2015, a very very late recap

I started this post back in 2016, and finally got around to adding the photos 2 years later. So here you go a recap from my year as it occurred 3 years ago. It sure was a good one!

January

Due to my job, I got rather invested in the Seahawks and their fight to the Superbowl. Mainly because the longer they played the more opportunity my nonprofit had to fundraise.
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Alex and I went out to eat (probably for brunch, probably where there was coffee).
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We enjoyed the chance to babysit the youngest of our friends’ daughters. It was great fun to get some solo time with her and see Alex show off his future father skills.
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At some point this was my grocery list, I don’t know what I was planning on making, but I am sure it was tasty.
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February

Spent two evenings creating the adventures of Seda, a half-ling ranger, and her wolf, Akela. With the help of a cleric and a warrior, we successfully found, stole, and destroyed the crown of the long dead Lich-king.
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Reached level 7 of Ingress.
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Got to cuddle this ridiculous puppy thanks to my former co-worker Erin.
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March

Ate brunch with Alex at Volunteer Park Cafe and then walked around the Arboretum to look at signs of spring.
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Went to Olympia to tell lawmakers to fund emergency food programs. Also spent time looking at the cherry blossoms.
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Alex purchased a long-a-waited desktop computer. He was very happy about it.
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Went to the Pacific Science Center with Alex to escape a dreary weekend, mainly hung out in the butterfly garden.
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April

Got a new iPhone 6, giant computing power that fits in my pocket. Main use? Taking pictures.
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Went on a weekend getaway with Alex to Ocean Shores. Walked along cold beaches, made food that didn’t require an oven and lived in a tiny cabin 10 ft away from a hot tub = fun weekend. The more time I spend with Alex, the more I am convinced that I married an amazing person.
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Lindsay and I’s office amarylis bloomed!
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Alex and I went to hear Neil Gaimen speak at the University of Washington. Gaimen speaks as intelligently as he writes, or in other words quite well.
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Jenn, Katie and I made pretty smelling spa things. One out of three was very successful, but mostly I liked the time spent with these fun women.
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May

Seattle attempted to demonstrate just how many colors it could jam into one season
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My family came to visit!
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My friends came to visit!
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David and Sarah got married (While the highlight is truly the lovely ceremony that reflected their deep appreciating for community based activism, the main thing people talk about is the llamas).
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I went on a hike with family and one adorable dog.
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I started a tiny porch garden.
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June

I went strawberry picking with Katie, Jenn and kids. It was hot, but very delicious.
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I ate a burger at Miller’s Guild that will be included in my top ten list of things ever eaten.
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Alex and I joined up with Hedgehog friends from across the country and spent a long weekend in Cape Cod. The house was delightfully old, the beach was fantastically close, and the weather was mostly perfection. Side note: My friends seem to have only very adorable children.
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Celebrated various birthdays with the Peterson family women by eating and drinking our way through a lavish high tea.
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July

The sad departure of a friend at work brought about Bacon Hor-d’oeves day which was salty, fatty and completely delicious.
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I took the bus down to Portland to visit Meryl. Portland was in a heatwave, so we spent most of our time chatting, drinking iced coffee and seeking out air conditioning.
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We also spent one day hanging out and swimming in the nearby river – a completely lovely day.
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I reached level 8 of Ingress.
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Jenn and I hosted a baby shower for Katie and Bryan, for which we mainly focused on creating a spread of very tasty food. Highlights include the various tea sandwiches, Jenn’s Tres Dulce cake and my lavender creme brûlée.
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My amazing former co-worker Zan helped me get my very own signed photo of the Chef from Battlestar Galactica. #Nerdpoints
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August

Alex and I got very into making delicious protein salads like this one.
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I finally finished my contribution to a group knitting project – a Tardis themed baby blanket for Katie and Bryan’s baby.
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I ate homemade s’mores with my co-workers.
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I was offered a long awaited dream job – librarian and after much discussion with Alex made plans to move back to the Midwest. (No photo)

I baked a blueberry peach pie.
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I discovered an old macro cover for my iPhone and proceeded to take lots of extreme close-up photos around the apartment.
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Katie, Jenn and I enjoyed a celebratory (and final (for a while!)) ladies night by having dinner at a fancy waterfront restaurant.
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Alex and I “got sick” so we could spend the day savoring one last ferry ride around Seattle.
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We indulged in one giant weekend of RPG, trying to make up for the fact that we didn’t know when we would be able to play again. Battles were fought, Akela died a noble death, experience was gained, and so much fun was had.
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I reached level 9 of Ingress.
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September

