Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ridiculous Day!

Have you ever had one of those days that just didn't go right? You know, everything you tried to do just didn't work out as planned? Well, that was my day yesterday. Each time I tried to do something it just didn't work...

I tried to start this post last night, but I realized that as I was telling all the details, it sounded a lot like complaining, when in fact, as the day progressed I kept laughing more and more about how ridiculous it was! So, imagine me writing this with a grin of disbelief on my face!

My plan for the day was to go to Victoria, BC. It's the one big thing that's still on my list of things to do here, and today was the day set aside for it. I know someone who works on the Victoria Clipper and when he offered to help me get on it, I thought the offer was just to make sure I got a reservation. It turns out he was also able to let me go at a greatly reduced price. VERY NICE!

The boat leaves downtown Seattle at a very early time (8:00am -which is pretty early for a night shift worker!). I got up REALLY early and had planned in plenty of extra time for traffic. Or so I thought... Only a few minutes down the road I knew I was in trouble. What are all those people doing up at such an hour? I called the Clipper and told them I was on my way, and according to my trusty GPS "Garmin" (that's her name) I was still supposed to arrive with time to spare. Well, traffic just got worse and worse. As the cars got slower and slower I got more and more nervous. Garmin's "estimated arrival time" kept getting pushed farther back, and after a really long, slow drive, I arrived at 8:01, just as the boat was pulling away from the dock. How disappointing! This is something I had really been looking forward to, and I just missed the chance by minutes! Agghhh!

Well, I knew there was nothing I could do about, so I decided to just pick myself up by my bootstraps and move on. I was just down the block from Pike Place Market, so I decided to head there as I contemplated what I'd now do during my unexpected free day. I found a parking spot, paid for it, and then immediately found the place that was cheaper.

I headed inside and realized Pike Place maybe wasn't the place to go, because not much is open at 8:10 in the morning, so I decided to grab some breakfast as I now had all this parking time paid for. One of the good things of the day was eating at Lowell's for breakfast -they make a mean omelet! And, the view from their third floor was great!

After breakfast, I wandered around a while waiting for some of the stores to open, but when only a few did by the time my parking expired, I decided to just head out and go somewhere new.

I had been to Ballard in the past, but hadn't spent much time there at all and people had been recommending it. I had no specific plans, so just typed a few places into Garmin to see where it would bring me. I assumed I'd get to a place that seemed like where everyone was talking about, but lets skip ahead a few hours and lots of "wrong" places and I finally went to the Ballard Locks and Conservatory. It was nice, but this time of year not quite what it is in the summer. I was able to find someone to tell me about the stores, and I found a few fun ones.

Here are some of the pictures from the locks and conservatory:

Finally about 2:30 I thought about heading towards home before traffic got much worse. Last week Jill and Merrily and I had stopped at Peet's Coffee and Tea, and I had the best Peppermint Hot Cocoa I'd ever had. I decided that would be a great way to end my not-so-great day, so I typed Peet's into Garmin. It first brought me to 100 Mercer Street, which turns out to be a grocery store that used to have Peet's inside. That took a while to realize since I kept looking for something that just wasn't there. So, I went to the next Peet's on the list, which was at 10008 Aurora Ave. It seemed pretty far away from where I remembered, but was only 5 miles down the road, so I decided to try it. Well, since it brought me onto stalled I-5, it wasn't the best decision, and I was pretty disappointed to finally arrive and find that that Peet's no longer existed as well! Agghh! By that time, I was DETERMINED to get the Hot Cocoa I had been dreaming about and I KNEW Peet's existed. I decided to just drive around and look for it where we had been driving last Friday. There it was, just where I thought! And, now I KNOW the location is on Queen Anne Ave, right at the top of the hill.

When I got inside (finally around 4:00), I was chatting with the barista's and ended up telling them about how much I had wanted this Hot Cocoa. One barista told me he had just been on Peet's website and realized that their location list wasn't updated with the stores that had closed, and this new one that had just opened a few weeks before. Since that's how Garmin gets me places, I understood why I had just spent the last few hours driving around....

