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Super huge news

16 May

Our blog has suffered from a bit of neglect over the past couple of months. I’d like to say that it was because we forgot the password or forgot to pay for the hosting fees, but the truth is that we were just too busy.

Our bad, blog. Sorry.

However, part of the reason we’ve been so busy is . . . because . . . we’re preggo. Well, technically, S is preggers, but you know what I mean.

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S is currently in her 17th week and, knock on wood, everything has been going splendidly. No morning sickness and no weird food cravings, except a hankering for the occasional fish and chips. S has been a champ. Everyday I catch myself in a moment where I’m amazed by what her body is physically doing and what she’s mentally and emotionally doing for us.

When we first found out the big news, we started looking for a house. It was overwhelming, so we decided that we’d stay in the condo we love, at least for a little longer before the little one is really starting to move around. So if anyone has any great tips for living with a baby in a condo, feel free to email us.

 

Snow Camping Part Deux

14 Jan

As I previously admitted, I first learned about camping when I moved to Seattle. My first camping experience was terrible. I had no blanket, no pillow, no sleeping bag, and a questionable “tent.” I’d like to think that I’ve tried to embrace sleeping outdoors. Recently, I went snow-camping again with some friends. As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s a lot like regular camping, but a crapload colder.
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As far as I can tell, there is no real agenda in snow camping. We essentially drive out to the mountains, throw on our snowshoes and backpacks, and walk up a hill until we are A) too tired, B) lost, or C) have snow up to our waists. Next, you try to make camp, which consists of stomping down the snow until it’s flat enough to set out your tent. After you’re done planning your sleeping quarters, it’s time to dig out a kitchen/sitting area. Lastly, make dinner, have a drink, go to sleep. So the net effect here is that you hike up into a mountain only to shovel a bunch of snow.

The weatherperson called for 10 inches of snow. Apparently, he low-balled it. It was snowing so fast that we had had to constantly dig out our tents every 10 minutes. Waking up the next morning was . . . surprising. As I opened my tent door, I was found nearly 3 feet of new snow that fell throughout the night. Except for our tents, it looked like we hadn’t even placed foot on our campsites and our trails into the site were completely covered with waist-high powder.

Below is a photo of the tents before I headed off to sleep. There is a second tent somewhere under all that snow. See if you can find it.

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Just keep running.

2 Dec

I’m not a good runner, per se. And I don’t mean that in the humble, “Oh, I’m a really good runner, but I don’t want to brag,” kind of way. I mean that I’m decently fast, but on the whole, I hate running and I get winded really easily.

So, it came as quite a shock, especially to S, when I decided to run in the Seattle Marathon.

When asked why I decided to do this, I didn’t have a good answer. The truth is that I’ve never wanted to run a marathon. I hate running. I have a great deal of respect for marathon runners, but I never wanted to be one. I wasn’t running for a cause. I’m just not a runner.

As I thought about it a bit more, I realized that running a marathon was really a line item on my bucket list. I wanted to do it because I can. Because at some point in my life, I won’t be able to run anymore, which makes me sad, so I might as well do it now. It was something that I never thought I could accomplish, and that made me angry, so I wanted to prove myself wrong.

When I went on my first training run, I didn’t even know how long I was supposed to run for. How fast should I run? Should I time myself? Should I be this tired?

Like most people who have no idea what they’re doing, I downloaded an app on my phone. The program seemed easy enough – run three times per week with the mileage getting higher and higher each week.

After I started logging a few longer runs, people started asking me when the marathon was. “Oh, I’m not running in one. I’m just going to run 26.2 on my own.” I was told by a few folks that this was a stupid idea. The Seattle marathon, as dumb luck would have it, would occur in a couple of months, so I should just run that I thought. The problem was that I would have to speed up my training by a month. Yep . . . my great idea was just to jump a month ahead in my training schedule. This meant that my long run was 10 miles on one Saturday and then 16 miles the next Saturday.

As my runs got longer, I actually felt like I was getting weaker and more tired. I stopped working out at crossfit. In fact, the only time I went to my beloved crossfit gym was to borrow their weighted vest for short runs. In my twisted logic, I decided that doing short runs while wearing a 25 pound vest was a good idea to speed up my training. It turned out that it was a good way to get strange looks from people at 6am.

November 25, marathon day, a day that seemed so far away snuck up on me. To be honest, I was really, really nervous. This was odd considering my only goal was to finish the marathon. I had zero aspirations to actually do well. I just wanted to finish . . with a minimal about of walking breaks. . . and without any major injuries.

As the race started, I was filled with a ton of energy. I was going to complete something I never thought I could achieve. There were so many people excited to run. And so many friends and family woke up early to cheer them on. Much to my surprise, I found myself running way ahead of my pace. While training, I found out that I’m a very slow long distance runner . . . like 10 minutes per mile. But for the first 14 miles, I found myself running at around 8 minutes per mile.

I was going to finish in under 4 hours… Ha, no I wasn’t. 

