Battle of the junk

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Like most people, we have too much “stuff.” After watching M go through a very impressive de-cluttering phase, I decided it was time for T and I to do a “Purge” of our own. Two weeks ago, I told T to set today aside in his calendar to spend on this project. I’ve been reading a few organization books and de-cluttering blogs, so I had a plan-of-attack in mind. Basically, I wanted to go through all of the rooms in our apartment and do a quick initial sort, identifying things that could be sold/donated/thrown out immediately and what would require more thoughtful sorting. To make the process more enjoyable, we went to Cafe Besalu for some pastries and pre-planning, where we loaded up our much-depleted butter stores and determined the order of rooms we wanted to tackle.

Once home, we wrote our agenda down on the chalkboard:

Then it was off to the races. I didn’t take a lot of pictures, as we were too busy sorting. Suffice it to say, we found a lot of useless crap that can go to Goodwill/Craigslist/FreeCycle. We didn’t get through the whole list (the office and bathroom escaped.) But we were able to make a nice plan of attack for next steps, so now I don’t feel so overwhelmed by the whole process. Our overall goal is to end up only with stuff we love/need/use and I feel like we’re well underway. (And Mom, if you’re reading this; no, I didn’t throw out any of your stuff.)

Bastille day… evening?

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As a thank you for helping them move, J & M invited us to join them for dinner at Bastille, a newish French bistro in our neighborhood. We’d heard good things about it, so I was excited to try it. Plus, the interior is really cool which was of particular interest to T, as his studio is dealing with restaurants this term. J & M walked from their place, because they’re fancy like that and I wore a skirt for much the same reason. 🙂

The decor was gorgeous, right down to the adorable little mustard pot on the table: (sorry for the super flashy photos, my camera doesn’t like the dark restaurants too much.)

The food was delicious and the company delightful.

I forget how nice it is to get dressed up in my “girl-clothes.” Definitely have to do that more often!

Say cheese!

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M had invited us over for a “nostalgia brunch” of creamed chipped beef (or as it’s more commonly known: shit on a shingle.) I grew up with this dish as well, but my mom made hers with a cream sauce as opposed to the cheese sauce that M’s mom favored. (T & J were apparently spared this tradition, so they were useless as tie-breakers.) When we got to M & J’s place, there was the lovely fragrance of this bubbling on the stove:

The secret ingredient? Scary cheese:

Or should I say “cheeze™”? All I know, is that if it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, it isn’t cheese. To counteract this and the pressed “beef,” J had baked homemade white bread to go along with the dish:

While definitely not healthy for you, it was a very yummy brunch. Little Fergus looked on in jealousy from his sunbeam (Isn’t he ridiculous?)

Afterward, T & I headed home. Dad & Baby Cyclone stopped by our place for a little visit, which was nice as we haven’t seen him in a while and it was good to catch up and see more of the munchkin (who continues to be one of those disgustingly well-behaved babies.) Note to self: make sure to pre-order the ant farm and chemistry set now…

Afterward, T & I set about doing some cooking of our own. I decided to be ambitious and roast an extra chicken with the one I was making for dinner, so we’d have extra chicken for other recipes during the week. I must say, I roast a mean chicken:

Meanwhile, T was making another bread and getting flour all over himself and the ever-present Smokey Joe in the process:

Undeterred by being sprinkled with flour and banned from the kitchen, Smokey Joe continued to work on his “I’m going to die if I don’t get some of that chicken or bread or whatever else you’re making” face:

Happy MLK Jr. Day everyone!

Attack of the babies!

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(No, I don’t know what’s up with the exclamation point titles lately. It’s a very exciting MLK weekend, apparently!)

The Cyclones are visiting Seattle for Ms. Cyclone’s work. They are bringing with them new baby Isabella, who we’ve not yet met in person. To maximize their limited time in Seattle, we planned one big meet-up with T & I, M & J and Dave & Shelly along with their new addition Henry/Hank. (a.k.a. Rigatoni). There have been many jokes about the future union of Henry & Isabella, so it was exciting to be included in that all-important first meeting. We picked Pies & Pints for their central location, delicious food/beer and the fact that they’ll be okay with a big group of people making a bunch of noise.

The Cyclones were delayed getting their rental car, so Dave & Shelly arrived first. Here’s Hank, patiently waiting for his future bride:

Hank is a sweet little guy, very mellow and at that age where he’s starting to figure out that you can get a group of adults to do just about anything by pointing or waving at them. Here he is with mama Shelly:

Eventually, the Cyclones arrived with a sleeping baby Isabella. We got to greet them and they got to meet young Henry and order before she woke up:

Isabella is also a really mellow baby. She was totally fine with being passed around the table to a bunch of people she’d never seen before. (Of course, mom & dad were within sight, so that probably helped.) First, M got to hold her:

Then she got passed to yours truly:

Then she got passed over to T, who she’s in love with:

Poor Hank, while T was making the moves on his lady, he had to drown his sorrows in beer and straws:

J tried to protest my picture taking by attacking me with his Windows Mobile phone’s strobe light feature and made his way right onto the blog. (Take that!)

It was really fun to see everyone and meet the babies. I’m glad my friends are having babies because they look like they are really happy (if a little tired sometimes) and I get to enjoy the babies without having any of my own. (It’s win/win!) It’s weird that everyone is growing up and having kids, but in a good way. Now, if we could just get the Cyclones to come back to Seattle…

Snow day!

