, the radio came on and the Seahawks had just scored.  And won.  Wow!  What a comeback!

In completely unrelated news, Mike and I did a turkey burger experiment over the weekend in which I made up the turkey burger patties and Mike cooked them (since I kind of burned them last time).  Mike ate them, but said that it was very clear to him why turkey burgers aren’t as popular as beef burgers.  So there you have it.  Beef > turkey.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful 2015 so far and staying warm with all the cold weather across the country!

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Broken eggs and a missing coffee mug

I’ll be honest, readers.  Sometimes I sit down to write a blog post and I find myself with literally nothing to say.  Much of Mike’s and my productive hours are spent at work.  We’re definitely getting the whole ‘working as an engineer’ thing down, him as a hardware engineer and me as a software engineer, but that doesn’t leave much time (or energy) for lots of fun outside-of-work activities that make for good blog reading.  This past few months have been especially difficult since both Mike and I have been completely swamped at work.  We both see lights at the end of our respective tunnels, but we have been working hard.  Thus if you’re interested in hearing about how Singletons are implemented in Ruby, how symbols are basically immutable strings, or how modules are used to create namespaces, I’m your girl.  If you’re interested in hearing the details of the four hours on Friday I spent interviewing SDE intern candidates, I’m your girl.  If you’re interested in anything that’s actually a part of a real, ordinary, fun-loving person’s life, I might not be your girl.  At least not lately.

So where does that leave the blog?  As you may have noticed in the past, most of the things I talk about on the blog involve day-to-day things, which often make up the high points of my day (or even week!).  So today, I’m going to focus on those.  Yay for the small pieces of normal, everyday life that are so wonderful, and I feel so blessed for!

* Mike drank coffee this morning and then went to take a shower.  I washed the dishes while he was showering, washed the coffee maker, and looked for his empty coffee mug so that I could wash that too.  I absolutely couldn’t find it.  Either I’m blind or it’s just not here.  Or he broke it and hid the pieces in the trash?  Or he took it into the shower with him?  He’s never done that… but where is that coffee mug??

* On Tuesday night I made chili.  I thought it was delicious, but despite the fact that I didn’t add the crushed red pepper flakes Mike claimed it was too spicy.  I argued that I didn’t have anything even remotely spicy in it (except for chili powder which is in all chili by definition), but Mike insisted I must have snuck in some additional spice.

* On Friday I stopped at the grocery store on the way home, and one of the things I bought was a carton of a dozen eggs.  As I walked out of the grocery store, I accidentally swung the bag containing the eggs too close to the door, and the bag hit the door.  I cringed, hoping that the eggs were surviving.  I then proceeded to accidentally hit the bag containing the eggs with the other bag (containing heavy stuff like a bag of apples) while trying to do some kind of acrobatic move to switch the bags between my hands.  I cringed again.  This was bad.  It was getting less and less statistically likely that I was going to get all twelve of those eggs home in one piece (or rather in twelve respective pieces).  The bus was completely packed; it was standing room only, and we were packed in like sardines.  I was sandwiched between about four people and had the bag with the eggs carefully balanced on my wrist trying to make sure it didn’t hit anything.  The guy in front of me decided to be nice to the other passengers in front by backing up closer to me without watching where he was going.  While I fully appreciated his altruism in trying to make room for the other passengers up front it was all I could do to keep from shouting, ‘GET AWAY FROM MY BAG!’  The funny thing is that even if I had, I don’t think anyone would have thought twice about it.  If you ride the bus in Seattle, you encounter all kinds of characters, and even yelling in the middle of the bus I probably wouldn’t have attracted too much attention.  Now, if I was yelling in the middle of the bus, wearing a pair of Rainbow Brite striped colored stockings up to my waist, had purple dreadlocks, was wearing a tribal necklace that hung down to my knees, and was carrying a woven basket filled with squirming ferrets, I might have warranted a couple glances.  But as it was?  Certainly not.

Anyway, I digress.  When I got off the bus I managed to hit the bag again against the side of the bus in an effort to avoid hitting it against the other passengers.  Aaaaahhhh!  At this point I was just hoping that my eggs would be broken in pairs and I wouldn’t be left with some stupid number of eggs like nine.

