Monday, January 28, 2008

Back on the Wagon

I'm very slowly getting back on the wagon. I fell off the day after Christmas, when I came down with the flu (followed by a kidney infection followed by a cold followed by a long long recovery). Even when I'm sick, if I don't get out on the weekend and go do something I go completely crazy. We've been doing really easy stuff but this weekend we finally ramped it up a little - a short run on Saturday followed by some errands and then some yoga-at-home on Sunday, lunch with friends and a walk around Discovery Park. I was really exhausted last night and super sore today but I am also excited because it appears that I'm getting back on the wagon.

Snow season is here and everyone in Seattle is jetting off for the hills every weekend to snowboard, ski, snowshoe, or whatever their snow dream is. The snow here is unbelievable, and I vowed we would get out and do some stuff this year but we haven't so far. So that is my goal for the next four weeks: get better and back in shape and get out to where the snow is.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Banya5, the Russian spa

As I mentioned in a previous post, last Sunday we went to Banya5, a Russian Spa that is in Seattle. You can get yearly memberships or pay-per-use, and since I was still feeling too crappy to go do anything too taxing we went for a single pay-per-use to try it out. The Russian spa (a banya) is for relaxing, sweating, and freezing your booty off. That's right, the Russians (and many other cultures) strongly believe that it's good for the mind and body to make extreme transitions from hot to cold, so when you go there are several 'hot' options and several 'cold' options and a tepid saltwater jacuzzi to recover in between extremes.


We started with the steam room, which was fantastically steamy (and smelled like eucalyptus), then moved into the sauna, which they said was 230F (whoa!). The sauna was so hot that you had to sit on your towel so you didn't burn your butt on the wooden benches. Not only was the sauna super hot (actually it didn't feel too much hotter than your average sauna), there were crazy Russians in there doing this weird ritual, called venik, where they sort of slap each other with leafy birch branches. I'm not kidding. Leafy birch branches! First they dipped them in a pail of water and then they shook them around the sauna for a few minutes before slapping each other around. And it actually looked like a fun thing to do. If it wasn't so hot in there I might have tried it. After the sauna we jumped in a cold pool of water (55F) and shivered in there for two minutes (that's what they recommended but I wouldn't recommend it) before bolting out and into the tepid saltwater 'recovery pool' and starting over. After a few rounds of that you are cooked! We were so totally relaxed we could hardly drag ourselves around the third time and then at the end we dried off while we drank some of their divine tea. If the Packers-Giants game wasn't on that afternoon I probably just would have gone straight to bed when I got home.

So the take-home synopsis: Russian spas are fun! it was interesting, challenging, and relaxing.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sustainable kitchen

We are making efforts to be green.

Sometimes it's difficult, but sometimes it's not so bad.

One easy suggestion I got from my Aunt L in Iowa was to use re-usable towels instead of paper towels for cleaning up messes around the house. Less than a week later I came across a stack of pretty white towels at Kohls on sale and bought them and stacked them up in the kitchen. Now I just need to remember to use them.


Another thing we've been working on is re-using all our grocery bags. My Studly Hubby has simply been recycling the bags we get at the store but we're looking to buy some hardier canvas bags for this purpose. We also bought some neat little mesh vegetable bags last time we were at the co-op.You can kind of see the carrots in it. My Studly Hubby has been on a carrot kick for maybe a year now. He buys the big organic carrots that are kind of stubby and dirty and then shaves off the outside and takes them for lunch every day. He said he gets made fun of for eating giant carrots but it's worth it. I've taken these kinds of carrots to work before too and they are quite good, much better than the little carrot bits most people take.

Apple Strudel aka 'Apple Burrito'

My Studly Hubby loves cooking. Last year for Christmas he got a new cookbook that has become his favorite cookbook, the 'America's Test Kitchen' cookbook. He has been trying new recipes from it all year. This year for Christmas he got a second 'America's Test Kitchen' cookbook and wanted to try baking something from it this weekend. He decided on apple strudel. I guess it's fairly simple, as long as you buy the filio pastry that you wrap it in instead of trying to make it. So he cut up the apples, and mixed up all the filling, and then wrapped it all up so it looked like a big burrito.

But inside the burrito was apple-tastic goodness!!


Oh, it was so delicious.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Update

My posting rate has taken a dramatic slowdown lately because I am still sharing my computer with my computer-less Studly Hubby and fighting off the cold of my life. I feel obligated to keep my fans in the know so here is a quick update from the last week:

- took a day off work last week to try to get better, it kept me from getting worse at least
- gave a talk on Thursday, the first talk I've ever had to give while sick... it went ok
- Friday was one of the least productive days I've ever had in my whole career
- Saturday night we went to a stand-up comedian, Jake Johannsen, who was so funny I could hardly breathe I was laughing so much
-Sunday I woke up with a sore throat again, I don't think the laughing was very good for it
- Sunday morning we went to a Russian spa, Banya5. This deserves a post all on its own but essentially it was based on the idea that making extreme transitions from hot-to-cold are good for the body and the mind, so we tried it and boy it was extreme
- Sunday night I was so tired I decided to cancel all the stuff I had planned at work Monday and just sleep in
- Monday I slept in

Hope everyone out there is doing well!

