Tag Archives: Life

Boring Fitness Update

2 May

I didn’t realise how much I’d been living with sore quads during winter. At the end of the snow season I spent 2 hours foam rolling my legs, another 1.5 hours later that week and I still felt like I could have done with more. Next season I’m going to be more proactive about foam rolling every week and see if that makes a difference.

With the end of the snow season I’ve had to add some cardio to my fitness routine lest I become tragically lopsided. So now I’m at:

Yoga 1-2x a week
Weights 2x a week
Hill Sprints 2x a week

Gym-wise I’m (very slowly) going up in everything except squats. Due to a combination of bulged disc, inconsistent gym and regular snowboarding I’ve dropped over 10kg from my max. =( Doing reps of 5 I’m at 130% bw for deads, 70% bw for bench and 105% bw for squat. On the plus side I’m starting to do pull-ups and weighted chin-ups (1kg! Woo!) again.

And ooh! This is my new favourite gym top:

ribs-knock-out-top-pre-sale-1369790997_1024x1024

image from Blackmilk Clothing

I get so many compliments on it. The top says to handwash but there’s no way that was going to happen. I just chuck it in the wash on a cold, gentle cycle and hang to dry. It hasn’t exploded yet.

My favourite change this year has been getting regular massages. Because of my shitty back and neck I got a massage prescription, which seems to be how you get insurance to cover most of the cost. Like seriously, I’m paying $5 (plus tip) out of pocket. That’s insane!

I’ve also been doing a lot of green smoothies for breakfast just to make sure I get my daily quota of vegies. My current go-to mix is frozen kale, baby spinach, almonds, ginger, frozen pineapple, frozen banana and chia seeds with enough water to make it blend. Sometimes I get fancy and have some homemade almond or coconut milk ready to use.

It pretty much always looks like this.

photo (6)Now the sun is out later and the weather has gotten warmer (it was 31C yesterday!) maybe James and I will start running after work again. We’ll see. I think I’m feeling energetic because I just drank a green smoothie and now I’m cold and full of vitamins.

It’s the Moooost Wonderfuul Tiiiime of the Yeeeaaar!

25 Nov

Snow season!!

It starts at 6am like this:

And a few hours later we’re doing this!

He’s hard to see, but on the far right is Mike majestically contemplating the view. Also that orange dot is actually someone’s bright helmet. If I could re-do my gear purchases I would totally get a neon helmet to make myself more visible.

It was so beautiful this weekend! The snow was still a bit patchy in areas but it was actually pretty cool seeing the tops of trees underneath us. Also since the snow hadn’t built up at the base yet the sensors for the chairlifts were placed too high for our passes to scan – the guys had to put them in their chest pockets and I had to put mine in my glove and lift my arm.

We’ve been twice since Stevens opened. Last week was pretty disheartening – I went from tentatively trying blacks last season to falling on a green! This week was a lot better, though I think I’m at about 70% of where I was last year. I did a couple of baby jumps (maybe 2 fingers of clearance between my board and the snow lol) and ventured into the half pipe.

James is having a lot of problems with his knee so next week he’ll switch back to skiing to see if that helps. Also I’m pretty sure I’m going to lose my right toenail again this season. I took some awesome progress photos of my nail blackening then falling off and the pretty new nail that regrew in its place but whenever I showed them to James he would flinch so I deleted them. =(

But anyway, here are James and Eliot at the top of Hog Heaven. 

James replaced his old orange jacket with a new grey one from Burton. It helps mitigate the ugliness of his pants but also makes it harder to identify him, cos his pants kind of blur into a khaki green from a distance (James: because of my speed)

Afterwards we all went to a place called Bubba’s Road House for dinner. OMG soooo much tastyfood. My plate had tri tips, ribs, sausage, potato salad, coleslaw and a corn muffin for just $15. I didn’t get a photo of it but as soon as my massive plate arrived I knew I couldn’t finish it all and started prioritising the stuff that wouldn’t re-heat well. So James’ lunch today is basically a big stack of meat.

Also I found this on the menu!

I initially lol’d at the Ching & Chong platter, but after a second viewing eeeew at the dumplings with sweet chili and teriyaki sauce. Why would anyone order Asian food at a BBQ place?

Apparently they have 10% off with a Stevens Pass lift ticket, which we didn’t know about but hopefully can use in the future! $15 + tip for dinner and lunch the next day is nothing to be sneezed at.

