Powering into 2018


How are we already two weeks into January? So far the theme of 2018 has been “Oh crap, how am I so far behind schedule?” I’ve been ruminating about the whole start of the year “fresh start phenomenon” and was planning to write a post about it much earlier than now, but hey, better late than never, right?

I LOVE the concept of a fresh start. When I was a kid, I always liked the first day of school because I believed that this would be the year that it all would be different – I’d finally be that good student/popular girl/”insert ephemeral and impossible to attain goal here”. Needless to say, that never seemed to happen and I would remain the same person. (Shocking, I know.)

Fast forward to New Year’s Resolutions. Same idea, but sadder because I should have caught a clue from the earlier lessons. Nope! “I’m going to go to the gym every day!” “I’m going to lose xx pounds!” You name it, I’ve probably resolved it. I think this is why the phrase “New Year, New You” makes me so ragey. Or maybe it’s just because that phrase is so. stupid.

But I can’t help it, I still love that fresh start feeling of January 1. This year, I came across a new (to me) idea that I really love: picking a power word. When I first read about it, I was intrigued and immediately overwhelmed. How could I sum up what I want to accomplish in only one word?

At first, I approached it from a logical standpoint. What are my goals? What do I want to accomplish this year? But that felt a lot like the resolutions and the words that were coming to mind just weren’t resonating. So, I tried to delve deeper – what was underneath all of those goals? And I realized that what I truly want is to not be swallowed by the darkness around me, I want to be happy and healthy and pursue the things that have meaning to me without getting bogged down in the bullshit and distractions that are all around us. And the first image that came to mind was a night sky with a few lonely stars shining bravely.

So, my power word for 2018 is shine. I like it for the above reasons and from the concept of Shine Theory from one of my favorite podcasts. I love the idea that you can elevate others while still trying to be your best self. And it’s funny, since I picked that word it’s been easier to get out for my workouts, make better food choices and, most importantly, to not beat myself up when I fail to do either of those things. I know there will be days where it will by harder, so I’m just going to focus on nurturing that flame inside me and giving it what it needs to burn brightly out into the darkness.

Urban wanderings


The next morning, I slept in. (T was up at 6:30, poor bastard… ) I was definitely feeling the effects of last night’s excess, so I headed back to Hu Kitchen for breakfast. Then I wandered around the city. It was actually really fun to not have an itinerary and just go where ever I felt like going. I went to Grand Central Station and took some photos:


Then walked past the library and said hi to the lions. Fun fact, the lions have names. This is Fortitude:

NYC5-LibraryLionAnd here’s Patience, chilling on the South side:

NYC5-LibraryLion2And to save my poor, sore feet, there was a lot of this:

NYC5-SubwayMy adventures took me through one of my favorite subway stations. The 14th Street/8th Avenue stop. I’ve always loved these little guys:

NYC5-SubwayCrittersNYC5-SubwayCritters1NYC5-SubwayCritters2I even had lunch at one of my favorite spots from the good old days, Republic in Union Square. Sometimes a big bowl of noodles is just what the doctor ordered:


I was running out of steam and was about to head back to the hotel when I got a text from T that he was heading back. Kismet! We relaxed in the room, drinking the rest of our wine and recounting our adventures. Initially, we were supposed to go downtown and check out another store, but I think everyone was tired, so we ended up having some more happy hour drinks in the hotel bar and then headed to dinner at Brasserie Les Halles‘ Park Avenue South location. T had a little too much wine and cocktails, so I teased him with tablecloth doodles:

NYC5-DrunkyTBut food definitely helped, especially this delicious beef bourguignon:

NYC5-DinnerBBAll of the food was delicious. And as was custom with this group, there was plenty of it. We splurged on a bunch of dessert, including bananas flambé, because fire is cool:

NYC5-BananasFlambeWe walked back to the hotel and passed this beauty:

NYC5-EmpireStateBuildingIt was a fantastic way to end a wonderful trip. I had a very early flight the next morning, so I had to pack and get ready. T was continuing on to Philadelphia and then to D.C, so he also had to get up early. (No late night bar visits for us!)

The next morning, I woke to pouring rain. Luckily, it was a pretty short walk to the subway. I couldn’t resist taking this rainy shot of the iconic old TWA terminal, still sadly unused. (I may have witnessed TWA’s last passengers in September of 2001… )


As with any great vacation, I was a little sad to leave, but also happy to get home to the boys. Austin had been giving the dog sitter hell with an eye injury/infection, so I was particularly eager to see the little goofball.