January is almost over can you believe it? Get ready for February!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Macbook Air

My Studly Hubby is super linked in to technology these days. He reads Mac rumor websites and video game blogs and can do any crazy thing with a website that you can think of.

So as you can imagine, when his computer terminally malfunctioned just before Christmas, he was devastated.

But instead of rushing out to buy an immediate replacement, he laid low until after Christmas.

Because as any tech-savvy individual knows, Mac World is in mid-January and that's when all the new Mac products are announced.

So today he and his co-workers waited with bated breath for Steve Jobs' big speech (9 am Pacific) where he announced their Big New Thing...

and it turned out it was the MacBook Air: a super-light, super-thin new Mac laptop

But that wasn't enough! My Studly Hubby wants something more! The MacBook Air is cool, but not fast enough or strong enough or manly enough for his needs. So he continues to lie low and figure out his next move... buy the MacBook Pro, which has been virtually unchanged in a year, or go back to his long-time pal the PC??

I don't know about him, but I sure like this new MacBook Air...

Snow Day!

We woke up to a fresh coating of snow on the ground here in Seattle which is very unusual and exciting. Unfortunately that means the city shut down and so my Studly Hubby's carpool was canceled and he had to navigate his way to work on his own (he took the bus, which is heavy and has big tires and so deals well with 1/4 of an inch of snow, unlike the rest of traffic here).

I have been fighting off illness ever since Christmas and decided to stay home all day today to recover. Last night in the sleet and snow I ventured up to the doctor's to get a test for strep throat (test was negative) and the effort of it completely wiped me out. We bought chicken noodle soup and Cold Care tea on the way home and I snuggled under a down blanket with the tea and the soup last night and finally started feeling better. Chicken noodle soup really does help! I decided to continue those efforts today, and stay home under a blanket. Except I'm giving a major talk to my entire department on Thursday so will be working on my talk which normally would be easy (it's almost done) but today will probably take all the energy I have. I've been going through a major process with my talks lately - my current boss wants me to take it up a notch in quality but I don't respond well to those kinds of demands so have actually taken it down a notch instead. Maybe being sick will be a Godsend because I won't have the energy to get as nervous and worked up about it as I have been.

Everyone I know is sick or has been sick this holiday season. Wash your hands! cover your mouth! sterilize the doorknobs and phones! don't lick anything you don't have to! and good luck to you all in staying healthy.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Juno

Last weekend we saw a very cute independent movie at the theater in our neighborhood called "Juno." One of the things I liked about it was the dialog - the main characters are in high school and spoke in what I think is very modern and also creative high school slang (I don't know for sure because I'm getting old and haven't been in high school for a while). A lot of good lines can be found here, but that's only a sampling.

Naturally I was wondering who wrote it and if they indeed were linked in to the modern teenage mind, or just making it all up. It turns out the screenwriter, Diablo Cody, is my age and originally from Chicago but resides in Minneapolis...! I could have known her, although I doubt it because she was a stripper there and I was always locked away in a research lab. She was discovered through her blog (her current manager admits he found her blog while searching for porn one night and immediately realized her writing talent - wow). Her blog has an inappropriate title but is in fact pretty clean and now she writes mostly about what it's like to be a rising star.

I think we should all be motivated by Diablo Cody. She wrote a smart screenplay about high school kids even though she hasn't been in high school for a while, she wrote a smart blog about her life as a stripper, and then she proved that anyone can find your blog and make you famous! Although I don't really have an extremely smart and funny screenplay tucked away to make me even more famous if that actually happens. I'll work on that.

So where Diablo Cody got all that smart modern high school lingo? Maybe it wasn't really high school lingo but just strip club lingo. Or maybe she did make it all up, and it's about to become part of the modern high school lingo (which makes me wonder, is modern high school lingo inspired by smart movies or do smart movies inspire modern lingo? or is this unanswerable... like which came first, the chicken or the egg?).

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The electrical mystery

This morning we woke up to a strange predicament: half the apartment's electricity was out. Because we are wise and all-knowing, we went immediately to the fuse-box next to the laundry room and sure enough, a fuse had tripped. We flipped it back and the electricity went back on, but within moments it tripped again. We unplugged all our appliances, flipped it back, and yet again it tripped immediately afterwards. We repeated this three or four more times and on the final round, just before we had to head out to work, it stuck and the electricity stayed on. It was still on when we got home.

Weird!