Post-snowboarding meals are such a perfect way to end the day. Madeleine said that you can never have a non-snowboarding meal at those restaurants – she said that she ruined a couple of post-surfing restaurants for herself because she went on a normal day and realised the food only tasted so good because she was hungry and exhausted. I suspect that is probably excellent advice.

There are already rumblings about going again next Sunday. I can’t wait! I hope my toenail holds out because I am so hungry for improvement this year.

Just A Boring Update

14 Nov

James picked up one of these when Amazon re-stocked on launch day:

image from Amazon

He even forked out for 1-day shipping so he could get it in time for the weekend. Until then he’ll be playing the new X-Com expansion. He plays in iron man mode where you can’t reload and always names his most promising female character after me – he gave me a medal to prevent me from panicking (“Kyoto’s Medal of Bravery”). He also gave himself a sniper medal (“Mouse’s Cross-Furs”), which totally makes me smirk cos it reminds me of his fake cat-themed golf game, Putt Putt Purr.

Also I’m conscious that I haven’t been doing a lot of blog updating! I’ve been writing a lot and also trying a lot of new recipes. Last night I made a salad with pomegranate seeds (de-seeding the pomegranate made me look like I’d been in a knife fight). This week I also marinated some pork shoulder to make lechon asado for a bastardised cuban sandwich.

(I took a bite before I remembered to take a photo) I had to juice so many frigging lemons, limes and oranges for the marinade that tomorrow I’m going to buy some more pork and re-use it. If there are no more blog updates I have died from salmonella.

Hmm, what else is new? I got my hair cut really short for the first time like … ever! Here is a quick photo I took in my bum clothes for Cat when she wanted to see my new hair – sorry about the crazy-eyes, I always feel awkward looking straight into the iPhone camera:

I think it will look super cute with winter scarves and now I don’t need to do plaited pigtails when I go snowboarding. 

Speaking of snowboarding, I’m optimistic that the Washington season will start before Thanksgiving. James has temporarily given up running so his knee will be in good shape, but that dedication is nothing compared to Mike, who traded in his car for a more snow-friendly model.

It feels like the year has gone by so fast. It’s been getting dark really early now – the sun sets at 4:30pm! We’re definitely getting into stew and soup weather. James has been working longer than usual hours in the ramp-up to Christmas. Oh, and he got promoted to team lead. =) He’s also been doing a lot of interview loops to try and get priority for international recruiting trips (goal: Australia!)

We’ve both been super busy and I’m sure it’s just going to get even more jam-packed when snowboard season starts. Who am I kidding – it’s going to start this weekend once the PS4 arrives. =)

 

A Mysterious Microsoft Box Appears! Dispenses Free Stuff!

18 May

This afternoon something weird appeared near Amazon.

James described it as a “free stuff dispenser”. It was at Harrison and Boren (one of the guys refused to use it on principle because it had displaced the Thai truck’s regular spot). You can see little squares on the front of the box and if you opened the doors there would be a random freebie inside.

I had an appointment and by the time I made it out there at 2:30pm it was gone (or else I was unco and couldn’t find it). Sadness!

James got a t-shirt advertising Bing jobs. Probably not really the sort of thing he can wear around the office. =P He likes to wear baggy t-shirts at home though.

AJ got a hoodie with the same logo so here is the back.

Chi Kai got a ping pong ball gun (he didn’t want it so James appropriated it for the cats) and some sort of torch/USB thingy.

The cats are quite fond of the ping pong balls – their favourite is the yellow one for some reason – but I’m scared we’re going to step on one of them in the middle of the night and die. The gun thingy is pretty lame – it’s maybe 5 times the effort of actually throwing the ball so I just chucked it out.

So yeah, that was the Microsoft free stuff dispenser. The loot wasn’t great, but it was so exciting when James was SMSing me with updates about what each person got. I’m a sucker for mysterious present-giving boxes!

A Traditional Chinese New Year (We Snowboarded and Ate Mexican Food)

11 Feb

Back in Melbourne James and I used to spend CNY with my extended family – we would play mahjong and then go out for an overpriced Chinese banquet (which Howie says is a rookie mistake – his family used to own a Chinese restaurant and he says it’s the worst day of the year to go).

We were invited to a CNY celebration in the International District but already had plans to go snowboarding that day.

Here are Mike and James on the back side of Stevens Pass. You have to take a few chairlifts to get there but it’s less crowded than the front side and the blues are steeper and longer. After doing the blues on the back side all morning, James and I summoned enough courage to try a couple of short blacks on the front side. One of them was easier than the blues and the other was terrifying to look down (I’ll get a photo next time) but once I realised that I could point my board down and not die, it was fun!

