Archive for November, 2012

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NaBloPoMo over already?

November 30, 2012

Is it just me or is it a little hard to believe November is already over (or will be in just 15 minutes or so)? Which means if I get this post done in time will wrap-up my 4th consecutive successful run at posting every day. It has been a good run and both a little more tiresome (no planning of posts = late evening scramble every single time) and once again very rewarding. Getting myself in the habit of writing little bits of my life down and sharing them with you all is now and over 8 year old tradition and one that I think I want to continue.

I don’t have any big plans for blogging in December, however I still have loads or re-caps and fun visits from the non-blogging months of this year, so hopefully I won’t fall off the blogging bandwagon too far. That said, thanks to all of you who read and commented this year, you really make this a joy. Goodnight!

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Best* of the Web

November 29, 2012

*And by “Best” I mean things I have enjoyed in some way over the past week or so

One day of activity for New York transit (MTA)

The Truth About Seattle Sunshine РSo it turns out Seattle may not actually get that much less sun than places like New York or Chicago and for a fun surprise, check out the list of international cities that Seattle beats out in terms of sunny days.

Freaky realistic optical illusions – Prepare to be a bit weirded out.

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Big Decisions

November 28, 2012

Hey all, so I am in the throws of a pretty big job-related decision right now. I can’t really go into details at this point, but if you can send good thoughts my way it would be much appreciated. Or even better, perhaps leave a short comment about your most recent big decision in the comments? I would love to hear from you!

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Gratitude Journal

November 27, 2012

Recently in unpacking I un-earthed a small wire-bound notebook that my parents gave me for Christmas back in 2004. This was the note they used to inscribe it:

Gratitude Journal Parental Inscription

To summarize, they suggested I get in the habit of writing down 5 things every evening that I was grateful for. An excellent idea and one that you will see I definitely tried to do (for a while that is….).

Here is an early entry in that journal:

Gratitude Journal Entry 1/16/05

I love how I combine the big picture things like my family with comments about the weather and an appreciation for my ability to gobble down books. The nice thing is that these are all things I remain very grateful for, despite the noted decrease of snow in my life here in the Pacific Northwest ūüôā

Another few early entries.

Gratitude Journal Entry 1/21/05

Both of these entries make me smile a bit in the way that I combine whimsy and also a deep appreciation for some of the bigger blessings in my life. However I think I have completely forgotten what visa problems I refer to in my first entry and what Becca’s wonderful email was all about in the second entry. Alas, the passage of time…

Then I skipped a few months and apparently gained an appreciation for the more poetic forms of gratitude.

Gratitude Journal Entry 4/12/05

I think it is #2 that really leaves me a bit puzzled about this one, #4 definitely remains true today and I think #5 is actually a coded way for me to say that I must not have actually had that good a day on April 12, 2005.

This last one jumps almost a year into the future and also marks my final entry in my attempt at a gratitude journal.

Gratitude Journal 5/17/06

#1 is obviously a pretty big one and while #4 is a similiar one to previous entries, you can see I don’t really elaborate very much on that one. Also in trying to remember what I meant by #5, I am reminded just how very much I continue to loath packing AND unpacking, so moving out of the dorms must have been quite the chore.

So with that history in mind, here are my 5 things I am grateful tonight:

  • A strong and varied support system – Be they family or friends, there are several people I know I can call/text/email and get immediate support,¬†guidance¬†or just plain support. I am so blessed by this and I remain hugely grateful for this network that makes so many life decisions that much easier to make.
  • Random positive interactions with strangers – Today I had a random interaction with someone on the bus about knitting (he noticed my mittens and asked if I had knit them – I hadn’t). Previously I have been randomly complimented on a sweater (in a none-smarmy way and also spent an enjoyable 5 minutes discussing rain boot requirements with another public transit user. City life means bumping into random characters on a frequent basis and therefore the positive moments are excellent reminders that the world isn’t as crazy as 3% of the population would have you belief.
  • Mountains – See here, here and here.
  • Not being unemployed – While I may not be actually using my master’s degree in a very direct way, I am lucky to be employed in a job that gives me time off, benefits and the luxury of not having to worry about paying my next bill or making rent each month.
  • Cheese – I mean who doesn’t appreciate the chance to have such deliciousness in one’s life. How much sadder would I be if I had somehow been born in a world without cheese….
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Green Bean Casserole

November 26, 2012

Tonight was a busy one in that I made two batches of Green Bean Casserole, one for a work post-Thanksgiving potluck tomorrow and another for a potluck and play event with Alex’s family.
Green Bean Casserole I
The first I made using Alton Brown’s tried and true Best Ever Green Bean Casserole¬†which was fun because I got to make my own “fried” onions (not fried, but baked at high temperature after receiving a coating of flour and bread crumbs), make mushroom sauce out of real mushrooms instead of the stuff from the can.
Green Bean Casserole II
The second is the same recipe, but without the garlic or onions due to some food allergies. Instead of the onions I just used some lightly buttered bread crumbs. Thanks to my planned attendance at both of these potlucks I will get to taste both, so let the taste testing begin! Oh and if you are more of the visual recipe type, try out this handy-dandy video where Alton Brown shows you how to make green bean casserole.

Then deciding, that for some reason, I hadn’t gotten the kitchen messy enough, I decided that the staff potluck really needed something pumpkin themed too (no one signed up for a dessert!), so I whipped up one of my favorite go-to recipes – Nutty Pumpkin Bread from the Simply in Season. Unfortunately both loaves are still in the oven, so no pictures of that one. But I can say that I do what I do to most¬†deficient¬†pumpkin recipes, and added a handful of chocolate chips. Thankfully Alex has agreed to stay up and take the loaves out of the oven, so with that, I will be heading to bed.