First birthday


It’s pretty hard to believe that a year ago, this little munchkin was just coming into the world.Rowanis1Of course, you can’t let a momentous occasion (M & J keeping that baby alive for a whole year) pass without a party! M did it up right with these awesome big balloons and a tiny little cake:

CakeI really can’t decide which one is cuter, the cake or M holding the cake:

McakeIt’s a shame we don’t remember our first birthdays because of sights like this:

BirthdayPaparazziI’m afraid she’s just going to have to get used to the paparazzi:

FamilyPortraitBut she seemed to enjoy herself, eating the raspberries off of her cake and eyeing the crazy grown-ups watching her eat cake and taking a million pictures.

RowanCakeHappy birthday, Ms. Rowan. I look forward to celebrating many more with you.

Best Christmas ever


As tiring as the mega-family Christmas weekends can be, they are great because not only does it feel like Christmas is a week long, but we get the big family celebration and the nice quiet one at home. We had fun social engagements, including having friends over for pittaha on Christmas eve. The boy threw down his usual amount of ridiculousness:

PittahaMontage  Plus, I got some great loot. New slippers from Susan:

NewSlippersWally scored a new mini replacement for his favorite stuffed pig that he finally managed to put a hole in, after four years of trusty service:

WallyMiniPigBut Erik and Nerissa definitely won Christmas this year. First, they had a pair of presents with a note for T to open one of them first, then me the other. T’s turned out to be an ice cream scoop and coupons for a couple of free pints. Mine was a lock for a pint of ice cream. So very rad.

IceCreamMedleyPlus these fantastic dishtowels:

DishtowelsBut the coup de grace was this t-shirt, which I think is pretty much the most hilarious thing ever (apologies to those offended by the c-word):

BestTshirtEverThey also got us a bunch of other thoughtful things, but these were the highlights.

T is pretty much having his best Christmas ever. Not only did he get that fantastic new bike <pats self on back> but our friends Bryan and Jenn asked him to babysit their Tesla. Pretty much T’s dream car. It’s very fancy:

Tesla2It’s got a huge screen that I’m pretty sure can do anything you want:


Even the door handles are fancy FFS:Tesla3


A swimming start to the day


A few months ago, I agreed to be part of a team that some folks at my company put together for Swim For Life, an event that raises money for the Puget Sound Blood Center. Basically, each team consists of swimmers and a kayaker swim across Lake Washington, approximately 2.5 miles. I wasn’t really worried about the distance, I knew I could swim it, but I was worried about the directive that we were supposed to stay together. I didn’t know anything about my teammates and I didn’t want to be the slow-poke holding my team back.

We were to meet up on the east side of the lake at 6:30 in the morning. I can’t say I was psyched to get up that early, but we were rewarded with a gorgeous sunrise and a big beautiful moon over the Seattle skyline:

MoonOverSeattleNot to mention a gorgeous view of Mt. Rainier:

MtRainierMy other team mates started to trickle in and we chatted and goofed around while we waited for the start:


Kathy was our kayaker and group photographer:

KathyWe talked a random person into taking a group shot:

GroupShotKathy got this great shot of the swim start (that’s me starting my Garmin) Those two buildings directly above my head are what we’re swimming to:

SwimStartFor those who aren’t familiar with Lake Washington, it’s a BIG lake. We were basically swimming a diagonal line from Medina beach to Madison Park. Here’s the shot from my Garmin:

GarminMap(I was pretty jazzed about how straight I swam. Having those two buildings to sight on really helped.)

Here’s where it is in the grand scheme of Lake Washington:

GarminMapWideKathy had said she was sticking with Lindsey, our least-experienced swimmer, so I just took off and started swimming. I tried to stay with our team captain Brig, but I lost track of him. He’s faster than me and a very experienced Ironman triathlete, so I wasn’t expecting to hang with him. I swam by myself for the most part, occasionally passing other teams taking a break and hanging on their kayaks. It was such a different vibe than a triathlon or open water swim race. Everyone was pretty casual and just doing their thing.

I haven’t swum AT ALL since Vineman, but I was pleasantly surprised by how good I felt. I kept a steady pace, just cruising along, but my arms and back muscles felt good. The water was perfect – warm enough for my short-sleeve wetsuit and only a little bit of chop in the middle. As I got closer to the shore, my cap started to come off, but this time I just stuffed it in my wetsuit and kept swimming. (I really need to figure out why this keeps happening!) It was a little hard to see with my hair in my face, but I could see well enough to know I wasn’t going to hit anything or anybody and just headed on in to the beach.