We have plans to go to Crystal this Friday with Chuck and Caroline, and hopefully again on Saturday with our regular snowboarding group to a yet-to-be-determined mountain. Easy access to the snow is one of the best things about living in Seattle.

Oh that reminds me, you know how in Australia we say “going to the snow”? That’s not a phrase here. Apparently it sounds weird to them, like saying “I’m going to the road”. 

James also informed me that Americans also don’t say “keen on” to mean “interested in”, as in “I’m quite keen on fishing this weekend”. He said there were some new guys at work who didn’t understand some of his phrases and it turns out his colleagues have just been pretending to understand him because they were all like “yeah actually we have no idea what you’re saying either”. Poor James; he thought he was communicating but all this time people have just been nodding and smiling.

But anyway, after our day of snowboarding we had dinner at a Mexican restaurant called La Palmera. It was located in what seemed to be an office building, which was weird, but once you got inside it was like any other restaurant.

Do you know what I love about Mexican restaurants? Free chips and salsa! On the menu they said that they would charge for refills but they automatically refilled our chips while we waited and didn’t charge us.

James and I both ordered the jumbo margaritas.  They were so full that I had trouble lifting them with one hand when we toasted to the (Chinese) new year. But aside from their hugeness the margaritas weren’t anything special.

The food portions were pretty big – although maybe they only seemed big because I was already stuffed full of chips. I ordered a carnitas burrito. Again it wasn’t anything to write home about. It was enormous though, so I got about 2/3 of the way through before I was stuffed.

James got tacos al carbon. You can see his napkin in the back to get a sense of how big the plate was.

James finished his margarita pretty quickly and ordered what I think was called a coronita (a corona margarita). Yes it looks exactly how you would imagine.

He said it was absolutely foul; the only OK part was the beginning which was mainly margarita and as the corona gradually mixed in it got gross. He was glad he tried it though, cos he said that he would have always wondered.

Because of all the booze the meal ended up being really expensive! After tip it was something like $75 for the two of us, which is one of the most expensive meals we’ve had since we got here, and massively expensive for Mexican food. There are heaps of other Mexican restaurants where I’ve been really happy with the food for half the price. So we ended up paying heaps for a fairly average meal. Boo!

But at least we were full (stuffed, even) and the food came out fast. My cousins told me that for their CNY meal they didn’t order enough (6 banquet meals plus 2 dishes for a 10 person table – noobs!) and it took awhile to arrive so everyone was still hungry afterwards. Plus they paid more (and didn’t get alcohol) so I guess all in all we made out alright.

Mount Baker + Five Guys = Awesomest Day Ever!

27 Jan

Today we went to Mount Baker which is roughly 3 hours north of Seattle, near the Canadian border. We normally stick to the closer mountains so it was the first time any of us had been to Baker.

It was legendary!

Mount Baker gets more snow than the other mountains in Washington, and the terrain there was gorgeous. We got 10″ of snow today (on top of an existing base of 147-180″) so the ground was soooo soft – on some of the less-tracked areas it was like bouncing along on a cloud. Sometimes I would be on my edge and I couldn’t feel any friction on the ground and I couldn’t hear my board touching the snow. It felt like I was flying!

Although I was doing better than previous times, I also fell a lot more than usual because I was taking more risks and trying new things. But it was the perfect environment to do so – fluffy snow and hardly any people around!

Cos it’s so far from Seattle, while all the other mountains are packed on weekends, Baker is nearly empty. The only congested area was a narrow track coming off a popular lift and a popular attraction – a natural halfpipe. It was higher than the one at Stevens and much longer and really fun! I felt less pressure than I would have on the halfpipe at Stevens because it was 20x as long so I could play around a bit and not feel pressure to go all the way up the edges.

Have a picture of James with some pretty trees in the background.

James and I got a lot better at linking turns down steep blues and James did some jumps on the ground and more spinning on the ground. Here is a video I took of him going down one of the hills. Sorry, I was holding the phone vertically and you can hear me sniffling a bit. But you can also hear me snort at the end. =D

That actually was not one of his better hill descents but it’s the only one I have on video. You can see Ange and Mike behind him.

The only part I didn’t like was the area near the top of the mountain where my goggles had trouble seeing the ground. The same thing happened with Mike and Ange (but not James) and we basically couldn’t see what the snow looked like underneath us. Which made it really hard cos it was like “am I on a hill? Is there a sharp drop-off coming? Oh I just went over a bump and am now in the air!”

Oh yeah, another downside is that they closed at 3:30. =( I wanted to keep going forever!

