Ooof. After the endless parade of holiday snacks, I needed a hit of veggies, fiber, and all-around healthy stuff. So I made some soup last night with a bunch of ingredients I had on hand. What I love about soups is you can change the innards based on what you have or what you’re in the mood for. Or if you get sick of eating so much soup, you can freeze it and have some a month later!

Broth: chicken broth, tomato paste, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, and a splash of soy sauce

Veggies: Fresh carrots, frozen corn, frozen green beans, diced tomatoes, cannellini beans

Whole grains: quinoa/brown rice mix

Protein: chopped chicken

I just remembered I have some lentils I should’ve thrown in! Next time. One thing I did differently was use pre-packaged “carving board” cooked chicken breast, which you can find in the pre-packaged deli meats section at the deli store. Per ounce I’m sure it’s more expensive than cooking your own or getting a rotisserie chicken and carving that up yourself, but it was a fast and easy way to add chicken without the hassle. I recommend! This kind of meal is the perfect meal after the gym because it comes together pretty quickly, especially if you use frozen vegetables (no chopping) and pre-cooked chicken and/or grains.

Speaking of working out in general, I bought a jump rope yesterday as a cardio alternative to running outside (because let’s face it, though I’ve been a northwesterner for years, I still dislike running in the rain). So while Mark worked on the motorcycle in the garage, I jumped rope next to him with NPR as background noise. :) I remember being able to jump rope pretty well as a kid but that coordination seems to have left me! And my calves are now killing me. But I sure enjoyed it!

On my bookshelf

“Blackberry Winter” by Sarah Jio

This is the second book I’ve read by Jio, a Seattle author. I previously read The Violets of March, her first novel, but enjoyed Blackberry Winter more (her third). She tells the story of a boy gone missing in the 1930s, and how his tale spurs to action a Seattle reporter today. A story about a newspaper reporter IN Seattle? I’m sold. Maybe we’ll run into each other in a bookstore sometime! Check out her website: she’s super cute.

“In The Woods” by Tana French

Not to be confused with the Stephen Sondheim musical “Into The Woods,” this book chronicles a murder investigation in Ireland. The main character is a cop who has his own dark secrets, and discovers that this case may be connected to his past. I couldn’t put this down. It was like an expanded Law and Order episode with lots of twists and turns, and better writing. It’s pretty long (464 pages) but I flew through it thanks to French’s gifted prose.

Anyone have any recommendations of books they’ve read lately?

A week of firsts

Last week was a week of firsts for me!

First first: I saw “Christmas Vacation” for the first time. I know, how have I gone 27 years and never seen it? On second thought, how have I gone 27 years, period?? Though, to be completely honest, I did see about half an hour of it on a plane one time. But I was watching it on someone else’s screen because I got trapped in the back of the plane by the drink cart, which had already passed my seat. Of course, since it was on someone else’s screen, I had no way to hear the sound. Which made it even funnier!

Second first: We got the 1979 film “Alien” so I could watch it for the first time. It’s such a classic and referenced everywhere that even though I knew it would be scary, I wanted to see it. It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be but I was still freaked out! Great sci-fi movie if you’re in the market for one and haven’t already seen it.

Third first: I put air in my tires for the first time. Usually when the tire pressure light comes on I head to Les Schwab so they can figure it out for me, but since I have a tire pressure gauge in the car now I figured I could do it myself. Yes… I’m a big girl now. Go me. All four tires are now back up to 32 PSI.

Anyone else have any firsts?

A Christmas hunt

Don’t you hate it when you turn the house upside down looking for something and just can’t find it? And then someone else finds it on the first try? A box of our Christmas items went missing (meaning I somehow didn’t put it with the rest of the Christmas decorations) but I was sure it was in the garage. But when I went to the garage, the box wasn’t there. This was no ordinary box: it had our stockings, stocking holders, and ALL the Christmas lights I’d amassed for the tree. So when we got our beautiful noble fir home and I found I had no lights to decorate with, I was upset.