I harvested the tiny red fruits of my porch plant labor and my spider plant decided to have lots of babies.
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Meryl came up for a visit and we talked, ate, laughed, Ingressed, talked, walked and laughed some more. Meryl is such a gem, I miss her lots.
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I went to my first ever Steampunk Tea and Painting Garden Party in costume and painted an owl. Somehow during my three years at my last job, many of my co-workers became dear friends.
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A baby was born! It was truly incredible to see such a tiny new life, only 24 hours old and to see two of my favorite people step up and become outstanding parents.
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David and Sarah treated us to an incredible meal at a fancy restaurant. We caught up on life and ate lots of tiny amazing food. This was dessert.
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While packing for our move, I found some outstanding old newspaper clippings that attest to both my extreme neediness and my brother’s early start to activism.
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As part of our farewell (for now) tour of Seattle, we spent the day at the zoo with our friends and their amazing daughters. It is very true that zoos are more fun with children along.
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After a feverish week of goodbyes, packing and much hecticness, Alex and I hooked up rented Uhaul and trailer and started our 5 day journey across the country.
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After a 16 hour first day, we took it a bit easier and traveled through Yellowstone on Alex’s birthday.
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Alex indulged my childhood love of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and we spent one night and part of a day exploring the tiny town of De Smet, South Dakota.
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We finally arrived in Goshen, tired and ready to say goodbye to our Uhaul. My parents welcomed us with open arms and plenty of help with the process of unloading.
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Being back in the Midwest means getting to see several of dearest girl friends more regularly. This makes me very happy.
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October

On Oct. 1, I fulfilled a dream I first started to have back in 2006 and got my first full-fledged librarian job. While changing careers is always hard, I am excited to say this job continues to inspire me and make me excited to grow in new ways.
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After our arrival in town, my parents promptly left on a week long vacation, so Alex and I took care of their chickens for the week.
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Another favorite of my fall was getting to see my younger brother Jonathan more regularly and get to meet his really awesome girlfriend.
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While Seattle will always win in terms of mountains and water, the Midwest really takes the cake in autumn.
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A quick weekend trip up to Evanston brought with it fun city adventures and more time with Jess, who is always incredible to hang out with. This also brought about my first visit back to the Chicago Botanic Garden is probably over 5 years. It was as lovely as I remembered.
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November

Part of the advantage of living closer to the middle of the country is that one can easily take a day off of work and make a quick trip east to attend a cousin’s wedding. So good (if all to brief) to see family. (No photo)

The Midwest delivered a spectacular first snow of the year. 6 or so fluffy white inches and one very gleeful Norwegian husband.
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Another highlight was the indulgent Saturday spent with girlfriends watching all of the previous three Hunger Games movies in anticipation of the release of the final one. Fun was had by all. (No Photo)

Thanks to our interest in cooking and disinterest in choosing only one kind of cranberry sauce, Thanksgiving was an expansive feast including three different red (or pink) dishes.
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I reached level 10 on Ingress.
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Family fun also included a game of disc golf, whereupon the four non-Jonathan members of the family attempted to beat the frisbee king at his own game by playing together on one team. We were unsuccessful.
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Jonathan’s dog Mathilde is the cutest.
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December

I love living closer to more of my family. Now all that we need to do is find a way to bring Tim and Charlotte a bit closer to this part of the country.
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My growing appreciation for my new co-workers reached new heights with Ugly Christmas Sweater Day.
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Winter means seeing a lot more sunrises, this is not always a bad thing.
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We decorated the christmas tree with my parents.
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My co-workers are intelligent, dedicated and also incredibly goofy.
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Alex and traveled for the week of Christmas to Seattle where babies were cooed over, dear friends were hugged, coffee was imbibed, chats were had, food was eaten, presents were opened, family was enjoyed, and then we flew back to Goshen to celebrate Christmas in Goshen.
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Bagels were baked, sweaters were knit, games (oh so many games) were played, food was cooked, presents were exchanged and lots of laughter.
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We finished up our time together with a day trip to Chicago on the train.
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Why you should go to happy hour with your co-workers

Today we had a good-bye for a co-worker who is moving to a different state and I went along. As previously stated, I have a strong disinclination to do things that keep me from changing into my PJs right after supper and hibernating on week nights (at least during the dark months of the year). So at 2pm or so, the usual impulse to cancel and just go home came, but I pushed on and found people to carpool with. And I have to say I really do work with super fun people.

