Take me out to the ball game!

Tonight, I went to my first Mariners’ game in almost three years! There’s nothing that screams summer like sitting in the sun at a baseball game with a beer in your hand. Well, we didn’t exactly have the sun today – it is May in the Pacific Northwest, after all 🙂 Luckily, the M’s stadium has a retractable roof so we were spared the omnipresent Seattle spring drizzle. But I did have a beer in my hand and a couple of hours of QT with my dad, so all was well!

Let’s back up and talk about the rest of the day first, shall we?

Toast and Flying Squirrel Bright Eyed and Bushy Tailed PB for breakfast:

I was super energetic during my workout this morning, which was a nice change! Perhaps the coffee bean crunchies in the PB helped?? Anyway, I completed a sweaty 50 minutes on the elliptical and then showered and changed at the gym before heading up north to meet my mom for lunch.

We went to Honey Bear Bakery in Shoreline, which is right near one of her schools (she’s a speech pathologist). We split the Sweet and Spicy Chicken Sandwich and each got a cup of tomato basil soup as well. The sandwich was sliced chicken, pepperjack cheese, pickled jalapenos, and jalapeno-mango salsa on whole wheat. Mmmm.

I ate a couple of chips and skipped the bread that accompanied the soup to keep room for a few bites of that cookie in back there. My mom has as raging a sweet tooth as I do so we’re a good pair.

I ran a bunch of errands and continued the fun task of organizing my room. I’m beginning to see progress – I can actually see a good portion of the carpet now! Who knew someone could have SO MUCH CRAP!! Goodwill is about to get very lucky… I’ve got five bags of stuff to give away so far!

All that organizing sparked my appetite, so I took a snack break and vegged out with Ellen for awhile. See the glow from the TV reflected off the glass coffee table? My yogurt, Kashi GoLean Crunch, and bananas hit the spot.

Before long, it was time to head to Safeco. My dad and a few of his guy friends share season tickets, so he goes to a decent number of games each year. They’ve actually had this arrangement pretty much as long as I’ve been alive and growing up, I probably went to two or three games a month? It was pretty sweet, especially since in the ’90s they were pretty good. Now? Ehh. But it’s still fun 🙂

We went down early to grab a bite at Elysian Fields, which is a brewery and restaurant about a 5 minute walk from Safeco.

Their beer is far better than their food, in my opinion, and the only thing that caught my eye was the chicken sandwich. I suppose this post would have been more aptly titled “Day of the Chicken Sandwich.” It was good, nothing special – just spicy chicken, cheese, bacon, lettuce and tomato on ciabatta. I was surprisingly hungry so I polished off the sandwich but left most of my fries. It was too dark to get a picture of my beer, but I wish I had – I ordered the Cerise Amour, which was a Belgian style beer brewed with sour cherries. It was actually almost magenta colored! It was delicious, light and crisp with definite tart cherry flavor, but not in an overpowering way.

The game ended up being great! The M’s beat the Rangers 3-1 and my dad and I had a fun time catching up. We don’t spend much time one on one when I’m home, nor do we talk much on the phone. He’s a great guy and as I get older I see how many similarities we have and common interests, so it’s really nice to hang out.

View from our seats:

I wasn’t tired when I got home for some reason, though it was 10pm, so I watched my most recent Netflix arrival, The Hurt Locker. I got on my trainer for about a half hour of it and snuck in some additional exercise too. Trainer = best home gym addition ever.


Getting my life in order

I woke up this morning to a sea of boxes in my room. My first instinct was to hide under the covers to avoid the mess, but I decided to whip up a pot of banana oats to make up for a week without banana oats. A whole week! Not sure how I persevered through the last several days, but somehow it happened 🙂

I made a bigger portion than usual since I was starving, using 1/2 cup each of oats, milk, and water, and a whole banana. I think that half a banana is really the best amount for even this size – a whole one, though it was small, kind of threw off the consistency and it was thicker rather than creamier. It was still delicious, of course. I’m just being picky.