Mark came in later and asked if I’d looked in the utility room. Of course I had, I said. So he went downstairs and came up a few minutes later. WITH THE MISSING BAG. Yes, it turned out to be a bag, not a box. I’d apparently laid it flat inside a shallow clear plastic bin, and it was the bottom bin in a stack of three in the utility room. I couldn’t see in part of the bin because another box was blocking it but from what I could see, it didn’t look like it had my Christmas stuff. But I was wrong. So I gave Mark a hug and put the bag with the rest of the Christmas decorations but didn’t start on the tree because by now it was late and searching had worn me out.

So tonight I’ll get on that. In the meantime, I was relieved to see our tree made it through the night without tipping. We had quite the tipsy tree last year!

New food discoveries

I was in Costco yesterday and sampled the most delicious sweet potato chips! If you like sweet potatoes and potato chips, you would LOVE these. I’ve been on a huge sweet potato kick lately (I ate one every day last week) so these were right up my alley. I didn’t buy any because I’m not a big snacker, but these would be great to have around for a football game or just because.

One item I did try was this red pepper chili spread. Our church had a Christmas party last night and we needed to bring a snack, so I decided to bring crackers topped with cream cheese and this spread. Costco wasn’t sampling it so I bought it blindly and hoped for the best and wasn’t disappointed. It’s more of a jelly, and went very well with the cream cheese.

I love new food discoveries!

On my bookshelf

“The Violets of March” by Sarah Jio
This novel is set in Bainbridge Island and Seattle, making it a fun and local choice for my book club. The story was intriguing enough, involving a young divorcee delving into a family secret while stringing along a couple of beaux. Our book club met at The Fat Hen this time, a breakfast/lunch café in north Ballard. I completely recommend it – I had an egg bake over ham and mozzarella and it was absolutely perfect.The bake came served in a little cast-iron skillet that came straight from the oven. I’ve decided I must have a mini cast-iron skillet just like it! What an easy way to keep your meal contained. Back to Sarah Jio, I went to the library after book club to pick up a book that I’d placed on hold ages ago. I had gotten an e-mail from the library informing me a book was ready for pick-up but I didn’t pay attention to what book it was. It turned out to be Sarah Jio’s next novel, a book I don’t even remember placing on hold! So now I get to read two of hers.

“The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain
I cannot put this down. I’m about two-thirds through and will probably finish it by Wednesday! This novel is set in the 1920s and follows Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley, through their passionate yet tumultuous marriage. It’s quite fascinating and I love all the literary references – the couple lived in Paris at the time and were surrounded by the likes of Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Plus the writing is fantastic, the best I’ve read of late. Since the readers all know that Hadley is Hemingway’s first wife (the book cover tells you as much), you know how the book will end. So right now I’m waiting for the train to wreck. But I can’t avert my eyes.

Once a band nerd, always a band nerd

My upbringing was a musical one. I picked up a flute at age 10 and didn’t put it down for eight years. I stayed after class one time to learn a few notes on the clarinet for fun. I made my brother teach me some fingerings on the trumpet. In my freshman year of high school I decided that one instrument wasn’t enough and that I was going to learn the oboe, too. I took intensive lessons for that year and grew leaps and bounds but my growing coursework and responsibilities eventually won out and I dropped this extracurricular pursuit. I’m still kicking myself! But I was a perfectionist when it came to music and I knew I couldn’t excel at both. My perfectionism really came out one time at a band clinic my school participated in – students could prepare a piece to perform and be graded on, not for any award but just for general edification. Work hard and be graded on it? Right up my alley. Nerd. Anyway, I set my sights on a perfect score and delivered what I thought was a flawless performance. So needless to say I was devastated when I was docked ONE measly point for failing to pay adequate attention to the dynamics of the piece, meaning I didn’t manage my volume control when the music dictated. I may have cried. At a score of 99%. I was that kid.