Brig was waiting on the beach when I got in and I was pleased to be the second one in. We waited on the beach for the rest of the group, who all came in together. Kathy got these great shots of the finish:

SwimFinish SwimFinish2It was such a fun event and a bit surreal to go from swimming all morning to hopping on a bus to work. Luckily, my co-workers were cool about my cruising in at 11:00 smelling of Lake Washington. I imagine they’ve gotten used to my insanity at this point.



Five years ago today, I posted my first entry on this lovely blog. Who would have thought I’d still have stuff to ramble on about after all this time? (Shut up, everyone who knows me in real life. No one wants to hear it! :-P)

And even harder to believe, it was ten years ago, (this summer) that yours truly asked her husband if he thought she could do a triathlon. (He answered “Of course.” Like I’d asked if he thought I could change the channel on the television. I had to make him confirm he really thought non-sporty, book-reading yours truly could do something as crazy as the Danskin. How times have changed… ) And despite not having swum or ridden a bike since elementary school and never having run ever, I managed to survive that first race. (It helped that the swim was cancelled due to dangerous currents, so it was technically a duathlon, but I still count it.)

Here I am getting ready to toe the line (yellow outfit on the left-hand side):


Ten years feels like a good time to celebrate with something epic, so I’m planning to do another Ironman this summer. I’ve set my sights on Vineman, an independent iron-distance race in northern California at the end of July. It’s not a branded “Ironman” but I don’t really care about that at all. It’s half the price and has a humane refund policy, so it works for me! I’m both excited and terrified by this goal. I really don’t want a repeat of the sufferfest that was Canada, so I’m hoping that will help motivate my training for this one. I learned a lot from that race, so I’m hoping it will be a more successful outing.

So, get ready for a whole lot of posts about training!

Big day for the boy


As anyone who knows us in real life may know, T has been wanting a new TV. And like most guys, he wants a GIANT shiny new TV. I’d originally thought I might surprise him with one for Christmas, but it rapidly became clear to me that what he truly wanted surpassed my Christmas present budget. Luckily, between some freelance income and an unexpected tax return, we had a little extra money this month. So, I told the boy that he could buy himself a new TV and gave him a budget.

It took a bit longer to get my freelance check than expected, but that ended up working in his favor as Costco had some really good deals around the Super Bowl.  (It’s a little shocking how cheap TV’s have gotten even since I researched them around Black Friday/Christmas. This just means I can look forward to seeing this one at half the price this summer. Sigh.)

But the big day finally arrived and we headed up to Costco for the boy to claim his prize. Naturally, the Camry was far too small to hold such a giant TV so we had to tie it to the roof rack:


TV-car1I had to laugh at the fact that every man who passed the car while T was tying it down had to comment on it. There’s something about boys and giant TV’s!

It was VERY nerve-wracking driving home with an expensive toy on top of the car. As we were leaving, we were waiting at a light behind a guy on a Vespa scooter. He turned around for some reason and laughed when he saw the giant TV on our car. Then he turned around again to show us the pineapple that he had at his feet on his motorscooter. T and I laughed and gave him a round of applause. #inappropriatecostcovehiclesunite.

But we made it home successfully and lugged the giant box into the house. I think T is a little excited about his new toy:

T-danceI made dinner while he got it all set up. It’s a little insane going from a TV that was a quarter of the size. A bit like having a movie theatre screen in our living room:

NewTVFor me personally, it’s a little overboard. But it makes T really happy and he deserves to get a big shiny new toy once in a while.




Last day in Vegas


Our flight didn’t leave until the afternoon, so we had time for one last adventure in Las Vegas. We went to Paris for their brunch buffet, only to discover that their online schedule was wrong and that they don’t in fact have brunch from 11 – 1, it’s lunch only. Again, in a city that stays up as late as this one, how is it so hard to get breakfast foods after 11:00? So, I suspect we were not alone in our disappointment, as there were a lot of race shirts in the line…

Then we sent the boys off to play poker and Nerissa and I caught a cab out to the Neon Museum:

Run by a non-profit that obtains and restores old neon signs, it was an incredibly interesting place to visit. You have to take a tour, but it’s filled with all sorts of tidbits and historical trivia. For example, this is the first neon sign in Vegas:


There were basically pathways with all sorts of neon signs arranged artfully. I had a really good time photographing them:








IMG_3732This guy is a remnant from Vegas’ ill-advised 1990’s campaign to become a “family vacation destination.” He used to live outside of Treasure Island (now called TI):

IMG_3734The guide claimed you could see his face on Google maps, so of course I had to check. Sure enough, she was right!