The thing that made me finally burst out laughing loudly, was when I got back to my car (a block away) and started driving away, I decided to finally taste the really hot Hot Cocoa. It turned out to be a Peppermint Mocha! Agghhh!!! Most people that know me know that I REALLY don't like the taste of coffee, so to have this great Peppermint Hot Cocoa turn out to be a Peppermint Mocha, was a HUGE disappointment! By that time, though, it just seemed like how the day should've ended... I was able to manage a few swallows, and was thankful to have ordered whip cream on top, but couldn't quite finish the whole thing. Humph...

After dealing with LOTS of traffic on the way home, I finally made it back to Puyallup two hours after leaving Seattle. It's normally a 45 minute drive. It was good to be home!

So because I really was trying to think of all the positive things about this ridiculous day, here's a little list for you:
1. I didn't have the chance to get motion sickness on the Clipper.
2. I didn't have to walk around an unfamiliar town in the rain.
3. I still have an open space in my Passport for going somewhere else!
4. I didn't have to worry about exchanging currency rates in my mind.
5. I got to eat at a new restaurant for breakfast, and would go there again.
6. I was able to see a lot of greenery at the conservatory.
7. I found a couple of unexpected Christmas presents.
8. I didn't add unnecessary calories by finishing a Peppermint Hot Cocoa.
9. I got to listen to a LOT of the 199 Christmas songs on my i-pod.
10. Christmas music at the right time puts me in a GREAT mood!

I don't know if married people suffer from this, but most single people I know confess to talking to themselves once in a while (or a lot in some cases!). So, I'm sure I looked funny last night on the way home either singing loudly to Christmas carols or working on that little list aloud. I also had a big grin thinking back on the crazy day.

Since I was close to Kerry Park on my way home, I wondered what a skyline picture would look like at night. What do you think?

Thanks for sticking with this long post! Even with how long it was, I still skipped a lot of the little things that went wrong, all adding to the ridiculous day...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Jill's Visit!

I guess it's been a few days since I've posted anything, but that's not because life was boring! In fact, just the opposite! My good friend, Jill, flew out to visit during Thanksgiving week. She landed last Monday, and we were able to spend a few hours chatting away quickly, before I had to leave for work. Then, she headed south to visit some friends while I worked on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thursday after I slept just a couple hours, we joined Erick and Merrily for Thanksgiving Dinner. Erick and my mom are cousins and they were kind enough to invite us to celebrate with them. Here we are at Cutter's Bayhouse, right on the water in downtown Seattle. It was a DELICIOUS meal, great company, and an amazing view of the beautiful sunset!
After dinner, we all went over to spend the evening with some friends and other relatives, and enjoyed a great selection of pumpkin or apple pies (the pumpkin was delicious!).

Erick and Merrily hosted Jill and I for the evening, and on Friday morning we woke to a great breakfast. They are really wonderful hosts -thanks for the hospitality!

After breakfast, Jill and Merrily and I headed out to see the sites. We had a full day of lots of fun! We first went to Kerry Park, since the day was clear and the view was bound to be great!

Jill and I haven't had many pictures of us lately, so we went a little crazy while she was here!

Next we went on a ferry ride, just for the ride. It was windy, but super fun!

The view of Mount Rainier from the ferry ride.

The city skyline...

We also headed to West Seattle, ate at a great little dive with really good fish and chips, went to Alki Beach and Lincoln Park, and then also went back to Kerry Park again because I could see what a great sunset we were going to have!

I feel like this picture should be made into a postcard.

The colors kept getting better and better...

After sunset and dropping Merrily back off at her car, Jill and I ended up near the U of W campus. We found a couple of great bookstores, and walked around a bit. It was a great people-watching area! We ended the evening by eating at The Five Spot, a restaurant where my cousin, Scott, used to work. We actually sat under one of his paintings, which was very cool!

On Saturday, Jill and I headed back to Seattle in order to shop at Pike Place and also the downtown department stores. So far I've worked hard to not look like a tourist when I've been downtown, but on Saturday, EVERYONE was a tourist so I figured it was best to just go with the crowd!

Jill was really in her glory at the original Starbucks. Something about Mecca...

Eating at the restaurant that Tom Hanks and Rob Reiner were at in the movie "Sleepless in Seattle".

We had a great time walking around all sorts of downtown shops. This tree has been in the news about how bare it was so they added filler. I thought it ended up looking pretty good! Macy's has the huge star in the background, and the whole shopping experience was quite festive!