But really that’s a teeny price to pay for really, really fun, forgiving snow! I’m still boggled over how empty Baker was – I bet if you go on weekdays it’s incredible.

Afterwards we had dinner at Five Guys. OMG what a perfect end to a fantastic day. James and I both ordered bacon cheeseburgers (double patties). There was a large selection of free toppings; I got mayo, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, ketchup and mustard.

It looks gross and squishy but it was a good basic burger. It’s not one of those fancy gourmet burgers but it was juicy and tasty and really hit the spot. We also got a big serve of fries (it’s a large cup full of fries – they put it in a paper bag and according to Mike they always add an additional scoop to the bag).

They also had unlimited peanuts! Which is super weird right? There was just a huge box of peanuts by the door and everyone helped themselves.

Which I thought was weird and gimmicky but after dinner we stuffed ourselves with peanuts. The table behind us, a lady and her husband ordered one drink, one serve of chips, and then filled a huge paper bag with peanuts to take home! Sooo tight.

But that wasn’t the exciting part. And you guys know how much I love free shit (though evidently not as much as Tightarse Asian Lady With Lifetime Supply of Peanuts).  I was totally blown away by the soft drink machine! On the menu Five Guys advertised that they had unlimited refills and 100 different drinks available. And we were like buh? But around the corner was this machine:

Welcome to the future!

There was a touchscreen with a whole bunch of options, and then when you picked which brand you wanted there was another screen where you picked which flavour you wanted. 

There were heaps of flavours that we don’t get in Australia and I was so excited! Plus the unlimited drinks went really well with the unlimited salty peanuts.

Flavours I tried:

  • Cherry diet fanta (James’ favourite)
  • Grape diet fanta (tastes like grape hubba bubba)
  • Lime diet fanta (tastes really green)
  • Raspberry diet fanta (didn’t really taste like raspberries, but nice)
  • Strawberry diet fanta (my favourite – kind of like those super sweet Asian drinks)
  • Orange diet coke (surprisingly nice)
  • Peach Sprite Zero (smelled peachier than it tasted)

And that was how I ended the day – stuffed full of peanuts and exotic flavours of soft drink. James was less than supportive; he was all “I do want to get home eventually you know” but he kept eating the peanuts and trying the different flavours I brought to the table.

So yeah, today was crazy fun and I’m still super bouncy from our epic snowboarding day. Also maybe the caffeine.

The Ordeal That Was James Getting His License

12 Jul

James figured he should get his Washington driver’s license. According to our relocation advisor you can drive on your Australian license for a month but then they start getting narky about it. We signed up for Zipcar for the rare occasion that we need to go somewhere that the buses can’t take us. Incidentally, it was a thing of tightarse beauty when I did it – I found a Groupon where I paid $35, which covered the $25 membership sign-up fee, a $50 yearly membership, and $50 of driving credit. Plus I went through Fatwallet and got 3% cashback.

/dusts off hands

Anyway, the first attempt at doing the written test was a complete bust. Our relocation advisor said she would pick us up Saturday morning and drive us to the Bellevue department of licensing because you have to get there early since the wait is so long. We were up bright and early but she slept in! So she told us to go pick up our Amazon-provided rental car, drive to Bellevue and meet her there. Four points of interest:

  1. We had to walk 20 minutes then wait in line for another 20 minutes to get our car
  2. They “upgraded” us to a freaking enormous car
  3. James had never driven on the other side of the road before
  4. You have to drive on a terrifying freeway to get from Seattle to Bellevue. Look at this fucking thing.

image from Wikipedia

So yeah, James’ first time driving in the US was on the i90 to get to Bellevue in a huge Dodge Charger that barely fit in its own lane, using my phone as a GPS. Then by the time we actually got to the Bellevue Department of Licensing (having accidentally exited the freeway and then having to muddle our way back on a few times) they were no longer accepting new people in the queue because they stopped doing driving tests in 2 hours and the wait in the queue was 3 hours. GAAAH!

Here is a quick snapshot of the queue. We saw 3 licensing departments and they all looked the same.

We called our relocation advisor but she wasn’t picking up her phone so we left a (really annoyed) message telling her that we were leaving. So we drove back, missing the i90 entrance due to iPhone lag, and then once we’d gotten on, exiting the freeway one stop too early due to my own confusion. But eventually we found our way back to our corporate housing and then, when we were driving into our parking garage we scraped the bottom of the car because it was too low to handle the hill going into the garage! Oh yeah, and cos the car was so enormous and had such a horrible turning circle, it took a really long time to park.