Remind me never to buy an old house. We have had so many weird problems in this apartment that I can't even keep track of it anymore.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Injured!

My super-stellar running pace in the Seattle half-marathon landed me an IT band injury. The IT band runs along the outside of your thigh from your hip to your knee. Until now I didn't want to actually admit I was injured. But tonight, I went walking instead of running and since Sunday I've been regularly stretching and strengthening my IT band. I think announcing my injury to the world will help me continue to rehabilitate it like I should be doing instead of ignore it like I was doing.

This injury isn't totally new. I started having trouble way back in my crazy spin instructor days. My chiropractor in Minneapolis, who was totally awesome, recognized the problem and stretched my IT band every time I came in and lectured me on stretching it on my own and treating it nicely. I didn't really comply until I moved to Seattle and actually stopped teaching spin. Eventually the pain (then it was in my hip) subsided and I thought I was in the clear. Then I started training on Lake Washington Blvd.

Lake Washington Blvd is really pretty and really long (it's a big lake). But every time I ran it (which was three weekend long runs and then the final half-marathon race) I got a weird blister on the bottom of my right foot and had achey hips. Then during the Seattle half, my right IT band finally had enough. It tightened up and hasn't loosened since. So no more Lake Washington Blvd. And no more ignoring the needs of my IT band. I really should be stretching more.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Holiday pics

One of our presents this year was a super-sweet digital camera, so now I have NO excuse when it comes to posting pictures on the blog. We even got a memory card reader a few months ago so it's super easy too. The digital camera is totally neato, it fits fancy lenses and does fancy things and takes really nice pictures.
Other highlights of the way-too-short trip are:


Hanging with four of my five brothers in Illinois - it was great to see them open our presents, make cookies with them and even sleep in the same room as two of them (my poor dad and step-mom had a roof malfunction right before our arrival so we all had to squeeze in together... so the light-snorers took the room with the bunk beds and the heavy-snorer got a room to himself, my poor Studly Hubby, the only one that doesn't snore, had to put up with all of us).



Our nephew examined and approved the gift we gave his mom - the Avenging Unicorn complete set.


A sad-looking me at my mom's when I was feeling well enough to sit up.


My mom's 1 yr old dog Numi, he's a spunky Tibetan Terrier. For his birthday she took him into her work with some treats for everyone. He got two presents for Christmas and showed them both to everyone who visited.


My Studly Hubby's Studly Sister and her Hubby bought the Peanuts Gang off of Ebay and put them in their front yard for Christmas. Cute!

Friday, January 04, 2008

The best Christmas presents ever

The best Christmas presents we gave this year did not come from huge piles of money (well, a few did). Most of the really good ones were a few things we picked up at a shop called Archie McPhee's:

A gummy banana slug and various other gummy goodies including gummy steak and gummy tapeworm were a big hit among my brothers. I still haven't gotten any reports on whether they actually tasted good though.


A toy gorilla (similar to the one shown) was a big hit for my youngest brother. He liked it much better than the book "Who pooped in the park?", our other present to him.


A brain jello mold. If you use their recipe (on the back), the brains will come out all gray and slimy and perfect.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year's!!

We are back in Seattle - I didn't get a chance to post while we were in Iowa over the holidays but I have a great excuse... we both got really sick! We caught the flu just after Christmas and my immune system took such a huge hit that I got a kidney infection a few days later. I had a couple of I'd-rather-be-dead kind of days but eventually pulled out of it just in time to fly back to Seattle. We still weren't feeling well on the plane on the way back, and had kind of an awful trip back. Normally I can really enjoy long plane rides - I read the paper, watch movies, get caught up on work or personal reading, etc. But this was not fun. And neither were those 2-3 days when I had the flu. I haven't had the flu like that in ten years, and I may need to retaliate next year by getting a flu shot because I definitely don't want to have that happen again. I think the Seattle climate has been hard on our immune systems - we've both gotten sick over and over again since we've moved here and I don't seem to be able to fight anything off very well - diseases knock me over and I spend the following weekend laid out on the couch under a blanket moaning and groaning surrounded by Kleenex and orange juice (my "nest"). What a waste of a weekend! And so many weekends! My mom is trying to get me to start taking Vitamin C and other goodies to rebuild the immune system and she may be on to something.

Today in Seattle everything is closed and all our neighbors are home but shut up in their houses visiting relatives or cleaning or something. It is very quiet out there. It makes for a peaceful low-key kind of day but since we just got back it makes me miss my family back in Iowa even more. It would help to have something to do. So I'm unpacking, making Thank-You cards, doing laundry, even cleaning, and trying to keep busy. Maybe by the end of the day I'll be able to sit still and enjoy the peace and quiet a little bit. My Studly Hubby has no problem enjoying the peace and quiet. He's asleep on the couch right now.

Hope you all had a great holiday! I'll post more about ours later, hopefully with some pictures.