I pulled open the door of our apartment building, and because it is so heavy and hard to pull (particularly when you’re pulling it one-handed as I was), it bumped the bag again before I got myself and both grocery bags through the door.  This was becoming ridiculous.  It was getting into sitcom territory.  I could almost hear the canned laugh tracks as I hit the bag yet again.  At this point I was just viewing any unbroken eggs as a bonus.  The elevator finally arrived to take me up to my floor and I realized I was sweating profusely (whether because of carrying a heavy backpack and two bags of groceries on an almost-60-degree day or because of the stress of worry about my carton of eggs, I wasn’t sure).  When I finally dropped the bags gratefully on the floor of my kitchen I almost didn’t have the heart to check on my eggs.  I finally decided to peek in because my imagination was going crazy with images of yolks dripping all over.  Imagine my surprise when not a single egg was broken.  WOW to the engineering of both eggs and egg cartons!  🙂

* When Mike saw a picture of a regal looking Dominique rooster in a magazine, he paused on the picture and stared at the chicken for several moments.  Then he held out the magazine for me to see.  “That is quite a bird!” he said.  And for some reason I couldn’t stop laughing at his admiration of the humble chicken.

* Mike did some organization in his music room one night this week and he and I spent an hour coiling all of his unused cables.  We spent so much time coiling cables that my wrist was sore for two days afterward.  The joys of being in your thirties.  🙂

* Lately I have been loving Stash teas.  They’re based out of Portland, and I love their holiday teas so I stocked up on some right after Christmas.  (Who cares that I’m drinking ‘Christmas Eve in Paris’ tea in March, right?)

* Piper has been a very clingy cat lately.  I’m not sure why.  It’s almost as if she knows we’ve booked tickets and will be going on vacation in a month.  She also loves laser pointers.  With a passion.

* Last weekend we watched a move called Blue Jasmine with Cate Blanchett.  She is SUCH a good actress.  It was a very interesting Woody Allen movie that told the story of a woman whose very rich husband participated in shady Wall Street dealings and then ended up getting caught and thrown in prison and she suddenly found herself penniless, on the edge of a nervous breakdown, and moving to the west coast to stay with a sister she didn’t really know well or relate to.  There were definitely some interesting elements to the story, and I always like watching Cate Blanchett as well.  I found out afterwards that she just won an oscar for her role in Blue Jasmine, and I can definitely see why.  She played the part to perfection.

* The last couple of mornings when I’ve been waiting for the bus I’ve seen flocks of geese flying over, headed north.  So it looks like the geese have decided that winter is over!  (Take heart Michigan family and friends who have seen enough snow this winter alone to last you a lifetime.)  I’ve also been noticing birds singing enthusiastically in the mornings.  I never realize until spring how silent the birds are during the winter.  But then in the spring it seems like they all awaken as one and start chirping and singing their little hearts out.  Piper is fascinated by them and spends a significant amount of time watching them from the window, I’m sure with less than charitable thoughts despite being an indoor cat with no front claws.

Last Saturday night we took a break from the work we were doing and went to University Village, an outdoor mall near the University of Washington.  We were there to have dinner, and I was considering getting the new iPhone.  We ate dinner at Boom Noodle, one of our favorite restaurants in the area, and just relaxed.  I love the ambience there!  Mike had hardly eaten anything that day because he’d been so busy cleaning and organizing, so he was hungry!  He ended up getting a hazelnut toffee crepe for dessert.  Boom Noodle has partnered with their next-door neighbor Tokyo Sweets to offer a variety of sweet crepes for dessert.  Mike has had a couple of them over the past year or so and says they are really good.  By the time we’d finished dinner, though, I had decided to wait on the new iPhone.  I just bought the plane tickets for England and Ireland, so I decided I still wanted to wait and save up some more money before buying the iPhone.

Speaking of our England and Ireland trip, we have made significant progress in the planning stages of the trip.  For starters, we bought airline tickets (which basically guarantees that we have hard dates we’re going), made sure that Piper’s usual catsitter is available during those dates, and we have both asked for the time off from work.  We’re getting excited and are starting to plan out some things we want to see in both England and Ireland.  We want to balance the touristy things (i.e. Stonehenge) with visiting local places and getting a sense of the culture.  It’s hard to believe that in just a little over a month we’ll be on our way to London!  🙂  We’re flying into Heathrow, which is definitely a great airport… very mall-like with a lot of stores and a lot of restaurants.  Perfect for layovers, as we found out during our Italy trip last year.  The next month we need to really focus at work to get stuff done so that we’re able to get our most critical work done before we leave.  I also need to check the temperatures in England and Ireland as our travel dates get closer so that I have some idea what the temperature will be.

Last night Mike and I were both tired from a long week at work, and it was a beautiful day (a high of 58 degrees!) so we drove to downtown Wallingford and looked for a place to have dinner.  We wanted to go somewhere we hadn’t been before, so I suggested Djan’s.

“What kind of food do they have?” Mike wanted to know.

“Thai.  And it’s supposed to be really good.  And it’s supposed to be a really romantic place.”