So yeah, by then we’d spent like 4 hours and accomplished nothing.

Fortunately James only had to drive the Charger one more time when we moved, which was like 5 minutes away. We planned the route in advance, loaded almost all our stuff into it, and in the morning he drove from corporate housing to our current apartment. There was only one briefly terrifying moment when he turned right onto Denny Way and I looked at the cars stopped a few traffic lights down and was like “why are they all facing us?”

Then James went “oh shit!” because he realised that he’d turned onto the wrong side of the road, and had to quickly maneuver his very unmaneuverable car back into the correct lane.

Anyway, after our boxes had been moved in, we decided that we weren’t up to braving the steep parking garage hill again so we decided to return the car early. The whole experience convinced James that for his driving test he wanted to use a much smaller car. But he still had his written test to get to, and the next weekend our relocation advisor took us to the Renton Department of Licensing to do his written and for me to get my Washington State ID. The drive was about 30 minutes and the wait was 3 hours. James didn’t want to have to wait in line again if he failed, so he spent most of the wait doing the online practice test. By the time he actually had to do the test he’d memorised all the answers and got a perfect score.

We celebrated by going to Ikea.

It’s largely the same as Australian Ikea but the food court is different. Chips (not fries) as a side seems to be a thing here. Bizarre.

OK a week later James did his actual driving test. Normally he would have had to wait for over a month to do his test on a weekend but some guy cancelled his appointment so he got in earlier. We were on our own this time because we’d apparently used up our allotted time with the relocation officer. James strongly suspected that she’d counted the Bellevue fiasco in her hours and also the various other times that she’d been late to our appointments, but we didn’t need her anyway, so eh.

James made sure to hire a Mini Cooper because that was a car he’d driven before and found to be pretty similar to the MX5 he used to drive. Also I love Minis. =D The appointment was at a different licensing office (West Seattle) but we only took 2 wrong turns getting there. James’ test was at 9am so he had booked the Zipcar until 12. He figured the process was do the test, fill out a form, get your photo taken, get your card in the mail. The actual process was wait, do the test, wait in line to get a number, wait in line for 2 hours, get your photo taken, get your card in the mail.

There were two people who were doing the driving tests – one scary looking Russian lady and one young Asian guy. We both wanted the Asian guy because we saw the Russian lady be really mean to a guy who was there for his test (James had chatted to him earlier – this was his second time doing the test). He didn’t have the correct insurance papers, so she told him to get in the 2 hour line I mentioned earlier, and ask for an exemption to do his test. Geez.

Asian Guy came up to James and started the test process where he made sure all the blinkers and lights were working correctly. We were like “yes!” It was going well – he and James laughed together and I was like “yay they have a rapport!” But then Russian Lady cut in and said that she wanted Asian Guy to take her next test because they couldn’t speak english and she’d take James. OMG. (Russian Lady told James during the test that Asian Guy had actually really wanted to test him because he wanted to be in the Mini).

But after that rocky start it all went well and he passed his test. You need 80/100 to pass and he got 85/100 – he lost marks for stuffing up his parallel park and driving too hesitantly. Yay James!

After that we waited in line. The line to get the ticket took maybe 30-60 minutes and once we got out of that line and into the waiting area it became apparent that things weren’t moving fast enough for him to return his Zipcar in time. We tried to rebook it but it was taken for the rest of the day. I possibly could have summoned up the nerve to drive it but I wasn’t insured. So James drove the Zipcar back to its reserved spot and took the bus back to West Seattle while I nervously looked at the numbers ticking down. While I was there I talked to a couple of people who were also waiting for their licenses and one guy was behind me in line so I swapped tickets with him. My number was called with James about 15 minutes away so I had to try and stall.

Me: My husband is almost here. He had to return the rental car and take a bus back. Is it possible to call me back in 15 minutes?
Her: (scowling) But I called you here now.
Me: (thinking) Oh shit oh shit

Luckily she relented and told me that when James got here to just go up to her counter. But it was around lunchtime and she’d kept the ticket, so I was worried that she’d go to lunch and James would get here and then we’d be stuck. Fortunately James understood the urgency and had sprinted the 10 blocks from the bus stop. He thought the lady was really nice and I was like “whatever, I softened her up for you”.

So that is the epic story of how James finally got his license. He said the tests were actually quite easy (the driving test was apparently a lot easier than the Victorian one) but it’s the waiting around that kills you. Mentally prepare to sacrifice half a day for each test, and you too may one day hold a Washington driver’s license.

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