You know you’re in the house of a political scientist (my dad) when you’ve got a Bill of Rights mug…

I knocked item after item on my to-do list, which was pretty long since I basically wasn’t on the Internet for a week. I had all the moving related things to do, like changing my mailing and billing address for all my various accounts like Netflix, car insurance, etc. I also thought I made headway in my room, but three hours later, it basically looked the same, except I had several bags of books, clothes and random items to donate.

I didn’t watch my time all that carefully and suddenly I was in a rush to shower and eat and get out the door to my 3pm interview with the manager of Mariposa, the restaurant at Neiman Marcus in Bellevue. My best friend from college, Mallorie, has an older half-brother (got it?) who is the General Operations manager at Neiman and when I met him a few months ago, he had offered me a job at the restaurant for the summer if I wanted it. That was the easiest job search I’ve ever done!

I drank a green smoothie on the way – 6 oz OJ, 2 oz milk, handful spinach, 1 scoop TJ’s whey protein, and 1 cup frozen mango. I made sure to check my teeth about a zillion times for spinach flecks!

I’ve never been in a Neiman Marcus before, and that place is SWANKY. I felt self conscious just breathing there and kept worrying I’d knock into some crystal display on my way to the escalator.

Anyway, the interview went great and I basically just need to wait on a background check to clear to get started, and I’m assuming that won’t be an issue. The plan is for me to work about 25 hours a week, or 4 shifts, through mid-June when schools are out, and then I’ll switch to taking care of Chris’ kids for the remainder of my time here. It’ll work out about six weeks for each gig. I may also pick up a shift on the weekends later on in June and July if I feel like I can do that in addition to working for Chris.

I checked in with Chris after my interview, and we made plans to go to dinner later that evening so I could meet his wife Kristyn and their kids, Abbie (10) and Finn (8). It didn’t make sense for me to go all the way home from Bellevue just to come back 3 hours later – which would be rush hour time – and I had my gym bag, so I made good use of my time and did 50 minutes on the elliptical, followed by leg weights.

We met for dinner at Barrio, which is actually where I had met Chris for the first time a few months ago when Mallorie had come out to visit. It’s an upscale Mexican restaurant and Tequila Bar in the heart of downtown Bellevue. Everything on the menu looked amazing, but I ultimately went with what I had last time – the Smoky Pork en Cazuela. This dish of braised pulled pork with almonds and raisins, jicama slaw, and beans came with corn tortillas to make your own tacos.

I had a great time with Chris’ family and am really looking forward to taking care of the kiddos. The family has memberships to the Zoo, the aquarium, and all sorts of other kid-oriented places in Seattle, so I can tell it will be an action packed and fun summer. Abbie is hilarious – she was talking about how she wants to be a pediatrician and go to Harvard and how much she loves school. Sounds like a mini-me…

Before we knew it, it was 9pm and the kids had to get home to bed and me back to Seattle. All in all, a fun and productive day!

You say goodbye, I say hello.

Today, I bid Portland, my home for the last 3 years, goodbye, and said hello (again) to Seattle.

Yes, yes, yes, I know, I know, I’ve been quite absent the last week. As you may recall, I left Beaverton last Tuesday to stay with my friend Tyler for the rest of the week before spending the weekend in Eugene for the marathon. For some reason, the wireless password at Tyler’s didn’t work on my computer and I wasn’t able to get on the internets while I was there. It was actually really nice to be away from my computer for a few days. I read the entirety – 550 pages! – of American Wife while I was there (it’s a fictionalized account of Laura Bush’s life, BTW); got in some high-quality work outs; and also got in some high quality veg out and girl time with Tyler.

The whole last weekend deserves it’s own post, so I’ll attend to that tomorrow (I say that today, as if saying so MIGHT just make it happen…) and we’ll just deal with today, today.

Given that it was my last morning in Portland, and that Kristina and Tyler had run the marathon on Sunday, Mike suggested meeting at Pine State Biscuits for breakfast before I hit the road. I cannot believe I didn’t go to this place earlier and am now kicking myself for all the missed opportunities. Pine State Biscuits is a literal hole in the wall on Belmont that specializes in – you guessed it – biscuits.