At the end of the day, we went back to Pike Place so Jill could pick up a few things. As she left the fish market to look for some postcards, I decided to chat with the fish guys a while. When I asked if I could take their picture (remember: tourist for the day and everyone was doing it...) they said sure, but that unlike the other people, I could go around the counter and take one with them behind the counter! Well, it got even more interesting when one of the guys said that I wasn't allowed to walk around, but instead needed to climb over the counter!! It really was pretty hilarious, and I got a big cheer out of the crowd!
(laughing almost uncontrollably while climbing over!)

Look how high the counter is, and I only had one little crate to stand on!

Jill flew back home on Sunday morning, after a great week of being here. THANK YOU for coming!! It was such fun to have her around, and great to spend time with a good friend. You are a blessing to me!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Love of a Good Blanket

I've been working the last three nights, so I haven't taken pictures of anything fun here in Seattle. But, don't despair, I still have some great pictures for you to see. They're of my favorite little buddy, David! My mom emailed these to me, and since they're not on her blog yet, I'm taking the liberty to show them off!! :)

If you remember back to my post about Christmas (or just check the archives!) I showed a picture of one of the blankets I made for "the baby" before he was born. It is SUPER soft, and I was determined this would become his favorite blanket. Looks like it worked!

These remind me of the phrase "so cute I could just eat you up!"

I guess he's been pulling himself up to a standing postition all the time now, and here you can see how excited he was to do that!

Someone needs a haircut...

Here he is playing in Grandma's kitchen with the magnetic farm animal toy by LeapFrog. As soon as I saw this picture, the song that plays when a "match" is made popped into my head immediately!

Oh no, the song is still there! I better put some music on quick to get it out of my head!

It's been so hard to be gone from him, but everyone assures me they tell him often how much his Auntie Kari loves him, and he's been laughing when he hears my voice on the phone, looking around to see where I am. What a cutie!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Hidden Seattle

Yesterday was a fun day, exploring trendy areas of Seattle I hadn't visited yet! My friend, Rachel, is living in Bellingham to attend college and help with our LB church there. She's one of my youth group girls from Fergus, and we also met regularly in a mentoring relationship. She came to Seattle for the weekend and we got to hang out on Monday since there wasn't school that day. It was SO fun to see her! I picked her up at SPU where she had stayed with friends, and we looked at my trusty GPS to pick a random cafe to eat brunch. We decided on Louisa's Cafe Bakery on Eastlake Ave. It was a great little cafe with really good croissants! One of the great things there, however, was the free "Hidden Seattle" guide to, well... all the greatest little hidden secrets in Seattle's coolest neighborhoods. More on this in a minute...

Rachel and I met up with a friend that was able to drive her back to Bellingham, and we went to my new favorite park in Seattle, Kerry Park. It has the BEST views of the city! I think all the great postcard shots of the city are taken from this park.
Don't you agree?!

We had a great time goofing off with some fun pictures!

[You can see it was a very windy day, and it turns out people in WA considered it a storm! I guess with all the tall trees that can knock out power lines, I can see why it was talked about a LOT on the news that night, but I have to say, it sure is a different mindset here about storms, vs. what we're used to in the Midwest!]

After they took off for Bellingham, I decided to flip through the Hidden Seattle guide and learn a little. It turned out to be a great resource! It was written by three friends who explore all over Lake Union, Fremont, Queen Anne, Greenlake, Wallingford and Downtown and they have lots of tips on where to feast, sip, shop, play, and walk your dog. I wish I had a dog here...

Since I was in Queen Anne, I drove around and hit some of the fun shops they mentioned. I also checked out Fremont a bit and spent some time in Lake Union.

Once the sun came out, and the wind died down a little, I realized I was close to Kerry Park again, so I thought I'd see the view with the sunset reflection on it. It turns out it wasn't all that different, but I still got some great pictures out of the deal!

My oldest friend, Jill, is coming to visit next week for Thanksgiving (YEAH!) and now I have some great spots picked out for us to see! I'm just over halfway through with my time here in WA, so if anyone else wants to visit, you're running out of time... I can't believe how fast it's been going!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lefse-Making and Family Time

This was a fun weekend!

On Friday morning I woke up at 3 am (that wasn't the fun part) and was wide awake, trying to fall back to sleep until 4:25, then gave up and decided to just get up for the day. It turns out you can be really productive if you wake up five hours before your alarm!