Moving to Seattle was a huge transition for me in terms remaking my community from the ground-up. Granted I did have a few close friends from college to start with and a boyfriend (now husband), but making friends in Seattle (even 3 years in) has been quite difficult. Part of it is the same struggle I had in my early Chicago years when all I wanted to do was to find a nice guy to date. However all I also wanted to just stay in my apartment, do jigsaw puzzles, and not go to bars. Going to bars seemed to be like the only real viable option presented by society in terms of meeting people, however I knew that anyone I would want to actually date would probably also prefer to stay at home and do jigsaw puzzles. Which presented quite a dilemma for my romantic prospects.*

I have had a similar, but more platonic issue when I moved to Seattle. Seattle is very much a city of introverts, which works well for me, I fit right in. However turns out introverts also like to stay home and do jigsaw puzzles. Which means neither I, or my future friends, are really out there meeting each other.

Fortunately I had a back-up plan which was work at places where you genuinely like the people you work with. That has proven much more successful for me. I have gone to bachelorette parties for my co-workers, attended crafting parties, drinks and movie events, holiday parties and more. My co-workers have helped me move, planned my wedding decorations, crafted incredible wedding centerpieces, been the go-to day of coordinators for my wedding, thrown me engagement parties, seen me cry, made me laugh, offered me advice and genuinely become some of my closest friends in Seattle.

In my three years in Seattle, I still haven’t found the same community I had in Chicago, or branched out and met lots of people. However I have found the perfect friends I need to help me enjoy this strange, cloudy, and introverted city.

*I solved this by writing letters to this Lutheran bachelor from Seattle long enough for him to write me letters back and then eventually marry me.

topic to be determined

Three posts seems to be as long as it takes for me to start questioning this whole blogging every day thing. While there is no shortage of interesting topics to write about, so many of them are ones that I put in the “do these right” box. This is also the box for drafts that “need more polish”, “should be revised first” and “probably can’t be written in the 20-30 minutes you usually give yourself for these things”.

So instead I started browsing my flickr account looking for photos that would spark and idea for a post that wouldn’t take forever to write and would *bonus* include a photo.

But instead of a story, I was just struck by how good my life is. All too often it is easy for me to get caught up in the frustrations of the moment, the discomforts of not knowing the future, the irritations of a 9 to 5 job, the sadness of being far away from many of the people I love. Yet, when I take a second to look, it is clear that I am so incredibly blessed.

From living in a place on this earth that lets me see sunsets like this,

to lovely ladies like this, who I am lucky to call my friends.

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From hilarious small humans like this, who I get to occasionally babysit,
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to siblings both old and new who make my life approximately 147% better.
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From my chance to go through life with this gentleman,
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to the chance to live in a city that gives me nerdy opportunities like going to cons.

That is not even scratching the surface of all the many ways that I am getting to live a life full of riches completely incomprehensible to 99.9% of people who have ever lived on earth. For that I am truly grateful.

December catch-up

I had really intended to keep blogging right into December. Maybe not every day or anything, but at least a 3 times a week or so. But hey, you can obviously tell that didn’t happen, so no use dwelling on that.

So what is happening right now in this life that seems to be roaring on in an ever accelerating pace? Well the first week of December, I mainly remember for its theme of catch up time with friends. Monday I edited wedding photos for Katie, which was a fun project in figuring out what I can do in Photoshop and a chance to get nostalgic about a weekend that is already almost 6 months ago! Tuesday was spent going over a paper (which was so good!) for Jess, her big final for her penultimate semester of grad school. Wednesday and Thursday were spent having long overdue catch-up video sessions with Steph and Becca, respectively. I never seem to do as good a job as I would like in staying up to date with friends and seem to have gotten progressively worse at email over the past few years, so I am glad to take any chance I can to reconnect with friends I don’t see that often.

The next week was also pretty full on every week night, a chat with Jess, a visit to Alex’s house, book club, Pathfinder and a chat with my parents filled up Monday through Friday. And while this is veering into deep nerd territory, the Pathfinder session was especially memorable because I got one step closer to my dream of having my half-ling ranger character – Seda – become a wolf-rider. Our party was trudging through the forest on a our way back from a mission into the fey territory, when we encountered a dire wolf, who had just killed a she-wolf. My half-elf companion, Alana (aka Katie) made short work of the dire wolf (in fact, I think she crited on it?) and then low and behold the she-wolf had left behind a litter of 4 wolf pups! Now all I have to do is domesticate them and get to level four, then I can become of the wolf rider of my character’s dreams!