My friends had the option of being in food comas the rest of the day, so they ordered the Reggie (see above) while I went with a regular biscuit with jam and a side of baked apples. Even on a Monday morning at 10 am, the place was super crowded, so we took our food to go and ate at Kristina’s house just down the street.

It was nothing short of amazing. The biscuits were flaky and light, and I think they were made with a bit of cornmeal as well. And the baked apples? Yuuuuum. Buttery, cinnamony, plump – I’ll be experimenting with this in the future…

Once finished, the time came for goodbyes. It was really sad to say goodbye to my friends. I’ve only known Mike for about a year, but he is one of my favorite people that I’ve ever met. His humor and support got me through training for my first marathon, and made me want to come back to TNT for a second season. Kristina, Tyler and I have been friends for just half that time, but I love them just as much. T and I have been running together every Saturday for months, and I think enduring 20 miles together brings you much closer than just spending three hours together. I will be back in just 2 short months, though, to do the Firecracker Triple – three half marathons in the three days of Fourth of July weekend – with Tyler. And, she said she would come up to Seattle to run a few miles with me in the Seattle Rock n’ Roll Marathon on June 25th!

I hustled back to Beaverton to get the last of our stuff – my bike and Jacob’s computer – and began the three hour drive back to Seattle around 1pm. On my way home, I was thinking about all the firsts I had in Portland. Some were fantastic, some were awful at the time but are now funny memories, and some were of course just plain awful. Overall, though, I am so happy that I was able to spend the first (almost) three years of my “real” adult life in Portland. Here’s just a partial list of all the “first times” PDX and I had together:

  • paying rent
  • having a credit card… and then another
  • getting in a car accident… and then another
  • living with a boy 🙂
  • breaking a finger (my left pinky)
  • running a half marathon
  • running a marathon
  • trying (and loving) yoga
  • actually liking beer – and being able to tell you the difference between an IPA, a red, a trippel, and a brown
  • being in a relationship over a year
  • leaving the country with a boyfriend
  • lobbying legislators
  • having a grown up job…
  • … and losing a job
  • dyeing my hair
  • fundraising for a cause I care about
  • working in a restaurant
  • snowshoeing
  • getting over the stigma about online dating and doing it myself… and meeting the perfect boy (man? weird)
I have had a lot of firsts here, and I hope I can come back here someday for some more firsts – like buying a house, or having a kiddo, perhaps??
These thoughts made my drive fly by, but didn’t keep my hunger at bay for long. I grabbed a Naked green juice at Starbucks and had an apple not too long after.

It was pretty smooth sailing all the way home – and then the fun part of unloading all my crap began. Who knew that one person could acquire so much stuff??? Check out my room…

Only about 1/3 of that came in my car today and the rest was brought up when my parents came to PDX and also when J and I went to the San Juans a few weeks ago. This should be so much fun to go through in the next couple weeks… not.

My mom and I were on my own since my dad had an event at the university, so we popped down the street to the Third Place Pub for dinner. It’s a cozy little space in the basement of Third Place Books, a new and used bookstore in my neighborhood, and the pub menu is Greek food. I ordered the vegetarian meze plate, which allowed you to choose three antipasti and/or salads. I went with green olive tapenade; cous cous with almonds and apricots; and a traditional Greek salad.

I spent the remainder of the night trying to make some semblance of order in my room. I made a little headway before breaking for the Daily Show and Colbert Report. My exercise today was 25 minutes on the bike trainer in front of the TV and some light weights.

I’m pooped. Gotta get some good sleep before tackling the sh*tshow that is my room.

Oats for two, pizza for one.

Hello hello! Today was my first official day without Jacob around. It still hasn’t really sunk in. It just feels like he’s off at work or out of town for a few days. I wonder when it will all seem real?

I didn’t sleep well last night, most likely because of my late afternoon nap yesterday. Unsurprisingly, I rose on the veeeeeery late side, which just means my system will continue to be off. Errgggggg. Heidi hadn’t eaten yet when I got up, though, so I made a big pot of oats for the two of us.

