Jul 072014

I was a little apprehensive about the 4th of July this year. I was worried about how Bella would deal with the fireworks. Our street kind of shuts down and the neighbor puts on quite a show. We all get together, have a kind of impromptu potluck, Michael and I invite friends over…In the past when I just had the kitties, I’d check on them periodically throughout the evening when the fireworks started, they were clearly disturbed by the loud noises but didn’t seem too freaked out.

But Bella? I knew she’d be freaked out. She got pretty agitated in a thunder storm we had in the winter–not too bad but agitated enough. And the fireworks show was going to be right in front of our house essentially.


I looked online to find some tips on how to take care of pets during the fireworks show and I also talked to our dog walker. She had some great tips. She suggested Rescue Remedy, to put a few drops in Bella’s water, as it’s a natural relaxer. She said to turn on all the TVs and radios to try and drown out the noise. She said Benadryl can be good too. Bella already takes Benadryl on occasion when her allergies start flaring up (per her vet) so I planned on doing that too.


My poor baby. :( I guess it’s pretty common for pets to run away on the 4th of July because they are scared and somehow get outside and run off. We were having friends over for a BBQ and the fireworks so I put the cats in a room with the litterbox, food and water and shut the door just to be sure they couldn’t get out.

We had 7 people over for a BBQ. Bella was outside with us all working on her social skills! There were a lot of people over and that made Bella a little freaked out but once she got treats and pets and they threw the ball for her she was good. Michael grilled up hot dogs and one friend brought a delicious baked bean dish, another brought a Moroccan sweet potato salad and there was also an amazing potato salad (it was so good!). Everything tasted great. I made a quinoa salad that turned out well, too:

Red Quinoa and Carrot Salad with Currants, Chickpeas and Cashews

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Calories per serving: 321

From: http://www.floatingkitchen.net/red-quinoa-and-carrot-salad-with-currants-chickpeas-and-cashews/


  • 2/3 cup red quinoa
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (from 1-2 carrots)
  • 1 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup currants
  • 1/2 cup cashews (I used roasted and salted cashews)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (use the REAL stuff, Grade B if you have it)
  • 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, roughly chopped


  1. Cook the quinoa. Combine the quinoa and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce the temperature to maintain a simmer. Simmer for 15-18 minutes, covered, until all the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let the quinoa stand covered for 5 minutes. Then fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
  2. Transfer the cooled quinoa to a medium bowl. Add the shredded carrots, chickpeas and currants. Toss gently to combine.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the quinoa salad, tossing gently to combine and tasting as you go. Stir in the cashews. Top with the chopped parsley and serve. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 1-2 days.


Notes: If you don't have red quinoa, any color will do! The leftovers are delicious, but the cashews do lose their crunch. If you want to maintain that crunch, divide the cashews and stir them into individual servings as you eat your way through the salad. If you don't have currants, raisins or dried cranberries would be a great here. And agave could be used in place of the maple syrup.


I didn’t have parsley so added some chopped green onion and I really liked that addition. I think chopped celery would be really nice in this salad, too. When I make it again I’d probably skip making the carrots into ribbons and just chop them into small pieces. That would be easier to eat. (The quinoa salad was even better the next day for lunch.)

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Michael got these ridiculously large hot dogs from Costco–like bigger than the actual hot dog buns–but they were a hit and tasted great after being grilled. I’m not a huge hot dog fan but there is something tasty about a grilled hot dog that has a little crisp to it.

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We hung out for a bit drinking beer and finishing up dinner and then the fireworks started. I gave Bella a little Peanut-Butter-Benadryl treat and put her in her crate in the bedroom with her blanket. I turned on the TV and the radio and shut the door. I checked on her a few times during the evening and unfortunately the Benadryl didn’t put her to sleep. She was kind of wired and her eyes were really big but she didn’t seem too scared, so that was good. Our poor neighbor’s dog was another story. He was shivering and crying in their house. :(

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We set up our camping chairs in the neighbor’s driveway and they started the show. I’m not really sure what was happening here–it was kind of like the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. One of the neighbor’s friends did laps around the island holding a lit sparkler, running while everyone encouraged him, until it fizzled out. It was pretty hilarious. The kids did their fireworks first.

photo 2

The neighbor turned on properly patriotic hair metal and then the teenagers did their fireworks. The neighbor stepped in a few times to do some REAL fireworks and then we all called it good a little earlier this year. The fireworks were gone by 10:30 and while there were still some going off in other neighborhoods nearby, it was mostly done. It was more low-key this year, which was fine because I had been worried about Bella and I was also getting sleepy from the 2 beers I’d had that night. God when did we get so old?

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After everyone left I took Bella outside to do her business and Michael sat with her for a bit outside. She was overly excited and kind of spazzy but didn’t seem scared so that’s good! All in all she did great on the holiday. I slept like a rock and thankfully wasn’t hungover for Boot Camp the next morning. :)

Jul 092013

It’s hard to believe it’s been 5 years already. In a way those 5 years have gone by quickly and in a way it hasn’t. I’m talking about my anniversary with Michael. 5 years ago on June 19th, Michael and I had our first “real” date. I say “real” date because we met online as friends and were chat buddies for months before we ever decided to meet in person. Then it was about a month after meeting in person that we went on a real DATE. The rest is history. 5 years of loving, squabbling, traveling, biking, hiking, cooking and eating together. I learned to wear earplugs at night to silence his snoring. He’s learned to recognize the signs of an impending sugar crash in which I become Kool-Aid Guy.

