Happy Holidays!

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Before the big snowstorm hit, our Christmas plans were nice and low-key: casual Christmas morning at home, dinner at M & J’s house and then enjoy the long weekend, sleep in and lounge around. Alas, this was not to be. We got to spend Christmas day as planned, but the rest of the weekend was spent driving down to Oregon for a whirlwind visit with T’s & my parents. Here are some pics of Christmas morning:

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Our pretty Christmas tree, all decorated and stuff

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Other holiday decorations – I made these Christmas stockings many years ago and they still make me happy. I’m not much of a seamstress, but these came out pretty well.

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My brother sent us some great gifts, the most amusing of which were these salt & pepper shakers with the note pictured here and a scrap of the package, which Wally proceeded to finish off:

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Such a bad dog…

Todd had gone out into the snowstorm to get my present earlier in the week, before the roads completely closed and spent the remainder of the time fretting about it and telling me things like: “Okay, you’re totally going to love your present, but it’s okay if you want to return it.” Each day the ‘warnings’ got more elaborate while simultaneously more vague and mysterious, so understandably it was a bit maddening and by the time I got to open the thing, I was more curious to hear all of the backstory than I was to see what the actual present was. As it turned out this is what he got me:

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As it turned out, he was totally right. I LOVED it, but I did end up returning it and for a variety of the reasons he alluded to. We have a really nice set of knives and all we really needed was the actual stand, so it felt silly and wasteful to take all of the knives that came with it and throw them in the camping box, not to mention that it’s a pretty expensive stand. But T gets all of the “thoughtful gift” credit, because I do think it’s the coolest knife block ever.

As I said, the rest of the weekend was a blur of driving and visiting family. We got great gifts from the family, including a nice chunk of Christmas cash from T’s family, which we chose to spend on a Wii and Rockband2. T had to call around to a number of places to find a Wii, but we managed to track one down while in Oregon, so we saved the sales tax, which was nice. I’ve never been a big videogame person, but I must confess the Wii is pretty fun. All in all, a really nice Christmas this year.

Snowed in

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Seattle is fairly weather hysterical. So, I usually take any “extreme weather forecasts” with a grain of salt. So, imagine my surprise when after hearing about the big snow storm that the weather people had been talking about I woke up to about six inches of snow outside. Over the course of the week, we end up with well over a foot of the stuff which then froze and stuck around creating a huge mess. I ended up being stuck in the house for the entire week leading up to Christmas, working from home and driving T. and the dogs crazy with my cabin fever and inability to run outdoors. Here are some photos of our snow-covered ‘hood:

dsc03790The tree outside our apartment was my barometer – each day I’d look to see if it had more or less snow than the day before…

dsc03789Across the street

dsc03786George didn’t know what to make of all that white stuff…

dsc03773Downtown Ballard – you can tell this was early in the process because the roads are largely melted

dsc03774The brick buildings are so pretty in the snow…

dsc03776From the one run I was able to do before everything iced over and got way too dangerous…

A new training challenge

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For the last few years, Slowtwitch does a 100 runs in 100 days challenge. And for the last few years, I thought those people were nuts. This year, I’ve decided to join them. Not for the full hundred, but for the 80 runs in 100 days option. I’m excited to take this on as it will really help me get my running frequency up and motivate me to run through the crappy winter weather. Basically, for a run to count it just has to be 30 minutes or longer, so for me it’s all about short, frequent runs.

Leading up to this, I’ve been pretty good about running around 4 times per week so hopefully I’ll be able to build up to the 5-6 times required without too much trouble. I’ll keep y’all posted on my progress!

Jingle Bell, jingle bell, jingle bell run…

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This morning T and I got up bright and early to freeze our butts off with thousands of our friends at the 24th annual Jingle Bell 5k I knew the race was popular, but I was surprised by exactly how popular, especially since it had snowed the night before and the temperatures were in the 20’s. But this was the scene that greeted us:

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We were stupidly in the second wave, which was I’d read was supposed to be for folks who run between an 8 minute – 9:30 minute mile. In reality, it’s for people who are too stupid to read a website… Sigh. Here’s T freezing before the start:

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And as we lined up here’s what we were looking at:

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So, here’s my abbreviated race report. Walked or jogged slowly enough that I might as well have walked for the first half mile or so, went into the scary express lanes tunnel that I hate DRIVING through (though I must confess everyone singing Jingle Bells as we entered the tunnel was pretty fun) and then tons of dodging, weaving and trying not to curse out loud. (Inside my head was a whole other matter… ) It was just way too crowded and I didn’t really enjoy it. Should I ever do this race again, I would definitely line up in the first wave where I could hopefully at least run the damn thing… Oh well, live and learn!