Mike blinked.  “Is that what we want?  Are we a romantic couple?”

I tried to resist rolling my eyes at him, but I didn’t try very hard.  “Yes, that’s what we want, and yes we are a romantic couple.”

And that’s how we ended up at Djan’s, a Thai restaurant located in an old white house near the outskirts of Wallingford.  Djan’s didn’t have cocktails, but we had some Peter Lehmann Shiraz (me being careful not to have too much since wine doesn’t always agree with me) and just had a really relaxing dinner.  The atmosphere in the restaurant was delightful… very quaint and old-fashioned, while still somehow seeming modern.  There were some actual gas lamps positioned around the room which caused flickery shadows to dance everywhere, and every table was adorned with a little candle and a tiny vase of flowers.  We both ordered wok plates, Mike’s with beef and fried green beans, and mine with an assortment of veggies and tofu.  We got to pick our spiciness level between 1 and 5.  Mike said I should just get a 5 because Thai food wasn’t very hot.  I disagreed and got a 3.  I said Mike should get a 1, because he cannot handle spicy food, but he disagreed and got a 2.  And as it turned out, his food was a little spicy for him and mine wasn’t quite spicy enough for me.  Apparently we know each other better than we know ourselves?  🙂  The food was delicious though!   SO flavorful, and perfectly paired with the Shiraz.  I read the back of the Peter Leymann wine bottle and apparently he was a beloved Australian winemaker who was a huge advocate of the local growers and just passed away last year.  He sounded like a really nice guy, so I was glad we were drinking his wine.  Our server was a very nice young guy.  He seemed young and new to the job and wasn’t sure how to pour the wine and then got a little flustered when the amount he poured for Mike and the amount he poured for me weren’t equal.  I don’t mind inexperienced waiters at all (unless they’re rude or something).  I really appreciate hard work (I feel like hard work has helped me immeasurably), and I appreciate the fact that he’s there working and learning, even if he’s struggling a little at first.

People were out in droves in Wallingford, given that it was the warmest day we’ve had all year.  It was fun just being out and about, even though we really didn’t do anything except go out for a long dinner.

I hope everyone else is enjoying their weekends!

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Filed under Cooking, Food, Random Thoughts, Seattle Restaurants, Uncategorized, Work

Apartment pictures and a serious car wash

It has been steadily raining in Seattle for the past couple of days.  Unsurprising, given that it’s January, but kind of surprising in that it had been dry and cold for the past month and a half.  It’s definitely requiring a little getting used to.  I’m still at that stage where I remember to bring an umbrella with me to work but typically don’t remember to bring it when going out for lunch at work.  Another couple of weeks of this and I’ll be faithfully remembering to bring it anywhere that requires more than a few steps outdoors.

This past Saturday there was a big Seahawks game down at Century Link Stadium against the New Orleans Patriots.  I don’t follow football at all, but I suspected there was an important game because when I stopped at Starbucks on the way to work the Friday before, everyone working there was wearing a Seahawks jersey.  Apparently the Seahawks are doing really well this year and have a shot at the Super Bowl.  Who knew?  Not me, who doesn’t even know when the season starts or ends.  🙂  Mike was lamenting yesterday that we didn’t have a TV antennae to allow us to watch the game on our TV, but he survived.  He doesn’t have much interest in sports usually, but he’ll watch big games like the Super Bowl and playoff games.  Sunday morning I went down to the workout room with my ear buds, hoping that the room would be empty and I would be able to select a TV station to watch but expecting that there would be some football game on that at least one person was watching.  As it turned out, there was one guy in there riding a stationary bike.  He wasn’t watching football, but he was watching a news show about football that was recapping games from the previous day.  I may not be able to understand the draw to watching football, but I understand that better than watching a show about football.  Interestingly, however, I find watching the Tour de France and marathon races fascinating.  Each to his own I guess, right?  🙂

Mike and I officially renewed the lease at our current apartment for another year yesterday.  For a person like me who always liked moving to a new area every single year, it felt a little weird, but honestly we’re in a great location in a nice building so there was no compelling reason to move.  Plus Mike and I finally have just about finished getting our apartment organized and furnished the way we want it.  Along that line, Mike took a few pictures of the apartment.  🙂

Our living room

Our living room… including our little Christmas tree before the LEDs in it died

A view of our living room from the kitchen

A view of our living room from the kitchen

Since I’ve been promising pictures of our new bedroom set for awhile, here’s the bedroom!

A view of our bedroom from the bedroom doorway

A view of our bedroom from the bedroom doorway

That view also shows a nice look at our painting, which we bought jointly as a Christmas gift for each other.

A more direct look at our giant dresser...