Screen shot 2012-12-23 at 10.43.35 AMThere were some very famous signs from now-demolished casinos:



IMG_3749It was the perfect outing. We got to be out in the sunshine, look at cool stuff and learn a little something about Vegas history. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Then it was a cab ride back to the Strip to retrieve the boys from their poker room. T and I had to grab our things to head to the airport, while Erik & Nerissa had a few more hours to kill. I’m so grateful that they made the trip with us, it was an insanely fun weekend.



New addition


So, there’s been a bit of huge news brewing in our little foursome of Grumpersons and Dragonfires (Grumperfires?) M is pregnant! And while I’m not a baby person per se, I’m pretty excited about it. While I’ve had other good friends have babies, M is the first one I’m close to both in terms of friendship and geography. Honestly, it feels more like having a niece/nephew on the way than a good friend having a baby. So, I was thrilled when she invited me to her sonogram to see how the baby was cooking.

I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures of the baby on the screen (due to some sort of HIPAA violation) so you only get a few not so great low-light pictures. Let’s just pretend they’re all cool and vintage and not just crappy, shall we?

I like this one because it looks like M’s about to flash me:

And this one is about one second after she stuck her tongue out at me:

And then J poked the baby. I love this photo even though it’s super grainy and terrible:

It was very cool to watch the sonogram. There were a couple of amazing moments where we saw the baby open its tiny mouth and move its little hands and feet. Since it’s about 10 oz. and the size of a softball, it was pretty crazy that it has all of its bones and whatnot. (I keep referring to it in the neutral pronoun because M & J have opted not to know the sex of the baby, a decision that I respect despite the fact that it drives this impatient girl a little nuts… ) They got a cute photo/screenshot of the baby where it looks like it’s sucking its thumb. Since the last sonogram she showed me had the baby looking like Voldemort/an alien, I’m glad she got a cute one this time.

So, big changes are on the horizon. And like most big changes they are equal parts scary and exciting. I hope the baby likes sarcasm. And having its picture taken. And that we won’t lose M & J to some fun kid-having friends. Whatever happens, it’s going to be an interesting journey!

Yes, I can!


A while ago, I came across a Groupon for a beginners canning class at a place called Seattle Can Can. Ever since my wine jelly experiment, I’ve been wanting to learn more about canning, so this was a perfect opportunity. (Besides, I can never resist a good pun… ) I’d heard good things about the class from Jen & Bryan, so I was pretty excited to get my class scheduled. Even more motivating was the fact that last Friday T brought home this:

Yep, that’s a case of cherries. (Organic cherries at $1.99/lb, minus his discount. Um, yes please!)  Luckily, he’d given me a heads up about it, so I could order a more efficient cherry pitter:

I decided to freeze some of the cherries beforehand and took my new pitter for a test drive:

It’s unsettlingly like a slaughterhouse line (from what I’ve read). The poor cherries wait in the tray on the top before going into the chute and having a bolt punch the pit out. Combined with the cherry juice, it was looking very violent in my kitchen:

But it did pit a lot of cherries quite quickly and I was able to get a lot of them into the freezer, while still saving some fresh ones for a post-class canning project.

The class itself was really interesting. She had a lot of interesting history about canning. This is a mason jar from 1910, the lid is the same size as our modern day ones. How’s that for standardized?

She had some fun historical posters on the wall as well. This one was my favorite:

Naturally, I was super-hyped to try out the stuff I’d learned. So, when I got home, I talked T into going out to get some supplies with me by bribing him with lunch at a fancy hot dog place. (While I’d been learning about canning, T was running 13 miles in the heat. He wasn’t quite as energetic as I was. And listening to me jabber at him about canning probably wasn’t helping… Have I mentioned how happy I am with my decision to not train for a marathon this summer?)

(Dear lord, is she STILL talking about canning?)

I had to go out and do my run after we got home from the store and then it was time to get to work! I made some simple syrup and pitted some more cherries. (Love that new pitter!) Then I stuffed the cherries into some jars with the syrup and put them into the water to boil for 20 minutes. Then they had five minutes of cooling in the water:

I was very nervous that they weren’t going to seal correctly, since when I pulled them out the lids were still making the popping noise. I pushed on them and set then on a towel to cool. And crossed my fingers while watching TV on the couch…

Luckily, when I checked them a few hours later, all of the lids had sealed correctly. The next morning, I did a few more tests that I’d learned in the class to make sure they were really and truly sealed and they passed! I had four jars of canned cherries! Woo hoo! I’m excited about the possibilities for tomatoes and other summer fruit. It will be nice to be able to enjoy some variety in the winter. Not to mention having a plan of attack for the apple tree in our backyard that is about to explode with apples.