Coco-Banana Oats for Two

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1.5 cup water
  • .5 cup lite coconut milk
  • sprinkles of salt (just to bring out the flavors) and cinnamon (can be as generous as you like here)
  • 1 banana, sliced into small chunks
  • scoop of PB for the top

Serve with a side/backdrop of magnolias and sun.

So much for this rainy forecast! This day is turning out to be beautiful. Spring, welcome to Portland. I think seasons are among the things that are not counted as “fashionable” when they’re late…

I spent some time editing photos in Picasa of the Brennan kids for Heidi, for which she was really grateful. I’m so glad I downloaded Picasa. What a great program for free. Sure, it isn’t as high powered as Photoshop (you get what you pay for) but it definitely makes a difference. It’s fun playing around with all the effects, retouching, tuning, etc.

I ate leftovers from last night before leaving Heidi’s to head into Portland. I served it over slightly nuked spinach for more vitamins and it all tasted just as great today as last night.

My workout today was an hour of spinning followed by a brisk 30 min walk on the treadmill at 4% incline, 4.3 mph. This was my first spinning class in at least six weeks, so I was really looking forward to a heart thumping, hill climbing, sprint interval class. I got those things out of the class, but I did not at all care for the instructor. My enjoyment of any class – be it spinning, yoga, Body Pump, whatever – totally depends on the instructor. This woman was the kind who tells you, “you’re almost there!” when you’re halfway through a 1 minute sprint; who, when telling you that you’re about to begin climbing a six minute hill that gets progressively steeper (i.e. up the resistance), “I think you guys can do this!”; who forgets what number interval you’re on. I tried to channel my frustration with the instructor into my workout, but it was tough! What do you do to get yourself through a class or workout when you have a bad instructor or coach?

After my workout, I actually got to connect with Jacob again via the Skype app on my iPhone! I tell you, technology is amazing. He was on his computer in Philadelphia and I could see him on my iPhone screen. We talked for about 20 minutes and then he had to head to dinner with his new colleagues. It’s crazy to think that in just 12 hours from now, he’ll be in Guatemala! Lucky kid though, the weather looks fabulous – 75 and sunny. No fair!

I met up with my TNT team at Old Town Pizza for their last Tuesday workout and dinner together before the marathon. Instead of track, they did a quick 3 mi around the Esplanade. It was beautiful out and I really wished I could be out with them 😦 I’m not sure if I ever mentioned it, but the marathon is 100% out for me. I asked my TNT staffer to drop me to the half in the hopes I could do that, but at this point, I think it would be unwise to run. So, I’m going to walk instead! I can’t say I’m thrilled about this, but walking is better than nothing, right? Editorial note: There is NOTHING wrong with walking. It’s fabulous exercise and I’m still participating in something for a good cause. I’m just bummed to not be running because it’s such a love of mine.

Once they were back, we chowed down. My spinning and walking had left me staaaaarving, so I went with the build your own pizza option. On mine: thin crust; tomato sauce; mozz; zucchini; kalamatas; and Italian sausage. (Sorry for the flash, it’s super dark)

It was a little pricey, but I can make 3 meals out of this beast, so I’ll call it good. I’m spending the rest of the week at Tyler’s house, and I’m sure she’ll appreciate me not eating her out of house and home 🙂

Now I’m over at Tyler’s, snuggling with her sweet whippet Gertie on the couch and catching up on blogs. It’s been so long since I had a little dog friend to hang out with. Should be a good relaxing week!

Leaving on a jetplane

And just like that, Jacob’s gone.

Today came so much faster than expected. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of gathering everything he’ll need for the next two years, from dri fit clothing to sunscreen to his favorite comfort food, gummy bears 🙂 I can’t express how proud I am of Jacob for enrolling in the Peace Corps. I’m sad he is leaving (that is an understatement!) but know that he is such a perfect fit for this job and it will be a life changing experience for both him and all of the people he serves in Guatemala.