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A few of the ladies from my tri team organized a snow-shoeing outing in Hyak, WA. One of the things that I love about Seattle is that you don’t have to drive very far to do any number of activities and feel like you are in the middle of no where. I had only been snowshoeing once before, on my own back in Portland, so I was hoping that I’d be able to keep up. I was fortunate to be able to grab a ride with Jen & Bryan and their two lovely dogs, who you might recognize from the Gunn Ranch pictures. Here’s Tyr, ready to hit the slopes:

The scenery was pretty right from the beginning:

There ended up being quite a large group of us – Erin, David, Timmion, JenHS, Francois and two friends of Jen & Bryan named Josh & Erika. Here’s the group getting ready to head out:

As is her custom, Erin got a flat right out of the gate… 😉

But she was up and running pretty quickly!

The trail was much hillier than my previous snowshoe outing and it took a little time to get used to the snowshoes, but eventually it started clicking.

Someone built this cute snowman on the trail:

We stopped for a few breaks along the way:

I was very impressed with Jen & Bryan’s impressive snowshoeing with high energy dog attached. I would have ended up head-first in a snowbank if I tried that with my dogs.

It got foggier and foggier as we got further up the mountain, so we picked a spot at random to turnaround. Before heading back, we had an impressive little snack break – complete with homemade bread (courtesy of David), some Beecher’s cheese and some Chukar Cherries. (Sorry, food was eaten way too fast to photograph!)

Francois tried to climb some crazy steep snowbank while we made jokes about how exactly he was going to injure himself, but he managed to prove us wrong and emerge unscathed:

The trip down was largely uneventful. All of the up was replaced with down, letting different leg muscles get a workout. Afterward, we hit a mexican place in North Bend for some recovery food. (Mmmmm, nachos… )  It was a really fun outing and so great to see everyone. And best of all, I arrived home to a freshly cleaned apartment courtesy of the boy and plans to hang out with J & M for some food and RockBand. So far this holiday weekend is off to a good start!

Impromptu Sunday

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Our morning began very agreeably. There was some sleeping in, followed by buttermilk biscuits made from scratch. (Seriously, I love this new baking hobby of T’s, but I am going to have to train twice as hard to counteract the extra calories!) I had to snap a picture of the biscuits, because they looked so pretty as they cooled on the rack:

Then, while we were eating, the phone rang. It was M, telling us that their move was on. (A little back story: M & J are moving into a house just north of us. The landlord was doing some maintenance that involved sealants drying, so there was some question of whether or not they’d be able to move in this weekend vs. next weekend. M was really hoping to be able to do it this weekend, so we knew this phone call was a possibility.) We had about an hour to get ready, so I cleaned up the kitchen and prepped the veggie stock I’d planned to make that evening… )

Then it was off to M’s, where we were greeted by this sight:

(Oh, this is going to be so much fun!)

Luckily, M has been getting rid of all of her extraneous stuff and is super organized. She directed T to the wall of boxes in the laundry area:

(He looks so excited, doesn’t he?)

J & T set about loading boxes into the truck, while M & I packed the last odds & ends into boxes. (Why are there always such hilariously random boxes to pack at the end of packing? No matter how organized you are, there always seems to be at least one box of completely odd-ball things.) I really liked M’s list on the table. I think it really gets to the heart of moving:

Before we knew it, the last boxes were packed and the truck was loaded with the first trip’s stuff. We took a quick lunch break before heading over:

The boys went in the truck while M & I took some smaller/more delicate items in my car. As expected, her new place is super cute (pictures will be posted after she’s got it all set up nicely.) Most of the day was too busy for photos, but there were some funny moments while we were unloading. J discovered a smoker in the backyard that some previous tenants had left behind. Score!

T got this one of me trying to carry the big bundle of bedding into the house:

It was well after dark when we finished, mostly due to the late start. But we managed to get the majority of their stuff into the new place, including the precious desk and the kitties. I think it’s a really good fit for M & J and I’m looking forward to seeing it all unpacked and decorated. (I’m also looking forward to hanging out in their awesome yard, enjoying the benefits of J having that smoker!)

He’s free!

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After putting in his time at the Safeway Starbucks in our neighborhood, the boy is finally free. He finagled a TA job at his school, so he’ll be able to do something that interests him and actually uses some of his professional skills. I’m very happy that he is done with this job, because it made him miserable and not much fun to be around. To celebrate T’s new found freedom we invited M & J to join us at Delancey, a pizza place in our neighborhood that I’d been wanting to try.

For those of you who read the food blogs, the wife of the owner writes Orangette (which is fabulous.) The only downside of Delancey is that it’s insanely popular and not very big, which leads to crazy wait times. We tromped over to put our name in around 5:45 and had an estimated 90 minute to 2 hour wait time. Yikes! M & T browsed the window of the neighboring umbrella store while we decided what to do:

The sign in the bar across the street was also good from some jokes:

(Cocky Ails? Cock-yails? Not good… ) But ultimately neither activity was going to fill the wait time, so we decided to head back home to have a little wine and download some RockBand songs while we waited. This passed the time nicely and before we knew it, it was time to head back (this time by car) where our table was ready, right on schedule. Sadly, they were out of the burrata, which I’d been wanting to try, as well as a delicious sounding roasted pear dessert, but the food they did have was all delicious. This is my favorite kind of restaurant, simple decor, delicious food and generally a really good vibe.

Here are my attempts to be artsy:

(Let’s pretend that “blurry” and “artsy” are the same thing, ‘kay?)

The rest of the evening was spent playing RockBand and reveling in the fact that T didn’t have to get up early to go to work. Woo!