Stuffed full of gratitude

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Longtime readers of this blog may have noticed that over the time I lived in Seattle, I carved out a set of traditions on Thanksgiving. The Ballard Turkey Trot followed by bagels with M & J and later on dinner with M, J and any other folks we happened to rope into the festivities. So, I was really nervous about what we were going to do this year and was already trying to figure out my exit strategy so it wasn’t a huge bummer weekend. (Ironically, I was planning to visit Erik & Nerissa in the Bay Area before the universe stepped in and helped me out with that arrangement.)

Even with the new surroundings, I still found myself thinking a lot about M and that whole situation. As I prepped the sweet potatoes she’s always requested, I allowed myself to enjoy the memories of our past holidays and, without getting too woo-woo about it, said good-bye to that part of my life and wished her well. I joked to T that it was culinary equivalent of pouring out a forty for your fallen homie. (We’re so gangsta now… )

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So, it is time to forge some new traditions. This year, we were hosting Erik & Nerissa in a house that one month ago movers were loading boxes into. (Talk about something to be grateful for!) We opted to trade the Turkey Trot for a nice hike, but we decided to keep the bagels portion of the program. So, Erik & Nerissa joined us for some carbo-loading and we all headed over to the beautiful parks near our house.

They brought Kali with them, who was very happy to be here:TD15_ErikNerissaHikeWe had a nice long hike. Austin got to be off leash for a lot of it and had a great time running through the woods. The rest of enjoyed a more leisurely pace:

TD15_GroupHikeI can’t believe these views are only a few miles from my house:

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We ended up hiking for almost two hours, which was a little more than Wally had in mind. He was pretty wiped. Even Kali and Austin were pretty chill when we got home…

TD15_KaliAustinWe had some time before dinner, so we ate snacks and played some Mexican Dominoes. (There may have also been some champagne… )

TD15_MexicanDominosWe finished the game and made a huge and delicious dinner. We ate and drank good wine and had a lovely meal. Then there was Cards Against Humanity and more wine and laughing so hard my clavicle hurt. Followed by pie.

TD15_CAH(Photo courtesy of Nerissa… )

It is ridiculous how much I have to be thankful for this year. With all of the terrible things happening in the world, it seems so important to appreciate good fortune while you have it. I hope you and yours are enjoying similarly awesome holidays right now.

18 years…

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Today marks my 18th anniversary. (In my tradition of anthropomorphizing my marriage, it’s allowed to vote! And is about to head off to college… It’s a little mind-blowing.) This year, the boy was planning some big surprise celebration. I both love and hate surprises. I worry about being disappointed, but still having to fake enthusiasm because the other person went to so much trouble. I have issues. I do love the thoughtfulness factor, so I was very touched that he was taking the initiative and planning something.

All I knew was that it was an overnight expedition and to dress up. So, I went and got a pedicure while he dropped the dogs off at their boarding place, then we packed a bag and checked into our first stop on the Surprise Anniversary Tour – The Hotel Max:

18yr_HotelMaxInside was much too hip for the likes of us:

18yr_MaxLobbyOur room was tiny, but very nicely designed. I’m standing in the opposite corner of the room to take this photo:

18yr_MaxRoomWe dropped our bags and headed off to the second stop on the Surprise Anniversary Tour – Smash Putt:

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Smash Putt is part mini-golf, part art installation. There were all of these really cool contraptions, such as the “Scratch & Sniff” hole:

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Or the “Skeebawl”…

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We did the loop-de-loop one a couple of times:

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This one was brutal:

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I loved the “Homage to Frogger” one (Not it’s real name… )

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Of course there was a bar:

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And it was pretty close, but I managed the victory:

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I particularly loved the pencils:

18yr_SmashPuttPencilsThen we had a little relaxing time, which we spent being extra-classy:

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Then it was time to get all gussied up…

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and go to the third and final stop on the Surprise Anniversary Tour – Canlis! For those not from Seattle, Canlis is a venerable restaurant that’s been around since 1950. Unlike most restaurants of that age, it provides modern cuisine while retaining old-school ambience and excellent service. I’ve wanted to go for a while, since I’ve heard nothing but great things, so I was pretty excited.

The whole restaurant looks out over Lake Union. We were seated in a lovely banquette, with this view (I waited until the table in front of us was cleared, since that seemed awkward… )

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We started our evening off with these extraordinary cocktails. I can’t remember the name of mine, but it was AMAZING.