A more direct look at our giant dresser.  This thing weighs so much that I almost don’t want to move just so we never have to mess with moving it.

I like the picture below because it shows our clock, a few of our pictures, and a sideways view into the workout room… my special hangout/yoga room.  I think it’s supposed to be a breakfast nook, but I’m much happier with it this way.  🙂

A view of the workout room behind the couch off of the living room

A view of the workout room behind the couch off of the living room

Mike and I were so productive with cleaning two weekends ago that we took a break this past weekend.  We did very little.  Mike did put together a printer stand which ended up taking an insane amount of time because of incomplete assembly instructions and Mike’s overwhelming thoroughness.  In the time he put that together I did three loads of laundry, washed the dishes, hard-boiled a dozen eggs, put away the slow cooker dinner food, started this blog post, made the bed, did some Rosetta Stone French, and tidied the bathroom.  Apparently the instructions were in the wrong order, so Mike assembled part of it and then had to take it apart, put in some other pieces, and re-assemble it again.  However Mike emerged triumphant and actually added on additional L-brackets he bought at the hardware store to further enhance the structural stability of the printer stand.  I suggested that our printer wasn’t very heavy and he probably didn’t need to reinforce the printer stand, but by that point Mike was already comparing L-brackets and way past the point of no return.  We now have a printer stand with a load-bearing capacity that far exceeds the weight of any possible printer we could ever buy.  🙂

I have been doing more cooking lately.  I made up meatloaf over the weekend (very quick and easy, and makes for a very nice meal when rounded out with a baked potato), and yesterday I made lemon chicken stew in the slow cooker.  The meatloaf is speedily becoming one of my staples just because it’s really easy and Mike likes it.  He also liked the lemon chicken stew.  The lemon gives it an interesting flavor so it’s different than the typical chicken stew.

On Sunday night Mike wanted to get a car wash, so we drove the short distance to Ballard where there’s a Brown Bear Car Wash.  I’m not much into self car washes.  If I can’t let my car navigate through a tunnel full of blue, pink, and yellow bubbles shooting at me, I lose interest pretty quickly.  However, Mike wanted to self-wash the car, so we exchanged some dollars for Brown Bear Tokens and Mike went to town.  Despite the adorable bear logo of the Brown Bear, there’s a couple of pretty serious bronze-looking life-size angry grizzly bear statues at the entrance to the car wash that make me glad there aren’t grizzly bears roaming around downtown Seattle every time we pass them.  Mike kept feeding Brown Bear Tokens into the machine whenever it started beeping until he ran out of tokens.  I felt like we were at Chuck-E-Cheese feeding tokens into arcade games, but Mike took his job very seriously and washed each surface of the car thoroughly.  Mike played some 70’s and 80’s music on the way back from the car wash.  It’s unusual for Mike and me to listen to old music.  Usually we’re listening to new stuff.  However, there’s definitely some great music from the past.

With P90X over, Mike and I have still been working out, but not as strenuously.  Typically we work out three nights a week and focus on a combination of yoga, strength, and cardio.  It’s fun to have a workout buddy!  🙂  Tonight we went down to the workout room and Mike hopped on the elliptical while I hopped on a treadmill.  It’s annoyingly hard getting back into running.  You would think after 90 days of working out hard-core doing pull-ups and push-ups as well as plyometrics and kickboxing that running would feel easy.  But, no.  Because it’s a different movement, and one that my body isn’t currently used to anymore, it’s hard.  I’m to the point where running the distance isn’t difficult, but running at the speed I was running four months ago is difficult.  I have my eye on a really fun half marathon in Vancouver that’s in August, so I need to make sure I’m in prime running form by August.  I’m also excited because the race is on Mike’s birthday, so we can hang out there over a long weekend and have fun wandering around the city celebrating Mike’s birthday as well.  We have loved Vancouver both times we’ve visited there… such a fun, relaxing city with a great atmosphere!  🙂

Unfortunately our incredibly intelligent cat has figured out how to open the sliding bedroom doors while we’re away at work, so we’ve taken to blocking them with dumbbells.  Not very aesthetically pleasing, but pretty effective (I say “pretty effective”, because one day she actually did roll one of them out of the way and bat the door open anyway).

She enjoys hanging out on top of Mike

In addition to opening doors, she enjoys hanging out on top of Mike

In the spirit of a New Year and an already long winter for most of the U.S., here’s a Counting Crows song.  And in case you’re in the mood for an old introspective album (1996!), Recovering the Satellites that contains this song is a great listen.  I hope everyone has a wonderful week!  🙂

A Long December – Counting Crows

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Filed under Birthdays, Cats, Cooking, Furniture, Pictures, Running, Uncategorized