Thumbprint cookies

In other news, I am flummoxed completely by the idea that Christmas is a mere 9 days away. I feel like I kind of missed out on being very festive this year. Neither Alex or I ended up feeling like we had the energy to get a tree this year and when I tried to turn on our christmas lights (still up from last year in an attempt to “creatively light our living room”) only half of them would even turn on. So other than my spree of cookie baking from a week and half ago and my continuous playing of Christmas music since Dec 1st, I haven’t done much to celebrate the season. But on Friday (after Alex’s last day of student teaching!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) we have made plans to go look at other people’s Christmas decorations in a neighborhood known for its high electric bill in December, so maybe that will help me feel a bit less like this season of Advent has flown by unacknowledged.

Good day

Other than being a little under the weather with some bad allergies and suffering from not sleeping well last night, today was a really good day. From a wonderful church service this morning in which we sang so many good hymns, to two really good video chat conversations with family and friends I have really enjoyed my Sabbath. Alex and I also roasted lots of vegetables with bacon (and I mean lots of bacon) for supper, so now everything in our apartment smells like pork (but in a good way!).

So I want to head to bed, so I will leave you with this awesome photo puzzle taken by my brother Tim. Can you spot the second person in this photo, his wife Charletta? Look really closely and you can do it…

Photo Puzzle

Blog victories, Costco, and power outages

So those of you who are friends with me on Facebook already know a bit about my frustrating/fun experience last night trying to update WordPress on my blog. From my younger brother programing his first game before high school, to my Dad managing servers for a living, I have always been surrounded by techie people. I too enjoy techie things, however I have never advanced any of my skills to actually be more than a generalist of a few, master of none. This also means that I have asked for a lot of technical help over the years and always appreciated my friends and families willingness to help. But this also means that when I do find ways to push my own skills and do things all by myself I tend to get prouder than a toddler with a new skill.

With that in mind, last night I got quite frustrated when I discovered that the one-click update for WordPress wasn’t working on my blog. I did most of the troubleshooting I knew, but quickly discovered I was going to have to do a manual update. So after failed attempts to use my host webFTP panel, I downloaded Filezilla. Then after nervously deleting old files off my blog (half convinced that I was going to break the whole thing) I uploaded the new files and successfully updated my blog! In other words, Alex had to deal with both a very grumpy and then positively gleeful Abby last evening.

Costco haul
Okay, on to the Costco. While I had been to Costco briefly before for work, I had been fascinated by this concept of bulk goods for everyone and so I persuaded my co-worker to take me shopping with her. And wow, from flats of apples, double gallons of milk, packets of 5 dozen eggs, to baking powder that comes in 3 pound jars, Costco is a fascinating place. However the best find of the day was discovering that one of my favorite cheeses (a local one called Beecher’s Flagship) was literally 1/2 the price than in a normal story. Granted you need to purchase 1.5 pound of it at a time, but that was a sacrifice I was willing to make.

Other news from Seattle, last night we had a rather massive wind storm with big gusts and apparently some tree limbs managed to cause some nasty damage in North Seattle which resulted in Katie and Bryan loosing power. Not wanting to lose the food in their fridge and freezer, they brought their perishable goods down to use in Ballard and in return we got their lovely company this afternoon. A rousing game of Tichu was played (men against the women as is traditional). The men took an early lead when Alex granded and then went 1-2. Then (following Jonathan’s rule of three power cards in the first hand) I granded, but lost. But Katie and I diligently worked our way back up, but in the last round Bryan pulled of an impressive late round Tichu, leaving Alex and him victorious.

But the biggest surprise of the afternoon wasn’t the Tichu, but instead the Soda Stream that Bryan and Katie gifted us. One part thank you gift, one part early Christmas, their gift was both incredibly touching and a truly unanticipated surprise. This past year has been an wonderful chance to get to know them both more and they have both helped me begin to get a sense that I do indeed have a community here in Seattle. And in addition to the incredible kindness, we now get to have all the sparkling water we could dream of (at least until we have to replace the carbonation cylinder…).

So there you go a rambling and mostly un-edited recap of my day. I hope you all had a good one too!

Rain, Market, Library, Games and more

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.

Wonderful day with friends and a waffle recipe

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)

Thankful for Thanksgiving

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.