After playing the flute for eight years, I  then ignored it for nine. Until Saturday! A family friend brought one over to Mark’s parents’ house so I swept the dust bunnies out of the corners of my mind where sight-reading resided and tried to play something. It was a bit harder than I expected – my embouchure (the position you hold your mouth to make sound) was quite out of shape and my fingers grew sore from holding the flute in position after only 10 minutes. It’s true what they say about muscles: use them or lose them! Mark’s parents are taking care of his grandma’s piano so I pulled a Mozart piece out of a box of music and tried to play a few bars. I had trouble making sound at first but my embouchure improved the longer I played, and my sight reading skills were rusty but still there! I’ve always said that once we had a house then I would start playing instruments again so I suppose now is the time. I’m now determined to find my flute on my next trip home and bring it back with me! My brain enjoyed the mental exercise of sight-reading and playing. Speaking of mental exercise, is it nerdy to admit that sometimes I mentally play the flute along to songs? I think that’s why I remembered the fingerings, because I still play them in my head!

I guess I’ll always be a band nerd. But I’m in good company: Mark’s 90-something-year-old grandma still plays her flute and is darn good at it. Maybe we can do a duet!

A work update

I’ve been working in a war zone all week! Our office underwent a major re-gutting and guess who had to stay in the office the entire time. This girl! It’s been quite interesting to watch the progress but it did confirm our decision to not buy a fixer-upper. I just wasn’t made to live in such chaos. ;) It did however make me want to paint something. The office was repainted and it was such a visible facelift that I wanted to go immediately to a home improvement store and pick out new paint for the house. But so far I haven’t made good on that urge. Yet.

All the improvements will supposedly be done by the end of Monday so everyone else will be back in the office by Tuesday. While it’s been nice working in relative solitude (unless you count the painters, cabinet people, carpet people, furniture people, and sheetrock people), it’ll be nice to have everyone back in the office so they can stop calling me. ;)

Arc de Triomphe

After our rainy excursion to Versailles, we holed up in a Starbucks for a bit before planning our next move. The rain started to let up a bit so we decided to catch the Metro to the Arc de Triomphe and wander the Champs-Elysees, a street that is to Paris what Fifth Avenue is to New York.

I was blown away by how huge the Arc de Triomphe is. It's absolutely massive. You can take an elevator to the top of it but we'd already had our fill of views of Paris from up high so we figured we'd skip the lift. The Arc is a war memorial and it's worth an up-close look, in my opinion.

 You can kind of see the scale of the monument if you look at the people standing beneath it.

I wanted to show how big the Arc actually is so I had Mark stand next to it. I couldn't get the whole monument in the shot. Everything in Paris is big. Except the people.


If you've seen the movie "Midnight in Paris," you've seen Versailles, the palace of the kings and queens of France. We visited Versailles on a gloomy and rainy day, which diminished the palace's magic somewhat. We tried to keep a positive attitude (We're from Seattle! We're used to this!) but after about 45 minutes of roaming the grounds in a downpour, we decided it was time to go. The castle gets pretty crowded with all the visitors but I'd say it was worth a visit. I'm sure the grounds are much more gorgeous in sunlight. 

The French royalty sure knew how to build a palace. Or at least order around those that did.

 I think this was a chapel? We weren't allowed in.

 I'm sure all the gold here would've been brilliant in sunlight!

 Yeah, I'm gamely trying to be a trooper.

 You can see the grounds in the background. We barely even covered a third of the grounds and we were out there for 45 minutes. It would've been delightful on a beautiful day!

This was the first Starbucks we saw in Paris - out at Versailles. We didn't go in but we did visit one when we got back into Paris. What can I say, it was a rainy day... and rain equals Starbucks!

Yet MORE obligatory shots of the Eiffel Tower

I knew the Eiffel Tower lit up at night but I didn’t know they did a little light show from it! At eight o’clock on the dot (probably at other times too, I don’t know) the Eiffel Tower started to sparkle! It was great timing too because we happened to be sitting on the lawn beneath it and right as I turned my head to look at the Tower, it lit up. The twinkling effect (“twinkling” makes it sound soft and subtle… it was much more in your face than that) is a bit cheesy but hey, I like cheese. :)

The Louvre

If you only get to go to one museum in Paris, make it the Louvre. You see pieces in there that you only see in history books, and I’m not just talking about the “Mona Lisa,” though I’ve never seen a crowd like that at a museum before. We ran into the room where the “Mona Lisa” hung, snapped a quick (and terribly blurry) photo of it, and ran out! We decided to go to the Louvre after we went to the Eiffel Tower that morning, so we ended up spending about five hours there until the museum closed. Millie came with us too, which was fun.