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We ordered the tasting menu, which was a modern take on some of their classic dishes. While I’d like to do a WD-50 style write up of each and every course, I’m going to refrain. (For reasons that will become clear later on… #foreshadowing)

But I will start with a little description of their first course, the pupu platter. Here’s a before and after:

18yr_CanlisBeforeAfter

You basically cooked the meat on that round stone, there was teriyaki sauce in the little capsule that you added and you sprinkled it with the micro greens. It was both fun and delicious. Here’s a snapshot of the other dishes we enjoyed (the blank square is the Waygu beef that I forgot to photograph. Oops!) As you can see, very modern presentation and everything was so delicious:

18yr_CanlisMenu

We’d also brought a really nice bottle of wine that we’d bought when we were visiting the Cyclones in Napa:

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I don’t know if the good stuff is stronger than it’s 7-dollar counterparts, but the wine hit me like a sledgehammer toward the latter half of the meal. To the point where I don’t really remember some of the later courses as much as I’d like, (I still got pictures of them though. Such a committed blogger… ) and I ended up getting sick in the car on the ride home. So, poor T’s night ended in a decidedly less romantic fashion than he’d probably been hoping for. 😦

It was such a bummer. And a bit of a mystery, since I have a pretty good idea of what my tolerance is like. I’ve gone out and had an equivalent amount of wine and cocktails, maybe a glass or two less wine, and been able to drive home. Heck, WD-50 we had a similar amount of alcohol and navigated the subway back to our hotel. But the boy was a good sport about it and I suppose it’s a more accurate way to celebrate marriage: the good, the bad and the ugly!

Happy Anniversary, T. I am so very grateful to have you in my life, for all of the reasons!

Weekend wrap up

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Sadly, Heidi and family had to hit the road on Friday morning. We sent them off with a nice breakfast at Skillet. It was pouring rain, which was a huge bummer. But we enjoyed the last of our visit with snuggles from Kenley and entertainment from Kamryn:

KamrynSpoonThe waiter was kind enough to take a group photo before we parted ways:

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Our house was so quiet when we got back. T had to work, so I spent the day puttering around, doing laundry, etc. Neither of us had any desire to go out and shop, so we spent a nice relaxing evening at home.

The next morning, I was supposed to meet the group for a trail run but I woke up with a scratchy throat and about an inch of SNOW on the ground. It was in the forecast, but we’ve been burned so many times that I just didn’t believe it. So, I called my trail run and let the boys do the running for me:

BoysinSnow SnowDogsMontage

Austin gets so excited when it snows. We’ve only had it twice now, but it gets him all jazzed up. I can’t wait to take him up to Jenn & Bryan’s cabin this year. He’s going to lose his puppy mind!

So many thanks

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This year, I have a ton to be thankful for. It’s been a crazy roller coaster at times but, on the whole, 2014 has been very good to us. Having my house filled with people I love is a fantastic reminder of that.

This year, as has become our custom, we got up early to join nearly 4,000 other crazy people to do the Turkey Trot. It was just T and I running this year, with M and a friend of hers walking it with their respective kids in strollers, and the rest of the gang chilling at M & J’s place while J prepped the traditional Thanksgiving morning bagels. As usual, there was a wide variety of awesome headgear and costumes. But this one was my favorite:

TurkeyTrotBestHatWe’d told Heidi where they could watch us run by, but the timing on this stuff is always tricky. Apparently, they arrived at the appointed corner TEN seconds before we ran by. So crazy! The rest of the run was fairly uneventful. My goal was to take it easy and not get too crazy as I had a long trail run on Saturday. T ran with me for most of the race but eventually couldn’t not run faster. We finished and took the traditional post-race selfie:

TurkeyTrotSelfieAnd then took the many, many stairs back up to M & J’s house to join the festivities. Despite J’s traditional protestation of how the bagels were going to be ruined, they were delicious. The girls deeply enjoyed playing with Rowan and a lovely time was had by all.

We returned home to do some prep work and relax before the evening’s festivities. Heidi made her traditional dish, with the unfortunate name of “carrot mold.” As you can see, names can be deceiving:

CarrotMoldI made a pumpkin cheesecake pie from this year’s Martha Stewart Living. (Mine wasn’t nearly as pretty as hers, but it tasted great.)

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Because we have so much Thanksgiving dinner experience, it was a pretty relaxed day. The adults had some quality Lego time:

AdultLegos2AdultLegos But eventually, the table got set:

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The girls made everyone place cards:

PlacesettingAnd, per usual, there was a ridiculous amount of delicious food:

2014foodDinner was delicious and filled with good wine and lively conversation. Afterward, we chilled on the couch while the girls entertained us and played with their new favorite toy, aka Rowan:

RowanGirls2RowanGirlsI think Kamryn sums up the fun and excitement factor quite nicely here:

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Yet another fantastic Turkey Day is in the books. It’s funny to me that the holiday that was just T and I for so many years has morphed into this big awesome celebration, but I’m so grateful for it. Let’s hope it continues for many years to come.

Playing catch up

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Hello, lovely readers!

Life has been ticking along. T and I started another Whole30 to get back to some semblance of healthy eating before the holiday temptations roll in. (I was feeling like things were going off the rails a little too much, even before the excesses of the New York trip.) It was a little challenging at first, but I’ve been feeling really good the last few weeks. It helps when you get to eat awesome food, such as this SB&J Burger:

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I’d been most concerned with fueling my longer runs with the Whole30’s “no sugar” rules, but that’s been surprisingly easy. I’ve been taking homemade applesauce and a winter squash/apple soup instead of gels/bars/whatnot. I got myself a fancy new toy to carry around all of the crazy:

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It’s way too fancy, but I LOVE it. It fits me really well and has a million pockets. I took it out for a long test drive on Sunday and was blown away.