5:30 came abruptly this morning after just four hours of sleep. We stayed up late into the night talking and getting our final snuggles in but Jacob hopped right out of bed at 5:30 with the adrenaline of getting ready to go. At 6:15 on the dot, we were out the door to the airport. I drove Jacob in my car and his dad, stepmom, and older sister followed. His mother, brother, and younger sister met us there as well. Check in took all of ten minutes and then it was time for pictures. Here’s the entire Brennan clan:

We were all able to grab coffee together and spend a few more minutes with Jacob since check in was so brisk and the security line was negligible. It was so strange to be just sitting there in the airport, with everyone he loves gathered around him, trying to figure out what to say before he leaves the country for 27 months. Everyone was in good spirits, though, largely because we all know this is the right path for him and are so happy he has this great opportunity.

But of course, he had to leave sometime. We hugged and kissed multiple times and I was able to keep the tears back, though there was a bit of a lump in my throat, but even standing in front of the security gate, this all doesn’t seem real! Jacob’s mom, who is a flight attendant and had security clearance, went through security with him, and he turned around and waved, and that was it.

I stood around with the rest of the family for a little while, trying to digest what just happened, and then there was nothing to do but drive home, one person lighter. Jacob’s mom was kind enough to Jacob’s sisters, his brother Kiernan and his girlfriend Jamie, and myself out to Biscuits for breakfast, which was a great treat after such an early, hectic morning.

I made it through one of those flaky warm biscuits and half of my “Joe’s Scramble” – egg whites, red potatoes, bacon, onion, and spinach topped with parm – before giving up. It was delicious and my belly was at least happy, even if the rest of me was less so!

After brunch, I came home and crashed out for two hours – even after drinking loads of coffee all morning. Four hours of sleep + emotional exhaustion = naptime. I also was delaying the fun process of putting the rest of my possessions from the Brennans’ house into my car, but once up, I couldn’t put it off any longer. Everything of mine, and a few things Jacob had left behind, went into my little Hyundai. I’ve got to run back next Monday to grab my bike and Jacob’s desktop because I didn’t want them with me while I’m moving around this week, but otherwise, I’m moved out. Can’t believe I’m moving… again. It’s the sixth time in three years. Oy vey.

Anyway, I got in a great one hour workout on the elliptical before heading to Jacob’s mom’s for the night. Due to all the last minute errands we had to run and the big family dinner on Sunday, I had no time for exercise, so it felt great to be back in the gym after such heavy eating the last few days.

Since Heidi took us to breakfast this morning, I offered to make dinner. It was a treat for me as well as for her, since I haven’t really had the opportunity to cook much the last several months while we were at Jacob’s dad’s house. One of my favorite go-to meals is a stir fry; it’s pretty difficult to go wrong.

I sauteed chicken, broccoli, snow peas, onion, and broccoli slaw in a little bit of oil on the stove…

While that was going, I made white rice on the stovetop and created a sauce of lite coconut milk and Peanut Butter and Company’s The Heat is On peanut butter by heating them together in the microwave.

While cooking, we cheers-ed to Jacob with some Pyramid Curveball.

And voila! This was perfectly spiced with little to no additions from me, thanks to the special PB. The Curveball paired well with the spicy food and refreshed my mouth after each bite.

Heidi and I wiled away the evening chatting, since we haven’t actually spent that much time together one-on-one, and a few hours later, we reached Jacob at his hotel in Philadelphia! He sounded upbeat and thrilled to hear from us, but tired. His plane from Phoenix –> Philly got rerouted around the St. Louis tornado, which took an extra hour, and the poor kid hadn’t planned for that and so was without adequate food 😦 Once in Philly, he met up with his fellow Peace Corps volunteers and had dinner and drinks but it had been a loooooooong day. We tested out Skype for a bit and then said our second goodbye for the day. He said it could be as long as two weeks before we talk again, since he’s not sure when he’ll get his cell phone in Guatemala and he’s busy tomorrow with orientation before flying out. That will be by far the longest we’ve gone without talking to each other – we’ve probably not gone more than 48 hours without communicating by phone or text for two + years.

All right, this girl is tired. Night night!


Holy moly. Stuffed. to. the. gills.

Pictures describe today better than I ever could (plus, Jacob leaves in 12 hours…) so I’ll let the photos do the talking. Let the mouth watering begin.