My only problem was that the jetlag didn’t decide to hit me until we were in the middle of the Louvre. My friend once told me that she’d fallen asleep running (twice!) and I laughed (I mean… it’s kind of a funny mental image and she was fine both times) because I couldn’t imagine being so tired that I’d fall asleep during that kind of physical activity. And then I went to a museum with jetlag. I didn’t actually fall over but I felt like I had to mentally keep telling myself to put one foot in front of the other. Once I sat down on a bench and almost fell off because I nodded off instantly. Millie had to ask me if I was OK… I said I wasn’t but dang it, I’m a trooper! Nothing against the Louvre; my body just couldn’t take it anymore! Eventually I pulled myself together and felt a bit better but it was a little scary there for a while.

There she is...



An album and a workout

We finally got around to posting pictures on Facebook from our Europe trip so I’ll just refer you to the album. These are the bare minimum of pictures though as we didn’t want to bore anyone, so I’ll still be posting some pictures and stories on here as I go! Don’t expect postings on a regular basis though. :) I feel like I have to say that so no one expects daily posts or anything like that. I used to be able to post daily but now I’m lucky if I get three posts up a week!

Speaking of busy schedules, I made up a killer lower body workout on Monday that only took 24 minutes. I love workouts like this because I can mix in cardio and body weight resistance but get done in half the time than if I went for a run and did weights afterward. So I put a butternut squash in the oven to roast, set the timer for 25 minutes, and went to the garage to work my buns off!

24-Minute Lower Body Workout
Set 1:
30 Jumping Jacks | 15 Squats | 10 Seconds of Rest
Set 2:
15 Mountain Climbers | 10 Lunges (each leg) | 10 Seconds of Rest
Set 3:
15 Jump Stars | 15 Single Leg Lifts (each leg, from plank position) | 10 Seconds of Rest
Then do it all again!
The trick here is to do the workout FAST so you keep your heart rate up the whole time. My least favorite part is the lunges but you bang through them so quickly that before you know it, you’re done. You can make this workout harder by holding dumbbells during your squats and lunges but your body weight already offers plenty of resistance, especially when you’re going fast. When I finished and walked back into the house, the squash still had 40 seconds left. My kind of workout.

Obligatory Eiffel Tower shots

Le Tour Eiffel

Upon going to bed Sunday night, we told ourselves we’d be up and at ‘em early Monday morning to beat the Eiffel Tower crowds! That didn’t happen. We got to the Tower probably around 11 and I could see what looked like two entry lines, both of them double-spanning the width of the square where you wait to buy tickets. Not too bad, I thought. Until I realized it was one line. But hey, what can you do! We waited there for about 20 minutes until Mark saw a different, shorter line at the other side of the square and went to investigate. That shorter line was actually the line to walk up the stairs to the first and second level of the Tower instead of waiting for the elevator. Plus it was cheaper! So we moved to the walking line.

Now that I’ve established we’re in line, let me back up a day and a half (bear with me): on the flight from New York to Paris, I sat next to a girl from Australia named Millie. We chatted and became buds but didn’t make plans to hang out while in Paris since none of us had phones. So when we parted at the airport, we expected to never see her again.

So, back to the line. As we stood there chatting, we heard a loud “OH. MY. GOD.” And who was standing in line in front of us but MILLIE, who was obviously just as shocked as we were. I mean, it’s a huge city with tons of attractions! And we just happened to meet up at one of them at the same time in the walking line. By accident. So we climbed the Eiffel Tower together and hung out the rest of the day. A perk of having another friend with us was that we had someone to take our picture! It’s funny to look through all our pictures because most of them just have one of us or perhaps both at arms-length, but on this day we have plenty of the two of us from a normal distance.

Millie and me

I was amazed by just how huge the Eiffel Tower is. It’s about the same height as an 81-story building! You can walk up to the first and second levels of the Tower, but if you want to go to the top then you have to take the elevator. We’d heard some friends say that you don’t have to go to the top to get the full experience but we figured that since we were already there, we might as well!