I wanna rock!

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Whew, Saturday was a busy day. After getting our tree and having cupcakes with the ladies, T and I were scheduled to join our friends M and J at our other friends Graham and Sarah’s house for an evening of pizza and Rockband. And not delivery pizza either, real homemade pizza – enough to feed an army:

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And nothing goes with pizza better than a box of wine. πŸ™‚

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So, while M and Graham modeled her camera “Crappy D”

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Sarah got into the pizza-making action:

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So, thanks pizza-master J:

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Your pizza rocks:

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So, speaking of rocking, it was time to get down to business… Time to Rock!

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Even though it’s sort of silly in theory (an air guitar video game) Rock Band is really, really fun. I like to do the singing the best (all of those long road trips signing along to the radio really paid off!) Which works for everyone else since they seem to like toΒ  do the drums, guitar and bass. (Or maybe they’re too polite to tell me, but that seems unlikely with this crew) We had great fun playing all sorts of songs, both awesome and not so much (I’m looking at you Disturbed’s Down With the Sickness… ) I hope Graham and Sarah didn’t mind us invading their home, I certainly appreciate their hospitality!

The Great Cupcake Caper

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After a busy morning of tree-harvesting, I had a social engagement with some of my tri friends. We were meeting at a local cupcake bakery to chat in a nice relaxing, sugar filled environment. (Hey, it’s the off season, right?)

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I’d met most of the ladies there before, some at training camp and some while I was volunteering for Ironman Canada. You might remember Erin from tri camp:

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and Jenn from the drive up to Ironman Canada:

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Also from my time up in Canada, Jess and her sister Lucy (Lucy is enjoying the Red Velvet cupcake, Jess is the lovely brunette in the green shirt)

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Another shot of Jess:

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Courtesy of Erin, here are a few more photos. First, here’s a better shot of Lucy sitting with yours truly…

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We were also joined by Rebecca, who made the drive down from Bellingham to hang out with us, she’s in the front here:

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And here’s one of the whole group:

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It was a really fun afternoon. It was fun to catch up and have geeky tri-girl discussions about favorite drink mixes and whatnot (God help the poor folks at the table behind us… ) And given the freezing cold weather, it was especially nice of everyone to make the trip out. I’m looking forward to future gatherings, perhaps we’ll even add some running, biking or swimming into the mix… πŸ˜‰

Oh, Christmas tree…

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Last weekend we were out of town, so this weekend the mission was to go out and get our Christmas tree. Though we have gotten pre-cut trees sometimes, I really like the ritual of going out to kill it ourselves. So, this year I looked up a farm and roused T for an early morning start. (Bribing him with Cafe Besalu softened the blow… ) We headed out to the Carnation Tree Farm, chosen because it sounded nice and wasn’t too far away. It turned out to be a great choice:

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My favorite part was the farm mascot, Burton:

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Burton has an exhausting job:

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We headed out into the fields to look for our tree. It was really pretty with all of the trees and the farm in the background:

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When I was a kid, my parents would use us kids as tree markers, leaving us near potential picks. Naturally, we were terrible at this job, wandering off or picking trees we liked better and standing by them. Now that I’m older, I really wish I had four kids I could post at various trees so I can more easily compare them, but they’d probably cost a fortune to rent (and be as terrible at the job as we were) Luckily, it wasn’t too hard to find a nice tree:

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T set about the messy task of sawing it down, which was hard work given the rain-water that had collected in the middle of the tree, making it very hard to cut down. Me taking his picture probably didn’t help…

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But finally, success!

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Then it was just a simple matter of baling it, tying it to the roof of the car and transporting it home. I’ll post some pictures of it in it’s decorated form when we’re all done…