Unfortunately, I started to crack at mile 14. My left knee felt like it was going to explode, my right calf was on fire, and my mind started to wander. Why is 26.2 miles so far?  The pacing groups that I was ahead of quickly passed me and I found myself falling further and further to the back.

At mile 20, I wanted to quit. Screw this, I’m not a runner. I wanna take my ball and go home. As I was running, I’d periodically get encouraging texts from S, who knew I would occasionally look at my phone to change music. Her texts kept me going. I knew that she’d be waiting at the finish line and I wanted to run through it and give her a big, sweaty hug. I did not want to quit. I thought that if I quit, then I’d just have to enter another marathon to finish this pointless goal, so I might as well trudge through and finish.

When I hit mile 24, I knew I’d be ok. I had visions from training where I conjured up mental images of how far 2 miles was between two points. Seattle, in its silly way, is made up of a ton of hills. So, as luck would have it, the last leg of the course is up a hill. As I forced myself up that last hill, I saw one of our friends, let’s call her K holding a sign. I must be delusional, I thought. Why would K be here? Then I saw her husband, C, jump off the sidewalk and start jogging along side of me. Around the bend and into the final stretch I saw another good friend, A, and a few feet later I saw A’s wife, B, and, of course, S. Does this paragraph seem like an algebra problem, yet? Seeing good friends and S was the perfect motivation to sprint through the finish line. Funny tangent about sprinting through the finish . . . turns out that the race organizers video taped the finish. What felt like sprinting, looked more like painful trotting across the finish line.

After I finished, I nearly hugged the military member who congratulated me and adorned me with my token medal. S came running over to congratulate me along with our friends. The feeling was sort of odd. On the one hand, I thought about how I could have ever doubted myself. All I had to do was put one foot in front of the other. On the other hand, I was completely satisfied in myself. I took a challenge I had no genuine interest in, made a plan to achieve it, and did, in fact, complete it.

I likely won’t run another marathon again. It just wasn’t my cup o’ tea. I do, however, have a new respect for runners. But more importantly, I have an additional reason to be confident in my abilities to achieve whatever whacked out goals I put my mind to.

Coffee and a Cupcake

13 Nov

Coffee shops are a dime a dozen in Seattle. There are actually times when I can’t decide which one to go to because there are so many to choose from. S and I have a several favorites – some we like for the atmosphere, some for people-watching, and some for nostalgic purposes.

Verite Coffee in Madrona has some of the strongest nostalgic memories for me. As a recent New York transplant, S introduced me to Madrona, Verite Coffee, and cupcakes from Cupcake Royale. During college, we frequently escaped the chaos of the University District to go study at Verite. And during law school, when I needed to escape the stress of my fellow law students, I often drove over to Verite instead of walking to the other coffee shops that were much more conveniently located across the street from school.

S and I recently made a trip back to Verite and it was nostalgic as ever. We even got to sit at one of my favorite tables by the window. The purpose of this shop has changed for us over the years, but as far as I’m concerned, it’ll always remain a quintessential Seattle coffee shop.

Croissants

11 Nov

Did you know that homemade croissants take three days of work? Me neither!

A week ago, while experiencing a craving that I can only imagine rivals a pregnant woman’s craving for ice cream and sardines, I had a hankering for croissants. I selected the first google hit that popped up and was pleasantly surprised to see that Fine Cooking described making “classic croissants” as “not difficult.” Bullshit, I say.

I (J) am not a baker, per se. I don’t typically like to measure ingredients, which is incredibly ironic given my type A personality. I like to cook by feel and sight. Freud would’ve likely opined that I acquired this trait while I watched my mother and grandmother cook. Cooking with my grandma would go something likes this: Little J would ask, “How much bread crumbs should I use, Grandma?” And she would reply, “Use enough to mix them in with the meat.” Me, “WTF.” Alright, I didn’t say WTF to G-ma, but I’m sure the 5 year-old equivalent of WTF went through my large, child-sized head. Suffice it to say, I found the precision required for baking croissants pretty darned challenging.

Below is my memory of the recipe or you can read the real recipe here.

Day 1 of making croissants is easy. Throw all the ingredients into a mixer equipped with a dough hook, turn on the mixer, and wait.

Day 2 gets a bit more challenging. Make a 6 x 6 square of cold butter and roll it out so it’s a 7.5 x 7.5 square. Yep, here I am with a tape measure, measuring butter. Roll out the dough and fold your healthy butter square inside the dough. Refrigerate dough, take dough out, roll dough until it’s 8 x 24 inches, measure some more. Refrigerate, take out, roll out, measure two more times. Make gigantic mess of your kitchen counter by throwing flour everywhere.

Day 3 requires you to find your inner architect. Roll out the dough until it’s 8 x 44 inches. Reflect on how happy you are that your kitchen island is the length of a football field. Cut dough into perfect triangles, start rolling, and make sure they look pretty. Bake. Break out butter (because there’s probably not enough already inside) and jam. Chow down at 1 am and try to remember why you wanted croissants in the first place.