 

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Wordless Photo Sunday

November 25, 2012

The golden light of a rare sunny November Seattle day

The remnants of fall

Alex ponders the golden light

A particularly inviting little trail

Me and my date

Glowing red leaves

A Man and the Bay

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How to have a lovely Seattle picnic

November 24, 2012

As is documented by The Oatmeal (local and web-famous cartoonist), summer is an event to be celebrated here in the Pacific Northwest. Now I may not get out into the mountains for as many hikes as I would like, but I am an avid fan of picnics. Simple, delicious and inherently relaxing, a good picnic in Seattle only requires a few things.

Jess helps Katie celebrate her birthday

First, good company is a good place to start. In this case, I had the lovely Jess visiting from out of town and dear Katie who happily supplied the occasion by turning 28. Throw in a blanket and you are almost there.

Gasworks park during the best light of the day

Next, select a spot with a nice view. Also time of day is key here, so I generally tend to go for supper or at least late afternoon events, because who can argue with golden light like that.

Another weekend in August, another picnic

Finally you need food. This is again pretty simple stuff, some fresh veggies, sweet berries, a loaf of good bread and some cheese and bam – delicious meal on a blanket!

Post picnic birthday pie

While clearly only bonus points, I also highly recommend getting some fresh pie to complete your lovely summer picnic.

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Rain, Market, Library, Games and more

November 23, 2012

To cap off my two day stint of hosting and spending time with good friends, today I spent much of the day wandering a rainy Seattle downtown with Sarah and Mark. We looked through booths, bought delicious tea from World Spice, grabbed a quick lunch and then parted ways as they continued their trip south to Portland. Then I headed back to the apartment finished up a little laundry and then headed out with Alex to meet up with Emily and Dan. We went to one of my favorite places that I was eager to show off to our out-of-town friends – Cafe Mox. Home of delicious food, games, beers and super comfy booths that you can play games at for hours, this place is a Ballard mainstay.

Unfortunately because I was such a neglectful blogger I never got around to posting about my trip to San Francisco where I got to meet Emily in person for the first time. You see Emily is both a stranger and someone I know quite well all thanks to the beauty of the internet. We finally met in person after reading each other’s blogs for years, in April. We hit it off in the nice way you do when you get to skip some of the basic intro stuff and just go right to being friends. If you too want to meet Emily and her rocking awesome husband Dan, I suggest heading over to Pantalones del Fuego and getting acquainted, because believe me you won’t regret it.

Emily and I got to have our second face to face meeting. What a gem! And to top it off she and her husband Dan like to play board games too. All in all an excellent evening.

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Wonderful day with friends and a waffle recipe

November 22, 2012

What a day! From making waffles during a relaxed morning, to a deeply enjoyable 5 mile walk with Sarah and Mark, to cutting up veggies for my contribution to Alex’s family Thanksgiving to now being so full of delicious food that even the sight of more of seems¬†incredibly¬†unappealing, it has been a truly enjoyable day.

To help illustrate these events here are the photos to prove it:

Mark and I sampled the free baby cupcakes from Cupcake Royale

Mark and I sampled the free baby cupcakes from Cupcake Royale

Sarah and Mark at the Locks

Sarah and Mark at the Locks

The Olympics were visible

The Olympics were visible

Sarah and Mark on the other side of the locks

Sarah and Mark on the other side of the locks

Abby and Alex at the locks

Abby and Alex at the locks

The healthy hors d'oeuvres Alex and I put together for Thanksgiving.

The healthy hors d’oeuvres Alex and I put together for Thanksgiving.

And just in case you were wondering about those waffles, here’s the recipe (courtesy¬†of the wonderful Becca who got them from one of her many cookbooks).

Amazing Overnight (Quinoa) Waffles

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 t yeast
3 T sugar
1/2 t salt
2 c milk
6 T unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 1/2 c cooked quinoa

Directions
1) Combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Add the milk, and whisk until blended. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and let stand overnight at room temperature.
2) In the morning, preheat the waffle iron and melt the butter. Beat the egg in a small, separate bowl, then beat it into the batter along with the melted butter. Add the quinoa.
3) Lightly spray the hot¬†waffle¬†iron on both the top and bottom surfaces with nonstick spray, and rub on a little butter.¬†Add just enough batter to cover the cooking surface–approximately 2/3 cup for each¬†waffle.
4) Cook 2-3 minutes, depending on your¬†waffle¬†iron.¬†Don’t overbake–you want it crisp and brown but not too dark. It’s okay to peek.
5) Serve hot with your chosen toppings. (I recommend the odd, but delicious combo of maple syrup, plain yogurt, peanut butter and perhaps part of a banana)

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Thankful for Thanksgiving

November 21, 2012

I don’t think I had realized just how much I needed this break until I caught myself counting down the minutes at work this afternoon. While I had a proper vacation back in August when I went home to Chicago/Goshen for the week, I haven’t had a break without going anywhere in quite some time.

And what better way to start off a break then getting visits from friends! Sarah and Mark, friends from my Reba days are on a West Coast road trip and just arrived this evening in time for curry and pumpkin bars. Now we are setting up camp for the night, hunting down air mattress parts, digging out sheets and mixing up the Amazing Overnight Waffles for breakfast tomorrow morning. Next up is PJs and a new to me episode of Spy, a British comedy that Sarah and Mark enjoy.

Regardless of whether tomorrow is Thanksgiving or not for you, I hope you get a chance to rest, eat good food and spend time with people you love, or at least like quite a lot.