Michael has taught me how to cook, how to enjoy REAL food, and how to ride a bike long distances. I’ve taught him that hiking is fun, the joy of wine tasting, how to snowshoe,  and how much fun volunteering can be. I’d never had the desire to go to Texas, but Michael exposed me to the good things about a place I never considered visiting. We’ve run away to Vegas together, we’ve learned to love beer together, we started (and learned how to have) a veggie garden, and we’ve been remodeling his house together since we met. 😉


For our anniversary this year we went up to Seattle sort of secretly. One of the reasons we don’t really vacation to Seattle is that I have so much family and we both have friends up there that if we visit, it becomes a “try and see everyone” kind of weekend, which can be stressful. So in order to celebrate our anniversary just us we didn’t tell anyone (well, I told my mom but she understood that we were there to celebrate just us).

We booked a room at the Watertown Hotel in the U District. We got a deal on Expedia and it looked like a really cute place. Since I’m from Seattle, I know the areas pretty well and staying in the U District was perfect. Close enough to downtown, but without having to pay downtown prices. After the not-so-great experience I had with Rachel at the Hotel Deca, I was a bit nervous about our hotel but was happily surprised that it was AWESOME. I would most definitely stay there again and I’d look for more of their properties in other cities, too. The hotel was nice, clean, quiet, perfectly located, our bed was comfy, the pillows were good (which is hard to get in a hotel), there was a Keurig in the room plus a mini fridge and microwave as well as free bottled water. Oh did I mention that there was a free covered, secure garage for guests? Cannot stress enough how awesome this hotel was.


The first thing we did once we got to Seattle was go to dinner. It was around 6-ish and even though my stomach had been bothering me all day, I was starting to get hungry. Michael suggested a place in Ballard he went to once with his friend Jeremy called Bitterroot.

The place was packed but we got a spot at the bar in the back. The service was attentive and friendly. I ordered a Bloody Mary because we were in a BBQ joint…they had to have good ones, right? Yeah, it was probably in the top 3 of all time for me. I loved it. It came with various pickled things and olives (including a large pickled carrot stick) and there was candied bacon on top. I did not like the candied bacon but I appreciated the attempt and the presentation. The Bloody Mary was delicious–perfectly salty and spicy.


It was hard to pick what to order. They had a whole page on their menu of the various mac n’ cheese combinations (I was particularly intrigued by the jalapeno one). I ended up getting the brisket (duh, it’s a BBQ place!) with a side of collard greens and cheesy grits. I was not a fan of the collard greens. I’m not sure what they cooked them in (maybe apple juice?) but it wasn’t good. The cheesy grits on the other hand were epic. I seriously need to learn how to make this at home.


Was the brisket as good as Franklin’s BBQ in Austin? No. But Bitterroot was one of the better places I’ve been and I’d definitely go back the next time I’m in Seattle.

We were stuffed from dinner and it was still nice and warm out. We went to Gas Works Park and walked around. It was kind of fun to show Michael around Seattle. Gas Works Park is a fantastic place to hang out if you visit Seattle. There’s amazing views of downtown and the Space Needle; there’s plenty of space to throw a frisbee or have a picnic; there’s a nice breeze of Lake Union on a hot summer day and it’s just a beautiful place.


It was getting late and the sun was starting to set. We went back to the room and ended up walking a few blocks to the Ave to get some frozen yogurt. :)

The next morning I got up a little early so I could go work out. The hotel had one of the better gyms I’ve seen in a hotel. It was still rather small but there were two ellipticals, two bikes, one treadmill and a really nice weight set.


I was expecting it to be super packed and unusable but it was empty at 8am! Sweet! I got in a 25 minute elliptical session and then did my weight lifting routine (modified since I couldn’t do some of the moves). I was happy to get in my workout without the hassle of having to drive somewhere else.


After my workout we walked about two blocks to the Portage Bay Cafe for breakfast. Michael chose it because they had buckwheat pancakes on the menu. It was very highly rated on Yelp and at 9:30 there was already a 30-45 minute wait for a table. It was definitely worth the wait.


We got a table on the covered back patio. It was really nice back there because it was secluded and surrounded by trees so it felt like you were tucked away in an oasis instead of the middle of the city. It was also quieter (the restaurant was packed and very loud).


The service was really good (again, always impressed with good service because Portland can be iffy sometimes). The Portage Bay Cafe had a toppings bar. ‘Nuff said, right? Yeah, they had a bar full of things to top your French toast, pancakes, waffles, etc with. There was tons of fresh fruit, nuts, brown sugar, syrup, and homemade whipped cream.

I got the challah French toast–they wouldn’t let me order the kids’ portion (some restaurants are cool about that) so I got it off the sides. Even ordering a side of French toast the portions were huge! I topped it with fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and a little whipped cream. I got a side of the homemade chicken sausage patties but they were just okay.


I’m a fan of this restaurant! I’d get breakfast there again in a heartbeat. They have other locations in Seattle and I can only vouch for the U District one, but definitely go there!

Okay, I will leave you with the drool-worthy photos of breakfast and the next post will be the highlights of some of the Seattle sites to see. Stay tuned!