Seattle to Paris

After a five-plus hour flight to New York, a three-hour delay at JFK, a seven-plus hour flight to Paris, and a delay at the Paris airport due to a controlled detonation of a suspicious package, we were finally on vacation!

I know: a controlled detonation of a suspicious package? They actually do things like that?? They sure did. Everyone was cordoned off from a specific part of the airport which blocked us from the exit while the military took care of the situation. And by “took care of the situation,” I mean we heard three loud beeps followed by a small explosion. And then we were allowed to leave. Welcome to Paris.

Our first challenge was to get to our apartment we’d rented for our four-day stay. The Paris metro system was surprisingly easy to navigate and soon enough we found ourselves in the Montmartre neighborhood, where our apartment was. I initially wasn’t sure of our decision to stay in Montmartre – it’s home to the red light district of Paris (the site of the famed Moulin Rouge) so I wondered if it would be sketchy at all. A friend of ours stayed there though when she was in Paris and gave it a glowing review and once there, I found I couldn’t have been more pleased with it! Montmartre is filled with cute little shops and cafes and is a short metro ride away from the main attractions in Paris. The entry to our apartment building was a small and nondescript door sandwiched between two cafes (we missed it the first time down the street). Even though we met our apartment host  a few hours later than anticipated, he was very gracious and sweet to us, and provided us with croissants, bread, jam, and orange juice before leaving us to spread out our things and get comfortable.

Our studio apartment in Paris - the futon is
behind us.
And then we got moving! Paris had some unseasonably nice weather the day we arrived, so it was about 80 degrees. We walked around Montmartre and ended up at the Sacre Coeur, a church on top of the hill that gave us some great views of Paris. It was our first glimpse of how ornate and grand everything in Paris is. Since it was Sunday, the tourist crowds were out in full force!

The Sacre Coeur
The city behind me.
See the soccer ball dangling from the
performer's foot? He entertained the crowd with
his soccer juggling and lamppost climbing skills.
And then the police came.
 After roaming Montmartre, we took the metro to the Notre Dame cathedral, which is much more grand than I’d ever imagined. It’s absolutely massive! But then again, everything there is massive. It was free to enter the church, but you have to pay if you want to climb the stairs, which is what we did. I think it was worth it (somewhere around 8 euros) – the view was fabulous and we got some great pictures of the stone gargoyles up top.

The Notre Dame

Inside the Notre Dame

The line to get into the Notre Dame -- we
were already at the top.
The bell of Notre Dame
My favorite gargoyles: aren't they funny looking?
Gorgeous view that day

The rest of the day was spent wandering and trying to stay awake until at least 9 so our bodies could get used to the new time zone. We tried to get into a church called Sainte-Chapelle, which is on the same island as Notre Dame, but it closed minutes before we got there. I heard Sainte-Chapelle has beautiful stained glass though, if you’re into that sort of thing!

The European packing list!

The goal was to fit two weeks’ worth of possessions into my backpack and have a little room left over for souvenirs and anything else I might pick up. I knew we’d have access to a washing machine at least twice during the trip so I packed accordingly. This may not seem like a lot of clothes but you’d be surprised how a few outfits can last.

  • 8 unmentionables (I meant to take 7 but somehow an extra stowed away)
  • 4 short-sleeve shirts
  • 2 tank tops
  • 3 day dresses
  • 2 cardigans
  • 1 rain jacket
  • 1 pair of capris
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 belt
  • 1 pair of sandals
  • 1 pair of flats
No shorts, you may ask? I don’t have any at the moment that aren’t running shorts, and those didn’t make the cut. I figured the dresses would suffice, and they did. I have a new love for day dresses! I felt comfortable in them the whole time, except when we were climbing circular staircases in domes and the like – then I had to be careful to not flash anyone! Mildly awkward. Hug the walls.