Speaking of Sunday, my training group has been a god-send. Every Sunday, when the alarm goes off at 0:dark:thirty, I actually get out of my warm bed and go meet a fantastic group of women for some quality miles on the trails. I sometimes am treated to scenery like this – a crystal clear view of Mount Rainier:

RainierSunriseI’ve been meaning to take some pictures of our exploits, so here are a few shots from our run on Sunday. It was chilly (in the mid-30’s/low 40’s) but clear and sunny. As you can see, the scenery is hideous:

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A little before the turnaround point, there was this super cool wooden path through the woods. I had to stop and photograph it on the way back. How rad is that?

GrandRidge2I’m pleased to report that I’ve been making real progress. We ran for three hours, (and approximately 13-14 miles, depending on who’s GPS you looked at) and I felt great! The difference between trail mileage and road mileage is crazy. The few times I’ve run that long on the road, I felt like a truck had run me over, but I felt surprisingly good after this run. Plus, it was a huge confidence booster for Deception Pass.

Aside from cooking and running in the woods, it’s been business as usual. My co-workers and I took a field trip to City Target to look at Christmas decorations:

TargetHijinksAnd of course, some quality couch time with my boys:

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Austin continues to find new and innovative ways to lay on the new couch:

SpecialDogWhile Wally makes the best of his dog bed covers being laundered…

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I have a few new adventures on the horizon that I’m pretty excited about. So, hopefully more exciting blog posts are coming your way…

Urban wanderings

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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:

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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:

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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… )

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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.

No sleep ’til Brooklyn

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It was time for T to get to work, or more specifically, it was time for the business part of the trip to begin. While there was a theoretical itinerary, it became quickly apparent that things were a bit free-form. We met for coffee and then walked to a couple of places around Bryant Park. I wasn’t sure what a “design inspiration” trip would involve, and after attending one, I can say it involves going to various places and having lengthy discussions about decor, lighting, shelving, etc. I was happy to wander around and look at things.

Then we got on the subway to Brooklyn to see the big new flagship store. (Taking a group of this size on the subway was quite the adventure… ) The Brooklyn store was amazing. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that this is the Gowanus canal:

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Those little black structures are actually wind turbines. And there are solar panels in the parking lot:

NYC4-RooftopViewIs this really the same place where they would put EVERYTHING in plastic bags and piled garbage everywhere? Most impressive was the rooftop greenhouse. It’s run by a company called Gotham Greens. They grow enough fresh greens hydroponically to supply all of the NYC stores. If I found myself in Brooklyn during the zombie apocalypse, this is where I would head:

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NYC4-Greenhouse1Everything is controlled electronically so that it’s always a perfect 70 degrees.

NYC4-Greenhouse5They start the plants in these little cubes:

NYC4-Greenhouse2NYC4-Greenhouse3And then they grow into these healthy plants:

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While the group wandered around the store, another wife and I chilled out on the rooftop seating area. They had these cute sinks full of succulents:

NYC4-SucculentsSinkAfterward, we grabbed some lunch. Then I chauffeured the other wife to the correct subway to get to the airport. (I needed a little break from the group. Plus, I’m a really nice person!) On the way back to meet up with everyone, I passed this awesome mural:

NYC4-ComandanteBiggieAfter a little more coffee, the group split into two smaller groups and we wandered around the neighborhood to look at other inspiration things. We happened upon an olive oil shop that told us about a mayonnaise shop, so of course we HAD to check that out.

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I loved their cute little logo:

NYC4-EmpireMayo2It was a teeny tiny place, but the proprietress let us taste all of the flavors. T tried the ghost pepper, because he’s special like that. We bought some of the lime pickle. It was really delicious and interesting.

NYC4-EmpireMayo3Then we rejoined the group at this weird Turkish wine bar to chill out before dinner. We were the only people in the place and all four staff members were very attentive and appreciated our being there. Then we went to dinner at a local Mediterranean place that looked good and had decent Yelp reviews. (And most importantly, would let us make a reservation for 11 people at a reasonable dinner hour.) It was a beautiful spot:

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The food and wine flowed freely (maybe a little too freely… ) and we had great conversations. I got to know a lot of T’s co-workers and their significant others VERY well. 😉

Afterward, we headed back into the city. A group of us (unsuccessfully) attempted to see the 9/11 memorial. (It was closed.) Then we cabbed it back to the hotel. T really wanted to check out this cool little bar he’d read about and only yours truly and one of his co-workers was up for it. It was called Raines Law Room and it’s a really fun little space. You basically go to this hotel bar and ask about the Law Room. The hostess then takes you to this quiet, secret-feeling little bar. You push a button to summon a waitress. It was the best.

NYC4-RainesLawRoomNYC4-RLRmenuThe drinks were fantastic. Two of them probably wasn’t the best life decision, but sometimes you just have to go for it. Luckily, I didn’t have to get up early and work the next day. Poor T…