At a more reasonable hour, I headed north to Everett. I got to June and Joel's, had a little lunch, then June and I went to visit my great-aunt Carol. It was great to see her! We also enjoyed seeing her grand-daughter, my second cousin, Lori and her two kids. They are so much fun! Her little boy climbed right up onto my lap and was my little buddy after that. Such a cutie! I wish I had taken a picture of all of us enjoying tea and dessert, but, very un-like me, I didn't even think to get out the camera. We were having too much fun just enjoying our time together! Thanks for the great afternoon!

That evening June and Joel took me to a delicious Thai restaurant in Everett where we were serenaded by a young pianist. Thanks for the yummy meal!

Friday night I had another night where I woke up in the middle of the night, but this time I was able to fall back to sleep after an hour. Saturday morning, none of that mattered anymore, because we had a lefse-making day! The day I arrived in Everett, we started talking about having a lefse-making party with June and Merrily's daughters-in-law: Holly, Sarah, and Kelli. We headed over to Kelli's house because of her AMAZING counterspace. It's a blessing to have a builder-husband!

On Friday night we each made our own batch of dough, using my mom's cousin Judy's recipe. That way, Saturday morning we were all ready to go!

Holly, Sarah, Kelli and me, after getting set up, mixing in the last of the flour.

After rolling out and flipping a few, I started feeling pretty proficient with the whole process! It had been 7 years since my mom and I had made lefse at Penny's house on Thanksgiving, so I wasn't sure I'd remember what to do. June was a good teacher for all of us!

Here we're all in different stages of making it, and you can see Merrily giving it a try.

Here Kelli and her mom are in the dining room where we had all the racks and towels for cooling each piece.

We broke for lunch and here's Holly enjoying a great soup Kelli had prepared.

Such fun just being together! Here are June, Sarah, and Holly.

When we were all finished, you could see the mess we had made. I'm sure there will be white flour dust around for a long time!

We each made about 20-25 pieces of lefse to enjoy. They're cooling off under these towels before we packed them up for the day. Merrily suggested we go into business, and we figured we could make quite a bit of money if we did!

These are some great women! I'm glad they married into our family, and wish we could spend even more time together!

Here are the three mom's who came to watch the four girls learn a new trade. Thanks for the fun day, ladies!! Can we do it again next year?

This morning I got to do something I've really been looking forward to during my time here in Washington. I got to attend Word of Life Church in Marysville! It's a church I've felt very connected to over the years, and it was so good to worship there this morning! It was great to hear from the Lord and so good to spend some time just worshipping Him. It was also REALLY fun to see some old friends, and I loved getting the reaction of the big eyes and even bigger hug when I saw a few people that I hadn't seen in quite a few years! That's the kind of reaction that makes a person feel really loved!

It was also really fun to hang out with Brad and Traci and their kids. I know I said this post was about family time, and Brad and Traci aren't family, but they're pretty close... Ever since Brad was a dean at Hillcrest when I was there, and then especially during my time working for Youth Ministries, he's always been like a protective older brother. He's been a great one to give advice, ask how I'm really doing, tell it like it is, and he's the only one that can call me "Swanson" and have it sound okay! It was really fun to have the kids show me their rooms, tell me all sorts of stories, and then we ate a great meal at Red Robin. THANKS for taking me out to lunch, and for spending time together. I love you guys! (sorry I didn't get a family picture!)

After lunch I headed back to Puyallup so I could get ready for my first dinner guests! Here's the view of Mount Rainier from my drive home. I have usually done this drive in the dark, so it was fun to see just how much of the mountain can be seen from the freeway!

June and Joel, and Erick and Merrily had been asking to see my apartment, and I love having people over for dinner. In fact, it's been really strange for me that in the last six weeks I've had my dad and my cousin, Tim, over to see my place (each for just a few minutes) and that's been it! I'm used to being much more hospitable than that! Well, it was great to have guests for dinner tonight. I served Mexican Stew and salad, and we also had some of the lefse. Like Joel pointed out, with the Mexican Stew and lefse, it made for a culturally diverse meal! We finished it off with some brownies and ice cream, and fun conversation.

Thanks for taking the time to come all the way down here to see me! And, THANK YOU for all you've done for me while I've been here in Washington!