As for makeup, I tried not to take the whole bathroom sink but I didn’t want to feel like I was lacking the whole trip. So below is the carefully curated list of what I took. And believe me, I could’ve taken MUCH more! Did I use it all? You bet.
  • Foundation
  • Primer, both face and eye
  • 2 eyeshadow palettes: Urban Decay Naked and Urban Decay Smoked
  • L’Oreal Infallible eyeshadow in bronzed taupe
  • 1 blush
  • Illuminator
  • All-over face setting powder
  • Bronzer
  • 3 pencil eyeliners (2 blacks and a brown)
  • Eyebrow gel/powder
  • 1 mascara
  • Eyelash curler, duh
  • Accompanying brushes (I think I took 6)
Other odds and ends
  • Hairbrush
  • Flatiron
  • Power converter, since my flatiron wasn’t dual voltage
  • 2 plug adapters
  • Cell phone charger
  • iPad charger + iPad
  • Jewelry!
  • Glasses that I never used but you never know when you might tear a contact
  • Plenty of toiletries (when I took the bag out to go through security, the TSA guy asked, “Maam, are those all yours or are you sharing with him?” I was like, “Uh… sharing?” So I got to keep all of them! En route to Central America, TSA had me throw away three of my travel bottles. Because my hairspray is a real security threat.)
  • Important docs like the passport, a copy of the passport, printed directions to each of our accommodations, debit card, credit card, and insurance card.
  • An Italian phrase book
And that was it! Everything fit in my pack so I didn't have to poach any of Mark's free space. As for what I would've done differently: I overpacked a little when it came to clothes. I didn't wear one of my tees at all, and I could've taken one less tank. I could've done with another pair of shoes, but then again, who couldn't? ;) I also went for cute shoes over comfortable shoes and my feet were NOT happy at the end of the trip. But you know what they say... beauty over pain, and fashion is uncomfortable!

We have returned!

After a hectic and fun two-week vacation to Europe, we have returned! We're back to work per usual and I haven't had a chance to sort through the tons of pictures we took. It feels good to be back home though, even if I have to be at work! My body seems to be adjusting to the time change fine, though I think it still gets confused when I eat at new meal times. Speaking of, it's time for lunch. But I'll be back with pictures!

Labor Day Camping and Rafting

Breakfast on Monday morning.
We went camping last weekend near Naches, which is about a half hour or so northwest of Yakima, in central Washington. We took our chances with first-come first-serve camping because, unlike two years ago, the campground wouldn’t let us reserve only one night on a holiday weekend – the minimum stay was three nights. After much beating around the bush with the campground and the service that runs all the reservations for all Washington campsites, they finally told me that they wouldn’t bend the rules and give us a site for the night, even though there were sites available.

So we gambled and drove out Sunday afternoon, crossing our fingers that there would be a site available. I must admit… I was doubtful. Beautiful holiday weekend + one of the last weekends of summer = lots of people. But there was ONE unreserved spot at the first campsite we checked! There were also a couple of spots that had placards saying they were reserved for five days but the sites were empty, no campers in sight. So being the go-getters that they are, the guys went to the camp host to ask why those spots were empty. I can’t speak for how other campgrounds are run, but this camp host told us that if the campers didn’t have any of their stuff at their reserved site, especially in the middle of a multi-day reservation, then it was available to campers who needed it. So we got a prime spot next to the river without a reservation!

Skipping rocks across the river.
Since we couldn’t have a campfire, we prepared all our food in advance. We brought sandwiches, others brought Subway, and others brought a pasta salad. I think that’s the first time I’ve been camping without a campfire and I missed the warmth! We told scary stories (ok, Mark told a scary story) around a Nalgene lit up with a flashlight and it just wasn’t the same.

The next day we went rafting on the Tieton River through River Recreation, a company I’d totally recommend. They outfit you with wetsuits, booties, helmets, and life vests and send you on your merry way down the river, with a guide of course! I’d forgotten how technical the river is – lots of rocks to navigate – but our guide was stellar. I'm really disappointed I didn't get a picture of us in our wetsuits – as you can imagine, they were super attractive. ;) Not. Maybe it's a good thing I didn't get a picture!
Self portrait of the crew since we couldn't find anyone to take
our picture!

#92: Randomly meet a celebrity

I look way more thrilled... ha.
I finally, FINALLY got to meet a celebrity yesterday in a chance encounter at a FedEx office. Not only is he a Sounders player, he also happens to be the CAPTAIN. Oh yeah. That just happened.