Find the irony

14 Oct

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It’s sure cold here.

13 Oct

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S went to Alaska for a two week business trip, so we decided that business trips could only be made better if I came for a visit. For me personally, it started off a bit stressful. I’ve been in the midst of negotiating a case for the past two weeks. Trials are a lot like a game of chicken – both sides act tough until one person gives in, realizing they don’t want to risk losing it all. For a variety of reasons that I can’t discuss, I learned that this current case would be continued, which meant that I would not have to think about it for the weekend.

Here are some things I learned over the past few days while staying in Anchorage:

1. It’s cold. We had an oddly long summer in Seattle, and switching from 70 degrees to 40 degrees in a few hours shocked my system.

2. I love my Patagonia Down Sweater. See #1.

3. Despite it being 10am on a Friday, some coffee shops aren’t open. In fact, each time I found myself walking around the streets, I felt like the city was abandoned.

4. The architecture is a bit bleh. I love tall buildings. I love buildings that are more than rectangles. Anchorage has a lot of short rectangular buildings.

5. Screw the architecture, look at those mountains! The city is surrounded my mountains. Some are still snow-capped while others are barren. The coolest part is watching the sun set over the mountains, causing the peaks to change color.

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An Unexpected New York Trip

22 May

Within days of finding out that my grandmother would need to be moved to hospice, she passed away. Although her quality of life had gradually declined over the past couple of years, her death was unexpected and sudden.

After I moved to Seattle, I managed to stay in pretty good contact with my grandmother. She was the sole reason I ever kept stamps – she loved to write and receive letters in the mail. And even when she stopped writing letters, we talked on the phone.

Her sudden death meant that S and I suddenly needed to travel back to New York to celebrate her life and support my family, specifically my father and uncle.

While the trip back to New York was for a sad reason, I realized that there were many beautiful, positive aspects of the trip. S and I got to spend a few days with my cousins, joking, and reminising about our grandparents. We shared stories about her, such as how the grandchildren couldn’t eat ice cream on her couch, even though it was wrapped in plastic; how she taught me to make meatballs; and how each time we visited, she marked our heights on the wall.

As I think about her life, I realize that she lived a beautiful life. She married her one true love, and they celebrated over 50 years of marriage together. In fact, due to my grandfather’s deployment schedule in WWII, they were married in a civil ceremony and later celebrated their “official” wedding. She raised two sons and got to spend time with four grandchildren. She was your stereotypical grandmother, always ready to prepare you a meal, babysit, play board games, and tell stories.

She’ll be missed.

 

A Weekend Adrift… In a good way.

25 Apr

Sometimes a deal that seems too good to be true, often is. S and I learned this lesson when we used our Groupon coupon for the Adrift Hotel in Long Beach, WA. The hotel advertised itself as minimalist, and it certainly lived up to the adjective. The small tv was perched on a long, thin piece of wood and two wooden crates nailed to the wall made up the storage. The hotel was also minimalist in insulation as I could hear the children next door singing and playing. All that, and the uncomfortable bed aside, the hotel served its purpose – to allow S and I to sneak away for the weekend while we walked along the beach with no plans, drank wine with no agenda, and hiked Cape Disappointment (we were not disappointed with the view).

The highlight of the weekend for me was walking to the lighthouse on Cape Disappointment. Unbelievably the highlight was not listening to the drunken British guy behind us in the hotel bar claim to be the “inheritance of William Shakespeare” while hitting on our waitress. I’m still unclear why seeing the lighthouse was so important to me. Perhaps it’s because I think that I have never seen a lighthouse in person before, although S claims I have. Perhaps it’s because we bought the $30 Discovery Pass this year and I’m determined to make it worth the purchase. But really, it’s because I was excited to walk out onto the furthest piece of land and look out over the ocean.

Other highlights, and probably S’s favorite, include when I fell while walking back to the car. We had maybe about 15 feet of trail left, I looked to admire a tree, overlooked the large hole in the ground and fell straight to the dirt, narrowly missing Stella who was selfish (and smart) enough to avoid breaking my fall. Suffering nothing more than a bruised ego, we had a good laugh at my expense, which reminded me that the whole point of the weekend was just to chill out.

Goal!!!

25 Mar

Seattle has a bit of a bad rap when it comes to its sports teams. I can’t even bring up the subject of the Supersonics with one of my friends without him going  into a tirade of curses and tears. And the fact that I’m a Yankee fan does not stop me from calling the Mariners a minor league team. So maybe that’s why this city loves the Seattle Sounders so much.

I like soccer, but I’m not particularly good at it. Although I instantly took a liking to it, I , much like a small puppy, probably just enjoy chasing a ball around and the moment I get it, I have no idea what to do with it. My own canine instincts aside, Sounders’ games are pretty darned fun – they involve a lot singing and chanting and yelling at the ref; however, I have yet to see a kid do this at the game.