Pre-dinner fun and prep:

The main event:

What a beautiful day, in all senses of the word. It was lovely for Jacob to have a big, festive last meal with friends and family gathered around.

The task at hand now is to complete packing and double check EVERYTHING… and say our goodbyes 😦 I can’t believe this is our last night together for a loooooong time! We’ll get to experience first hand if home truly is where the heart is.

I hope you and yours had as wonderful an Easter (or just a Sunday, if Easter isn’t your cup of tea) as we did.

Rise, Rinse, Refresh

I am slowly but surely achieving success in moving up my rise-n-shine time. Today I managed to get up at 9:30!

I was talking to Jacob’s dad and stepmom, and both said that they’re exhausted and have had trouble getting out of bed for the past few weeks too. His dad’s theory is that we’re all overstressed about Jacob leaving, plus they’re worried about the house selling. I’d say that between Jacob leaving (in just 4 days!!), me getting ready to move back up to Seattle, going to grad school in a few short months, and having marathon/injury worries, I’ve got enough stuff swirling around in my head to prevent me from really sleeping. Oy vey.

Nothing to get you raring like a good breakfast, though. On the menu today: a slice of Cinnamon Chip bread with PB, topped with a baked cinnamon apple and a dollop of vanilla yogurt.

This breakfast looks quite elegant, but it actually came together in less than 5 minutes.

1. Pop toast in toaster.

2. Chop small apple.

3. Place apple in microwavable bowl, sprinkle on cinnamon. Microwave for ~ 1 min or until apple is tender.

4. Spread PB on toast. Top with microwaved apple and a dollop of vanilla yogurt. Voila. Breakfast!

See? No reason that a delicious, nutritious, and pretty (most important, of course) breakfast can’t be fast.

Between spending a good deal of time with an ice pack and foam roller while watching cooking shows and discovering the amazingness of younghouselove, my early afternoon disappeared.

Lunch was a hodgepodge of leftovers from Screen Door last night. I was guessing that the fuji apple salad and jambalaya would be just as good, if not better, the next day, once the flavors had even more time to meld together. I was right; even the cornbread didn’t dry out when I zapped it in the microwave to warm it back up.

I’m going to have to recreate this fuji salad sometime soon with my own spin on it. It seems simple enough – greens, raisins, fuji apples, a light cheese (feta or a white cheddar?), walnuts, and a marinade of perhaps apple cider vinegar and greek yogurt? Hmm, food for thought…

I had every intention of making it to the gym, but took the afternoon sun break as a chance to give my car a MUCH needed wash. I got sprinkled on a few times (what weird weather we’re having lately!!!) but was able to get my little Hyundai Elantra clean and sparkling without too much trouble. My right arm and shoulder are going to be SORE though from scrubbing the sap spots off my roof!

Yoga was in my plans for later, anyway, so skipping the elliptical didn’t sound too bad. Jacob had plans to meet up with a former colleague for a drink at 7 and I found a Candlelight Power Yoga class at 7:30 that sounded like a perfect antidote to my late night worrying habit. The other half of my turkey and avocado panini from yesterday was dinner, though unpictured.

The yoga class was GREAT. It was a flow style class and moved pretty quickly, but I focused on matching movement to my breath and instead of changing poses based on the instructor’s words, I followed my own rhythm. I came out an hour later sweaty and refreshed… and STARVING.

Jacob is trying to squeeze in his last visit to all his favorite places, so we stopped by Swirl, a self serve froyo shop, for a late evening snack. We used to visit Swirl at least once a week last summer when we lived in Portland. It’s one of the better self serve places in PDX based on range of flavors and the toppings offered – and all for 45 cents per ounce. Plus you get great hipster watching (one of Jacob’s favorite pastimes) based on the Hawthorne location 🙂

I tried my best to be conservative, which is hard to do at anything self serve, but held myself to just one splurge topping. I split my cup between honey lavender tart and cookies and cream froyo, and topped my selections with blueberries/raspberries/coconut and oreo pieces respectively.

It hit the spot. Now I just have to find a comparable shop in Seattle…

Hoping to get a good night’s sleep now. Buona noche!