So here’s the story. I was standing in line at FedEx waiting to pick up a print job (this sounds like a FedEx commercial) and I saw a guy standing off to the side filling out some shipping paperwork. I caught a glimpse of his profile and thought OH MY GOODNESS that looks like Mauro Rosales. But then he turned his back to me (how dare he) and I couldn’t get another glimpse of him without being a total stalker. So I continued in line and picked up my print job, but during that wait I became convinced that I needed to figure out whether he really was Mauro because if he was, there was no way I was missing this perfect opportunity. PLUS I just happened to have my camera in my purse. So I did what any normal person would do and lingered near the front of the store and pretended to “browse” while keeping him in my sights (stalker much?)

Finally I just decided to bite the bullet and walk over to where he was, but let me tell you, that was a hard decision. There wasn’t really any place to browse or look normal where he was standing, so as soon as I was over there, it would be quite obvious that I was checking him out or something. But I figured, meh, if he’s not Mauro Rosales then I’ll just run away and never see him again (no shame!) and if he IS Mauro Rosales… well, I’d cross that bridge when I came to it. So I walked over and kind of rounded the corner of the kiosk where he was standing and caught his eye… and as soon as I did, it was very clear he was indeed who I thought he was. And then I had to say something because I was standing so awkwardly between him and a wall.

“Hi… are you Mauro Rosales?” (DUH.)

He answered affirmatively and was super sweet about the whole encounter, which is what I was most nervous about because you never know if people don’t want to be bothered or are going to be jerks or something. I told him my husband and I had season tickets and were big fans and blah blah blah (I really don’t remember what I said, I got so flustered) and he thanked me for the support and blah blah blah (again… don’t really remember). So then I pulled out my camera and asked if we could please take a picture. He said sure, but will my husband get jealous? I said, oh believe me, only jealous that I got to meet you and he didn’t! So he flagged down a FedEx guy who took our picture. And then I thanked him and tried to act cool and went back to my office, where I couldn’t stop blabbering about it for the next half hour. My lucky co-workers.

S'mores cookies!

We're going camping with some friends this weekend in central Washington and rafting the Tieton River on Monday, the same trip we did two years ago. Car camping means an opportunity to bring great snacks and since we can't have a campfire this year because of a burn ban, I found a recipe for S'mores cookies since we couldn't build them over an actual fire. These are definitely second best to real S'mores, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

So how do you make them? You're killing me, Smalls! ;)

I found the recipe here and used chocolate chunks instead of mini chocolate kisses, and used the standard mini marshmallows instead of the Mallow Bits the author recommended. I looked for the Mallow Bits because they seem perfect for baking (they're much smaller) but I couldn't find them! Sadness. Regardless, the cookies were still gooey and tasty.

Oh and a hint: use the parchment paper. I didn't have any so I thought, meh, how bad could it be? VERY BAD INDEED. I left the marshmallow encrusted cookie sheet in the sink to soak after the first round and tripped off to Safeway for some parchment paper. The second round went much better.

Potlucks and Portland

I love potlucks. I enjoy the sometimes hectic process of trying to figure out what dish would be a great accompaniment for an event and then putting it together. Mark’s family reunion was in Portland this weekend so I said I’d bring a pasta salad. I found a recipe that I thought looked good and didn’t require too much of me and whipped that baby up. After adding some corn, black beans, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, avocados, and a creamy dressing, I was done! And let me tell you, it looked beautiful. So colorful! I showed it to Mark before I put the dressing on because it looked like a rainbow exploded in the bowl and my anti-onion/pepper husband said, “So colorful… I don’t think it’s something I can eat.” True to form.

So I stuck it in the refrigerator for the next day and didn’t give it another thought until we were in the car on the way to Portland and Della asked, “Hey how’d the pasta salad go?” And I felt like crying because I knew I’d left it in the refrigerator.

Fortunately we are having a picnic with friends tonight so I can pawn off the pasta salad on them and it won’t go to waste. And there was certainly no shortage of good food this weekend. Our friend Wendy made the most amazing ribs… so we chowed down.

Nom nom nom

Backpacking in the Olympics

The whole crew, packed and ready to go.

As I mentioned Wednesday, Mark and I went on a backpacking trip last week in the Olympic Mountains with some friends. I was nervous about the physical aspect since I hadn’t been backpacking since early high school, but I discovered I shouldn’t have worried. Granted, I did have the lightest pack. But still! These quads held up just fine.

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Polka dots!

I’ve needed a sleeping bag ever since my senior year of college when I left mine on a bus coming back from Whidbey Island. My purple mummy bag was so loved: I’d had it since the summer after sixth grade when I went on my first backpacking trip, and it had been on many trips with me since. The stuff sack had suffered a tear but I repaired it with duct tape so it was as good as new again. Classy, I know.

The sleeping bag drought has ended with my brand new Kelty! I love its feminine color scheme and that it has polka dots. Don’t lie, I know you’re jealous. Plus this bag is WARM. We took it on a backpacking trip last weekend and I thought I was going to have to unzip the tent that night, I was so warm. I’m not planning on leaving it on any buses in the future so I’m hoping to have this bag for years to come. Its next use: camping near Yakima before we raft the Tieton River next weekend!

Biking along the waterfront

So… I think summer is over? I feel like the northwest is known for its short yet awesome summers and this one was no different! We’ve been able to pack lots of little trips and excursions into this summer and I’ve done an awful job of posting pictures and updates, so I’ll do my best to get better.

First up, a bike excursion down the waterfront to the Sounders game. We used to bike from our old apartment to Sounders games but moving six miles north has derailed that option, at least for the casual biker like myself. But since temps were in the high 80s and sitting in the car for a potential hour sounded like no fun, we decided to pack the bikes into the car and drive to Magnolia to bike along the waterfront. I much prefer this waterfront ride to our old route to the stadium—it’s so flat!

Half-marathon #2

My second half-marathon came and went and I’m still alive! Training was much easier this time around, and while I can’t say the race was “easy,” running it was much less difficult than the first time. Having my brother next to me for almost the whole race was definitely a highlight! I really wanted to keep up with him this time (last time he left me at mile 5) but again we weren’t destined to finish together. His leg cramped up at mile 11—as he says, “it’s all fun and games until mile 11”—so I pulled ahead. Typical twin syndrome: I’ve won one, he’s won one. ;)

The weather was absolutely perfect for running, and I enjoyed the new course. We started at the Seattle Center, ran down to the International District, over to Lake Washington and north to I-90, then over to the waterfront on the viaduct (awesome view) and back to the Seattle Center. The only bad thing about coming back up the viaduct was having to dodge runners who kept stopping to take pictures.
Mark caught me at the finish line.

After I finally found Richard after the race—I assumed we’d finish together so we never discussed a plan of how to find each other afterward in the thousands and thousands of people—we went to Portage Bay Café for brunch. And man was it the best brunch I’ve ever had.


#8: Make sushi

I mentioned this event on Facebook but forgot to post it on here and update my 100 List! We made a foray into the world of homemade sushi all in the name of… a baby shower. My pregnant friend Samantha loves sushi but hasn’t been able to eat it for a while (obviously) so we thought it’d be fun to have some fishless sushi rolls at her shower. I wanted to do a test run though to guarantee success the day of the shower (you know how it goes – you try something new the day you need it and it’s a disaster). I didn’t quite know what to expect; I’d heard that making sushi was difficult the first time around and that rolling it correctly takes some effort. So I bought a bamboo rolling mat at an Asian grocery store for about $4, watched two instructional videos on YouTube, and gave it my best shot.

And what do you know, it actually worked! We used salmon, cucumber, avocado, a bit of cream cheese, and sesame seeds for our first attempt, but I only used cucumber, avocado, and sesame seeds for the shower sushi rolls. There’s definitely a flavor difference between homemade rolls and those found at our favorite sushi place (Umi’s Sake House in Belltown) so I’m convinced there must be some secret ingredient that normal people don’t know about. But for homemade sushi, I thought it was pretty good and fairly easy. Rolling the sushi takes some concentration to make sure you don’t roll in the plastic wrap or squish out the sushi innards but the process was much easier than I expected. The possibilities are endless!